Anil Jain’s family has been in the jewellery business for generations. But today, Jain is ashamed to step into his shop in the Jogeshwari market because he had been labelled chor or thief.
Jain is among the nine jewellers in the stretch between Amboli and Borivli who claim to be victims of a nexus between the police and two chain snatchers. At least four times in the past week, the police have dropped in at Jain’s shop with two chain snatchers — always the same two persons accused of chain snatching in the past — who claim that they sold their loot to Jain.
The police, accusing Jain of selling ‘stolen’ jewellery, asked him to pay a ‘fine’ or force him to part with the jewellery. “It has been going on for many months,” said Jain. “But the harassment has reached unbearable proportions now.”
A complaint filed by Behram Baug-Anand Nagar Jewellers’ Association with the home minister’s office and senior police authorities said more than nine jewellery shops from the area have been targetted in this manner in the past two months.
The jewellers claim that policemen from Borivli, Oshiwara, Samta Nagar, Malad, Bangur Nagar and Amboli police stations are involved.
The jewellers allege that the two accused, Jamil Sheikh and Asif Sheikh, would demand hafta [extortion money] from the jewellers. When the businessmen refused to pay they allegedly started indulging in this racket with some policemen.
Vivek Bhatt, another jeweller, said, “I have lost all my business, as my customers have started thinking that I sell stolen ornaments. It has become so embarrassing for me even to step out in the area.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Sanjay Bannerjee (zone 11), under whose jurisdiction Bangurnagar, Malad, Samta Nagar and Borivli police stations come, said, “The matter is being investigated.”
DCP K.M.M. Prasanna (zone 10), under whose jurisdiction Oshiwara and Amboli police stations come, refused to comment.
Sources said Jamil and Asif have at least 10 cases registered against them and were first arrested by the Bangur Nagar police a couple of months ago. Since then their custody has been transferred to other police stations.
(Names of jewellers have been changed to protect their identity)