Maharashtra morass

Free and fair probe a must to nail erring cops, politicians

Maharashtra morass

Anil Deshmukh - File photo

The resignation of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, shortly after the Bombay High Court ordered a CBI probe into the allegations of corruption levelled against him by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, might have come a bit late in the day, but it has raised hopes of a free and fair investigation into the murky goings-on. The court has rightly stated that the allegations made by a serving police officer against the state home minister can't be left unattended and a probe by an independent agency is necessary to ‘instill public confidence and safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens’. Monday’s developments, however, do not absolve Param Bir Singh of any wrongdoing. After all, it was the police top brass that had reinstated ‘encounter specialist’ Sachin Waze in 2020, 13 years after the tainted assistant inspector had submitted his resignation. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is probing Waze’s link to the recovery of an explosives-laden SUV near business tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai residence in February-end and the subsequent murder of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran. A former policeman, Vinayak Shinde, is among the co-accused.

The fact that Param Bir Singh accused Deshmukh of setting extortion targets for police officers only after he was relieved of the post of Police Commissioner can’t be overlooked. The politician-police nexus has been laid bare and the onus is on the investigating agencies to collect airtight evidence against the offenders at various levels in the pecking order.

It’s apparent that Waze not only enjoyed political patronage but also had the blessings of his seniors in the police force. More skeletons are likely to tumble out of the cupboard as the investigation progresses. With its credibility hitting a new low, the Maharashtra Police should not shy away from taking tough decisions to cleanse the force. Similarly, the Shiv Sena-led state government needs to show zero tolerance to the criminals in khaki. The Central probe agencies must adopt a no-nonsense approach, uninfluenced by political pressure. The truth, no matter how unpalatable, must come out.

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