Recently, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had written a letter to the CM, accusing the Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of ordering Sachin Vaze to extort money from restaurants and bars in Mumbai to the tunes of at least 100 crores a month.
A report published in Mid-Day cites sources in the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association(AHAR) to corroborate that the suspended police officer had indeed started collecting money. Sources in AHAR have stated that Vaze had been collecting money from restaurant and bar owners two months before the date cited in Parambir Singh’s letter.
As per one of the hotel owners cited in the Mid-Day report, Vaze was running his shop of extorting money from the hoteliers at the CIU office inside the compound of the Commissioner of Police office in Crawford Market. The hotelier said Vaze would call entrepreneurs from the Food and Beverage business and persuade them to pay monthly amounts in return for an assurance that SSB officials would not conduct any raids at their establishments. Reportedly, he also assured hoteliers that they would stay out of ‘other legal troubles’ if they keep paying him regularly.
It is notable here that Sachin Vaze, the controversial cop who was under suspension since 2004, was reinstated by the Maha government in 2020, citing the requirement of police officials due to the pandemic. Vaze was assigned to head the Crime Intelligence Unit. The circumstances of Vaze’s reinstatement and assignment of high-profile cases are also under scrutiny. Vaze had joined Shiv Sena after his suspension from the police force.
Another hotelier cited in the Mid-day report too admitted that Sachin Vaze had been extorting money from restaurant owners. The hotelier also alleged that it is hard to believe that senior officials were not privy to what Sachin Vaze was up to.
“We got Waze’s horror service in the name of protection from the SSB raids. This happened soon after businesses resumed after the lockdown. It is hard to believe that Waze would be involved in such acts without keeping high-ranking officials in the loop,” said the hotelier, the owner of a well-known restaurant in Bandra.
Vaze in connivance with SSB was extorting money from hoteliers since December 2020
As per Singh’s letter, Vaze had met Deshmukh at the latter’s residence, ‘Dyaneshwar’ in February end. Singh’s letter included a chat with SSB ASP Sanjay Patil in which the former Mumbai Police CP had asked if Vaze told him for what purpose he was called by the Home Minister. Patil replied, “The purpose of the meeting was, he told me that, there are 1750 establishments in Mumbai, he should collect Rs. 3 lakh per establishment for him also, which will be around 40 to 50 cr.”
Sources quoted by Mid-day claim that the word ‘also’ mean that a racket was already in place and Sachin Vaze was asked to procure money for Anil Deshmukh over and above that. While the meeting between Vaze and Deshmukh had allegedly taken place in February, the hotel owners claimed that Vaze was in cahoot with the Social Service Branch(SSB) officers and had been demanding and collecting money from business owners since December 2020 and had threatened them with legal troubles if they fail to comply.
Category-wise collection was in place: Hoteliers
The report also mentioned that businesses were categorised into three groups to seek money from them. One of the bar owners who was allegedly being extorted by Sachin Vaze said that the now-suspended police officer had allegedly listed bars into three categories: A, B and C.
“The A category was supposed to shell out Rs 2 lakh a month, B had to pay Rs 1.5 lakh while C had to pay Rs 1 lakh, he said. The NIA had seized a currency-counting machine and over Rs 5 lakh in cash from a Mercedes Vaze used. He must have needed the machine to count the cash he collected,” said a bar owner.
The hoteliers and bar owners also stated that those who refused to pay the amount had to face raids from SSB that supervises dance bars and hotels. They further added that SSB filed cases against restaurant and bar owners after carrying out raids. According to the sources, the last raid was carried out in February after which everybody had agreed to the pay the money.
A senior member of AHAR reportedly told Mid-day that some of the hotel and bar owners in Ghatkopar, Borivali, and Worli had been collecting money from the nearby hotel owners and sending it to Vaze at the CIU office.
Ex-top cop Param Bir Singh accuses Maha Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of ordering Vaze to extort money from business owners
The arrest of Sachin Vaze has kicked up a massive political storm, engulfing in its wake the former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and now the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday alleging that the state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had asked controversial cop Sachin Vaze to collect Rs. 100 crore every month from bars, restaurants and other establishments.
The letter by Param Bir Singh raised several questions regarding the whole Antilia bomb scare case and the death of Mansukh Hiren. Sachin Vaze is currently under arrest for his involvement in the matter. The Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier transferred the Mansukh Hiren death case to the NIA.
Param Bir Singh had been transferred and posted as DG Home Guard after the explosive revelations in the Antilia bomb scare case.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has rubbished the allegations, accusing the former Mumbai Police Commissioner of hatching a conspiracy against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to ‘save himself’.