BJP, Maha Govt Continue to Spar Over Deshmukh’s Quarantine Claims
While Deshmukh took to Twitter to list his whereabouts in February, the BJP released police records to falsify them.
As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) have been sparring over the whereabouts of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in mid-February, Deshmukh took to Twitter on Tuesday, 23 March, to release a video statement and said that he had addressed just one press conference after being discharged from a Nagpur hospital. Deshmukh added that he had been admitted to the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.
The clarification comes as the BJP raised questions on MVA’s claims of Deshmukh being in quarantine in mid-February, the period in which former Mumbai CP Param Bir Singh has alleged that the state Home Minister met junior police officers and asked them to collect Rs 100 crores every month.
Soon after Deshmukh’s video message, Leader of Opposition and former CM Devendra Fadnavis addressed the media to show police records of the former’s whereabouts in the period of the home quarantine.
WHY THE DEBATE OVER DESHMUKH’S WHEREABOUTS IN FEBRUARY?
In a letter written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and in a petition filed in the Supreme Court against his transfer, former Mumbai Police Commissioner has alleged that Deshmukh held meetings in February 2021 at his residence with police officers, including Sachin Vaze of Crime Intelligence Unit, Mumbai and Sanjay Patil, ACP Social Service Branch, Mumbai, bypassing their seniors and had instructed them to accumulate Rs 100 crore every month from bars, pubs, and other establishments.
Soon after the claims, the MVA leaders and minister, including NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, said that Deshmukh had not met anybody in mid-February since he had tested positive for COVID-19 on 5 February and was hospitalised in Nagpur till 15 February. They further claimed that Deshmukh was under home quarantine till 27 February after being discharged from the hospital.
Fadnavis took to Twitter to share a clip of Deshmukh addressing the media on 15 February, in an attempt to falsify the quarantine claims.
WHAT CLARIFICATION DOES DESHMUKH OFFER IN LATEST VIDEOS?
Saddened by the allegations against him, Deshmukh claimed that he had only spoken to mediapersons waiting for him outside the hospital when he got discharged on 15 February.
“I tested positive for COVID-19 in Nagpur on 5 February, following which I was admitted to Nagpur’s Alexis Hospital till 15 February. After getting discharged on 15 February, I took a private plane to Mumbai to come and home quarantine,” he said.
“When I was discharged on 15 February, there were mediapersons standing at the gate who wanted to talk to me. I was weakened because of COVID-19. So, I sat on a chair and answered some of their questions and then went straight to home quarantine till 27 February,” he added.
Deshmukh further explained why he had several police officers visiting his residence after 28 February.
“The Assembly session was slated to begin from 1 March and I got into the preparations of it immediately after coming out of home quarantine. There were several officers who visited my official residence for the briefings of the preparations of the session,” he said.
Deshmukh said that he was giving this information to the people since there are attempts being made to mislead them.
FADNAVIS SHARES DOCUMENTS TO SHOW DESHMUKH WASN’T HOME QUARANTINED
Soon after Deshmukh’s video messages, Fadnavis addressed the media to share documents claiming that the former was not home quarantined after being released from the hospital.
“As per the police records of VIP movement, Anil Deshmukh went to Sahyadri Guest House on 17 February and to the Mantralaya on 24 February,” Fadnavis said, adding, “Pawar Sahab was not briefed properly (before his media address on 22 March).”
The Letter Bomb
Former Mumbai CP Param Bir Singh has launched a full-blown attack on the MVA government and Deshmukh after he was transferred for alleged lapses in the probe of the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case, that has former API Sachin Vaze as one of the prime accused.
Following pressure by the Opposition, Singh was transferred as DG, Home Guard, a few days after Vaze’s arrest in the case.
After his transfer, Singh on 20 March made public a letter that he wrote to the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat singh Koshyari, alleging that Deshmukh had instructed several junior officers to extort money and had given them a target of Rs 100 crore per month.
Singh on 22 March also moved the Supreme Court against his “malicious transfer” and demanded a CBI probe into his allegations against Deshmukh.
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