Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh
Photo by ANI

In a major reshuffle in Mumbai Police, Commissioner Param Bir Singh has been transferred to Maharashtra’s Home Guard department, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh announced on Wednesday. Maharashtra Director General of Police (DGP) Hemant Nagarale is the new Mumbai Police Commissioner, Deshmukh said.

Why was Param Bir Singh shunted from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner?

Param Bir Singh's transfer comes in the wake of the arrest of Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over its probe into the recovery of an explosives-laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence.

Vaze was arrested on March 13 in the probe into the recovery of explosives from the SUV. The case was handed over to the NIA after the mysterious death of the SUV owner Mansukh Hiren, who claimed that the vehicle had been stolen a week earlier. His body was retrieved from Reti Bunder creek in Mumbra on March 5.

Hiren’s wife Vimla then accused Sachin Vaze of killing her husband. In her complaint and statement given to the Maharashtra ATS, she alleged, "From the given circumstances, I am sure my husband was murdered. I strongly suspect that police officer Sachin Vaze could have killed my husband. I request police to probe the matter with all angles and take my suspicions into consideration."

Vimla also claimed that the gelatin sticks-laden Scorpio found outside Antilia, had belonged to her husband for the last three years. The vehicle was, however, given to Vaze, a regular client of Hiran, in November 2020. The police officer had sent the car back with his driver to Hiren’s garage for servicing on February 5. When the latter took the car for a drive on February 17, the steering jammed and Mansukh parked it on the Airoli-Mulund Link Road, from where the car was allegedly stolen. A week later the car was found outside Antilia with explosives.

The NIA on Wednesday also confirmed Sachin Vaze's presence outside Mukesh Ambani's residence on the day the explosives-laden SUV was found. According to the CCTV footage, a man covering his head with a large handkerchief was spotted outside Antilia. And, NIA has said it was indeed Vaze, who was trying to hide his identity by wearing baggy clothes and a head-scarf. The NIA further added that Vaze was wearing an oversized kurta-pajama to hide his body language and face.

The entire investigation has become a huge embarrassment for the Maharashtra government, with the opposition BJP accusing Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray of shielding Vaze. They had also demanded the sacking of Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.

Reportedly, it was the review committee headed by Param Bir Singh that reinstated Sachin Vaze after 16 years despite a court order against the police officer in the alleged Khwaja Yunus custodial death case. Also, after he was reinstated amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Vaze was directly reporting to Param Bir Singh.

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