Where Was Deshmukh on 15 Feb? MVA-BJP Spar Over Quarantine Claims
It is pertinent in the case of Param Bir Singh’s letter to establish what Deshmukh was doing mid-February.
While a dark cloud – the consequence of a ‘letter bomb’ by shunted top cop Param Bir Singh – looms over the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, different accounts have emerged on what state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was doing on 15 February 2021.
While leaders of the MVA said that Deshmukh was in home quarantine on the said date, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis has rejected the claim.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Saturday, 20 March, in the aftermath of his removal from the post, reportedly wrote a contentious letter to CM Uddhav Thackeray levelling allegations of corruption against Deshmukh. Singh claimed that Deshmukh had asked API Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore per month from liquor outlets and other business establishments.
“Around mid-February and thereafter, the Hon’ble Home Minister had called Shri Vaze to his official residence. At that time, one or two staff members of the Hon’ble Home Minister, including his Personal Secretary Mr Palande, were also present. The Hon’ble Home Minister expressed to Shri Vaze that he had a target to accumulate Rs 100 crores a month…”Param Bir Singh in his letter
Thus, it is pertinent to the controversy, to establish what Deshmukh was doing in the middle of February.
WHAT NCP CHIEF SHARAD PAWAR CLAIMS
Addressing the media amid rising demand for Deshmukh’s resignation after Singh’s allegations in the backdrop of the Mukesh Ambani bomb-scare case, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that the letter by the former top cop was a bid to derail the probe in the case.
“If you see the former commissioner’s (Param Bir Singh’s) letter, he mentions that in mid-February, he had been informed by certain officers that they had got such instructions from the home minister. From 5-15 February, Deshmukh was admitted to the hospital after contracting COVID-19. From 15 till 27 February, he was under home quarantine.”Sharad Pawar, NCP President
WHAT LEADER OF OPPOSITION FADNAVIS SAYS
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition and former CM Devendra Fadnavis took to Twitter to share a clip of a press conference held by Deshmukh on 15 February, thereby refuting Pawar’s claims of the Home Minister being in quarantine and not having met people.
“Shri Sharad Pawar ji said, from 15th to 27th February HM Anil Deshmukh was in home quarantine. But actually along with security guards & media he was seen taking press conference! (sic),” Fadnavis tweeted, sharing a clip of Deshmukh’s address on the probe into celebrity tweets over farmers’ protests.
ANIL DESHMUKH’S DEFENCE
Anil Deshmukh, however, said that the video is from the day he was discharged from hospital and that he was in home quarantine from 15-27 February.
“A few journalists were waiting for me at the hospital gate after I got discharged on 15 February. I was feeling low and weak so I sat on the chair there and responded to their questions. Then, I went straight to my car and to go home.”Anil Deshmukh, Maharashtra Home Minister
He added that he stepped out of his house for the first time after that on 28 February.
SHIV SENA’S STANCE
The Shiv Sena on Monday said that they were ready to probe the allegations against Anil Deshmukh, but also supported Pawar’s demand to enquire about the timing of the letter.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told ANI: “If the NCP chief has decided that the allegations should be probed, what is wrong? Anyone can level any allegation. If people demand a minister’s resignation all the time, it will be difficult to run the government.”
“The home minister (Deshmukh) said that the contents of the ‘letter bomb’ should be probed. The chief minister should investigate them. The NCP chief, too, said that it should be probed. If the government is ready to accept the challenge of probing it, why is the issue of resignation being repeatedly raised?”Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena leader
The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad on Sunday arrested two persons for the alleged murder of Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the explosives-laden SUV that was discovered outside Mukesh Ambani’s house.
AFTERMATH OF THE BOMB-SCARE INCIDENT
The NIA had arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze on 13 March for his suspected involvement in the incident. He was later suspended.
Param Bir Singh, too, faced criticism for his handling of the bomb-scare incident and was replaced by acting Director General of Police Hemant Nagrale as the police commissioner.
On 18 March, Anil Deshmukh claimed that Singh had been transferred to ensure that the probe concerning Vaze is conducted “properly and without hindrance”.
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