Mystery of the missing ‘police commissioner’
Neither NIA nor the state government have cleared the air about the whereabouts of the ‘missing’ IPS officer
The buzz that former Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh has fled to Russia refuses to die down. The controversial police officer, who appears to have burnt his fingers by needling both the state government and the Centre, has evaded arrest so far but in the meantime, he is said to have gone underground. His silence has given rise to speculation of all kinds.
Singh has fallen between two stools- -first playing the Centre’s game as the Pune police commissioner in the Bhima Koregaon case wherein the possibility of the police having planted evidence on the activists is growing by the day. He then danced to the tune of the ideologically opposed Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government when he was the Mumbai Police Commissioner.
But when his pet police officer Sachin Vaze was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a case linked to a possible terrorist plot, he switched sides again, attempting to implicate the then Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in an extortion racket.
Three months into that investigation, time seems to be running out for Singh. He was under the protection of the Bombay High Court, which directed the Maharashtra government to desist from arresting him in a case of corruption. But as the case proceeds, that protection is likely to be withdrawn. On the other hand, Vaze, who was clearly Singh’s henchman while in service, is widely expected to spill the beans to the NIA; which is why, according to a retired police officer, Singh has dropped out of sight.
Police officers dismiss rumours that he has fled from the country. There are far too many protocols for a police officer travelling to foreign lands for Singh to have managed it in anonymity.
But most Mumbai Police officers seem aware of the gravity of charges against him. Should Singh, known to give in and crack under pressure, think of implicating powerful forces involved in the alleged plot to blow up a high-profile target in Mumbai and make a bigger splash than 26/11, he could be in serious trouble, they seem to think.
These sources say the media were led to believe that the car packed with gelatin sticks discovered on Peddar Road was meant to blow up the home of a leading industrialist believed to be close to the current regime. The industrialist’s home could have been hit by that blast but the actual target, they believe, was different and in closer proximity of the parked car. The attack would have been attributed to hostile foreign powers in order to rally the country as in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. Sections within Mumbai Police strongly believe that the plot was hatched within the country and Singh drawn in. He entrusted the task to Vaze.
But they were ham-handed and the mission had to be aborted. The man who owned the car refused to accept responsibility for packing it with gelatin sticks (his body was later found floating in the Thane creek). Moreover, for three months before the car parked on the street and packed with gelatin sticks but no detonators, had been in the possession of Sachin Vaze. Had the attack succeeded, the car owner would have been implicated.
A large number of detonators were discovered in a godown in Bhiwandi in Thane district, but the connection with the parked car was glossed over. You cannot blow up gelatin without the detonators. Someone involved in the plot goofed up and failed to get them on site on time before the car attracted attention and was seized, these sources maintain.
Conspiracy theorists in Mumbai have had a field day speculating on the motive. But Mumbai’s top cops, who subscribe to some of the theories, believe Singh has been ferreted away by these forces to keep him out of sight of the NIA. Singh is known to be a loose cannon and in the face of sustained interrogation, he may well have revealed all that he knew.
He would be kept out of sight, they believe, until the case turns cold or testimonies by Vaze and former encounter cop Pradeep Sharma lead the investigation away from Singh.
Sharma has already demanded transfers from his current jail on more than one occasion under the guise of a threat to his life. A retired Mumbai police officer says, “We might soon hear of a custodial death or escape from custody.”
But Singh, being an IPS officer, must be handled differently and with more dignity. So, he will stay out of sight until the case is weakened or dismissed by the courts, he adds.
The mystery of the missing Police Commissioner thus continues, with people and police anxiously waiting for him to surface.