The arrest of Assistant Sub Inspector Sachin Waze in connection with the discovery of an explosive laden Scorpio SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai, and subsequently the mysterious death of the vehicle owner, has raised a number of questions.
While it would be premature to arrive at conclusions, since the matter is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), it is obvious that the upper subordinate enjoyed the patronage of some of his police seniors, as well as the ruling dispensation in Maharashtra.
The state Home Minister, Anil Deshmukh has made it clear that the shifting of the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Parambir Singh was not a routine transfer, but was done to ensure that the ongoing probe was not obstructed in any manner. This itself reflects poorly on the functioning of the Mumbai police force.
M.N. Singh, another former CP of the metropolis, has publicly stated that Sachin Waze was a disgrace to the force he had once headed, and was, in fact, a Shiv Sainik in uniform, given that he was reinstated after the present government came to power and in the interim had joined that party some years ago.
Preliminary investigations have revealed that the ASI had met the vehicle owner, Mansukh Hiran, and therefore could shed light on his murder. The murky goings-on in the vicinity of the Police Commissioner’s office are indeed shocking and raise serious concerns regarding the lavish lifestyle pursued by the rogue cop, who is in the custody of the NIA and is apparently singing, if one goes by the police slang. The NIA has to establish a clear motive for Waze to have done what he is accused of doing. The absence of a detonator in the seized Scorpio indicates that there was no terrorist angle in the crime, which was commissioned, probably for extortion purposes.
Sachin Waze was inspired by some of the so-called encounter specialists of the Mumbai police such as Pradeep Sharma, in whose unit he worked for many years, as well as Daya Naik. He too is accused of killing several suspects in extra judicial killings which are sought to be portrayed as encounter deaths.
The role of former Commissioner, Parambir Singh is yet to be fully ascertained, though prima facie it is evident that the rogue officer was functioning under the watch of several seniors. The case has smeared the name of the Mumbai police and cast aspersions on its fairness and impartiality, with several retired IPS officers coming down heavily on the functioning of the force.
The case of Sachin Waze is not isolated since there are instances of junior functionaries operating freely in other police organisations as well. When ACP Rajbir Singh was gunned down by one of his acquaintances in Gurgaon, his rapid rise in the Delhi police had come under the scanner. From the time he had first eliminated Rajbir Ramola in the Mehrauli area many years ago, Rajbir had gathered “many scalps” during his eventful career, which ended with his own slaying.
In the mid 1970s, the infamous Sunder case shocked the entire country. Sundar, a handsome desperado, had threatened to kill Sanjay Gandhi, which prompted the entire Delhi police to launch one of the biggest man-hunts in its history. Sundar was captured alive and was allegedly forcibly drowned in the Yamuna by over enthusiastic police officers, who claimed that he died after he jumped into the waters in order to escape from their custody.
In the probe that followed the defeat of the Congress government in 1977, several top officers including Pritam Singh Bhindar, who subsequently became Delhi’s police chief in 1980, were arrested. Others who were prosecuted included another IPS officer, Gurcharan Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Sita Ram Vohra and Dharampal. As undertrials, they spent time in Tihar jail and shared prison space with some, whom they had arrested in other cases. Bhindar later described his jail time as something which made him see things with a different perspective. He was repentant even after being acquitted of the charges. The Sundar case continues to be one of the dark chapters in the history of Delhi police.
There are several senior police officials, who apparently endorse the method of extra-judicial elimination. They feel that many of the hardened criminals cannot be held in prison because they are able to intimidate the witnesses by threats. They come out and repeat their crimes. Therefore, the easiest way of keeping them from terrorizing people was to kill them, even if the encounter has to be staged.
Recently, when Vikas Dubey, a UP gangster was shot dead near Kanpur by the police, questions regarding the encounter were raised. The matter continues to be shrouded in mystery though it was very unlikely that Dubey would have survived for long after he killed half a dozen policemen who had come to raid his house. There is no getaway for cop killers in any part of the world.
The curious case of Sachin Waze has brought to focus the nexus between politicians, senior officials and how they encourage errant cops to pursue objectives. Therefore, the time has come to implement the Prakash Singh report on police reforms. The matter of insulating the police from political control should also be examined.
Finally, a law should be enacted to ensure that no government functionary can join any political party for at least two years after his retirement. This could be the first step. Between us.