CASE STUDY 15: The Messenger Is Shot But Refuses To Die

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KETAN TIRODKAR, MCOCA petitioner/accused

KETAN TIRODKAR, 44, is a self-proclaimed whistleblower. In 1996, after joining an afternoon tabloid in Mumbai as a crime reporter, he befriended mafia dons. When he later turned against them, one of them, Arun Gawli, allegedly had him shot at, but he survived. Tirodkar once alleged that Mumbai Police officers, including its current commissioner, D Sivanand, as also Vijay Salaskar, who terrorists killed in the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, were protecting the mafia.

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FACT FILE

Photo: Ambarin Afsar

• Ketan Tirodkar claims he worked with encounter specialist Daya Nayak and found him complicit with mafia gangs

• Police arrested Tirodkar but Nayak got bail. Nayak was later suspended on charges of illegal wealth

• Tirodkar claimed he was approached to bribe a HC judge. CBI has filed a case against that judg

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TIRODKAR HAS partnered with the police to nab alleged fugitives, including agents of Pakistan’s secret service, the ISI. He claims to have infiltrated the Dubai mafias and worked with Interpol to nab a terrorist bomber wanted in India. He claims he gave the FBI passport details of mafia don Abu Salem that led to his arrest in Lisbon. He says he had led Interpol to gangster Chhota Rajan in Australia, but police were slack and he escaped. Tirodkar has even filed cases against high court judges. Yes, Tirdokar is every bit the maverick.

In 2002, Tirodkar says, controversial policeman Daya Nayak, who has killed over 80 alleged gangsters in “encounters”, befriended him. (Nayak declined to speak to TEHELKA, but one of his associates denied Nayak ever met Tirodkar.) In a complaint later filed to the police, Tirodkar claimed Nayak was complicit with the mafia. He said Nayak used him to extort crores of rupees from Dubai don Chhota Shakeel. “Nayak and Shakeel spoke at length over various issues [on the phone],” he wrote.

In November 2003, Tirodkar became India’s first private individual to file a complaint under MCOCA — against Nayak. Special MCOCA Judge AP Bangalay ordered that his testimony be recorded. Tirodkar summoned and grilled four Mumbai Police officers, including two who were then in jail for another racket.

As per the statute, a case can be launched against an accused under MCOCA only after a senior police officer recommends so. Judge Bangalay asked then Mumbai Police Commissioner AN Roy if he would sanction a case against Nayak. Incredibly, Roy said police would file a case against Tirodkar but not against Nayak for lack of proof.

The judge forced the police to register an FIR. On July 9, 2004, police arrested Tirodkar, but the Bombay High Court stayed Nayak’s arrest. Bangalay gave Tirdokar bail in 20 days. But three months later, High Court Judge AM Khanwilkar cancelled Tirodkar’s bail. Tirodkar spent 10 months in jail before getting a second bail. Ten more months later, Khanwilkar cancelled that bail, too.

Nayak was still free. After two years, Tirodkar petitioned the Bombay High Court alleging that the anti-corruption cell of Mumbai Police wasn’t arresting Nayak because of pressure from the ruling politicians. The government finally filed an FIR against Nayak for “owning assets disproportionate to his income”. Nayak absconded and was suspended. He returned and spent two months in jail before securing bail. He is now fighting to be reinstated.

Meanwhile, Tirodkar claimed a man approached him seeking a bribe for High Court judge Khanwilkar. Tirdokar says he informed the judge, who refused to take note of it. Tirodkar complained to the CBI, which filed a case against Khanwilkar.

In August 2007, Nayak suffered a setback. The Bombay High Court ordered that the allegations Tirodkar levelled against him be probed. Nayak approached the Supreme Court, which stayed the ruling. Final orders are pending.

The High Court’s rejection of Nayak’s petition proved sufficient ground for the MCOCA judge to grant Tirodkar bail in November 2008. He walked free after 30 months. Tirodkar says his life as a journalist, extortion facilitator, and aide to a corrupt policeman is in the past. He is now a full-time petitioner.

Indeed, he has mastered the MCOCA law as only a crafty criminal defence lawyer can. He claims MCOCA is faulty because it holds “members” of a criminal gang liable for prosecution but doesn’t define who qualify as “members”.

“I argued before the High Court that MCOCA allows a private individual to initiate a case under this law,” Tirodkar says. He won. He now knows by heart nearly all the major rulings under MCOCA. He says, MCOCA has facilitated the mafias. “The underworld can’t grow without the active connivance of the police,” Tirodkar adds. “Think about it.”

EMAIL:
[email protected],
[email protected]

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