DON’T RESIGN. LEARN TO TAKE BRIBES INSTEAD

This is what constable Sunil Toke was told when he resigned, unable to stand the institutionalised mechanism to collect bribes and share the spoils with seniors.

CONSTABLE'S EXPLOSIVE LETTER TO CHIEF MINISTER DEVENDRA FADNAVIS EXPOSES CORRUPTION IN TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT. WHISTLEBLOWER SECRETLY TAPES 100 PHONE CALLS WITH FELLOW COPS. THREE SENIOR POLICE OFFICERS NAMED IN COMPLAINT

A police constable has blown the lid off the deep-rooted culture of corruption in Mumbai police's traffic department in an explosive letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The letter details a well-oiled machinery, which, instead of focusing on managing the city's traffic, collects bribes and distributes it to a chain of officers extending right to the top of the department's hierarchy.

Constable Sunil Toke, 50, attached to the Goregaon Traffic Division, resigned in December last year, tired of what he calls his seniors' unending demands for money and their total disregard to his desire to make "an honest living". He was forced to write to the chief minister because the two letters he addressed to Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and the then Joint Commissioner of Police (traffic) Dr BK Upadhyaya - first in November last year and then again in April this year - went unanswered. And that's not all - while his seniors have shown no inclination to take a call on his resignation, his salary for the past two months, when he was on medical leave, has been stopped.

Toke's letter names two officers whose demands for bribes, and the harassment that followed when he did not comply, drove him to resign. They are: Senior Police Inspector Vijay Bhalshankar (now attached to the traffic police headquarters) and Police Inspector Bharat Kumbhar (in-charge of the Goregaon Traffic Division). The constable has alleged that when he complained to a third official, Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) Pratap Dighavkar, he was advised to seek a transfer.

Toke, 50, has offered to provide his seniors recordings of over 100 phone conversations with fellow policemen,

The constable said he has served in various wings of the Mumbai police department, including the Local Arms and the Director General's office, but nowhere was he forced to accept bribes and feed the greed of his superiors like in the traffic department.

Mumbai Mirror is in possession of the recordings of Toke's conversations with fellow policemen. From a police officer suddenly raising his daily collection demand from each constable by Rs 1,000; a senior asking Toke to fall in line, calling "hafta collection" a "way of life" in the traffic department; discussions on a certain officer's collection agents and how far up the hierarchy the bribe money moves - the transcripts are a damning indictment of the traffic department and prove that the increasing number of vehicles is not the only reason why traffic on our roads is in such a mess.

In one such conversation, Toke asks a fellow constable from Goregaon Traffic Division how much money he would have to pay to get a rider's assignment (riders are traffic cops who patrol an area on bikes. They have a better chance of collecting more money because of their ability to swiftly motor from one place to the next.)

Toke: If I want to be a rider, how much do I have to pay?

Constable: A rider has to pay Rs 4,500 and the person riding pillion Rs 4,000 a day. The duty in-charge [the officer who assigns duty] and the senior inspector will have a share in this money.

Toke: Both [rider and pillion] have to pay?

Constable: Yes

Toke: I wanted to be a rider because our senior inspector has stopped taking money from riders.

Constable: We have requested him to stop collection for a month because there is no drive against defaulters for the past two months. If we are not getting money, how will we pay him?

Toke: Why should we pay this money? Repeat offenders pay a fixed monthly amount. When we catch them, we are told to let them go as they pay a fixed amount. How do we carry out our duty?

Constable: That's wrong.

As the word spread that he had written to Maria, several fellow cops began calling him to reveal the department's secrets. Some of them even sent him video clips of their colleagues collecting bribes (see pic 1). Toke has offered to submit these clips to the CM's office.

He has said that he was shocked to hear fellow constables use the word "customers" for traffic offenders, clearly indicating that their focus was not on disciplining errant motorists, but to make money out of them. And this culture, Toke believes, has been cultivated over the years by senior officers.

Outraged that no action had been taken despite his repeated complaints, Toke began to record conversations with his colleagues late last year, to amass evidence of graft in the traffic police department. "They haven't paid heed. I am being harassed for exposing corruption - I'm not saying it will be eliminated but it can't be so blatant that a non-corrupt person is unable to work," Toke said.

Citing his own example, Toke said Senior Police Inspector Vijay Bhalshankar demanded a fixed monthly sum from him. "When I refused to accept bribes and share the money with him, he started posting me at busy traffic junctions." He has also alleged that when he resigned, Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) Pratap Dighavkar threatened to have him transferred. Another police officer, who was asked to convince Toke to withdraw his resignation, described bribes as "a way of life in the traffic department".

The constable is distraught at the way he says he has been treated. "In other police departments, I was not forced to accept bribes. However, in the traffic department, I have been forced to collect money," Toke told Mumbai Mirror. "I don't mind leaving the force but they haven't accepted my resignation. They are just harassing me. They should release my salary. I was forced to expose them after they asked me for money to grant me leave."

