The Bengaluru City Police recently booked a police sub-inspector (PSI) and two head constables (HCs) — all attached to the Marathahalli Police Station — for extortion and illegal confinement.
They are accused of unlawfully apprehending a 36-year-old man for allegedly selling fake tiger pelt and claws.
The cops then apparently attempted to extort ₹40 lakh from his family by threatening them that otherwise a criminal case would be registered against him.
Of these, HC Harish has been arrested, while the cops are on the lookout for PSI Rangesh and HC Madhav, who are said to be on the run after getting to know that a criminal case was registered against them on Sunday, 19 March.
Two other people believed to be involved in the extortion plot have also reportedly being apprehended, bringing the total number of people arrested to three.
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The initial incident
According to a senior police officer, the incident happened in Bagaluru in North-east Bengaluru from 18 to 20 March.
It started when Ramanji, a 36-year-old resident of Bagaluru, was picked by PSI Rangesh and the HCs.
The three policemen told Ramanji that they were from the Marathahalli Police Station and they had picked him up as he was attempting to sell a tiger pelt and claws, and that they had information and evidence against him.
Ramanji was taken to his father’s hollow-block-making factory and was illegally confined there, said the cops.
It is alleged that the three cops locked him up in a room, where the PSI held a gun to his head and asked him to make a phone call to his family demanding ₹40 lakh for the wildlife crime case to be dropped.
Ramanji called up his father on WhatsApp call, asked him to arrange for ₹40 lakh, and bring it to his factory.
Ramanji also told his father that the people who apprehended him were policemen.
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Ramanji approaches cops
Ramanji’s father felt something amiss and approached the Bagaluru Police Station, where he narrated the incident to the Station House Officer (SHO).
Based on Ramanji’s father’s complaint, the Bagaluru police initially registered a case under IPC Section 364A (abduction for ransom) and initiated an investigation.
During the course of the investigation, the Bagaluru police learnt that an HC named Harish attached to the Marathahalli Police Station was involved in the abduction, and brought the matter to the notice of their senior police officials.
There appeared to be two other persons — Shabbir and Zakir — who acted as decoy customers and approached Ramanji on the pretext of purchasing the tiger pelt and claws.
While the senior police officers from the Bagalur Police Station and the North East police division were probing the matter, the Marthahalli police suddenly registered a suo motu case against Ramanji, booking him under Sections 420 and 511 of the IPC.
“He was trying to sell the duplicate tiger pelt for ₹2 lakh to a customer,” a senior police officer told South First.
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Top cop promises stringent action
The Bagaluru police later struck down the charges of kidnapping for ransom and booked the three policemen and Shabbir and Zakir for extortion and illegal confinement.
“Based on a complaint from Ramanji’s father, we registered a case of extortion and wrongful confinement and have arrested three persons — HC Harish, Shabbir, and Zakir — and are on the lookout for PSI Rangesh and HC Madhav,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East Division) BM Laxmi Prasad told South First.
Police Commissioner CH Pratap Reddy told reporters on Thursday that stringent action would follow if police officers or police personnel indulged in misdemeanours like these.
“There is an allegation regarding the abduction of a man who was wrongfully confined by the Marathahalli police, and three policemen — including a PSI — have been found involved in the case. So far, three accused have been arrested. Stringent action will be taken against those who involve in such misconduct — either in the past or future,” Reddy told reporters.
“About 99.9 percent of our staff are good and hardworking police personnel, and a few of such staff are bringing disrepute to the entire department. Such staff will be suspended, arrested, and also sometimes dismissed from service. If there happens to be a role of their senior officials, action will be taken against them as well,” he added.