As the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra reels from what seems like an existential crisis, it appears to have marshalled all the resources at its disposal to extricate itself from the mess it has found itself in following the Antilia bomb scare incident. Recently, Devendra Fadnavis made a startling revelation that Uddhav Thackeray ignored a report on transfer posting racket in the state police. Now, the Maharashtra Government has placed more focus on punishing the whistleblower who may have provided data to the former chief minister than disproving his allegations.
To this end, Sitaram Kunte, the Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra Government recently submitted a report, recommending strict action against senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla for tapping the phones of politicians illegally. However, his report makes no mention of punitive action to be taken against corrupt officials and minister for offering millions of rupees in lieu of transfer/prime posting.
Thackeray Sarkar Chief Secretary submit Report recommending Strict Action against #RashmiShukla but No Action against Corrupt Officials & Minister for Offering Millions of Rupees for Transfer/ Prime Posting. V demand Phone Tapes must be made public @BJP4Maharashtra @BJP4India pic.twitter.com/jCk9tuofy3— Kirit Somaiya (@KiritSomaiya) March 25, 2021
Chief Secretary of Maharashtra claims IPS officer Rashmi Shukla may have leaked data to Devendra Fadnavis
In his report that was released on Thursday, Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte claimed that the former Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Rashmi Shukla may have leaked her confidential letter on the alleged corruption in transfers in the police department to Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis (BJP). Kunte cited Shukla’s letter dated August 25, 2020, to the then Maharashtra DGP Subodh Jaiswal which was released in the public domain by Fadnavis two days ago.
Furthermore, the report which was submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, stated that there was no wrongdoing in the police transfers and all transfers of police officers made between September 2-October 28, 2020. It added that the transfers were based on the recommendations of the Police Establishment Board. Kunte also accused Shukla of misusing the permission obtained for phone tapping under the Indian Telegram Act.
“Even after the letter was stamped as ‘Top Secret’, Shukla seems to have leaked the letter, which is a very serious matter. If it is proved, she will be liable for strictest action against her,” Kunte said in his report. “She had intercepted the phone calls and exposing these names also threatened the privacy of the officials.”
Kunte also repudiated the claims made by the BJP that no action was taken on Shukla’s report. The Chief Secretary shared the summary of the findings into her claims presented to Thackeray on August 31, 2020. He said that there was no concrete evidence barring the call record detail analysis and a CID inquiry into the matter was deemed ‘undesirable’. Stating that no malpractice could be established in Shukla’s report, Kunte said action against police officers would have caused serious discontent among them.
The transfers mentioned in Shukla’s letter, however, did not actually take place, and “there is no misdeed in transfers as well,” said the chief secretary.
In reference to the speculation about more data in the pen drive, Kunte said there was no accompanying pen drive when Shukla sent her letter to the state government. This is in stark contrast to the claim made by Fadnavis that he had 6.3 GB of data containing the transcript of phone tapping.
As the controversy surrounding the transfer of police officers swells, the BJP has asked the phone tapes to be made public.
Rashmi Shukla, Commissioner of Intelligence Department, her letter and her suspicious of nexus between politicians and the police in transfer scam
In August 2020, Rashmi Shukla, Commissioner at the State Intelligence Department, had written a letter to Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, Director General of Police, informing him of the alleged transfer racket.
The letter, dated 25th August 2020, states, “Upon the receipt of numerous complaints alleging that a network of ‘brokers’ had emerged, particularly individuals with firmly ingrained political connections, are engaged in arranging desired postings for police officers in exchange for massive monetary compensation.”
“In order to authenticate these charges, the phone numbers of the individuals allegedly involved in this dubious activity were placed under telephonic surveillance, with due regard to the established process. The reason for surveillance was to curtail the commitment of criminal offence(s) and prevent the possible breach of trust Consequently, upon review of the gathered data, it is clear that there is significant merit in these allegations,” it adds.
Rashmi Shukla states further, “It has been discovered that the afore-mentioned ‘brokers’ are in close contact and embroiled in these negotiations with several influential and. The police officers ranging from Inspectors to several high-ranking IPS officers are in contact with such undesirable individuals.”
Rashmi Shukla emphasises that the matter should be brought before the attention of CM Uddhav Thackeray as it would severely undermine the credibility of the ruling dispensation. A day later, DHP Jaiswal acknowledges the receipt of the letter. He too recommended that the matter be brought before Uddhav Thackeray and a comprehensive enquiry into the allegations.
Devendra Fadnavis makes explosive revelation, claims Uddhav Thackeray overlooked police transfer posting racket in state
During a press conference on March 23, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis alleged that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray chose not to act on a report exposing a racket related to the transfer of police officials which was bought to his notice. He further said that CM Thackeray decided to keep mum just to save his government.
He said, “The chief minister did not take any action through the General Administration Department comes under him. The report has been with the government since August 2020 but to date no action on it. Seems like he shielded and protected this entire racket to save his government.”
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).