Angadia extortion case: Hunt for IPS officer continues six months after conviction

The nearest branch of the Mumbai Criminal Police had managed to locate the suspended DCP Saurabh Tripathi – wanted in the angadia extortion case registered exactly six months ago – was in March last week when he successfully exposed the police team who raided his relative’s residence in Lucknow while staying in a rented flat seven or eight houses down the road from parent’s home.

As soon as he heard about the police raid taking place almost 200 meters away, Tripathi fled. Realizing it was his cell phone and online activities that led police to his relative’s residence, he stopped using a cell phone and the trail has since gone cold.

Mumbai Police had on February 19 registered an FIR against three police officers and arrested them for demanding money from angadias by extorting them.

Later, the police named Tripathi as a wanted defendant, as the arrested officers claimed they were working on his orders. Tripathi, however, had fled by then.

Tripathi’s brother-in-law has also been arrested and police have named his father as a wanted defendant. Recently, the Mumbai Police filed an indictment against the three arrested officers, who are now out on bail.

An officer said that shortly after naming Tripathi as a defendant in mid-March, the 2010 batch IPS officer, a medical degree holder and qualified dermatologist, first sought help from a fellow college resident in the western suburbs. He had used his phone to make calls.

However, by the time the police followed up on the calls, he had fled to Lucknow where his parents, maternal uncle and in-
the laws reside. While her father was a director in a large public sector bank, her stepfather was an IAS agent.

An officer said: ‘At one point there were five places – his college mate’s house in Navi Mumbai, a bandmate’s house in Rajasthan and the houses of three relatives in Lucknow – where we suspected of being locked up.

Five teams attacked these spots at the same time so he couldn’t get advance notice. However, we could not find it.

The officer added: ‘He knows exactly what tools we would use to find him and managed to stay ahead of the game and then moved to Lucknow.’

“Due to the influence he enjoyed in Gomati Nagar, he continued to stay in different places there,” the officer said. He also used cellphones and internet services to stay under the radar.

The crime branch team, however, continued to track him. “For a few days, there was no activity. However, one fine day, we found some activity in an area where his relative was residing in Gomati Nagar. Our team immediately raided but he wasn’t there. Later we found out he had taken a place to rent a few houses down the block and fled after finding out about the police raid,” an officer added.

Then Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey oversaw the investigation and after it was established that links between Tripathi’s brother-in-law Ashutosh Mishra and his father had emerged in connection with the receipt of the money collected from the angadias, he decided to name the two defendants.

Mishra has been arrested and remains behind bars.

It was believed that this would push Tripathi to surrender, but the ploy did not work.

In April, Tripathi went to the Supreme Court and requested that his case be transferred to the CBI.

He alleged that he was named accused by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale and Co-Commissioner (Law and Order) Vishwas Nangre Patil because he refused to lead the SIT against the former chief of City police suspended Param Bir Singh.

However, he later withdrew his plea and has not sought legal recourse since.

While three of the co-defendants are now out on bail, a senior police officer said they have taken a “wait and watch” approach in anticipation of Tripathi’s approach to court.

“We suspect that once his brother-in-law, who has now approached the Court of Sessions, secures bail, Tripathi will approach the Bombay High Court.”

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