The controversial Mumbai cop Sacin Vaze, arrested and suspended for his dubious role in the SUV case and bumping off its owner, was apparently a privileged and blue-eyed boy of former Mumbai top cop Param Bir Singh, as per a report submitted by the Mumbai Commissioner of Police Hemant Nagrale to the Maharashtra Home Department. Param Bir Singh has been targeting the Maharashtra government after he was shifted out following the curious case of the SUV planted outside the Ambani home.
Starting with his reinstatement, the report details Assistant Police Inspector (API) Vaze’s nine-month-long tenure in the elite Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch and says he was reinstated by Singh in June 2020, after a decision of the Police Establishment Board, despite opposition from top police officers then.
Two Police Inspectors (PI) – Sudhakar Deshmukh and Vinay Ghorpade – were transferred to Units 01 and 10 ostensibly to make way for Vaze, who was of a lower API rank, but was posted as in-charge of the CIU which was a higher, PI level post.
“As per the information given on telephone, the then Jt. CP (Crime) had strongly opposed the posting of Sachin Vaze. But at the insistence of the then CoP (Singh), the then Jt. CP (Crime) unwillingly issued the office order for posting of Vaze at CIU,” says the damning report, posted by Maharashtra Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant.
Earlier, after his suspension period ended on June 5, 2020, Vaze was reinstated and posted in a non-executive post at the Armed Police Forces on June 8, 2020, but barely a couple of days later he landed the plum appointment at the CIU.
Upon joining the CIU, Vaze reported directly to Singh bypassing all rules, strictly prohibited his (CIU) colleagues from reporting to other Crime Branch officials, and would convey important decisions to the Crime Branch officers.
“Vaze has not followed the rules and he directly and independently reported to the then CoP (Singh) and he investigated under his guidance, was following the guidelines of (Singh) about the raid on illegal activities, whom to arrest or not, to call whom as witness and accused of sensitive crimes,” stated the report.
He also took up points of the CIU in remands, bail, anticipatory bail pleas and other critical decisions, and if he required manpower for various investigations, it was given as per Singh’s directions.
It added that Vaze was present in all important matters like the TRP case, Dilip Chabria (sports cars scam) case and the SUV Scorpio abandoned near the home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani. He also accompanied Singh to an important briefing to the minister.
As the in-charge of CIU, Vaze was given a Tata Sumo, an Innova and a Scorpio for official purposes, but he was found to be using mainly “high-end luxury cars like Mercedes Benz, Audi, etc. and other private vehicles to reach the office other than these three government vehicles”.
In March, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Vaze for his alleged role in the planting of a SUV with 20 gelatin sticks and a threat note near the home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani on February 25, followed by the mysterious death of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran on March 5.
After these cases erupted, Singh was shunted out and posted as the Commandant General, Home Guards, following which he shot off a ‘letter-bomb’ targeting former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, who quit after the Bombay High Court ordered a preliminary probe by the CBI into Singh’s allegations.
Congress leader Sachin Sawant said that the report “sheds light on the close relationship between Vaze and Singh”, how he worked directly under Singh’s guidance.
“All the points raised by me in my press conference were found true. Untruth of BJP has been exposed again,” Sawant said.
Interestingly, Commissioner of Police Nagrale’s report has come into the public domain just as Singh was called this morning by the NIA to record his statement in the Vaze case.
Sachin Vaze has now opened up a Pandora’s Box for the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, accusing former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Transport Minister Anil Parab and others of pressuring him to extort money from the contractors of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and illegal tobacco factories and bars in the city.
In a handwritten letter dated April 3, Vaze has claimed that NCP chief Sharad Pawar was against his reinstatement into Mumbai Police in 2020 and wanted it to be revoked. However, senior officials of the NIA remained tightlipped on the authenticity of Vaze’s letter.
In the letter, Vaze said that Deshmukh had told him that if he paid Rs 2 crore to him, “he would convince Pawar to allow him back into the force”.
