Mumbai: The former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh Saturday alleged that state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had instructed his officers, including suspended cop Sachin Waze, to collect Rs 100 crore from the city’s bars and restaurants every month.
Hours after Singh made the allegations in a letter to Chief Minister Thackeray and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Deshmukh took to Twitter and said the former police chief was trying to “save himself” in the Antilia bomb scare case.
Singh was transferred as the Mumbai police chief Thursday following controversy over the recovery of an explosives-laden car from outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence ‘Antilia’ and the National Investigation Agency’s arrest of Assistant Police Inspector Waze in connection with it.
In his letter, Singh also objected to Deshmukh’s statement about him in an interview to media house Lokmat. Singh said that he was being made “a scapegoat to divert attention from the actual wrongdoers”.
In the interview, which came a day after Singh’s transfer, Deshmukh had said that the IPS officer’s transfer was not routine and the state government took the decision after probe into the explosives case outside Ambani’s house revealed serious lapses by the commissioner’s office and these mistakes by officers working under the police commissioner were unforgivable.
Singh, in his letter, said, “The Hon’ble Home Minister has as a regular practice been repeatedly calling my officers and giving them instructions in respect of the course to be followed by them in performance of their official duties. The Hon’ble Home Minister has been calling my officers at his official residence bypassing me and other superior officers of the Police Department to whom those respective Police Officers report to.”
“The Hon’ble Home Minster has been instructing them to carry out official assignments and collection schemes including financial transactions as per his instructions based on his expectations and targets to collect money. These corrupt malpractices have been brought to my notice by my officers,” the senior IPS officer added.
In his letter, Singh also emphasised that there was not even “an iota of material or evidence — far from proof — against him”.
“In these circumstances, the assertions of the Hon’ble Home Minister to the effect that my transfer is not for administrative or routine reasons, I have conducted serious lapses and the serious lapses in the investigation committed by me are unpardonable are all statements contrary to the record and seem to be for extraneous and vindictive reasons,” Singh said, adding he wanted to appraise the chief minister about the true picture for his consideration and corrective action, “being fully cognizant to the retaliation that is likely.”
An official from Governor Koshyari’s office confirmed receiving the letter, but said he cannot comment more on it. A spokesperson from Thackeray’s office did not respond to ThePrint’s calls.
Deshmukh, too, did not respond to calls made by ThePrint, while NCP Minister and spokesperson Nawab Malik’s phone was switched off.
In his letter, Singh has alleged that Deshmukh had called Waze, who was heading the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch, to his official residence, Dnyaneshwar, several times in the last few months. The minister repeatedly instructed Waze to assist in collecting funds for him.
According to Singh’s letter, Deshmukh called him around mid-February and thereafter, telling him that he had a target of collecting Rs 100 crore a month.
It is to be noted that Singh has referred to Waze as ‘Vaze’ throughout the letter and the copy reflects the same in quotations from the letter.
“For achieving the aforesaid target, the Hon’ble Home Minsiter told Shri Vaze that there are about 1,750 bars, restaurants and other establishments in Mumbai and if a sum of Rs. 2-3 lakhs each was collected from each of them, a monthly collection of Rs 40-50 crore was possible. The Hon’ble Home Minister added that the rest of the collection could be made from other sources,” Singh said, adding that a couple of staff members and Deshmukh’s personal secretary, Palande, was also present.
He added, “Shri Vaze came to my office the same day and informed me of the above. I was shocked with the above discussion and was mulling over how to deal with the situation.”
The letter further said that Deshmukh had also called Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sanjay Patil from the Social Service Branch to his official residence to discuss hookah parlours in Mumbai. Two days later, they were called for another meeting where Deshmukh’s personal secretary informed them that the minister was targeting a collection of Rs 40-50 crore from Mumbai’s restaurants and bars, the letter added.
In the letter, Singh has reproduced his conversation over text messages with ACP Patil dated 16 and 19 March. The messages show Patil reconfirming his conversation with Deshmukh and his secretary.
CM Thackeray, Sharad Pawar were informed
Singh’s letter also tells that the officer had informed CM Thackeray, NCP President Sharad Pawar and other senior ministers about Deshmukh’s conduct.
The letter stated, “At one of the briefing sessions in the wake of the Antilia incident held in mid-March 2021 when I was called late evening at Varsha to brief you, I had pointed out several misdeeds and malpractices being indulged into by the Hon’ble Home Minister.”
Singh further said, “I have similarly briefed the Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister, Maharsahtra, the President of the Nationalist Congress Party, Shri Sharad Pawar and other senior Ministers also about the misdeeds and malpractices. On my briefings, I noticed that some of the Ministers were already aware about some aspects mentioned by me to them.”