When this government clerk from Surendranagar called up Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel to report the alleged ineffectiveness of the state’s new prohibition law, he probably didn’t imagine that the act would land him behind bars.
His crime? Pretending to be a policeman.
Gopal Italia (27) used to be a member of the Lok Rakshak Dal, a government body created to strengthen the state police force, until 2015. The conversation between the two – which has the clerk telling Patel that the state’s improved prohibition law only resulted in a liquor price hike and strengthened the nexus between police, politicians and bootleggers – has gone viral on the social media.
“When minister asked Italia who he was, the accused identified himself as a policeman with the Madhapar station,” said an officer with the Ahmedabad crime branch. On Friday night, Italia was arrested for impersonating a public servant under Section 170 of the Indian Penal Code.
Crime branch officials said they had only registered a non-cognisable office after the video went viral, and launched a search to locate the ‘policeman’ who phoned Patel. However, an FIR was filed after an investigation revealed that Italia was a government clerk, not a member of the state police force.
Italia told police that he had called the minister with the sole intention of informing him about the ineffectiveness of the new anti-liquor law. However, when the minister enquired about his identity, the clerk developed cold feet and claimed that he was a policeman.
Last month, the Gujarat government took cognisance of demands by members of the OBC, SC and ST communities to issue an ordinance that made its prohibition law – which as been in place since the state’s inception in 1960 – more stringent on offenders.