Several ordinary Mumbaiites have joined forces to take on corrupt police and traffic officers. While they will not take the law into their own hands, they will take out their mobiles and cameras to conduct sting operations on cops who harass people and demand bribes. They will follow up the smart detective work with formal complaints and RTI pleas.
|Businessman Jeetendra Ghadge and activist Krishnaraj Rao have joined the movement
The initiative has been inspired by the efforts of a Grand Road resident. Sometime back, Pramodanand, a spiritual healer who lives near Dreamland Cinema, spotted a traffic constable taking money from a motorist. As the cop targeted another victim, Pramodanand took out his camera and captured his every move.
He submitted the video recording to the traffic police department, and filed a complaint, which led to the constable’s transfer to the Local Arms Division.
“Months later I followed up on the complaint by filing an RTI application. I was then informed that the cop had been shunted out. I was later called as a witness,” Pramodanand said. He filed another RTI plea to know the status of the complaint.
“I was shocked to find out that the officer had been let off due to lack of evidence. The department could not find the vehicle driver who was forced to pay a bribe,” he said. Undeterred, Pramodanand posted the video online. In just a few days, the video reached inboxes of several citizens.
Soon, many people came forward, formed an informal group and resolved to conduct their own stings. “We were shocked to know that the cop had been spared punishment,” said a citizen activist, Krishnaraj Rao. “Irrespective of the outcome, Pramodanand has sent a strong message to the police department: “Beware, citizens are watching you.”
Rao said that he, along with others, would conduct stings to expose corrupt cops and officials. The group of citizens has even put out a message: “Be an alert citizen, and use your mobile camera as an anti-corruption tool. Promptly lodge a detailed complaint.
“Follow up with RTI applications. Be persistent. Expect results… but not 100% results. Sometimes, to hold the system accountable, we need to go after individuals.”
“The media does sting operations once in a while and after a few days, things go back to normal. We, however, will keep up the pressure. Corrupt cops have every reason to worry as we will be watching them and catching them on our phone cameras,” said a resident of Opera House, Jeetendra Ghadge.
One man’s sting inspires campaign against bribery – Mumbai Mirror.