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Friday, August 12, 2022

Often in spotlight, Param Bir’s tenure ends quietly (with a suspension)

Earlier this month, Param Bir had challenged his suspension but till Wednesday, it had not been overturned.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai |
Updated: July 1, 2022 8:14:38 am
Param Bir Singh

Apart from Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey, another officer whose tenure as a cop ended — albeit in suspension — on Thursday is the 1988-batch officer Param Bir Singh.

Earlier this month, Param Bir had challenged his suspension but till Wednesday, it had not been overturned. Param Bir, the former Mumbai police commissioner who was shunted out in the wake of the Antilia terror threat case, later fell foul of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government after he wrote a letter alleging corruption by then state home minister Anil Deshmukh.

Param Bir then faced at least five FIRs and two inquiries against him in connection with extortion cases in Maharashtra. However, the cases were later transferred to the CBI. His statement was also recorded by the NIA in connection with the Antilia terror threat case.

Before this fallout, however, Param Bir had been careful throughout his career to remain on the right side of the government of the day, whether it was the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government or the MVA government.

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In the Fadnavis government, he was the ADG (law and order) of Maharashtra Police, which had faced criticism for arresting lawyers and activists in the Elgaar Parishad case in September 2018. Param Bir had held a press conference, where he read out letters purportedly exchanged between activists and claimed that they had “conclusive proof” to show they were linked to Maoists.

The Bombay High Court rapped the Maharashtra Police for holding the press conference and making public the ‘evidence’ in the case.

Earlier, while Param Bir was the DG of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the agency gave a clean chit to then Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in the irrigation scam. The then BJP-led opposition had alleged Pawar was linked to the case, but the NCP leader’s name was cleared in the short time- frame in which Fadnavis and Pawar were sworn in as chief minister and deputy chief minister, respectively, at a time when the MVA was still trying to come together to form the government.

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After the MVA government came to power, Singh was appointed the police commissioner of Mumbai.

In the one year he was the commissioner of the city, he took on Arnab Goswami, editor of Republic channel. In the TRP scam case, Singh himself held a press conference and claimed that Republic was involved in the manipulation of TRPs. As with the Elgaar Parishad press conference, he was once again pulled up by the Bombay High Court.

Singh first rose to prominence in the late 1990s as DCP of the squad of ‘encounter specialists’ that took on the underworld. Under Singh, so called ‘encounter specialists’ such as Pradeep Sharma and Daya Nayak were given a free hand to keep law and order under control. Several of these officers, however, later faced police cases themselves.

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During his stint in the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, Singh, as additional commissioner, investigated the 2008 Malegaon blast case and arrested Sadhvi Pragya Singh, among others, in the case. Sadhvi Pragya had alleged that Singh had tortured her while she was in custody.

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Singh’s most popular stint was when he was the Thane police commissioner, as the force cracked several cases, from the fake call centre scam to the Vicky Goswami drug bust case. As the commissioner, he posted Pradeep Sharma, the ‘encounter specialist’ arrested in the Antilia case, in the Anti-Extortion Cell of the Thane Police.

For an officer who was always high-profile and in the news, his innings ends on a rather low-key note.

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First published on: 01-07-2022 at 01:14:29 am

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