Mumbai: In his book titled `Let Me Say It Now’, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has finally put out his version of the events surrounding his sudden transfer from the post during the Sheena Bora murder probe, and on allegations at the time that he had taken undue interest in the case to protect Peter Mukerjea and his ex-wife Indrani, both accused in the murder case.
Following Maria’s transfer and promotion as DG (Home Guards), it was speculated that then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had transferred him as he was unhappy with the officer’s role in the police probe.
In the book, a chronicle of his career and the important cases he cracked, Maria has not only blamed a senior Maharashtra Police officer of keeping him in the dark about vital information related to Sheena Bora’s disappearance, but also said the officer chosen as his successor at the Mumbai Police chief’s post had social relations with the Mukerjeas. Maria has also alleged that someone had been feeding wrong information to then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis about the case.
Writing about his visits to Khar police station to personally interrogate the accused, which was questioned as the CP taking undue interest in the case at the time, Maria says he wanted to be sure his officers were ``on the right track’’. He writes that his officers were aware of his penchant for “complex and knotty cases”. On his visits to Khar police station, Maria states this was to save his officers’ time, rather than call them to his office. “I did not feel even for a moment that it was below my dignity to do so, or was uncalled for,” Maria writes.
He states he visited Khar police station four times during the fortnight that the probe was underway during his tenure as CP. However, he writes, news channels conveyed an impression that he had gone every day, he writes.
“I did not know either Peter of Indrani Mukerjea from Adam. However, for some reason, the media began reporting that I knew them very well! When I got to know this, I vehemently denied it and made it amply clear that the first time I had ever met them was in the Khar police station,” Maria writes.
Maria writes that on September 7, 2015, he interrogated Peter Mukerjea on his inaction after his son Rahul had informed him about Sheena’s sudden disappearance. Asked why he did nothing about it, Peter allegedly refuted this and replied, “Sir, I had told Deven! Peter answered looking at Deven Bharti, Joint CP (Law and Order),” Maria alleges.
“I looked at Deven with a quizzical look on my face, but he was poker-faced. And silent. I looked around the room and sensed that even the other officers were taken aback at Peter’s disclosure,” Maria adds.
“Here the overzealous media was suspecting me of being friends with the Mukerjeas when I had absolutely nothing to do with them, but the same media had not found that my Joint CP (L&O) was a very good friend of the Mukerjeas! How strange! Who was deliberately feeding them with such cock and bull stories to hide the truth? There was a definite attempt to create a smokescreen and put us off the real scent of the trail! Such subterfuge!” Maria alleges in his book, saying he could not sleep a wink that night.
The next morning, Maria received a message from then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) K P Bakshi, informing him that he had been promoted as DG (Home Guards).
Maria also writes that a week after his removal from the CP’s post, it was learnt that it was not him, but his successor at the post, Ahmed Javed, who knew the Mukerjeas socially and were invitees to his Eid party.
On his unexpected transfer and promotion before his tenure as CP Mumbai was due to end, Maria says the `Mantralaya tsars’ had been justifying the move under various pretexts. Maria writes,“The somersaults were designed to make a digestible case for public consumption for my transfer on promotion which was unceremonious, sudden, ‘a bit early’ and in the midst of a sensitive investigation.”