March 25, 2021 2:10:14 am
During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the Maharashtra government expressed solidarity with Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, who is facing allegations over misuse of the police, and questioned the conduct of former commissioner of intelligence Rashmi Shukla.
The allegations regarding police transfers and misuse of police for collection of Rs 100 crore came up during the meeting, sources said. The consensus within the meeting was reportedly that Shukla had tapped phones without permission, and that the phone tapping was not confined to police persons or middle agents but several ministers. Deshmukh explained his side regarding the allegations.
Housing Minister Jitendra Awadh told the media after the meeting, “IPS officer Rashmi Shukla had tapped ministers’ phones. She had not taken prior permission. It is a very serious offence.”
Minister for Skill Development Nawab Malik said, “The charges made by Shukla do not corroborate with the administrative action that followed. She spoke of a police transfer deal. There is not one instance where a police person was posted because of any deal or monetary transaction. The link cannot be established.”
During the meeting, a couple of senior ministers reportedly said the BJP was using officers to elicit information and use it against the MVA government.
A minister present at the meeting said, “Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray expressed concerns and said we fell short of knowing the officers.”
Awhad said, “Permission was sought for tapping the phones of a certain set of people, however the numbers of a completely different set of people were tapped.” He added that Shukla had misused her authority in tapping phones and that there was a strong demand from the cabinet to pursue action against her.
“The government permission was misused. It was used as part of a conspiracy to defame the government. If two or three officials have done this, there should be action against them,” he said.
He added that the government was aware of the phone tapping episode, for which Shukla had apologised to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. “After she wrote the letter, she had met the CM and HM and apologised to them. She was forgiven because this government had big-hearted people. We did not know that two months later she would play a part in the conspiracy against this government,” Awhad said.
He added that the permission for tapping phones was not given by former Home Secretary Sitaram Kunte, who is now the Chief Secretary of the state.
He said the government should conduct an inquiry into how the permission for tapping was procured.
Shukla was unavailable for comment.
Shukla was transferred in September as the head of civil defence. She subsequently went on central deputation to the CRPF.
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