After the former Mumbai commissioner, Param Bir Singh, accused Maharashtra’s home minister Anil Deshmukh of extortion and corruption, the sources in the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) have now confirmed that the suspended police officer Sachin Vaze had allegedly started collecting money two months before Anil Deshmukh made the alleged demands.
One of the hotel owners, in a Mid-day report, has mentioned that Vaze was already running the extortion rackets from his shop at the CIU office inside the compound of the Commissioner of Police office in Crawford Market.
“He would call entrepreneurs from the Food and Beverage business and convince them to cough up monthly amounts. In return, he would assure us that SSB officials would not conduct any raids at our establishments. He also assured that we’d stay out of other legal troubles,” said a hotel owner.
The report also mentioned another hotelier who claimed that the extortion started soon after businesses resumed after the lockdown and it is hard to believe that senior officials were not privy to what Sachin Vaze was upto.
“We got Waze’s horror service in the name of protection from the SSB raids. This happened soon after businesses resumed after the lockdown. It is hard to believe that Waze would be involved in such acts without keeping high-ranking officials in the loop,” said the hotelier, the owner of a well-known restaurant in Bandra.
Sources also revealed how establishments were divided into three categories- A, B, and C to derive their amounts.
“The A category was supposed to shell out Rs 2 lakh a month, B had to pay Rs 1.5 lakh while C had to pay Rs 1 lakh, he said. The NIA had seized a currency-counting machine and over Rs 5 lakh in cash from a Mercedes Vaze used. He must have needed the machine to count the cash he collected,” said a bar owner.
They also informed that hoteliers or bar owners who refused to pay the amount had to face raids from SSB that supervises dance bars and hotels as the consequence.
Another senior member of AHAR said, “A few hotel and bar owners in Ghatkopar, Borivali and Worli had been collecting funds from nearby hotel owners and sending the money to Waze at the CIU office.”
Currently, Sachin Vaze is under arrest for his involvement in the Antilia bomb and Mansukh Hiren murder case. The Ministry of Home Affairs has now transferred both the cases to the NIA.