‘SID tapped phones in transfer racket, red flagged several postings’

Months before former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’s allegations against Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, the Maharashtra State Intelligence Department (SID) had tapped several key telephones in connection with the police “transfer racket” and red-flagged shifts of certain police officers in August 2020.

It had also urged that the matter be brought to the attention of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray immediately.

The SID’S top secret report – which contains several high-profile names – also recommended a probe by the CID against such people involved in the alleged transfer racket.

The report, accessed by IANS, was sent by SID Commissioner Rashmi Shukla, on August 25 last year, to the then Maharashtra DGP S.K. Jaiswal, highlighting the transfer racket of police officers in the state. However, there is no official confirmation of the report’s authenticity.

Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis released certain portions of the report in Mumbai on Tuesday and claimed that the Chief Minister had not taken any action on it.

The SID report highlighted the alleged role of certain brokers with inclination towards political parties who were engaged in arranging desired (lucrative) postings for police officers in exchange for massive monetary compensation.

Shukla informed the DGP that the “phones of several individuals were put on surveillance” (tapped) with due regard to the “established process” to curtail the commitment of criminal offences and prevent possible breaches of law.

It further said that upon the review of the gathered information, it was is clear that there is significant merit in these allegations as it has been discovered that aforementioned brokers are in close contact and embroiled in these negotiations with several influential people.

It also highlighted that the police officers ranging from Inspectors to several high-ranking IPS officers were in contact with such undesirable individuals.

The report has named 29 police officers in the state whose names figure in the alleged transfer racket.

Among them are six Indian Police Service officers from the rank of Superintendent of Police to Deputy Inspector General of Police, and another 21 officers of the Maharashtra Police Service (MPS) said to be allegedly been involved in the racket.

According to the surveillance report, it alleged that a person named Santosh alias Sagar Jagtap was trying desperately for the transfer of DCP Sachin Patil to Nashik, and for this, met Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, Home Minister Deshmukh and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

Ha also reportedly took five to six MLAs of the ruling NCP-Congress to meet NCP supremo Sharad Pawar at the Y.B. Chavan Centre in Mumbai. However, the date of the meeting is not mentioned in the report.

Accordingly, since there is a Shiv Sena MLA in Nashik, his recommendation was required and for this, Ajit Pawar met Sharad Pawar, the SID report said.

The SID claimed that right then, the elder Pawar sent a WhatsApp message with Patil’s name to Chief Minister Thackeray, and then allegedly assured that his name will figure in the final list.

The report added how Jagtap’s mobile conversations also revealed that he was in touch with Additional Director General of Police, Bipinkumar Singh.

Citing the results of the “surveillance records”, the SID Commissioner said that the evidence gathered is highly incriminating and gravely implicated a number of individuals engaged in this activity.

Identifying one of these as Banda Nawaj Maner, who was arrested along with six other persons in 2017 in this connection, it said that he was found to be active again in the racket.

The letter from the SID also demanded a high-level inquiry and strict measures against all stakeholders engaging in this activity and further recommended that the matter be brought to the notice of the Chief Minister.

Jaiswal forwarded the report, again marked “top secret” a day later to Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Sitaram Kunte, saying: “A report has been received by SID on August 25, with regard to transfers of police officers. It is a serious matter and necessitates urgent action by the state government.”

He urged Kunte to maintain adequate secrecy to prevent unnecessary scrutiny which could bring disrepute to the government, while seeking an immediate and comprehensive enquiry by the CID (Crime) Pune, to identify concerned individuals and take necessary action.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at anand.s@ians.in and Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)