INDIA. Mumbai: In yet another controversy related to former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, a suspended police officer has sought an inquiry into the IPS officer’s connections with “dubious characters” Bharat Shah and Jitendra Navlani, allegedly having underworld links.
Police Inspector Anup Sambhaji Dange, attached to Gamdevi police station, was suspended on July 18, 2020, on charges of including the names of certain persons in an FIR “without sufficient evidence”, after he conducted a raid on a pub located at Bhulabhai Desai Road in South Mumbai on November 22, 2019.
Dange had asked the “Dirty Buns SoBo” pub to close down as per the Mumbai Police rule that does not permit any hotel or pub establishment to run the business beyond the 1.30 am deadline. He had also asked the customers to leave. At the same time film financier and diamond merchant Bharat Shah’s grandson Yash Rajiv Mehta, who was at the pub along with his friends, had a heated argument with another customer near the elevator. When constable Santosh Pawar tried to intervene, Yah assaulted him. As such an FIR (No 223/19 under sections 160, 186,189, 224,225,332, 353, 504,506 with section 34 Indian Penal code) was filed against Yash.
After some time, Bharat Shah himself came to the police station and allegedly tried to pressure Dange to release Yash. When he refused, Shah, his son Rajiv, and Yash assaulted him. Besides, the bar owner Jitendra Navlani allegedly attempted to coerce him by claiming close ties with Param Bir Singh who was the then Director-General (Anti-Corruption Bureau). As such he filed second FIR( No 224/19 under sections 109, 114, 186,189, 294, 353, 504,506 with section 34 Indian Penal code).
The very next day, Singh called Dange to his office. However, the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve asked him not to meet Singh. Later Singh asked officials to remove Navlani’s name from the charge-sheet many times.
When Singh took over as the Mumbai Police Commissioner in February 2020, he ordered that no charge-sheet be filed in the Navlani case. Dange alleged in his complaint that Singh met Navlani at a private flat on the first floor of the Moti Mahal building located opposite the Marine Drive police station. Navlani also reportedly acted as a liaison for Bharat Shah. The flat is rented by one Shardul Singh Bayas, who claims to be a cousin of Singh.
As per Dange, Navlani did not only wanted his name out of the charge-sheet but also wanted to teach a lesson to him for his refusal to remove his name from the charge-sheet. Besides the said Shardul Singh Bayas asked him to pay Rs 50 lakh if he wanted to avert a punishment posting.
After Dange was suspended on July 18, 2020, Bayas asked for Rs 2 crore for his reinstatement. When Dange made his inquiries, he found out that Singh allegedly had deep connections with Navlani. Dange also claimed that both Singh and Navlani have deep-rooted ties with the Wadhwan brothers, the promoters of Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL), already arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the “Yes Bank money laundering case” involving underworld don Iqbal Mirchi. Navlani allegedly acts as a conduit between businessmen and high-ranking police officers for underhand dealings. Dange claimed that Singh plotted a conspiracy to save Navlani, Bharat Shah, and Yash Rajiv Mehta from legal punishment.
Dange narrated these developments in his letter dated February 02, 2021, addressed to the Additional Chief Secretary(ACS,Home). He requested that he be reinstated in service and an ongoing departmental inquiry against him be transferred to an IAS officer, instead of it being conducted by internal police officers.
Notably, the Dange had sent the letter to the ACS(Home) much before the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case arose after an explosive laden vehicle was spotted outside his residence “Antillia” in South Mumbai on February 25, 2021.
It may be recalled Bharat Shah was arrested under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in January 2001, on charges of financing Nazim Rizvi’s film “Chori Chori, Chupke Chupke” on behalf of the Karachi-based gangster Shakeel Ahmad Babu alias Chota Shakeel. The police had filed a complaint based on taped conversations between him and gangsters Dawood Ibrahim and Shakeel.
All through his trial, Shah had maintained that he was a “clean man” and barely knew Rizvi. But he could not explain why he gave Rizvi crores of rupees without collateral. Shah was acquitted on October 01, 2003. The then designated Judge A.P Bhangale ruled that since he had already spent 14 months in jail, he could set off that time against the one-year sentence.
In another development, BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said that he would meet Union Home Secretary and demand for a CBI probe into the alleged racket involving the transfer of IPS officers.
Addressing a press conference here, Fadnavis said, former Commissioner of Intelligence, Rashmi Shukla of Mumbai Police, had taken permission from the then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Sitaram Kunte and had tapped phone conversations of certain officers and had submitted the report to the then Director-General of Police Subodh Jaiswal on August 25, 2020. In turn, Jaiswal wrote a letter to Kunte. But Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray did not take any action and did not launch a CID probe. It seems that Thackeray shielded and protected this entire racket to save his government, Fadnavis alleged.
In his statement, Fadnavis said that he has a copy of the report along with 6.3 GB of data that includes call recordings and documents. He added that the data would be shared with the Union Home Secretary for investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He also claimed that when he was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 2017, Rashmi Shukla had similarly intercepted the calls, and that time seven to eight people were arrested.