In the last 10 months, at least 25 First Information Reports (FIRs) have been filed against political rivals of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Meanwhile, the Opposition has slammed CM Shinde and have accused him of misusing his power to target his opponents.
The 25 FIRs have been filed against leaders from Shiv Sena [UBT], Nationalist Congress Party and Congress across Thane; meanwhile, FIR no 26 was filed against a rapper for criticising him, stated a report by Indian Express.
According to the report, of 26, at least 21 are in connection with 'targetting' of CM Shinde by the Opposition via social media posts, comments and banners. The number of FIRs came down after 11 FIRs registered against former MP Anand Paranjape was eventually reduced to one after Thane police was rapped by the Bombay High Court.
Reportedly, the FIRs have been registered under Section 153 (A) [promoting enmity between two groups] of the Indian Penal Code. Meanwhile, only a handful of FIRs were filed against Shinde-led Sena.
Aaditya Thackeray alleged lopsided police action
On April 5, Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Aaditya Thackeray and Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies - the NCP and Congress - protested near Thane Police Commissioner's office. They alleged lopsided police action in Roshni's case.
Roshni, a party functionary was assaulted by Shinde-faction workers for social media post against CM Shinde.
MVA also claimed that Thane Police Commissioner Jaijeet Singh had failed to meet Uddhav Thackeray when the latter went to meet him on April 4.
Congress also had demanded action against Shinde faction workers for attacking grand-old party office bearer Girish Koli over comment against Shinde on social media.
Political allegations and clout in Thane
Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar hinted that even before he became Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde had a say in police postings at Thane Commissionerate.
Pawar was quoted in the report saying that they had an inkling of Shinde rebelling and had alerted NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray of the same. He then said that despite having reins in their hands, Shinde and other rebel MLAs managed things well and they could not take action.
He said that police officers, despite having received then CM Thackeray's orders to bring the rebels to his residence (Matoshree), remained loyal to Shinde.
Allegations of Thane Police officers working as private army
In January, Paranjpe, alleged that certain Thane police officers were working as Shinde's "private army." He was quoted in report saying the city police, especially certain officers, have been working at the behest of Shinde government. He also said that cases by Thane cops have been standing no ground in court since proper procedure is not followed.
Thane Police under fire for political FIRs
Bombay High Court had criticized Thane Police for registering 11 FIRs against Paranape for same offence. The court suggested that costs should be imposed on police officers who file such FIRs.
Direct interference of politicians
Some Thane Police officers claim that politicians directly interfere in sensitive cases. An official was quoted saying that sometimes it is possible that senior officers are not completely in the loop.
Moreover, a 2018 notification from the Department of Personnel and Training's suggested that all Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) should be IPS officers, but currently, only two of the six DCPs in Thane are promoted IPS officers.
The report quoted an anonymous speaker saying that apart from Thane Police Commissioner, there is no single direct IPS officer in the city and that its a rare occurrence and a proof that due process was not followed in the postings.
Meanwhile, another senior officer said that despite registering FIRs against political leaders, no arrests or charge sheets have been filed in such cases. He cited case of molestation case against Jitendra Awhad and further said that if complaints do come in against Shinde camp leaders, action will be taken in those cases as well.
Commissioner Singh explains FIR registration process
According to Commissioner Singh, all FIRs are registered after a preliminary inquiry, and arrests are only made where permissible by law and necessary for investigation.
Impartial investigations are conducted, and charge sheets are filed only after ensuring there is enough evidence on record that will stand scrutiny in court, he was quoted saying. In all other cases, the final report is submitted to the courts for closure.
Shinde Sena Spokesperson denies CM interference in law and order
Shinde Sena spokesperson Kiran Pawaskar denies any interference from CM Shinde in issues of law and order. Pawaskar cites several cases against Awhad before this government came to power, including an incident where Awhad and his men beat up an engineer while MVA was in power. Pawaskar claims that the opposition has a habit of blaming the CM for everything, including police actions or a heatwave.
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