Hemant Nagarale was on Wednesday appointed as the new Mumbai Police Commissioner, replacing Param Bir Singh, announced Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Twitter. Singh has been transferred to the Home Guards Department, Deshmukh said.
Meanwhile, Deshmukh on Thursday revealed the reason behind Param Bir Singh's transfer. He said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) are investigating the Antilia bomb scare case, in which Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze has been arrested. "Singh has been transferred so that investigation can be done without any obstruction," Deshmukh said.
For the unversed, the entire investigation in the Antilia bomb scare case had become a huge embarrassment for the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, with the opposition BJP accusing Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray of shielding Vaze. The saffron party had also demanded the sacking of Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and 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.
The issue was discussed at length by NCP chief Sharad Pawar at his meeting with Uddhav Thackeray on Monday. “Pawar was quite furious over the leakage of information (call data records) to the Opposition. He was also angry with Singh for his mishandling (of the case),” said an MVA minister. “No police officer is greater than the establishment and if he tries to pose so, it is time he is shown the door,’” Pawar is reported to have told Thackeray. He had argued that Singh should be transferred immediately.
Another minister said, “There was unanimity among the MVA partners that Anil Deshmukh had no role in protecting Vaze. But there was consensus that Singh may have preferred not to act against Vaze and allowed events to take their course. That has gone against Singh.”