Maharashtra Politicians, administrative authorities Vs central agencies are in moral turmoil. The Mumbai cops are always loyal to the state government whoever it might be but maximum mid and lower rank officers are staunch supporters of Shiv Sena. They have a bias towards NCP and Congress. Earlier Shiv Sena and BJP were in alliance, so keeping loyalties for the state government was not complicated for any cop or higher authorities. All of sudden the new alliance brought little discomfort. Cops were loyal to Shiv Sena but most of them have reservations for Congress and NCP especially since Modi became Prime Minister of India.
Police are part of the system but not the government. At the same time, they are no aliens, as a voter of this nation they too have their political inclination. In such scenarios, Param Bir Singh, the former Police Commissioner of Mumbai was put through a lot of horrible events. This all started with Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide. The state machinery Vs central agencies and above all sold out media was let loose against Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders and top cops. There were random attacks on former CP, and the events did not stop here. Maybe Parambir Singh was pushed too much. Maybe he was on his tether. Maybe the minister placed really dangerous demands on him. Maybe he thought “enough is enough” and came open with his complaint just to save himself. Maybe this 100 crore stuff is a cover story, the real game is known only to him, Anil Deshmukh and Uddhav Thackeray.
One fine day Singh appealed to the Supreme Court of India for ordering a fair, independent and impartial probe against the Maharashtra Home Minister. He has claimed that the Minister had asked Sachin Vaze, an encounter specialist police officer, to collect money for him. In his letter he wrote that he was mulling over what the Minister said and when he was unceremoniously shunted out, he brought up the matter. He had also written that he had spoken to CM, Deputy CM and Sharad Pawar already about the matter. So, it is not sudden. Since they did nothing after an oral complaint, Param Bir did what he should have done.
This has been in the knowledge of several IPS officers who held important posts in Maharashtra; they know how political opponents are fixed and how the ruling party mobilises money using all its resources. Sometimes softly but at times when people wouldn’t get the message right, they would adopt all pressure tactics. In this case, the former Home Minister might have gone overboard since the target is very high profile and probably connected to the most powerful people. Some of the so-called top guns of yesteryears need not be welding the same wand as they were adopting all methods through unholy elements. Gone are the days, now each one has an outlet to express.
If an official toes the line of the politicians through & through, they do not necessarily flourish. When the going is not good and turns ugly, the politician leaves that pliant official to vultures and saves their own skin. You saw what happened to the members of the “Encounter Squad” of which once Sachin Waze was a member. In the difficult decade of Underworld gang wars 1993-2003, a specially created encounter squad eliminated about 600 operatives of the Dawood Ibrahim, Chota Rajan and Arun Gawli gangs. This squad comprised Sachin Waze, Pradeep Sharma, Vijay Salaskar, Arun Borude, Ravindra Angre, Prafulla Bhosle, Ravindra Angre and Daya Naik like many officers. Ignoring the extra-legal activity of this squad, Indians in general and the media, in particular, lionized them as “heroes”.
But later on, they all were termed as dirty Harries of Mumbai; they are the ones who were compared to Scotland Yard police, later on, subjected to humiliation and arrests. No politician shared the pain of this saga or came into question. If you take a close look at the politics in your own state, you will find countless such incidents.
These low-level encounter cops enjoyed disproportionate power and fame. Pradeep Sharma used to haunt his quarries with one-liners like, “Cooper ya ooper?” (Cooper is a civic hospital in Mumbai). Soon, these men operating in the shadows were co-opted into politics. Vijay Salaskar, who was killed during the 26/11 incident, was a Shiv Sainik before he joined the police force and retained informal relations with the party.
Ravindra Angre was a member of BJP; Pradeep Sharma joined BJP before contesting the 2019 election on Shiv Sena ticket. A.A Khan, who led the famous Lokhandawala shootout, contested on a Janata Dal ticket in 1998. Sachin Waze joined Shiv Sena though the party later kept him away, and is now languishing in jail. Nearly every member of this encounter brigade faced either suspension or jail term on charges varying from disproportionate assets, extortion, custodial torture and killing to rape.
I must also include; vengeance does not necessarily reach out to the accused officials. In a certain state, revenue officials that got suspended for corruption charges quietly got transferred. Some got reinstated in the same position in the same office. There are many reasons for this. One readily acceptable reason, it is not always easy to make the case glued. To some extent, Param Bir Singh’s saga is also driven by political motives and harboured for some agenda. When things went haywire, she was escorted to a safe haven. Once the dust settles, he will make his comeback.