Most officers in the Mumbai police are aware of suspended crime branch inspector Sanjay Shinde’s alleged role in the Milton kidnapping case, but there is no mention of the incident or his involvement in his annual confidential report (ACR).
What’s put down in an ACR is critical for the future of a police official as it influences both his postings and the promotions.
In February 2000, Chiranjeev Vaghani, managing director of Milton Plastics, was kidnapped from outside his home on Malabar Hill by Abu Salem gang members, who demanded a ransom of Rs 25 crore for his release.
Senior officers involved in the probe recorded conversations of the gang members and are said to have incriminating evidence against Shinde – he was in touch with the gang. “Shinde’s role in the kidnapping case was crystal clear. In fact, he was egging the kidnappers to shoot Vaghani,” said a senior officer, requesting anonymity.
Crime branch sources said this is not mentioned in Shinde’s ACR because officers involved in the probe did not forward the necessary note to Shinde’s unit head.
Shinde, who was sub-inspector then, had even been questioned by an encounter specialist about his links to Abu Salem’s aide, Nizam. “He was questioned after permission from his seniors,” said the police officer, requesting anonymity.
“Fight criminals with criminals — that was the mantra in the Mumbai police to tackle the underworld. Senior officers treated Shinde’s case as a minor aberration,” said another senior officer, requesting anonymity.
Despite his questionable record, which includes shooting another policeman after getting drunk in a bar, Shinde’s postings and promotions were unaffected. He was with the elite crime branch when he got suspended, after allegedly helping murder accused Vijay Palande escape from police custody.
Referring to Shinde’s case, Julio Ribeiro, former director general of police, said: “If it is true, then someone who wrote the ACR seems to have slipped. This should not have happened.”
Former DGP PS Pasricha said that if anything serious comes up against a police officer, a separate note is usually put in the ACR and the officer is watched closely. “If the indiscipline continues, the officer is shunted out to a remote unit. Then, if there’s no improvement, he can be dismissed,” Pasricha said.
It is the job of the immediate senior — in this case, the assistant police commissioner or deputy police commissioner — to keep a close watch on the officer, Pasricha said. “One cannot expect the police commissioner to keep a watch on all officers,” he said.
Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik has already confirmed that Shinde has a dubious record. “We will probe his criminal past, his association with Palande and the Milton kidnapping case,” he had said after Shinde’s suspension.
Sources said there is provision to take corrective steps and rewrite Shinde’s ACR. An additional director general of police said: “Usually the ACR cannot be rewritten. But if it is a serious issue, even if it was in the past, there is a provision in the rulebook by which the officer’s unit head can attach a separate note to the ACR.”