Updated: April 11, 2021 11:34:09 am
Office going commuters on the Andheri-Churchgate-Andheri local train are likely to recognise the new Maharashtra Director General of Police as a fellow traveller, literally. For years, Sanjay Pandey had stopped using his official car to commute to and from his home and was taking the train. His home too was not official accommodation, which the 1986-batch officer had refused in protest against being repeatedly sidelined in postings.
On Friday, when he was given additional charge as the Maharashtra DGP, it was a penultimate victory for the police officer, who is praised by every politician as honest and upright, but overlooked by every government for important assignments.
Prior to this, Pandey had been cooling his heels for several years as DGP Home Guards, a non-executive post. That too had been taken away from him when the government decided last month to remove Parambir Singh as Mumbai Commissioner of Police, and put him in charge of Home Guards.
Pandey was pushed further to the margins as DG Maharashtra State Security Corporation. He protested loudly. Few would have imagined then that within days, he would get additional charge as DGP Maharashtra, a post for which the government seemed determined not to consider him at all despite his seniority.
He was given the assignment a few days after being asked to carry out probe against Parambir Singh.
However Pandey’s final victory will come only when he is appointed DGP with full charge, a post that he had hoped to be considered for in December 2020, when Subodh Jaiswal stepped off midway to take an assignment at the centre. It was Hemant Nagrale who succeeded Jaiswal, much to his disappointment.
In the post Parambir Singh- reshuffle, after Nagrale was appointed Mumbai Commissioner, Rajnish Seth was given additional charge as DGP. Pandey’s protests at being humiliated once again seemed to have gone unheard, until Friday.
Getting additional charge improves an officer’s prospects for being included in the UPSC’s panel of three candidates that it will send back to the Maharashtra government, from the set of candidates the state administration sends to it. The government must choose its DGP from the three candidates.
At a time that the Maharashtra Home department is facing a credibility crisis, this IIT Kanpur graduate’s squeaky clean image may help to clear the debris of the Waze controversy.
He made his name in post riots Dharavi in the 1990s, where his even handed, non-partisan policing won him admirers who swear by him to this day, but also earned him some powerful enemies among politicians.
But it was as DCP of the economic offences wing in 1998 that his investigation of the “cobbler scam” that Pandey got his first taste of being sidelined. With the scam trail allegedly leading to some politicians’ doors, he found himself transferred to Jalna mid-stream. He later got central deputation and was attached to the PM’s security unit.
But Despite keeping him on the margins, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government appears to have trusted him to carry out at least two enquiries against senior police officers. When the government did not act on his recommendations in those reports, Pandey felt he had been used. Now he has been entrusted with a third enquiry. And there is a chance that he may yet become full DGP.
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