MVA didn’t act on evidence of scam in police dept: Devendra Fadnavis
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday accused the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of not acting on “incriminating evidence” supplied as a report by former Commissioner of State Intelligence Rashmi Shukla on a “money for transfer” scam in the state police department.
HT has seen a copy of the report, dated August 25, 2020, which names senior politicians, middlemen and police officers, who allegedly sought transfers and postings of their liking.
The report, which is based on intercepted phone calls of six people -- it was not immediately clear if this was done through proper channels -- states that they were middlemen who helped police officials seek postings of their choice, and brought up names of politicians such as Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and home minister Anil Deshmukh, in their alleged conversations.
The report does not state that the middlemen spoke to these leaders directly. It contends that one middlemen is an assistant in the home minister’s office.
The report does not talk about any direct transfer of money to these politicians. It does, however, refer to “monetary exchange” between police officers and middlemen acting in close connection with politicians.
There was no reaction from chief minister’s office to the report. Deshmukh was not available for comments.
In a press conference held in Mumbai on Tuesday, Fadnavis said Shukla submitted the report to the then Director General of Police Subodh Kumar Jaiswal on August 25, 2020, who in turn forwarded the report to Sitaram Kunte, the then additional chief secretary, home, the following day.
Fadnavis met the Union home secretary in Delhi and demanded a CBI probe. “The Union home secretary clearly told me that they will verify the documents and evidence and a report will be submitted to the central government. The government will take appropriate action accordingly,” he told reporters in the national capital.
Fadnavis said that he had 6.3GB of data from the intercepted calls, which contained the voices of police officers and politicians closely related to the home minister and home department.
While Fadnavis said Shukla had “sought proper permissions from then additional chief secretary-home and intercepted phone calls of several police officials and politician”, NCP spokesperson and state minister Nawab Malik said on Tuesday that Shukla had intercepted calls illegally.
“She prepared the call records illegally hence she was transferred as a punishment,” Malik said. He added that “80% of the transfers mentioned in the report did not take place.”
The State Intelligence Department (SID) is a sensitive wing of the police and it is a serious issue if communication between its chief and a DGP came out in the open, Maharashtra NCP chief and minister Jayant Patil said on Tuesday.
A question also arises about how the previous BJP-led government used the SID, Patil said. “On whose directions was the phone tapping done? Who had given the right to (then Commissioner of Intelligence) Rashmi Shukla to tap the phones? Was permission to tap phones taken? All this needs to be investigated,” he said.
The report names police officers who were in touch with six middlemen for transfers to desired posts.
“It is a serious matter and necessitates urgent action by the state government. It is recommended that this be brought to the notice of Hon. Chief Minister at the earliest and an immediate and comprehensive enquiry by State CID (Crime), Pune be ordered to identify concerned individuals and take necessary legal action. It is also advised that the secrecy of this report be ensured, in order to prevent unnecessary scrutiny, which may bring disrepute to the government,” Jaiswal wrote in the covering letter when he submitted the report to ACS, Home.
The report cited an instance of an IPS officer who wanted to be posted in Nashik. The report said that the officer met deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, environment minister Aaditya Thackeray, home minister Anil Deshmukh. He also met NCP chief Sharad Pawar along with a few local MLAs belonging to the Congress and the NCP.
“Since Nashik has a sitting Shiv Sena MLA, Ajit Pawar suggested the transfer will need the approval from chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. As suggested by Ajit Pawar, the DCP met Sharad Pawar at his Nariman Point office. In turn, Pawar sent a message to Thackeray on WhatsApp. The DCP will get his desired posting done for sure,” the report stated, quoting the conversation from the intercepted calls of the middleman.
There was no mention in the report of any money changing hands, or an any explicit impropriety in the transfer.
In the summary to the report, Shukla wrote: “The aforesaid brokers were in close contacts and embroiled in these negotiations with several influential and the police officers ranging from inspectors to several high-ranking officers are in contact with such undesirable individuals. The information obtained and evidence collected is highly incriminating and gravely implicates a number of individuals engaged in this activity.”
Malik, however, said on Tuesday that the transfer of policemen was a procedural affair and did not occur as mentioned in the report.
Shukla, who is on central deputation, did not respond to the phone calls or text messages.
A delegation of BJP leaders including Fadnavis, state unit chief Chandrakant Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Ashish Shelar will meet Maharashtra governor BS Koshyari on Wednesday. “We want governor Koshyari to seek a detailed status report from the chief secretary of Maharashtra,” said a senior BJP leader.