In written statements by DCP Raju Bhujbal (Enforcement) and Assistant Commissioner Sanjay Patil to Joint Commissioner of Police Milind Bharambe, the the duo has submitted that Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had never demanded the collection of Rs 3 lakh each per month from 1,750 bars and restaurants.
Instead, Deshmukh had himself asked Sachin Vaze about whether there was extortion of money from these bars going on. Their statements were recorded in connection with former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’s charges of corruption and misconduct against Deshmukh.
Singh, after being shunted out as Mumbai police commissioner on March 17, wrote a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on March 20, in which he had alleged that Deshmukh had asked police officer Sachin Vaze to collect Rs100 crore per month from bars and restaurants. Deshmukh, who had strongly denied the charges, resigned as home minister on Monday, citing ‘moral grounds’ soon after the Bombay high court ordered a CBI probe into the allegations levelled by Singh.
The statements by Bhujbal and Patil are important, as Singh, in his ‘letter bomb’, had said that he had been informed by ACP Sanjay Patil about the home minister’s demand for money collection while citing the chat between him and the ACP.
In his statement, ACP Patil said he had met Deshmukh along with other police officers to brief the latter about a raid on a hukkah parlour in Thane. But before or after this visit, he had never met the then home minister.
“As per his statement, he met Vaze at the Mumbai Police Commissionerate’s compound, where the latter told him that he had come to brief the home minister about some investigation. During their discussion, Vaze told him that the minister allegedly sought information about the collection of Rs 3 lakh each from 1,750 bars and restaurants in the city,” he added.
However, Patil noted that he was unaware whether or not the meeting between Vaze and Deshmukh had taken place. In his statement, DCP Bhujbal said that he had attended a meeting on March 4 at Deshmukh’s official residence ‘Dnyaneshwari’ as a nodal officer, to brief seniors about crime and other issues.
“When asked specifically, whether he met Deshmukh and his assistant and if there was any discussion on money collection from bars and restaurants, Bhujbal said ACP Patil had later come there and had told the minister’s assistant that the information about such establishments were not based on facts,” the official said.