- Param Bir Singh transferred this week over Ambani bomb scare case
- Accuses minister Anil Deshmukh of getting cops to collect money
- Anil Deshmukh denies allegations, says will sue for defamation
Param Bir Singh, replaced as Mumbai Police Commissioner over "unforgivable" lapses in the Mukesh Ambani security scare probe this week, delivered a counterblow of stunning proportions on Saturday, accusing Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of corruption and interference in police work. The explosive accusations prompted calls by the opposition for the resignation of Mr Deshmukh who denied the charges and said he will sue Mr Singh for defamation.
In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray titled "untruthful statements by the Hon'ble Home Minister, Maharashtra", Mr Singh said the minister had appointed several of his officers - including Sachin Waze who has been arrested in the Mukesh Ambani case - for running an extortion racket.
He said the Home Minister had asked several of his officers to collect money from restaurants, pubs, bars and hookah parlours, setting them a target of Rs 100 crore every month as recently as February this year.
The former police chief also said that the Home Minister had on several occasions instructed police officers on how to handle cases and file charges, often summoning them to his home to "bypass" him and other seniors.
Mr Singh wrote how at one of the briefings at Mr Thackeray's home following the Mukesh Ambani incident in mid-March, he had "pointed out several misdeeds and malpractices being indulged into by the Hon'ble Home Minister".
"I have similarly briefed the Hon'ble Deputy Chief Minister, Maharashtra, the President of the Nationalist Congress Party, Shri Sharad Pawar and other senior Ministers also about the misdeeds and malpractices. On my briefings, I noticed that some of the Ministers were already aware about some aspects mentioned by me," he said.
Mr Singh said the Home Minister had been "unhappy" with him for his resistance in filing an abetment to suicide case in the death of parliamentarian Mohanbhai Sanjibhai Delkar against officials in Dadra and Nagar Haveli that would have earned him "political mileage".
"I take full responsibility of my police force. However, the instances of interference make it clear that the responsibility of wrongdoings may lie somewhere else - at the door of the wrongdoers," Mr Singh said.
"On a collective appraisal of events that have transpired and what is being pointed out by me makes it clear that I have been made a scapegoat to divert attention from the actual wrongdoers," he said, adding his transfer was "for extraneous and vindictive reasons".
Denying the accusations in a statement, the Home Minister wrote, "Parambir Singh's allegations on me are absolutely false and baseless. He has made these allegations as a pet of a conspiracy to save himself and to malign the image of Maha Vikas Aghadi and me."
"I'm filing a defamation case against him," he said, asking why Mr Singh had been sitting on the allegations despite knowing of them as early as January.
Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP said, "We demand Home Minister's resignation. If he doesn't, then Chief Minister must remove him. Impartial probe must be conducted..Letter also states that Chief Minister was intimated about this earlier so why didn't he act on it?"
Raj Thackeray of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena said, "Mumbai's former Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh's letter to the Chief Minister is explosive. This is so damaging for Maharashtra's image. The Home Minister, Anil Deshmukh needs to submit his resignation immediately and a thorough investigation too needs to be made."
The Chief Minister's office declined to comment on the allegations saying it was trying to verify the email which had not come from Mr Singh's official ID. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut too refused to comment on the issue, saying it was "a matter for the government to respond to".
Param Bir Singh was transferred to the Home Guard and Hemant Nagrale was appointed the new Mumbai police chief on Wednesday in a fallout of the investigations against police officer Sachin Waze arrested in the case of a car full of explosives found near the home of Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man.
The investigation was taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from the Mumbai Police after allegations emerged against Sachin Waze linked to the death of a man believed to be the owner of the explosives-filled SUV.
In an interview with a Marathi newspaper Lokmat, Mr Deshmukh had said mistakes revealed in the probe could not be condoned, so Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray decided to remove Param Bir Singh in the interest of fair investigations.
Even before Mr Singh's bombshell, the investigation had become a huge embarrassment for the Maharashtra government, with the opposition BJP accusing Chief Minister Thackeray of shielding Waze, a controversial cop who was once a member of his Shiv Sena.
Here is the full text of Param Bir Singh's letter: