The state government’s handling of the new postings for Rakesh Maria and Ahmad Javed has come under fire from former Mumbai police commissioners and top IPS officers.
The drama began around 10 am in the morning when the state announced the decision to promote Maria to director general of police and transfer him to the Home Guards.
The government’s directive also saw the Mumbai police commissioner’s post being upgraded to director-general rank with the posting of Javed. But hardly had the new commissioner settled into his seat that the government came out with another directive stating Maria would continue to monitor the high-profile Sheena Bora murder case.
This move belittles the new commissioner and reflects a lack of confidence in him, said several retired IPS officers. MN Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner, said, “It makes no sense to me, the manner the state government has handled the entire episode. And the additional chief secretary’s explanation of giving adequate time to Javed to handle Ganesh Mahotsav or Eid, cuts no ice.” Javed has held the post of joint commissioner of law and order, and was adept at handling the festivities at any point in time, said Singh. “Maria on the other hand has an impeccable track order as an officer, and an abrupt transfer like this, which is very unfair, could create a trace of suspicion about the conduct of police officers,” said Singh, who has worked with both Maria and Javed. However, Maria’s predecessor as commissioner, Satyapal Singh, now a BJP MP from UP, told Times Now that one of the reasons for shifting Maria could be that he was seen as close to Peter Mukerjea, husband of Sheena murder case accused Indrani Mukerjea.
The focus on Maria’s involvement in the probe started when he visited Khar police station and interrogated the three accused including Indrani, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna, and driver Shyamwar Rai.
People who know Maria, and have worked in his team since his early days as a deputy commissioner of police, say he always leads from the front and ensures he has a first-hand account from accused.
MN Singh said, “Maria is an officer with a passion to detect crime cases. The case being such high-profile, and with unscrupulous elements involved who could do anything to sabotage the case, Maria would have felt the need to be present personally to monitor the case. I do not find anything unusual about Maria’s presence at Khar police station.”
The government, he said, had made a mess of the case. “The manner in which the entire thing has panned out has even made one feel the state has had a lack of confidence in Javed, who could have easily investigated this case as well.”
A senior IPS officer, who has been closely associated with the state government and Mumbai police after his retirement, termed the episode ‘preposterous’. “The government appears to be naïve, and inept, about consequences of making such abrupt transfers and statements. It takes away a normal man’s faith in the commissioner, and puts the careers of two good police officers at stake,” said the former IPS officer, requesting anonymity.
SS Virk, former Maharashtra DGP, said, “What the government has done does not feel right. An officer of such seniority [Maria] should not have been transferred in such an abrupt fashion, and the state government should not have undermined the capabilities of the other [Javed].”