Two police inspectors and an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) from Junagadh, Gujarat, have been accused of attempting to extort INR 25 lakh from a Kerala resident. The extortion was allegedly in exchange for unfreezing the resident’s bank account.
The FIR was filed following an internal investigation that exposed the accused officers’ illicit activities. The officers had reportedly frozen approximately 335 bank accounts under the guise of an investigation and attempted to extort money from one of the account holders.
The FIR was registered by the Junagadh ‘B’ Division police based on a complaint filed by Inspector S N Gohil from the office of Inspector General (IG) of Junagadh Range, Nilesh Jajadia. The accused are town police inspector Taral Bhatt, inspector A M Gohil of the Junagadh Special Operations Group (SOG) cyber crime cell, and ASI Dipak Jani.
The FIR invokes several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury), 465 (forgery), 385 (putting a person in fear for extortion), and 120b (criminal conspiracy). Relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act were also invoked.
Inspector S N Gohil confirmed that both A M Gohil and Jani have been suspended from service, although no arrests have been made yet.
According to the FIR, the victim, Kartik Bhandari, discovered in December 2023 that his bank account had been frozen. When he contacted the Junagadh police, they demanded certain documents and bank statements. Despite providing these, his issue remained unresolved, prompting him to travel to Junagadh on January 16.
Upon meeting Jani and A M Gohil at the SOG office, Bhandari was informed that his account was frozen due to “secret inputs received from the Enforcement Directorate (ED)” about suspicious transactions worth crores of rupees. He was then allegedly asked for a bribe of INR 25 lakh to unfreeze his account.
The FIR further states that when Bhandari could only arrange INR 3 to 4 lakh, Jani claimed that other account holders had paid INR 20 lakh each to unfreeze their accounts, and his senior officers would not settle for less.
The investigation, still ongoing, has revealed that Inspector Taral Bhatt had prepared a list of several bank accounts and allegedly instructed A M Gohil to freeze them on the pretext of suspicious transactions. As directed by Bhatt, A M Gohil and Jani allegedly issued letters to various banks between August and November last year, instructing them to freeze 335 bank accounts.