The uniform code

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Suryakant Shinde, 46, MUMBAI

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

BATTLING AGAINST: Rampant corruption in the Bombay Port Trust. He had been sent to jail for a theft he had uncovered and has been dismissed now for reporting corruption in BPT

Rishi Majumder

SURYAKANT SHINDE lives in a two-bedroom flat with his wife and two daughters. Tucked away in a closet is a uniform that transforms Shinde from an everyman to someone who catches big criminals. But Shinde hasn’t worn this uniform in a while. In November 2009, he was dismissed from his job of assistant security officer at the Bombay Port Trust (BPT) and placed on “compulsory retirement”. This was a few months after he reported corruption in the BPT to the Shipping Ministry. Shinde doesn’t complain. What he does mind is a lie told to him in 1987 when he was an NCC cadet in Pune: “Respect your uniform and your country will respect you”.

The Central Vigilance Commission has told him his letters have been “merged into a file”. Here’s what Shinde thinks his file should contain: “Joined the BPT as a 22-year-old; reported pilferage worth crores from 1994 to 1997; had a defamation case filed against me; got the police to arrest those stealing chemicals from the port in 1997, so the chief security officer reprimanded me; caught Sayyed Karim smuggling 150 gold bars in 1999; in 2005, I assisted the crime branch in arresting criminals who were stealing chemicals worth over 10 crore and got jailed for the same. Complained to the Shipping Ministry about corruption in the BPT and was dismissed.”

Meanwhile the family struggles on with the income his wife earns from his LIC job. He names corrupt officers who have got him here: Deputy Chairman BPT Rajesh Sinha, Deputy Chairman Ashok Bal, Traffic Manager Ranganath, Chief Security Officer RN Sheikh. And the man who taught him to respect his uniform? Shinde has caught his lie: “I swear I will never serve my country again.”

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