Within hours after the Bombay High Court rapped the state government for keeping the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) without a chief, the latter appointed senior police officer KP Raghuvanshi to the post.
“KP Raghuvanshi who is an additional Director General (DG) and is in charge of the Railway Police will be the new ATS chief,” Maharashtra Home Minister Jayant Patil announced in the Legislature on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the government drew flak from the Bombay High Court. More than six months after Mumbai suffered its worst ever tragedy, the fact that the ATS was functioning without a chief, did not go down well with the high court.
The post of the crucial squad of the police department has been vacant since its former chief Hemant Karkare died while battling terror suspects Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and Ismail Khan on November 26, 2008. The high court directed that a chief be appointed within four weeks.
“This is how you treat lives of your citizens?” asked Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The court was hearing a number of petitions filed in the aftermath of the 26/11 attack.
“It is lack of will on the part of the state to fill the said post and pick up the fittest officer with meritorious record,” observed the court.
The sharp remarks evoked a knee-jerk reaction from the state government that is facing the session of the Legislature.
“The government had taken a decision of appointing an officer of the level of Additional DG to the post and Raghuvanshi was the most suitable candidate as he had earlier handled the post,” said Patil while announcing the decision.
Meanwhile, the high court was also unimpressed with the nearly non-functioning of the 66-member State Security Council which has met just twice in the last six months without coming up with a constructive decision. The government had constituted the Council to suggest security measures to protect the state from such terror attacks in future.
After going through the minutes of the Council’s meetings, the court was even more disappointed.
According to the sources, the minutes started with ‘we welcome you all (members)…’, was followed by snacks and tea and concluded with ‘we thank you all for attending the meeting…’.
The court also questioned the state over weapons, bulletproof jackets and vehicles provided to the police force.
Government pleaders Satish Borulkar and Rajshree Gadhvi informed the court that they are in the process of procuring weapons. However, the sole tender received for providing bulletproof jackets was rejected, as it was not proper, said Borulkar.