Hotel Owners Beware: Man posing as FSSAI official arrested by Ghatkopar police
Ghatkopar police have arrested a 36-year-old for allegedly impersonating a Vigilance Inspector from FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) earlier this week.
The accused, Omkar Bhanushali, would visit hotels and restaurants posing as the official and collect fines/bribes under the guise of ignoring possible violations.
According to officials, his modus operandi involved inspecting restaurants, highlighting violations and threatening action against the establishment. He would later warm up to the management or owners and accept bribes to overlook the shortcomings.
Bhanushali’s act was uncovered after he visited Hotel Radhakrishna in Ghatkopar (West) on Thursday. He told the restaurant’s manager he was from the vigilance department of FSSAI and asked to see the necessary licenses.
After claiming that the restaurant was flouting norms he demanded a Rs 15,000 cash fine from the manager, who informed the restaurant’s owner Hitesh Shetty. The latter reached the hotel and subsequently informed Sunil Patil, an office-bearer of AHAR.
Since Bhanushali refused to show his ID card initially, a suspicious Patil called FSSAI’s assistant commissioner Dilip Sawant to check his credentials. Sawant confirmed that there was no Bhanushali in FSSAI.
While the owner called Ghatkopar police, the accused tried to make a run. He was, however, nabbed the hotel staffers and handed over to cops later.
Bhanushali has been charged under sections 170 (impersonating a public servant) and 171 (wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant with fraudulent intent) under the Indian Penal Code.
He told cops he was a lawyer from Nashik, a claim police are trying to verify. They also managed to recover fake forms and files that Bhanushali would carry during his fake inspections.
He is believed to have visited several eateries, including Bora Bora and Shri Ganesh in Andheri, prior to visiting Radhakrishna.
He was produced in court on Thursday, who sent him to police custody. He will be produced in court again today.