Action sought against five police officers for allegedly taking bribes
The angst and anger of dozens of young expatriates, reportedly harassed and prosecuted for passport-related offences, found vent during a collective of the ‘victims of police harassment’ here on Saturday.
The Muslim Youth League (MYL), which organised the gathering, sought the suspension from service of five police officers, including two Deputy Superintendents (DySPs) for allegedly taking bribes from the ‘victims.’
The officers named by them were, Radhakrishna Pillai, DySP, Crime Detachment; Chandra Mohan, DySP, Emigration, Karipur; Sandeep Kumar, sub-inspector, Malappuram; and Mohanan and Padmanabhan civil police officers.
MYL would take out a march to the office of the District Police Chief if no action was forthcoming.
Most ‘victims’ said they were being harassed on charges of tampering with the details mentioned in the passport such as date of birth. The ‘victims’ said they were not aware of any illegal changes as they relied on travel agents.
Most of them were caught during their third or fourth journey abroad. Almost all of them had a bitter tale of bribery and police harassment to recount.
“They (emigration officers) asked me for Rs.25,000 at the airport soon after I landed at Karipur from Muscat on March 10, 2011. I was arrested and jailed. The Crime Detachment officers asked for Rs.35,000, which was given. Still I am running from pillar to post,” said Dileep Kumar from Pattambi. His date of birth was reportedly altered by a travel agent.
Yousuf Ali from Irumbuzhi was caught and jailed when he was returning home for the fifth time.
“They took Rs.1,000 from me at the airport as ‘procedural charges.’ Two policemen took Rs.500 each from me for signing at the police station as part of the bail agreement,” he said. Talhath from Koottayi said he was being harassed for over two years. “A case against me was filed even after I paid a penalty of Rs.5,000 and Rs.2,500 for a fresh passport. They (the officials) cheated me by not giving me a fresh passport till recently. I had to forgo my visa stamped in my old passport as the authorities were unyielding.”
They described how the police officers of Crime Detachment and Emigration wings flagrantly demanded bribe from them. Many of them gave, when some refused. But all of them spent several days in jail. “Nowhere else in the country the expatriates are persecuted like in Karipur. The victims who lost several years fighting the case should be duly compensated for the insult they suffered,” said Indian Union Muslim League district general secretary P. Abdul Hameed while inaugurating the gathering.
P. Ubaidulla, MLA, and T.V. Ibrahim, Calicut University Syndicate member, too shared the same view. Offering legal aid, People’s Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL) head P.A. Pouran and lawyers U.A. Latheef and Sujata Varma said non-bailable charges like 420 and 471 were being deliberately slapped on the victims where penalties would do under the Passport Act. Mr. Pouran said the government should ensure that efficient and clean officers were appointed in Emigration and Crime Detachment wings.
Alleging an unholy nexus between travel agents and Emigration officers, Ms. Varma said the Home Department should issue directions to the police to file charge sheets in passport cases n 15 days.