Crumbling Of An Illicit Empire? Unravelling The Sachin Vaze-Anil Deshmukh-Param Bir Singh Jigsaw Puzzle

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 23, 2021 11:19 AM
Crumbling Of An Illicit Empire? Unravelling The Sachin Vaze-Anil Deshmukh-Param Bir Singh Jigsaw PuzzleAnil Deshmukh.
Snapshot
  • With Supreme Court, ED, NIA etc. all involved in the case now, the MVA coalition has very few cards to play, and its loyalist bureaucrats are demoralised by the ongoing investigation nailing the involved cops. It is not impossible that a coalition partner decides to jump to cut its losses before the MVA ship is completely sunk.

The letter by suspended cop Param Bir Singh accusing Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has added further fuel to the fire whose heat is being faced by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government.

An incident orchestrated by a “dirty cop” purportedly only to recover his lost glory has become the starting the point of what seems to be the crumbling of a huge empire of illegal activities involving bureaucrats as well as politicians.

Here’s all you need to know about the case.

The story so far

The whole saga started with an explosive-laden SUV being found at 25 February near the house of industrialist Mukesh Ambani. The investigation in the case took a drastic turn with the dead body of Mansukh Hiren being found on 5 March.

Mansukh Hiren, a Thane-based automobile spare parts businessman, was the legal owner of the SUV. Hiren’s death brought the focus on Sachin Vaze, a Mumbai crime branch officer and an “encounter specialist”, after Hiren’s wife accused him of murdering her husband.

Upon investigation, NIA has came to found out that Vaze indeed was involved in the case as a culprit and had also used his position in the police to destroy evidence.

Meanwhile, the heat on the MVA coalition kept increasing as the Opposition was in no mood to relent on the case. Former chief minister and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis made explosive speeches inside the House over the case, accusing the government of protecting Vaze, and demanding his arrest.

At the time, the ruling party Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut had come out in the support of Sachin Vaze, calling him an "honest” and "very capable” official. He also criticised the involvement of central agencies in the investigation and said that Mumbai police was itself capable of solving the case and there was no need to bring any central agencies.

The investigation has revealed that the accused Vaze was also counting on the same, however, his plans were foiled as the central agencies got involved and that destroyed his chance of tampering with the evidence as per his wishes.

Under extreme pressure, the Maharashtra government finally announced Vaze’s transfer from the Crime Branch on 10 March.

Previously, defending the officer, CM Uddhav Thackeray had said that 'Sachin Vaze is not Osama Bin Laden'. In response, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis called Thackeray an "advocate of Sachin Vaze".

Vaze was allegedly a blue-eyed boy of the Shiv Sena.

On 13 March, late at night, Sachin Vaze was arrested after 12 hours of questioning. Vaze was booked by NIA under Sections 120 (B) for criminal conspiracy; 286 for negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance; 465 for forgery; 473 for making or possessing counterfeit seal and 506(2) for criminal intimidation.

Before the arrest, Sachin Vaze puts up cryptic WhatsApp message - "time to say goodbye to the world coming closer."

The Mumbai ATS has now revealed that Vaze indeed orchestrated the murder of Hiren., along with other cops. The murder of Hiren was allegedly planned on 2 March during a two-hour meeting Vaze held with two other colleagues. Reportedly, Vaze ordered the hit but wasn’t present during the actual murder.

The NIA has determined that Vaze himself drove the explosive-laden SUV to the spot on 25 February, and then left in the Innova car. The agency concluded that the whole affair was orchestrated by Vaze himself merely “to recover his lost glory”.

How does Param Bir Singh fit into the whole thing?

The latest twist in the case came in the form of a 1988-batch IPS officer who was serving as the police commissioner of Thane before the Maharashtra government shunted him out and posted him as the head of the Home Guards.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on 18 March announced that Singh would be replaced by Hemant Nagrale.

Interestingly, initially, the Shiv Sena leaders were defending Singh.

On 19 March, Shiv Sena said that Singh’s transfer does not make him a criminal, and alleged that a “particular lobby in Delhi” was upset with him as the TRP scam came to light during his tenure.

The ruling party further said that Param Bir Singh had taken over as Mumbai police chief during the difficult time of coronavirus pandemic and boosted the morale of the police force.

However, just a day later, Param Bir Singh positioned his guns towards the governments, making serious allegations against the NCP leader and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.

In a letter written to CM Uddhav Thackeray, Singh alleged that Deshmukh asked arrested cop Sachin Vaze to extort money from restaurants and bars in Mumbai and gave him a target of Rs 100 crore a month.

Singh further said that Deshmukh had interfered in the former Dadra and Nagar Haveli MP Mohan Delkar’s suicide case to gain political mileage. Delkar’s family alleges that that he took the extreme step due to harassment by the administration of the UT led by Praful Patel, who was a BJP MLA and Minister of State for Home in Gujarat from 2010-12.

The move of his transfer had already generated the suspicion that Singh must somehow be involved in the Ambani bomb threat case, but after the letter, Deshmukh said that Singh had made false claims to save himself as his involvement in the Ambani bomb scare case and Mansukh Hiren death case was getting clearer.

Meanwhile, a suspended Mumbai Police inspector Anup S Dange has sought an inquiry into Param Bir Singh’s connections with the Underworld.

So, what happened?

It is possible that Singh saw the similarity between his own and Vaze’s case. Vaze was also initially defended, then transferred by the Maharashtra government, and ultimately arrested.

In such a situation, Singh might have decided to play his own cards instead of sitting and waiting to be taken down. His revelations may not only be a threat to those in power that he will take down everybody with him, but also an act of appeasement towards the “particular lobby in Delhi” that Shiv Sena alleges to be upset with him.

Singh has now filed a petition before the Supreme Court, demanding a CBI inquiry against Deshmukh. He has also sought protection from further coercive action from the state against him.

After the allegations, the opposition leaders including BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and MNS’s Raj Thackeray are demanding Deshmukh’s resignation.

Meanwhile, Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also entered the fray. The agency will reportedly investigate the alleged terror-cum-extortion racket in the city after former police commissioner Param Bir Singh’s expose.

Reportedly, Vaze’s call records and allegations made by his superiors show that he was directly taking orders from Deshmukh. The ED will establish the trail of money in the alleged terror-cum-extortion racket in which the role of senior ministers of Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP cannot be ruled out.

The leaders of MVA coalition are sticking together on the Deshmukh issue. But, how long before Deshmukh becomes more of a liability than an asset, like Vaze and Singh?

With Supreme Court, ED, NIA etc. all involved in the case now, the MVA coalition has very few cards to play, and its loyalist bureaucrats are demoralised by the ongoing investigation which is nailing the involved cops.

It is not impossible that a coalition partner decides to jump before the MVA ship is completely sunk to cut its losses.

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