Two days after businessman Manoj Vashisht was shot inside Sagar Ratna restaurant during a Delhi Police Special Cell operation in May, the elite unit’s chief wrote to his deputy asking why he was not informed and his consent not taken before conducting the operation.
Vashisht was killed on May 16, at about 8.30 pm, inside the Sagar Ratna restaurant in Old Rajender Nagar. He died after a bullet hit him during an alleged exchange of fire with an eight-member team of the Special Cell, which planned the operation. The Delhi Police had immediately constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the incident — the probe was later transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
On May 18, Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) S N Shrivastav wrote to Deputy Commissioner (Special Cell) Sanjeev Yadav, who heads the New Delhi range of the unit and supervised the team that carried out the operation.
Sources in the Special Cell said there has been a trail of communication between Shrivastav’s office and Yadav regarding the operation. “In his letter, Shrivastav has said that a team of Special Cell led by Inspector Dharmender Kumar proceeded to nab Vashisht on the evening of May 16, but he (Shrivastav) was neither informed, nor was his consent taken,” said an official privy to the details.
Shrivastav asked Yadav to explain how a team was sent to arrest Vashisht without his approval. “I have issued clear instructions that all operations/ efforts should be done only after my consent unless that same is not possible under the circumstances,” Shrivastav said in his letter, according to police sources.
A senior police officer said Shrivastav’s letter underlines that “any operation/ effort to nab criminals, as well as progress in investigation and trial of the cases” should be brought to his knowledge “at the earliest available opportunity”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Shrivastav said, “Everyone knows this was not in my knowledge. This is not a new fact. Just like the Special CP (law and order) does not know about each and every operation that is carried out by them. This is also one such instance.”
However, he refused to comment on his letter to Yadav, or whether the latter had replied. “I will not discuss this communication with anyone. Why should I share something that is confidential,” he said.
Yadav, when contacted, said: “I have not received any such letter and I do not want to comment on intra-department communication.”
Earlier, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi had ordered a vigilance inquiry after Vashisht’s wife, Priyanka, met him and leveled extortion charges against the Special Cell.
“Inspector Kumar and the other officers told investigators that the raid was conducted after they received specific information about Vashisht, who was allegedly involved in several cases of cheating and forgery, and that they had informed their seniors about this operation,” said police sources, adding that the designation of their senior office who was informed had not been mentioned.
The MHA recently ordered a CBI probe into Vashisht’s death even as the police SIT informed the high court that the bullet which killed him had come from his own gun.