Suhas Gokhale, former senior inspector, anti-narcotics cell, who was arrested in May in connection with the Mephedrone racket run by drug dealer Shashikala Patankar, said the charges -- harbouring and financing drug dealers – levelled against him are baseless.
Gokhale, who was granted bail on Wednesday, was released from Byculla jail on Thursday. “I was charged with section 27A section of the NDPS Act (harbouring and financing illicit drug traffic) on the basis of the calls made to Patankar on three days in March. Patankar was my informer from the time I served the anti-narcotics cell between 1996 and 1999. To charge me with harbouring drug trade, they should have looked at my call records over the past 15 years,” said Gokhale, speaking to HT at his Agripada residence.
He said the legal definition of harbouring means providing place or food and shelter. “I have not done any of it. Also, there is no question of financing the trade, as the police department is aware of my poor financial status,” he said.
Patankar had called Gokhale on March 11, while he was on a three-day leave at Nashik. He returned to the city on March 14. On learning that a fresh case has been registered against constable Dharmaraj Kalokhe and Patankar has been named as the wanted accused in it, Gokhale said he gave her phone number to Namdev Chavan, deputy commissioner of police, ANC.
The crime branch claimed Gokhale helped Patankar, escape arrest and did not allow her to surrender to the police. Responding to the allegation, Gokhale said while on the run, Patankar told him that she wants to surrender, to which he told her that she is not wanted by the Mumbai police, and so she should go and surrender before the Satara police. “I said so because I had no idea that the Marine Drive police had registered a fresh case against her. I didn’t think the city police would lodge an FIR, despite telling them that the substance found from Kalokhe’s cupboard was not Mephedrone,” Gokhale said. “They named me in the panchnama, but did not take my signature.”
The former cop asked if the police suspected his involvement in the case and doubted his integrity, why did they allow him to remain the in-charge of the Azad Maidan ANC cell. “I was also asked to provide assistance in the 234 kg seizure of brown sugar by Coast Guard. In fact, a day after my arrest, I was slapped with a suspension order mentioning I cannot opt for any other employment during the suspension period. This means they want me to die hungry, as I will also not get my suspension allowance as I have retired.”
Gokhale alleged that police were aware that the FSL result of the substance seized from Kalokhe’s cupboard will be negative. “All 12 samples were not of the drug. Ultimately, the sections of the NDPS Act will be dropped from the case and I will be discharged. I have full faith in the judiciary,” he said.