Bihar IPS officer Vinay Tiwari alleged on Monday that he was “selectively quarantined” after being ordered by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to stay indoors following his arrival in Mumbai.
Tiwari, who is Superintendent of Police, Patna City (Central), had flown to Mumbai on Sunday to lead the police’s investigations into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14.
The Mumbai Police is currently investigating a case of accidental death after having received no complaint of foul play from Rajput’s family.
However, Rajput’s father K K Singh had lodged an FIR in Patna last month against his son’s girlfriend, actor Rhea Chakraborty, and accused her of abetting his suicide and siphoning Rs 15 crore from his bank account. Prior to Tiwari’s arrival, Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Upendra Kumar Sharma had written to the Maharashtra Police requesting accommodation for Tiwari at Maharashtra Police Officers’ Mess in Worli and the use of a police vehicle. However, Sharma was informed that accommodation at the mess would not be possible as several staffers working there had tested positive for Covid-19. “Accordingly, accommodation arrangements were made at Senior Officers’ Mess at SRPF GRP VIII in Goregaon and a vehicle, Maruti Ertiga (MH-01-CP-1343), was arranged for Shri Vinay Tiwari. All courtesies befitting an IPS officer have duly been extended to Shri Vinay Tiwari,” said Assistant Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Vinayak Deshmukh of the Mumbai Police. From the airport on Sunday, Tiwari went to the SRPF headquarters in Goregaon East, where he held a meeting with four of his subordinates, who have been probing the case in Mumbai since July 27.
Tiwari said that after heading out to carry out his inquiry, he received a phone call at 9 pm from a person identifying himself as an additional municipal commissioner in the BMC. “The official informed me that I would need to go into home quarantine, as I had flown in from Patna. He asked for my location,” Tiwari told The Indian Express.
“I did point out that I am a police officer on duty and there are exceptions to the quarantine rules,” said Tiwari. He added that he declined to tell the BMC official his whereabouts, as he was a “police officer conducting an investigation” and could not be sure of the caller’s identity. “The caller asked me where I was staying and what time I would return. I replied that I would return to my accommodation by 11 pm,” he said.Upon returning to the SRPF campus, BMC officials, who were waiting there for him, stamped “home quarantine” on Tiwari’s hand, confining him to his room until August 15. An upset Tiwari then informed his senior officers in the Bihar Police. Around 1 am on Monday, Bihar Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey tweeted a picture of Tiwari’s home quarantine stamp and wrote: “IPS officer Binay Tiwari reached Mumbai today from Patna on official duty to lead the police team there but he has been forcibly quarantined by BMC officials at 11pm today. He was not provided accommodation in the IPS Mess despite request and was staying in a guest house in Goregaw.” Tiwari claimed that his team, which had arrived earlier, has not been asked to self-isolate. “Four other members of my team have been in Mumbai since July 27. They have been out on the field every day, conducting an investigation. No one from the BMC has approached them either at the airport or later. I have been selectively home-quarantined,” he said.Tiwari also said that his team has received very little cooperation from the Mumbai Police. “So far, we have questioned 10 witnesses. We have asked the Mumbai Police to hand us the postmortem report, statements of the witnesses and all other documents, but they have not done so. I have informed my superiors about it,” he added.
In a statement, the BMC said Tiwari was quarantined as per the rules for domestic air travellers. “He has also been guided to apply to the competent authority of MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) for exemption in the home quarantine period,” it said. A BMC official said Tiwari had not sought exemption so far.
However, the civic body did not say why the police team which arrived from Patna on July 27 was not quarantined.
Throughout the day, the BJP kept up an attack on the BMC over the issue.
“The movement of officers doing official public service can’t be stopped by putting them in quarantine in these testing times of Covid-19 pandemic. A medical team from Kerala visited Mumbai, UP police came to investigate Vikas Dubey case, a team from Bihar police is already working since 4 days but none of them were quarantined then why only a SP rank officer is treated differently?” former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted.
BJP group leader in the BMC, Prabhakar Shinde, wrote to civic Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, demanding that Tiwari be immediately released from home quarantine. Shinde and other BJP corporators also staged protests outside Chahal’s office on Monday.
BJP’s Mumbai president, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, led a delegation of party MLAs to meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to complain about the state government’s “lack of cooperation and its harrasment of the Bihar Police officers”.
BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said, “The circular DMU/2020CR of 25 May, categorically stated that – “no home quarantine for person intending to stay in Mumbai for less than 7 days and government servants are given exemption for such govt work. All such government officials have been, are exempted since 25 May.”
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