The truth must come out

The resignation of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, shortly after the Bombay High Court ordered a CBI probe into the allegations of corruption levelled against him by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, might have come a bit late in the day, but it has raised hopes of a free and fair investigation into the murky goings-on. It is just as well that the home minister is gone. The Maharashtra CM is likely to be much relieved. It is clear that in a coalition government, relying heavily on NCP support, Mr Thackeray was not free to sack the home minister. This was a pity, of course. With the high court ordering a probe, the CM may, at last, find his voice. On the other hand, the prestige of Mr Pawar may have suffered. How the state politics takes shape hereon will be worth watching.
There can be no doubt that an independent probe into the allegations against the former home minister is the need of the hour. But does the CBI any more have the credentials to be independent? This police outfit controlled by the Centre has been called a “caged parrot” by the Supreme Court. In the present instance, there is a virtual political war between the parties running Maharashtra and the party running the Centre. The Bombay high court may have erred in not getting the matter inquired into by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a high court.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is probing Waze’s link to the recovery of an explosives-laden SUV near business tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai residence in February-end and the subsequent murder of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran. A former policeman, Vinayak Shinde, is among the co-accused. The fact that Param Bir Singh accused Deshmukh of setting extortion targets for police officers only after he was relieved of the post of Police Commissioner can’t be overlooked. The politician-police nexus has been laid bare and the onus is on the investigating agencies to collect airtight evidence against the offenders at various levels in the pecking order.
More skeletons are likely to tumble out of the cupboard as the investigation progresses. With its credibility hitting a new low, the Maharashtra Police should not shy away from taking tough decisions to cleanse the force. Similarly, the Shiv Sena-led state government needs to show zero tolerance to the criminals in khaki. The Central probe agencies must adopt a no-nonsense approach, uninfluenced by political pressure. The truth, no matter how unpalatable, must come out.
 

- Prabhakar Purandare

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