In a sensational twist to the SUV case, former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh on Saturday hit out at Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by virtually alleging that the minister wanted his team member, arrested cop Sachin Vaze, to ‘collect’ Rs 100 crore per month from bars and hookah parlours.
Taking strong umbrage at Deshmukh’s remarks that Singh’s transfer as Commandant-General of Maharashtra Home Guards was not for administrative purposes but for “unpardonable lapses” by his team, the ex-Mumbai top cop shot off an eight-page missive to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, saying he was made a “scapegoat” for “extraneous and vindictive reasons”.
Hitting back at Singh, Deshmukh tweeted that the ex-Mumbai police chief was leveling false allegations against him to save himself from action in the SUV case and the case related to the death of Mansukh Hiran.
“The former Commissioner of Police, Parambir Singh has made false allegations in order to save himself as the involvement of Sachin Waze in Mukesh Ambani & Mansukh Hiren’s case is becoming clearer from the investigation carried out so far & threads are leading to Mr. Singh as well,” Deshmukh tweeted.
The SUV case refers to the explosives-laden Scorpio that was found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai last month. Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran, who was in possession of the Scorpio, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on March 5.
But even as the latest revelations by Singh threatens to shake the foundation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress, top leaders remained incommunicado.
Meanwhile, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party have slammed the MVA government, terming Singh’s contentions as “extremely serious”.
In the letter, Singh has pointed out that his transfer was effected under Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, Section 22N(2) with the reason that it was necessitated by administration exigencies, to ensure a free and fair probe in the Antilia (SUV case) incident.
However, he rued the fact that in a recent interview, Deshmukh had stated that there were “serious lapses committed at my office, by the Mumbai Police and me, in the investigation of the Antilia incident” and “my serious lapses are not pardonable” and “my transfer is not on administrative grounds”.
Singh recalled how he had briefed Thackeray, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, NCP President Sharad Pawar and other senior ministers about the “misdeeds and malpractices” indulged in by Deshmukh.
In this context, Singh said that Deshmukh had summoned Vaze at his official residence ‘Dyaneshwari’ several times and had repeatedly asked him to assist in collecting funds for the minister.
According to Singh, at one such meeting in mid February, the minister told Vaze that he had a target to collect Rs 100 crore per month and even advised that since there are 1,750 bars, eateries and other establishments in Mumbai, if Rs 2-3 lakh was collected from each, it could amount to around Rs 40-50 crore, while the balance could be achieved from other sources.
Even as Vaze came and informed him about the matter, Singh said that ACP Sanjay Patil of Social Service Branch and DCP (Enforcement) Raju Bhujbal were also called by Deshmukh to discuss the hookah parlours in Mumbai with the similar demand to ‘collect’ money.
Singh said that he reconfirmed all this information four days ago with ACP Sanjay Patil and also reproduced the WhatsApp chat with him in the letter to the CM.
Both Vaze and ACP Patil had reported their ‘predicament’ to Singh, who was mulling over how to sort out the issue of “corrupt malpractices”.
Singh asserted that Deshmukh had repeatedly bypassed him and called officers to his official residence, asking them to carry out “official assignments and money collection schemes and targets”.
He pointed out that in the past one year, Deshmukh had even instructed his officers “to adopt a specific course of action in police investigations”, which the IPS officer pointed out were “political interference, illegal and un-constitutional”.
In order to bolster his contentions, Singh referred to the recent death of Dadra & Nagar Haveli MP Mohan Delkar at a Mumbai hotel, in which Deshmukh had reportedly insisted that the Mumbai Police should register a case of “abetment of suicide” to derive political mileage.
At that time, after seeking legal opinion, Singh said he had informed Thackeray, Deshmukh and others that it could only be done by the police of the Union Territory.
The minister was unhappy with Singh’s resistance and despite knowing the full background, he went ahead to announce a Special Investigation Team to probe the matter earlier this month.
Singh said he was aware of the “likely retaliation” against him and hence was placing the “true picture on record” for the CM’s consideration and corrective action.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)