The officer to whom he reports, Police Inspector Bharat Kumbhar, confirmed that Toke's resignation had not been accepted. He clarified that the constable would receive his salary at the end of the month.

"Toke was on sick leave for two months and reported for duty on April 1. He will receive his salary at the end of the month," he told Mumbai Mirror. "I can't comment on allegations of corruption and his resignation."

The two other officers named in Toke's letter - Vijay Bhalshankar and Dighavkar - did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.

When contacted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he wasn't aware of the constable having written to him. "I haven't seen the letter yet. I will verify it," Fadnavis told Mumbai Mirror. Former Joint Commissioner of Police BK Upadhyaya who was moved out of the traffic department last week - he is now the Principal Secretary (Home) - asked this newspaper to seek a response from his successor, Milind Bharambe.

"Toke's complaint hasn't reached me yet and I haven't seen what evidence he has," Bharambe said. "I have taken over recently. I will investigate the matter."

Bharambe's boss, Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, sought time to respond. "I have sought details about the issue from traffic police. I will get back to you once I get the details," he said.

Barring these noncommittal responses, the only substantive reaction to Toke's allegations came from an officer who refused to be named for attribution. He said, "Toke's seniors have raised many questions on his character during the police service, but the department will verify these claims before reaching to any conclusions."



SECRETLY TAPED CONVERSATIONS REVEAL THE ROT IN TRAFFIC UNIT

FEB 24, 2015
'CORRUPTION IS FROM THE TOP'

Translated and edited transcript of an alleged conversation between Sunil Toke, posted in Goregaon traffic division, and a constable from Mahim unit. Toke claims they talked about the pressure constables face for passing on bribes collected from traffic offenders to senior officers. Toke also makes a mention of the backlash he faced for protesting against alleged corruption in the department.

Toke: The DCP scolded me in his office [for filing complaints against corruption].

Constable A: He is being promoted; he will be transferred, don't worry.

Toke: My friend at Airport Traffic Division is facing similar harassment. He was made to pay Rs 13,000 to an assistant police inspector.

Constable A: That API is a good man. You have some misconception. He has been given one-year extension by the police commissioner.

Toke: When I asked for transfer from the traffic department sighting health issues, why was I not allowed?

Constable A: That's unfortunate.

Toke: People who are making money are given extension. I have resigned because my senior inspector was demanding Rs 3,500 from me. The DCP told me that money in the traffic department goes to the top. I told him that I have worked with the joint commissioner before and I know that he is a clean man. I am not sure about officers below him.

Constable A: But the money is collected in the name of top officers.

Toke: Who keeps that money?

Constable A: Officers below the rank of joint CP. I also give money in the name of top officers. The total collection is taken to the Trombay traffic police division. But in my experience, I can say that not all top officers take the money. The money goes to some officers.

Toke: But the ACP and DCP take money from each constable.

Constable A: The corruption is from the top and the workforce is harassed when they refuse to pay. Our DCP is harassing us on some issues. We will meet and discuss these issues.

The names of police officers Toke spoke to or mentioned in his phone calls are being withheld.



MAY 10, 2014
'NO PLACE FOR HONEST COP IN THIS DEPT'

In another phone call, Toke claims he spoke to a colleague from his unit about how police riders are forced to pay a fixed sum to seniors regularly.

Constable B: See, this is the reality: in the Goregaon traffic division, riders pay the most amount of money [bribes collected]. In Malad, they take Rs 2,100 from riders. Rs 2,100 is okay, but Rs 8,500 is too much.

Toke: But this is not done. Why should we give so much money when I don't take that much from customers [traffic offenders]?

Constable B: There is no place for an honest person in this department. They [seniors] take money for assigning duty also.

Toke: This is getting too much. I never had such a bad experience in Local Arms Unit. I used to do my work and not get involved in [bribe] collection. Now in the traffic department, all this is happening.



MAY 10, 2014
'PAYING HAFTA UNAVOIDABLE'

The alleged conversation between Toke and an assistant sub-inspector

ASI: Those who want to wear the white traffic uniform have to give money to the seniors, or else it is not possible to work. There is a list of people who pay and the amount they pay.



JAN 1, 2015
'WHY AM I FORCED TO PAY HAFTA?'

Toke claims he spoke out against the hafta system in the traffic police department during a call to an officer in charge of assigning duties to traffic cops. The officer, he claims, tried to dissuade from him filing a formal complaint.

Toke: Why am I being forced to pay hafta when I don't take a bribe from anyone? Does everyone in the force have to be corrupt?

Duty in-charge: No, that's not the case. We have spoken to the inspector that you are one of us and if you choose not to pay the fixed monthly amount, you should not be forced to.

Toke: I don't any option but to complain against the officials.

Duty in-charge: If you don't want to get involved in paying money it's ok, but don't complain about the money transactions in the police station.

Toke: They have harassed me, abused my and made comments on my performance report. I am pulled up if I come late to work, but others who don't even turn up are let off. The lobby [of errant officials] is targeting me.

