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Friday, April 16, 2021

IPS officers’ postings, transfers a flashpoint in MVA government

Uncertainty over who should be held accountable for the Sachin Waze fiasco is not the first instance of the three allies in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government not being able to see eye-to-eye on matters related to the Mumbai Police and the crucial home department.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai |
March 17, 2021 4:43:03 am
The existence of strong rival lobbies, the unsavoury reputations of individual officers and their not so hidden political affiliations, have complicated even the routine functioning of the police, generating internal suspicion and one-upmanship.

Uncertainty over who should be held accountable for the Sachin Waze fiasco is not the first instance of the three allies in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government not being able to see eye-to-eye on matters related to the Mumbai Police and the crucial home department.

The NCP holds the home department. The powerful Mumbai Police commissioner reports directly to the additional chief secretary (Home) and not the director general of police (DGP).

Last year, Shiv Sena and NCP had clashed on the transfer of IPS officers, which led to an unusual situation in which the transfer orders of Mumbai deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) had to be completely scratched, and a new list put out by the state administration.

The existence of strong rival lobbies, the unsavoury reputations of individual officers and their not so hidden political affiliations, have complicated even the routine functioning of the police, generating internal suspicion and one-upmanship.

In the Mansukh Hiran death case, the government was embarrassed by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ disclosures in the state Assembly that the murdered man was known to Waze and his access to call data records to back this claim.

Fadnavis also had access to Hiran’s wife’s statement to the state ATS, fuelling suspicion and political heat over the leak, as the BJP successfully managed to set the agenda on the entire controversy. Within the government, the lines are drawn between those who believe that NCP’s Anil Deshmukh, who is the home minister, and Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh – also seen as an NCP choice to head the force – mishandled the matter and those who think that Sena’s unconditional backing of Waze, who was once associated with the party, has led to this crisis for the government.

On July 2, last year, Param Bir Singh had shuffled around 10 DCP-rank officers. The very next day, the state government put the transfers on hold. With speculation that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had not been consulted on the transfers, which were decided in consultation with Deshmukh, it took a meeting between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and the CM to put the kerfuffle behind them.

In another instance, then DGP Subodh Jaiswal had refused to sign off on the transfers of Maharashtra Police officers. The Indian Express has learnt that he was unhappy with the “intense lobbying” the officers did with political leaders for “plum” postings. This also led to friction between allies Sena, NCP and Congress, which could not agree on who should replace the transferred officials. As a result, for the first time in Maharashtra, several IPS officers were shown as “waiting” for posting.

Jaiswal has recently stepped down and left on a central deputation to head the CISF.

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