Independent Amravati MP Navneet Rana on Monday accused Shiv Sena parliamentarian Arvind Sawant of threatening her after she raised the matter involving suspended police officer Sachin Vaze and the corruption allegations against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in the Lok Sabha, PTI reported.
Rana wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla that Sawant threatened her in the Lower House lobby saying: “I will see how you roam in Maharashtra now and I will put you in jail too.” She added that she had received death as well as acid attack threats in the past over the phone as well as on a Shiv Sena letterhead.
“The way Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant has threatened me, it is not only my insult, but the insult of all the women of the country,” she said, demanding police action against the south Mumbai MP.
Both Houses of Parliament witnessed protests on Monday as the Bharatiya Janata Party raised the matter involving the corruption allegations. The saffron party’s leaders in Parliament demanded an impartial inquiry into the matter and the resignation of the ministers in the Maharashtra coalition government.
Sawant, however, dismissed her charges as baseless. “Why will I threaten her?” he asked. “Those who were near her at that time can tell whether I threatened her or not. The CCTV cameras can be checked to see whether I stopped there and threatened her.”
He, however, added that Rana’s “way of talking and body language” when she spoke about Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was wrong.
Rana had demanded the resignation of the Maharashtra home minister following the corruption allegations against Deshmukh. She had also said that Deshmukh asked Vaze for help to collect money. She added that Thackeray had earlier asked then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to reinstate Vaze, who had been suspended for 16 years in connection with the custodial death of software engineer Khwaja Yunus in 2003. Vaze was reinstated in June 2020.
“The then chief minister flatly refused,” Rana said. “But when the current chief minister took charge, the first decision he took was to reinstate Waze. Because of the chief minister such things are happening in Maharashtra.”
On March 20, former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh in a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray accused Deshmukh of extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in the city. The former police chief wrote that suspended Crime Branch officer Sachin Vaze told him that the minister had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels. Singh also accused the home minister of frequently interfering with police investigation in various cases.
The corruption allegations against Deshmukh have landed the Shiv Sena, Congress, and the Nationalist Congress Party government into a huge controversy. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have claimed there was a possibility that such incidents of alleged extortion were taking place in other Maharashtra cities like Pune, Nagpur and Jalgaon. The matter has also become a cause of friction within the ruling alliance.
Deshmukh rubbished the allegations levelled against him by Singh, alleging that the police officer was trying to cover up after mishandling the Ambani case.
Case against Vaze
Sachin Vaze was sent to the custody of the National Investigation Agency on March 15 for his alleged role in placing an explosives-laden vehicle outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani last month. Two days later, Singh, who was handling the investigation, was transferred from his position to the low-key Home Guard department by the state government.
The Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad on Sunday said that it has solved the case related to the death of auto parts dealer Mansukh Hiren, who was the owner of the explosives-laden SUV found outside the residence of Ambani on February 25, and named Vaze as its prime suspect. However, the case has been handed over to the National Investigation Agency.
Hiren was found dead in a creek near Mumbai on March 5. His wife alleged that Vaze, the first investigating officer in the bomb scare case, had used the car found outside Ambani’s residence for four months and returned it on February 5. She had also accused Vaze of having a role in her husband’s death.