The mishandling of the August 11 Azad Maidan violence in Mumbai claimed what appeared to be its first victim on Thursday,amid indications of more shake-ups to come.
The citys police chief was transferred out with a promotion following a clamour for his removal from both the opposition and within the government. Commissioner Arup Patnaik was replaced with Satyapal Singh,additional DG (law and order). And one of the new police chiefs first moves was to effectively clip the wings of assistant CP Vasant Dhoble,widely criticised for his style of moral policing.
Alongside Patnaiks transfer came indications that the next to lose his job could be Home Minister R R Patil,who has disappointed the NCP leadership with the way his department has handled law and order. The opposition has been calling for his ouster,NCP chief Sharad Pawar had earlier publicly criticised him,and party sources hinted at a reshuffle soon.
It was Patil who announced Patnaiks promotion as managing director of the Maharashtra State Security Corporation. The file for the transfer had been moved over the last week; the chief minister approved it on Thursday.
The new CP began by withdrawing the special dispensation Patnaik had allowed Dhobles Social Service Branch,known for raids on bars. The SSB used to report directly to CP Patnaik but it will now return to its old profile as a Crime Branch unit. Patnaik had taken it out of that fold and it reported to him through the deputy CP (enforcement).
To a question,Singh said he did not want any special squads either. Patnaik is said to have – he denied it – informally assigned special squads that effectively diluted the role of the Crime Branch.
Singh said he would take up the challenge of restoring police morale of his force and public confidence in the police. I will take up the challenge of restoring whatever morale had gone low to ensure that as a force,we can be effective in tackling challenges that come our way, he said.
Singh was joint CP in the Crime Branch in 2003-2004 when the mafia was at its peak. As Pune CP,he had denied security clearance for a passport to then MoS for home Ramesh Bagwe,given his criminal background.