Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Saturday accused Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of corruption and said that he had indulged in “several misdeeds and malpractices”. Singh claimed that Deshmukh was extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in the city.
Singh said suspended Crime Branch officer Sachin Vaze told him that Deshmukh had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels. The allegations were made in a letter Singh wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Deshmukh has denied the allegations, claiming Singh was making false claims to protect himself from further legal action in the Mukesh Ambani and Mansukh Hiren cases. “While the involvement of Sachin Vaze in the Mukesh Ambani case as well as in the Mansukh Hiren murder case is becoming clear and its threads are likely to reach the then Commissioner of Police Shri Parambir Singh, the investigation is underway,” he wrote on Twitter. “Parambir Singh has made this false allegation to save himself as well as to protect himself from further legal action.”
Sachin Vaze was suspended and sent into the custody of the National Investigation Agency for his alleged role in placing the explosives-laden vehicle at Carmichael Road, near the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani in Mumbai, on March 15. Two days later, Singh, who was handling the investigation, was transferred from his position to the low-key Home Guard by the state government.
On March 18, Deshmukh had claimed that Singh’s transfer was not done on administrative grounds, but due to some “serious and unforgivable mistakes” made by his colleagues.
In his letter, Singh strongly denied this, alleging that he was made a scapegoat “to divert attention from the actual wrongdoers”.
Singh said that Vaze was called by Deshmukh to his official residence Dyaneshwar “several times in last few months and repeatedly instructed to assist in collection of funds” for him.
“The Hon’ble Home Minister expressed to Shri Vaze that he had a target to accumulate Rs. 100 crores a month,” Singh wrote. “For achieving the aforesaid target, the Hon’ble Home Minister 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 crores was achievable.”
Deshmukh told Vaze the rest of the collection could be made “from other sources”, the former police commissioner added.
“The Hon’ble Home Minister [Deshmukh] has been instructing them [police officers] to carry out official assignments and collection schemes including financial transactions as per his instructions based on his expectations and targets to collect money,” Singh said. “These corrupt malpractices have been brought to my notice by my officers.”
Singh said that he had in the past too pointed out “several misdeeds and malpractices” that Deshmukh indulged himself in. He said he told Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar and some other senior ministers about Deshmukh’s actions.
The former police chief added that he “noticed that some of the ministers were already aware about some aspects mentioned by me to them”.
‘Others knew about it too’
Singh said that Vaze was not the only police officer to have made such allegations against Deshmukh. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Social Service Branch, Sanjay Patil too told him about a meeting that took place at the minister’s residence on March 4 “to hold discussions about the hookah parlours in Mumbai,” he alleged.
The officer said that the meeting was attended by other officers and Deshmukh’s personal secretary Shri Palande, and that after it was over, “Mr Palande informed ACP Patil that the Hon’ble Home Minister was targeting a collection of Rs. 40-50 crores which was possible through an approximate 1,750 bars, restaurants and establishments operating in Mumbai”.
Singh also attached a transcript of the text messages that were purportedly exchanged between him and Patil about the meeting.
‘I was made a scapegoat’
Singh said that he took full responsibility of his police force. “However, the instances of interference make it clear that the responsibility of wrongdoings may lie somewhere else – at the door of the wrongdoers,” he said.
“On a collective appraisal of events that have transpired and what is being pointed out by me makes it clear that I have been made a scapegoat to divert attention from the actual wrongdoers.. It is not out of place to mention that there is no iota of material or evidence – far from proof – found against me or even imputed against me. Except for conjectures, surmises and pure speculation, no detail of any sort against me has been noticed by anybody.”— Param Bir Singh