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Monday, January 25, 2021

Dharavi-wale Pandeyji misses the bus again

His reputation is that of an upright officer, but it has not earned him any well wishers in political parties. A common thread joining the different political alliances that have ruled the state is that each has sidelined him.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai | January 8, 2021 2:25:34 am
According to his colleagues, Pandey’s determination to go strictly by the book and entertain no political requests has rubbed several the wrong way, including his superiors and political leaders.

Sanjay Pandey of the 1986 intake of the IPS, who was the senior most officer after Subodh Jaiswal but was overlooked for elevation as Director General of Police after Jaiswal’s transfer to the Centre, is no stranger to being sidelined.

His reputation is that of an upright officer, but it has not earned him any well wishers in political parties. A common thread joining the different political alliances that have ruled the state is that each has sidelined him.

Now it appears that the IIT-Kanpur graduate is likely to have missed the last chance of bagging a consequential position after Hemant Nagrale, who is from a batch junior to him, was given additional charge as Maharashtra DGP on Thursday. Nagrale is likely to be confirmed in the posting once UPSC clears his name.

According to his colleagues, Pandey’s determination to go strictly by the book and entertain no political requests has rubbed several the wrong way, including his superiors and political leaders. It was his tenure in post-Bombay riots Dharavi, first as an additional hand, and later as DCP (zone VIII), that won him a lot of admirers. Pandey ensured there were no law and order problems. He is known to have given strict instructions to deal with anyone trying to create trouble firmly.

“So impressed was the government with him, that he had been given charge of the zone even though he was sent there initially only as as an additional help. At that time, there was a menace of illegal parking of cabs in the Dharavi area. After Pandey started taking action against them, they would clear the area as soon as they heard that the officer was on the round,” said an IPS officer.

He once arrested late BJP leader Gopinath Munde and sent him to Matunga lock up in connection with a law and order issue.
However, those close to the officer believe that it was his tenure at Dharavi that may have had some role to play in him losing the DGP’s post. “While controlling the law and order situation in Dharavi post riots, he had not spared any leaders or workers who tried to foment trouble, including those from the Shiv Sena. Those wounds and still not healed as some Sena leaders still remembered the beatings the party workers had endured when his name came up for the DGP’s post,” an official said.

After he was transferred from Dharavi, the locals held a procession demanding his transfer be revoked. “Even today people remember him as Dharavi wale Pandeyji,” the officer added. Given his goodwill in the area, the officer had toyed with the idea of contesting elections from there in the early 2000’s after he had resigned from the force before he was convinced against it, sources said.

The next big case that some believe landed Pandey in trouble was his investigation into the ‘Cobbler scam’ as the DCP (economic offences wing) in 1998. The scam that related to people claiming loans from banks by posing as members of a society for cobblers allegedly had links to some politicians. Pandey who was investigating the case was transferred to Jalna mid-stream. He later got central deputation and was attached to the PM’s security unit.

Disillusioned with police work and wanting to make use of his IIT Kanpur degree in computer science, Pandey resigned from the force and went to the private sector. However, when the state government did not accept his resignation till a year later, he joined back. Ever since, he has been involved in litigation with the state government.

At one point, he was kept on ‘compulsory waiting’ for over three years after which he again approached the courts. After winning a reprieve he was given a posting but it was always postings like DG Home Guards that are considered non consequential.

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