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Sunday, September 11, 2011

BMC official in cop custody till Monday

Chandrashekhar Rokade outside a special court on Saturday

S Ahmed Ali, Mateen Hafeez & Shawan Sen TNN

Mumbai: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation deputy commissioner (encroachment) Chandrashekar Rokade, who was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Friday for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh , was remanded in police custody till September 12 by the special ACB court. Rokade was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Rokade’s lawyer argued that he had been framed in the case. But ACB officials told the court that they had strong evidence to prove that Rokade had demanded and accepted the bribe. “On Friday, after accepting the bribe, Rokade immediately wiped his hands on his trousers to ensure that the powder (used to nail him for evidence) did not remain. But we seized his trousers as well,” said an officer.

The ACB slueths also told the court that they had video clippings in which Rokade could be seen demanding money and accepting it. According to the ACB officials, they reached Rokade’s office around 4.30 pm. “The complainant went inside Rokade’s office with the bribe money. When we entered his office, he was in a hurry and tried to resist. “Mujhe phansaya ja raha hai,” Rokade told us,” said an officer. The money, said sources, was hidden in Rokade’s private washroom. “It was hidden behind the window grille. We seized the currency notes from there,” the officer added.

Searches were conducted at his Haji Ali flat and the police found some documents that were being scrutinized. “We have found a locker in his name,” the officer said.

Talking about the case, the police officer said, “Rokade received the first instalment of the bribe (Rs 2 lakh) in June. He issued a notice to the complai
nants saying their work was not up to the mark and he could cancel the tender. The Rs 9-crore tender was given to the complainant’s firm but Rokade demanded more money not to cancel their tender.”

Meanwhile, corporators said Rokade’s arrest would further damage the civic body’s image. “It’s an open secret that the civic body is a hotbed of corruption. Such incidents are unacceptable,” said corporator Vinod Shekhar. In the past, Rokade had been accused of partisanship in various tenders relat
ed to encroachment. Last month, the standing committee had initiated two points of order against Rokade.

“One of the points of order was related to the auction of scrap material collected during the encroachment drive, whereby Rokade was accused of favouring a single company. In the other, he was again accused of favouring another particular company for the vehicles used for the encroachment drive,” said standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale.

Activists, however, have questioned the probity of the standing committee. “This incident has disappointed us as we have worked very closely with Rokade on hawkers’ eviction. It turns out that he, too, has feet of clay. After this incident, we will no longer believe civic officials on face value,” said activist Anandini Thakoor.

The Times of India, September 12, 2011

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