Soon after taking up the post of the Mumbai police commissioner in February this year, Param Bir Singh drew flak for reinstating former ‘encounter specialist’, API Sachin Vaze in the Mumbai police force. API Vaze was suspended from the force over 16 years ago. Vaze’s suspension order was revoked by a review committee, headed by Param Bir Singh.
Vaze, facing murder charges in the 2003 custodial death case of Khwaja Yunus, had been suspended on March 3, 2004. He resigned three years later, in November 2007 after his repeated requests for reinstatement were rejected by the government.
Khwaja Yunus custodial death case
Khwaja Yunus, a 27-year-old software engineer was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch-CID on December 25, 2002, under the now-repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). He was arrested along with three others in connection with a blast that took place on December 2, 2002, in Ghatkopar in Mumbai. Yunus had reportedly gone missing on January 7, 2003. The police had claimed that he had escaped from a police jeep near Lonavala while being taken to Aurangabad for investigation. Yunus’s family had moved the high court, which transferred the case to the state criminal investigation department (CID). The CID, after investigating Yunus’s disappearance, concluded it to be a case of custodial death and booked Vaze and three other officers for murder and destruction of evidence.
After Sachin Vaze was re-inducted in the Mumbai Police in June this year, merely 4 months after Param Bir Singh took up the post of the Mumbai CP, Khwaja Yunus’s mother Asiya Begum had reportedly filed contempt pleas in the Bombay High Court against Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh and the then additional director general of police (current principal secretary (special) home department) Amitabh Gupta. She accused Param Bir Singh and Gupta of reinstating the police officer guilty of killing her son while in custody.
Former ‘encounter specialists’ Sachin Vaze and Pradeep Sharma joined Shiv Sena
After his resignation, Vaze had joined Shiv Sena. Another officer Pradeep Sharma, who was also a part of the ‘encounter squad’ with Sachin Vaze, also joined the Shiv Sena later. Sharma was posted at the Anti-Extortion Cell of Thane Police by the then Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Sharma’s career had nosedived in August 2008 after the state government dismissed him from service for his alleged links with the underworld mafia Dawood Ibrahim’s D-company. He, however, redeemed himself on May 7, 2009, when the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) ordered his reinstatement, by stating that his dismissal was unsustainable under the law.
Sharma was once again in the dock when was arrested along 21 others on January 8, 2010, in connection with the fake encounter case of gangster Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiyya. On July 5, 2013, Sharma got a new lease of life, as a Mumbai court acquitted him in in that fake encounter case. He was reinstated in the force in September 2017.
After resigning from the force, Sharma had also reportedly joined Shiv Sena and had unsuccessfully contested the state Assembly elections in 2019 on the Shiv Sena ticket from Nallasopara.
In fact, some reports suggest that the proximity these suspended officers shared with Param Bir Singh and with the Shiv Sena has played an instrumental role in reshaping their almost concluded careers.
Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh
Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh has recently been bagging the headline due to a series of his inexplicable actions, especially against the Republic Media Network. People have been accusing him for misusing of state-machinery for personal agenda and record-setting.
But being under the spotlight is nothing new for the 1988-batch IPS officer, one of the last from the 1990s ‘encounter specialists’ era who is still in service. Be it the questions raised by the controversial 2019 “clean chit” to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in the high-profile irrigation scam that dates back to the Congress-NCP government’s tenure from 1999-2014 or be it accusations of not taking on the terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, falsely framing the co-owner of Provogue, Salil Chaturvedi, in a drug case in 2005 or torturing Sadhvi Pragya in custody for ‘Hindu terror bogey’, Param Bir Singh has had an extremely controversial past.