• Champion of Change
  • 6 years ago

Bribe fighter's determination gets PMO's attention

Reported on December 23, 2014 from Mumbai, Maharashtra  ι Report #9

Bribe fighter's dogged determination saw even the PMO take notice.

On June 9, Mumbaikar Leena Ganguly put up a brave fight against corruption. Her driver was arrested and her car was taken into custody by traffic policemen, who alleged that her number plate was faulty. Her driver was asked to pay a bribe of Rs 100, but Leena, who owns a Custom Clearance firm, refused to bow down.  Instead, she chose to spend Rs 5,000 to fight for her driver in the court. Her Indefatigable determination saw the office of Prime Minister of India take notice.   

Speaking to IPAB Leena said, “I had faxed two letters to the PMO on July 7 and 24, but didn’t get any response.  On Oct 13, the person at the PMO who received by fax was shocked to hear that a poor man was sent to jail for not giving a bribe of Rs 200,” she said. She added that the PMO official promised prompt action. Soon enough, on Nov 29 Leena received a mail from PMO office that stating that the complaint has been forwarded to the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra for appropriate action. 

Leena had posted the complaint on ipaidabribe this June.  The story on her fight against bribery was also first reported on ipaidabribe.  “I am really glad that IPAB took up this story when other leading dailies refused as media did not seem interested.  I even pasted the story ipaidabribe did on me on Prime Minister’s Facebook page. Thanks to the story, I got many calls from many places congratulating me, and supporting me in my fight,” she said.

The incident:

Speaking about the harrowing incident, Leena says, “the incident took place on June 9, at about 6:30 pm. My driver, Popat Sathe called me at my office and informed me that he was being questioned by couple of traffic policemen at Thane Brahmand area. They apparently had an issue with my car’s number plate, which they claimed was fancy.” A charge, Leena vehemently denies. She adds, “My number plate, MH04 ET6082, is not a fancy one. The officials said that my car violated RTO rules because it displayed the vehicle dealer’s name and contact no. at the bottom of the plate. Many cars have showrooms’ names and numbers printed below the vehicle number, and this is not flawed either. I was not flouting any rules.” To let the driver go, the officials asked him to pay Rs 100. Sathe asked Leena, and she advised him to tell the officials that the owner of the car has refused to pay and he, as the driver, couldn’t do much.

As Sathe was explaining his stand to the police, some other policemen in civilian clothes appeared out of nowhere, forcibly opened the car’s doors, pulled Sathe out and abused him in Marathi. Threatening him, they said that if he doesn’t pay up, he will end up languishing in the jail for six days. Sathe relayed the same to Leena. She demanded to speak to the official asking for bribe, but the latter refused to speak. Leena then called up the control room to get the erring official’s number, and on reaching him demanded for an explanation. When confronted by Leena, the official had a totally different story to say. He said that the driver almost ran him over and that is why he was detained. Leena, incensed over the false allegations, asked the man to quit spinning tales. “He then got irritated and told me to do whatever I wanted. But I refused to let this go, so I called the Control Room again and asked for Thane DCP’s (traffic police) number. Initially he was sympathetic, but when questioned as to why I should be forced to pay money, he got angry and accused me of framing false charges against his class I officer. I also requested him to take a look at my number plate to see if it violated RTO norms, he just asked me to come to his office the next day, and banged the phone,” says the exasperated 44-year-old. On the other hand, the driver was arrested and taken to Thane police station. Leena went to Thane police station to get her driver released. At the police station, she met the senior official, Suryavanshi who explained that currently the driver could not be released. He, however, suggested that she could bail Sathe out the next day when he will be presented before the court. The next day, Leena sent faxes explaining the entire incident to both Maharastra Home Minister, and Mumbai police Commissioner. 

In the afternoon, she geared up for the court proceedings. “At the court, a lady lawyer helped me with the bail proceedings. Sathe was brought to court at 3:30 pm, and at 4:30 pm his bail came through,” she says. “I had to pay Rs 5,000 to the lawyer, and Rs 200 to get the paper work done. All this because I refused to pay Rs 100 as bribe,” says Leena. Leena also points out that false charges were leveled against Sathe. “He was booked under 353, 323, 504,506, 51 CMVR, and was also accused of not carrying a valid driver’s license,” explains Leena. The charges included attacking government official on duty, spoiling the environment with notorious activities, among others.

“On June 9, my car was also taken into custody. To get it released, I was asked to sign on a piece of paper that enumerated the charges against Sathe.Though I signed the paper, I also wrote a line saying I do not accept the charges,” she adds. Leena refuses to keep quiet. Soon after the bail, she wrote numerous emails to both HM, and Commissioner. She also managed to get an audience with BJP’s Kirit Somaiya and explained the case to him. Along with five friends, Leena met the DCP, who assured her of setting up an independent inquiry committee to look into the matter. 

Leena is a true bribe-fighter. May her tribe increase!

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