Panaji, June 3 (Calcutta Tube) Officials investigating the police-politician and drug-mafia nexus in Goa have told the Bombay High Court that several journalists were key players in the nexus and collected ‘hafta’ (extortion money) to block adverse stories against an Israeli drug dealer.
Police have also said that the several journalists, including a crime reporter, in Goa were also on the payrolls of drug dealer David Driham alias Dudu, who was operating in the state for nearly a decade.
In a custodial interrogation report submitted to the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court, the Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC) sleuths have said that Dudu used to pay ‘hafta’ to police constable Sandeep Parab alias Kamin and journalist Vilas — referring to Vilas Mahadik, a crime reporter working with a leading local Marathi newspaper Gomantak.
‘In the years 2005-2006, some journalists of newspapers started writing against me. This caused a lot of irritation and trouble for me for continuing to stay in Goa. At that time I sought help of Sandeep Parab alias Kamin (a policeman arrested for links to the drugs mafia). He got in touch with a news reporter by name Vilas. They contacted some journalists and told me that they had taken care of the matter and no more news item would appear in the newspapers about me,’ states Dudu’s interrogation report submitted to the high court, excerpts of which are available on the official website of the Bombay High Court.
‘I had paid a large sum of money to Kamin and his friend Vilas. Later, the media reports about me reduced appearing in the newspapers. From that time onwards I maintained good relations with some journalists by paying them protection money regularly,’ the report compiled by police sub-inspector Sunil Gudlar states, adding that Vilas would also come directly to his house to collect the protection money.
PSI Gudlar also said that according to Dudu’s interrogation report, Ashish Shirodkar, a police inspector who was arrested for his links to the drugs mafia, ‘also used to pay money on my behalf to some newspaper reporters. He had promised me that he would take care about the news reporters and keep them quiet about me’.
When contacted for comment, Gomantak editor Suresh Naik said: ‘We are taking due cognizance of the high court order.’