Mumbai, May 15: Five people hired on contract basis as clean-up marshalls for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) were booked, of which four have been arrested by MIDC Police on Friday for extortion charges.
The police said that the arrested accused had extorted money from a city-based businessman on the pretext of fine for violation of prohibitory orders issued amid COVID pandemic. They were arrested and booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
According to police, the complainant, who owns an ecommerce business at Nand Deep Industrial Estate in Andheri (E), had taken the due permissions from the authority to run his business. In April, the accused people, who were hired on contract basis by the BMC to impose fine on people for spitting, littering on roads and not wearing masks. The accused allegedly found the complainant without a mask, in violation of the pandemic orders and threatened him to initiate police action against him if he did not pay Rs. 1 lakh, settling for Rs. 20,000.
Similarly, the accused people, identified as Pramod Mane, Vishal Suryavanshi, Dadasaheb Godse and Akash Gaikwad, visited the complainant's factory in JB Nagar on Friday and demanded the extortion. Finding something amiss and suspicious, the complainant alerted the police, who rushed to the spot and enquired with the BMC as to the powers they have to fine inside industrial premises, said Maheshwar Reddy, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 10).
Upon enquiries, the BMC's Solid Waste Management department said that they were to fine people violating COVID rules in public, entitled to collect a fine of Rs. 200, but not in industrial spaces. Acting on this information, all four were arrested and search for their fifth accomplice is underway. Police suspect that the accused have cheated a number of people using the same modus operandi and are investigating the matter further. They were produced before a magistrate court on Saturday and released on bail.