As many as 37 Mumbai policemen were suspended after being shown on national television accepting bribes to allow an illegal construction in suburban Kurla, an act, an embrassed police Commissioner Satyapal Singh termed as "shameful".
Cracking the whip on corrupt policemen, Singh placed 37 personnel of the Nehru Nagar police station, including the office incharge Dhananjay Bagayatkar, under suspension following a sting operation carried out by an activist Kasim Khan.
The sting operation showed men in uniform accepting money, with some of them brazenly haggling with Khan over the amount to be paid.
"Thirty-seven policemen have been suspended. Their action has shamed the department and Mumbai police. We will not tolerate such acts. Now, we are taking departmental action which will be followed by a legal action soon," Singh told PTI.
He, however, maintained that the errant policemen might have been "induced" to accept money. "Going by the video footage and visuals it seems that policemen were induced to accept money," Singh said, adding the Anti-Corruption Bureau will probe the matter.
"Any police officer indulging in such acts will invite a strict action," Singh said, adding if more policemen were found to be involved, action would be initiated against them too.
Most suspended policemen are constables but some are also of the ranks of sub-inspectors and inspectors. Meanwhile, Khan, whose "sting" operation created a storm, has claimed that an officer of the anti-corruption bureau, which has been asked to probe the episode, barged into his house at suburban Kurla in the wee hours today with the intention of "terrorising and intimidating" him.
"An ACP rank officer attached with the ACB barged into my house at about 1.30 am on Thursday, and began inquiring. Am I an accused? I was very tense on Wednesday night. It was an attempt to create terror in my mind," he said.
Khan demanded action against guilty police personnel under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act and slammed Satyapal Singh for his comment that the cops might have been induced to accept money.
"It is not appropriate for a senior officer like the police commissioner to talk on the issue without seeing the visuals. It seems he is supporting the corrupt cops and is against me. Now I am scared of the police commissioner," he said.
"I wanted to expose cops who loot citizens. I have nothing to gain from this expose. For the sake of society, I have carried out the sting operation with the help of my son and we successfully uncovered the real faces of the cops," Khan said, adding that over 100 policemen were paid bribes by him and action should be taken against all of them.
According to Khan, his friend Prakash Nevle was renovating his house at Thakkar Bappa colony in Kurla and policemen of Nehru Nagar wanted money to allow him to proceed with the work after municipal authorities had stopped it for want of necessary clearances.
When Nevle told him about the demand, Khan suggested him to direct those policemen to him. He then installed a spy camera on which he recorded footage of the police personnel accepting bribe.
The activist handed over the footage to the deputy commissioner of police of the concerned zone, who forwarded it to the commissioner of police.
The episode came days after the collapse of an illegal building at Mumbra in adjoining Thane district which claimed 74 lives and left scores injured. A massive demolition exercise has been launched in Thane after the collapse, the worst such incident in Maharashtra.