Ex-Mumbai top cop's suspension, officers' arrest dent Maharashtra police department's image

The Maharashtra Police Department's credibility suffered perhaps a never-before dent during the year.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh (Photo | PTI)
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh (Photo | PTI)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Police Department's credibility suffered perhaps a never-before dent during the year as some high-profile serving and former cops faced action and inquiry in different cases, with a few of them even going behind bars.

The arrest of the now-dismissed police officer Sachin Waze in the sensational 'Antilia' bomb scare-Mansukh Hiran murder case and the suspension of former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, who is facing several extortion cases, are prominent examples of this.

This came in the wake of the praise that the department earned for the role its personnel played as frontline workers to ensure that people follow the coronavirus-related guidelines during the pandemic.

At least 46,374 police personnel contracted the infection and 499 of them, including 44 police officers, have succumbed to it across the state so far.

The arrest of NCP leader Anil Deshmukh in November this year, seven months after his resignation as home minister following allegations of corruption against him, and the religion-caste controversy against NCB officer Sameer Wankhede, the man behind the arrest of Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan in a high-profile drugs-on-cruise case in October, also raised question marks over the conduct of politicians and government officers.

The year began on a high-pitched note after an explosives-laden SUV was found parked near 'Antilia', the multi-storey residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani in south Mumbai on February 25.

The case got murkier after the death of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran, who had claimed that he was the owner of the vehicle parked near the Ambani residence.

On March 5, his body was recovered from a creek in Thane.

The probe was then transferred to the ATS, which registered a case of murder and criminal conspiracy.

It arrested suspended constable Vinayak Shinde and cricket bookie Naresh Gaur in the case.

The NIA later took over the probe and arrested Waze, who was then assistant police inspector (API), as the prime accused along with former "encounter specialist" officer Pradeep Sharma, police inspector Sunil Mane, API Riyazuddin Kazi and others.

On March 17, Deshmukh, the then home minister, announced the transfer of Param Bir Singh from Mumbai police commissioner's post.

Singh then wrote a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleging that Deshmukh had asked police officers to collect Rs 100 crore every month from bars and restaurants.

On April 5, Deshmukh resigned as a minister.

The CBI conducted a preliminary inquiry as per the high court's instructions and registered a case against Deshmukh.

On May 11, the ED also registered a case under the PMLA against Deshmukh and on November 2 arrested him.

Meanwhile, multiple extortion cases were filed against Singh in Mumbai and Thane.

However, he remained untraceable for months.

He was declared a proclaimed offender and lookout notices were also issued against him.

Finally, on November 24, he told media that he was in Chandigarh and would soon join the investigation.

He landed in Mumbai the next day to record his statement.

The state government later suspended Singh along with DCP Parag Manere, his co-accused in an extortion case.

Talking about the happenings in the police department, a senior official said, "While people were praising the police personnel for their work during the COVID-19 times, officers like Waze tarnished the image of the force."

Former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro dubbed Waze as a "hooligan" in police uniform and Singh as a "stain" on the police force.

Another major development in the state this year was the NCB's raid on a cruise, wherein it allegedly recovered drugs, and arrested Aryan Khan and several others on October 3.

Aryan was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in the last week of October.

The NCB faced criticism after one of the independent witnesses, Prabhakar Sail, levelled allegations against the agency officials, including its zonal director Wankhede.

Sail, who claimed to be the bodyguard of NCB witness Kiran Gosavi, alleged that he had heard Gosavi discussing a Rs 25 crore pay-off deal after Aryan was arrested.

Sail claimed that Gosavi had said Rs 8 crore of the deal money was to be given to Wankhede.

Sail's allegations prompted the NCB to order a vigilance inquiry against its officials.

Based on the allegations, the vigilance team of Delhi NCB formed an SIT to probe it.

The Aryan Khan case and five other cases were transferred to the SIT.

State minister Nawab Malik kept targeting Wankhede, alleging that the latter was Muslim by birth and produced a fake certificate to get a government job.

Then there were developments in the case concerning the alleged leak of a report prepared by IPS officer Rashmi Shukla about 'corruption' in police transfers in Maharashtra when she headed the State Intelligence Department (SID).

It was alleged that calls of senior officials and politicians were intercepted illegally during the probe.

Cyber police recorded the statement of Shukla and a questionnaire was also sent to the then Maharashtra DGP Subodh Kumar Jaiswal.

On November 13, top Naxal leader Milind Teltumbde was killed in a police encounter along with 25 Naxals in Gadchiroli, termed as major success for the police.

In February, Dadra and Nagar Haveli MP Mohan Delkar allegedly committed suicide in a hotel room in Mumbai, which shocked the political fraternity.

On February 23, gangster Ravi Pujari, wanted in various extortion cases, was brought to Mumbai from Bengaluru.

Pujari had been deported to India from South Africa in February last year.

On July 19, businessman Raj Kundra was arrested in a porn films case along with his associate Ryan Thorpe.

Kundra was released on bail two months later.

Union minister Narayan Rane kicked up a row over his remarks about slapping CM Thackeray.

On August 24, he was arrested by Raigad police and released on bail the same day.

In September, a Nirbhaya-like incident took place in Mumbai, in which a 32-year-old woman was raped and brutalised at Sakinaka.

The victim succumbed to her injuries.

In another case, a 15-year-old girl from Dombivli alleged that she was raped multiple times over a period of eight months by 33 accused.

In November, violence broke out in parts of Maharashtra including Amravati, Nanded, Malegaon (Nashik) following protests over alleged communal incidents in Tripura.

The state also witnessed several fire tragedies in various hospitals.

Ten infants were killed in a Bhandara hospital in January, 10 COVID-19 patients in Ahmednagar and at least 27 such patients in different hospitals in and around Mumbai due the incidents of blaze at different times.

In Nashik, at least 24 patients died in April after the oxygen supply was affected in a hospital.

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