New post is no star in super-achiever cop Rakesh Maria's CV

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 09, 2015 12:53 IST
Mumbai Police commissioner leaves a police station after questioning Indrani Mukerjea. (AFP Photo)

He is the son of a film producer and his life has inspired more than one Bollywood blockbuster, but Mumbai's top cop Rakesh Maria happily passed up the glitz of tinseltown years ago.

When the martial arts enthusiast took the civil services exam, his three options were "IPS…IPS…IPS". The 58-year-old always knew he wanted to be a policeman, saying he picked the Indian Police Service "for the dignity and discipline of the force".

On Tuesday, Maria was promoted and transferred to a non-descript and unchallenging post of being the director general of Home Guards. Maria has been leading the investigation into the Sheena Bora murder.

Read: Maria shifted, new Mumbai top cop says will build strong Sheena case

Maria started his career in 1981 as an assistant superintendent of police in Akola, and is still grateful to all constables who took him around at night patrols and taught him tricks of the trade.

Maria, who made his mark as a traffic cop, leapt into the limelight for his investigative skills when he led a team crack the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. The soft-spoken policeman cultivated his own set of informers and learnt the by-lanes of Mumbai like the back of his hand for the case.

"He is soft until the time he talks. Then I have seen the toughest criminal crack," said a police officer who spent nearly 15 years with him.

Maria's investigation of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, a case he cracked in 24 hours, inspired filmmaker Anurag Kashyap to create a groundbreaking film, Black Friday, based on a former investigative journalist's book.

He is also known for getting Sanjay Dutt to confess to his underworld links, but he is no stranger to controversy.

Read: No change in team investigating Sheena Bora murder: Ahmed Javed

In 2003, he made a contentious comment during a sting operation by a media outlet in connection with a cricket betting scandal. Though Maria escaped unscathed, more trouble was headed his way.

A fake terror alert for a prominent place of worship in Mumbai was allegedly sent from his e-mail account, leading to Maria being shifted to the low-profile Protection of Civil Rights division.

He staged a comeback and led the 26/11 Mumbai attacks investigations where he interrogated the sole surviving Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab.

Another controversy surfaced when slain officer Ashok Kamte's wife blamed him for mishandling the security response.

But sources say even his rivals admire his investigation skills. "You have no choice, but to give the devil his due," said an IPS officer. "He gets his work done, and one can do nothing but admire."

Maria's records as an IPS officer saw him being made the Mumbai police commissioner by the UPA government in February 2014. But since the BJP-Shiv Sena government came to power, whispers of Maria being at loggerheads with the government could be heard.

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