Duty in-charge: We are all stuck in this lobby.

Toke: I will go against this lobby.

Duty in-charge: Don't do that. Work peacefully.



APRIL 10, 2015
'NOBODY LEAVES A PENNY HERE'

Toke claims he discussed the unofficial position of a "cashier" - a cop who collects haftas from commercial establishments and bus operators that flout traffic rules - with a duty in-charge.

Toke: One of my friends, who has just joined the traffic department, wanted to become a cashier. What should he do?

Duty in-charge: Let's discuss this in person. I don't think this can be discussed over phone. It's a game about numbers.

Toke: I don't know about all this, so wanted to speak to you. I heard they [cashiers] have to pay Rs 5 lakh [of collected bribes and fines] every month in Colaba.

Duty in-charge: It depends on the list [of major offenders and the amount of hafta they pay] — how much white and how much black. It also depends on how much deposit the senior officer will take.

Toke: So the officer senior will take something?

Duty in-charge: Yes, good luck [a cut] for senior is a must. If the list is around Rs 1.5 lakh, the senior will take around Rs 50,000. This will be the senior's good luck. All the minute details will be discussed when we meet in person. As and when the cashier's assignment starts, they will reveal the entire list. Nobody leaves a penny here.

Toke: Will the senior officer support us if we are caught while taking a bribe.

Duty in-charge: We should be happy making some money. No one will support us if we are caught.



MAY 10, 2014
'SENIORS WANT MORE... ARE WE A MONEY TREE?'

Toke claims he and a constable from Goregaon traffic police division discussed the amount of collected bribes a "rider" - a policeman who moves around on a bike to nab traffic offenders - would have to pass on seniors every day.

Toke: If I want to be a rider, how much do I have to pay?

Constable C: A rider has to pay Rs 4,500 and the person riding pillion Rs 4,000 a day. The duty incharge (the officer who assigns duty) and the senior inspector will have a share in this money.

Toke: Both (rider and pillion) have to pay?

Constable C: Yes

Toke: I wanted to be a rider because our senior inspector has stopped taking money from riders.

Constable C: We have requested him to stop collection for a month because there is no drive against defaulters for the past two months. If we are not getting money, how will we pay him?

Toke: Why should we pay this money? Repeat offenders pay a fixed monthly amount. When we catch them, we are told to let them go as they pay a fixed amount. How do we carry out our duty?

Constable C: That's wrong.

Toke: The seniors pull me up for not fining enough people. I was at MTNL junction when I got to know that there is list of overloaded trucks that pay on monthly basis. My senior shouts at me because his seniors shout at him if the money is not paid on time.

Constable C: To collect this much money, we have to work a lot. The seniors keep increasing the amount they want, as if we are a tree on which money grows.



HOW THE HAFTA SYSTEM WORKS

1 Traffic constables allegedly bribe officers in charge of assigning duties to get posted at major intersections, where collecting bribes from offenders is easier. They pay Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 every month for their favourite spots. Constables also pass on bribes of up to Rs 4,500 collected from offenders to to the duty in-charge every month

2 Police riders also have to pay hafta of around Rs 4,500 to the duty in-charge. Often, there is a scramble for the rider's post

3 Constables looking for a less stressful assignment also pay a bribe to the duty incharge

4 The hafta system has spawned the unofficial position of a 'cashier', the traffic cop who collects monthly bribes from auto showrooms, which park vehicles on the roadside, and bus and truck operators, who also park illegally

5 and 6 Constables give their collections to the duty in-charge, who sends the money to the traffic police station in-charge

7 According to constable Sunil Toke, all the money is taken to a final collection point, from where top officers take their cut more  

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View all 25 comments Below 25 comments
Hello friend,

Have you seen that stuff before? You should check it out, it is absolutely awesome, here, take a look http://thewhitelandscape.com/rank.php?d2d3

coolhritesh1987 more  
Under Modi Ji administration, I got emboldened & complained in public grievance cell. Net result I am penalised more & corrupt officials are roaming free. more  
Miserable.But under the Modi regime things will change. Honest constables and officers are above corrupt system . more  
Dear,

Take a look at that stuff, it's kind of sophisticated, isn't it? Here, check it out http://original.thecrabbyhch.com/1f1e


Warm regards, jogulsarkar more  
50 yrs curruption will not go in 5o days,5 months,atleast it takes more than 60 months.but some one can start from today that i will not take bribe,i will not give bribe.we have now tendancy that any thing you require,it is urgently.even person see the q in bus or railway..suddenly comes out oh ..no....q....we are always in hurry.for licence,we want in 3 days. why not wait for month.
i had taken ration card without giving single money.i told officer how much time you want to give.he told me:-2 months...i told him:-you take 3 months. then he had given in one month.they always see how much you are in hurry.
I had not even sngle paise given for car & bike licence.they had taken 21 days,its ok.
THE BASIC THING YOU DONT SHOW THAT YOU ARE IN HURRY..... THATS IT. more  
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