“I had expressed my inability to pay such an amount. On this, the home minister asked me to pay it in due course,” Vaze wrote.
Vaze further claimed that Deshmukh had called him to the Sahyadri Guest House in October 2020 and asked him to collect Rs 3-3.5 lakh each from 1,650 bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
“I refused by saying that it was not within the scope of my capability,” Vaze claimed in his letter, adding that as far he knew, there were only 200 bars in Mumbai and not 1,650, as anticipated by Deshmukh.
Vaze also alleged that soon after he came out of the meeting with Deshmukh, his PA Kundan had advised him that he must comply with the instructions of the minister if he wished to keep his job and post intact.
Vaze also said that Deshmukh made the same demand again in January 2021, when the two met at the former minister’s official bungalow.
Vaze in his letter also claimed that Maharashtra Transport Minister and Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab had asked him to extort money for him.
“In July-August 2020, I was called by Minister Anil Parab at his official bungalow… At the meeting, Parab asked me to look into the complaint under preliminary inquiry and bring the trustees of the SBUT to him for negotiations about the inquiry. He also insisted to initiate primary talks to get Rs 50 crore from SBUT in order to close the said enquiry. I had expressed my inability to do any such thing as I do not know anybody from SBUT and also I did not have any control over the inquiry,” Vaze told NIA in his letter.
Vaze further claimed that Parab called him again in January 2021 and asked him to look into an inquiry against some contractors listed in the BMC and collect Rs 2 crore each from them.
“He told me to collect at least Rs 2 crore each from 50 such contractors. An inquiry was on in this matter based on an anonymous complaint. The Crime Intelligence Unit inquiry against the contractors had not yielded any result,” Vaze claimed in his letter.
Vaze, who was arrested on March 13 in connection with the explosive-laden SUV found outside Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani’s residence on February 25, said that he had informed the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh about the extortion demands made by Deshmukh and Parab.
“…I met the Police Commissioner (Param Bir Singh) and expressed my apprehension about this… I told him that I would be embroiled in a false controversy in the near future. The Commissioner encouraged me and categorically instructed me not to involve myself in any such illegal collection of money from anyone and for anyone,” Vaze wrote.
Vaze is currently being investigated by the NIA in connection with the mysterious death of Mumbai-based businessman Mansukh Hiren, whose body was found from a Thane creek on March 5.
A Mumbai Court on Wednesday extended the remand of Vaze till April 9.
After the cases related to the explosive-laden SUV and the death of Hiren exploded in Maharashtra, Singh was shunted out from the top cop’s post and made the Commandant General of Home Guards.
After being shunted out as Mumbai Police Commissioner, Singh dropped a ‘letter bomb’ on March 20, accusing Deshmukh of asking Vaze and other Mumbai police personnel to extort Rs 100 crore ‘monthly’ from bars, hotels and restaurants in the city.
Earlier in the day, Singh had appeared before the NIA in connection with the case.
The Bombay High Court on Monday ordered a CBI preliminary enquiry against Deshmukh. The court also asked the CBI to complete the probe within 15 days, following which the CBI registered a PE on Tuesday night. Two teams of the agency have already arrived here from Delhi.
Meanwhile, two teams of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have arrived in Mumbai to probe the allegations of corruption and misuse of office by former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
A CBI source related to the probe in Delhi said, “A team of CBI officials arrived in Mumbai on Tuesday.”
The source said that after the agency registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) on Tuesday night following the orders of the Bombay High Court, another team of the Anti-Corruption department of the premiere investigative agency left for Mumbai on Wednesday morning.
The source said that over half a dozen agency sleuths will record the statement of Dr Jayshri Patil on whose petition the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary probe against Deshmukh. However, it is not known how many members are there in each team.
The source said that the CBI sleuths will also record the statement of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, who dropped a letter bomb on March 20 — accusing Deshmukh of asking suspended Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze and other Mumbai police personnel to extort Rs 100 crores ‘monthly’ from bars, hotels and restaurants.
The Bombay High Court has asked the CBI to complete PE within 15 days. (IANS)