Sharp differences appeared between the ruling coalition partners Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday over the transfer of Pune Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh.
While Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe (Congress) announced in the state legislative council that Singh would soon be transferred from his post, Home Minister R.R.Patil, who is from the NCP, denied any such proposal.
Responding to members' concern over the deteriorating law and order situation of Pune in the upper house of the state legislature, Bagwe said Singh would soon be transferred. Barely a couple of hours later, Patil said he was not aware of any proposal to remove Singh from his post.
Moreover, Patil pointed out that any such transfer proposals could be taken only in consultation with the chief minister and the home minister.
He said Singh was doing work in Pune and it would "not be proper" to blame him for the soaring crime rate or the law and order situation in that city.
Bagwe's surprise announcement came after Shiv Sena's Neelam Gorhe and other opposition members demanded action against Singh in view of the deteriorating law and order situation in the state's information technology and academics capital.
Pune has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons in the past few months, starting with the February 13 German Bakery terror blasts in which a breakthrough has yet to be achieved.
Soon thereafter, a married woman from Nagpur seeking a job in Pune was gang-raped by four people who offered her a lift home. This was followed by the gang rapes of a young girl and another married woman who is a senior state government officer.
Last week, two women, a senior bank officer and her daughter, were brutally killed in their home by unidentified assailants, sending shockwaves in the generally peaceful city.
In a related development, Patil said the government would conduct the trials into the gang-rape cases in fast track courts.
The trials would be completed within six months.
Patil added that the accused in the Beed gang-rape of a Pune-based senior state government officer would be charged under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
He added that the government would recruit 1,500 policemen in Pune and set up a committee headed by former high court judge S.C.Dharmadhikari to recommend stricter laws against crimes against women.