Glamour quotient and brutality apart, the investigation of the alleged crimes committed by Vijay Palande is also a story of the rivalry within the Maharashtra cadre of the Indian Police Service (IPS). Especially, since the probe comes when transfers and promotions in the IPS ranks are round the corner.
Palande - prime accused in the murders of Arunkumar Tikku and aspiring producer Karankumar Kakkad - had escaped from police custody on April 10. He was arrested a few hours later The suspension of police inspector Sanjay Shinde from unit 8 of crime branch for allegedly helping his relative Palande has fuelled rumour mills within the close-knit IPS circles over the probable successors to the post of the crime branch chief (joint commissioner, crime) and his deputy (additional commissioner, crime). It has also led to speculation on whether the current set up will continue, given the incumbent additional commissioner's imminent promotion.
A posting in the Mumbai crime branch is among the most sought-after.
A slew of IPS officers is keen on getting the post of joint commissioner of police, additional commissioner of police and deputy commissioner of police of the Mumbai Crime branch. Intense lobbying has been witnessed since the name of a senior IPS officer started making it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons during the investigation. The race to make it to the top posts has apparently resulted in several leaks and media plants for unsettling the present set-up.
With Shinde's dubious past being dug up, officials also tried to point a finger at the present crop of crime branch higher-ups for turning a blind eye towards the black sheep within the elite force.
A senior IPS officer, it has been learnt, provided fodder to the gossip mills and gave bad press to a fellow IPS officer presently posted with the city police for his alleged links with Palande.
Stories about how Palande was a police informer who helped police get gangster Santosh Shetty and his aide Badresh Shah were also leaked to a section of the media. Personal attacks on officials who allegedly shielded Palande as they were involved in his racket, too, were made.
A senior official of the crime branch said he was aware of the stories planted by IPS officials keen on occupying the crime branch posts. "But there was nothing that could be done about it," he said.
It is learnt that at least three major groups are lobbying . The first one is the crime branch incumbents who are trying to show how they have been swift with the investigation to avoid transfers or any action against them. The second lobby is of the senior Mumbai police officials who are trying to press their case by assserting their dominance. The third front was that of the officers with the force in the past or aspiring to join the crime branch are trying hard to show the investigations are being handled shoddily, so that the crime branch officials get a bad name, thus increasing their own chances.