Israelis, drugs and spy cam video wars in Goa (Letter from Goa)By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
PANAJI - One sensational spy cam video after another seems to be dropping like ripe fruit from the scandal-laden boughs of Goa Police, laying bare a furious feud within the state police hierarchy. And the only side to benefit from this infighting seems to be the notorious Israeli drug mafia.
There’s a pattern to the seemingly random harvest of incriminating spy cam videos - the emerging power struggle between two groups within the state police, with Indian Police Service (IPS) officers on one side and senior state cadre officers backed by the local political set-up on the other.
Three videos were uploaded on YouTube by a Swedish model, Lucky Farmhouse, early last year, which showed her Israeli drug dealer boyfriend Yaniv Benaim alias Atala boasting of his links with Goa Police.
The videos triggered a potential ‘heads-will-roll’ scenario in political, police and media circles here, but a series of new videos has put a new set of heads on the chopping block.
Reportedly shot four months back by Ayala Driham and Zarina, sister and girlfriend respectively of yet another arrested Israeli drug dealer, David Driham alias Dudu, these new videos show police subinspector Sunil Guddler selling charas and hashish to them. Guddler was recently transferred from the state anti-narcotics cell (ANC).
Guddler had last year arrested Dudu (who has also been arrested by Mumbai Police ANC some years back) in what was hailed as one of the biggest anti-narcotic arrests by Goa Police.
In a subsequent statement to the crime branch, Ayala claimed Guddler wasn’t acting on his own and a senior officer was involved.
“The superior officer being referred to here (by Guddler) was superintendent of police Shri (Veenu) Bansal. Guddler explained that money was the only way to get to him. He then used the phrase ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ which I did not understand. He then took a note from me and held it up indicating the picture of Mahatma Gandhi which is what he used as a code for passing cash to grease the hands of his superior officer, i.e., Bansal,” Ayala told police in her formal statement, a copy of which is available with IANS.
Bansal, the young Indian Police Service (IPS) officer in question who headed the state ANC till a few months back, was the toast of Goa Police for “taking on” the powerful Israeli drug mafia, before he was transferred out.
Bansal’s arrest of Dudu and several other high profile drug dealers last year came at a time when the state ANC had nothing much to show, barring a few run-of-the-mill raids, in the last 30 years of its existence.
The relatively overactive ANC headed by Bansal, who enjoyed the confidence of the police top brass comprising IPS officers, had also rubbed several state police service officials the wrong way. The state cadre officers are a powerful lobby with considerable political clout in the state police set-up.
The nearly one dozen state police service officials have virtually edged out the IPS officers, including the Director General of Police (DGP) Bhimsain Bassi and Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ravinder Singh Yadav. In fact, open dissent of the DGP and the DIG by the state cadre officials in full glare of the media is not uncommon.
Key encardred policing positions, including posts of district superintendents of police (SPs) and SP Crime Branch, are headed by the state cadre officials, which has rendered the IPS officers virtually redundant in the hierarchy.
A skewed reward policy adopted in favour of the state cadre officers by the Congress-led coalition government has also exposed the government’s distaste for IPS officers.
For example, awarding the chief minister’s gold medal to Deputy Superintendent of Police Chandrakant Salgaonkar, weeks after he was severely castigated by the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court for dubious investigation in the police-politician-drug mafia nexus case and direct allegations by both the Congress and BJP leadership about his links to drug trade, has also defied logic.
In yet another shocking incident, Atala, who was linked to Home Minister Ravi Naik’s son Roy, was found holed up in a house in the coastal village of Siolim when he was arrested in May last year. The house was owned by the in-laws of a state cadre superintendent’s kin. Not only was no action taken against the SP but he was moved to a much more prestigious post later.
The saga continues.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)