Central Crime Branch - A den of Crime Abetment and Not a Place for Crime Detection
The Central Crime Branch of the City police is in the eye of a storm following Pune-based businessman Ripon Malhotra’s alleged suicide on June 29 in Ashwini Nagar in Viveknagar police station limits.
His suicide note is an expose on the rot that has set in in the specialised crime branch, which was set up in 1971 with two police inspectors to assist local police in detecting cases of organised crime.
Four decades down the line, the CCB, with seven assistant commissioners of police, has become a power centre and, as many in the department themselves say, a “mafia den”.
Till very recently, postings in the CCB were reportedly up for bids, with the highest bidder getting plum posts. The hydra-headed growth of the CCB is the story of Bengaluru’s manic urbanisation, escalating land costs and the subsequent rise of the land mafia, which allegedly thrived on the blessings of their ‘friends’ in the CCB.
Besides land, illegal entertainment joints like live bands, massage parlours and dance bars, which were nothing but trafficking and prostitution dens also found their godfathers in the Branch, which was mandated to curb organised crime.
The underworld, which extorted protection money from vulnerable land-owners, bar girls and owners with one hand, paid huge hafta money running into lakhs of rupees to the “bosses”, who were accessible in the CCB and helped them run their illicit rackets, with the other.
The builders, who made a killing overnight in the booming real estate business, latched on to police officers and offered them a hefty share of the booty – land or prized flats in their luxury apartments.
The CCB, which is headed by the Police Commissioner and investigates cases on memos issued by him, even threw the chain of command to the wind and bypassed immediate seniors who refused to join hands.
Things will have to change now following Malhotra’s alleged suicide note, in which he has made very serious and damning allegations against the CCB top brass – Deputy Commissioner D. Devaraj and the former police commissioner of being “recovery agents” and demanding huge sums of money from him.
The Viveknagar police have registered a case of unnatural death under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Whether they will book an abetment case under Section 306 IPC is not known.
Malhotra’s post-mortem reportedly states “hanging” as the cause of death, but his anguished statement in the suicide note that “crime cannot finish (sic) if police become criminals” is a damning indictment of the ‘police mafia’ by a dying man.