Former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, in his statement to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), has claimed ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh was the "mastermind" of the last year's bomb scare near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence 'Antilia' in Mumbai and subsequent murder of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran.
Deshmukh's claim is part of the ED's supplementary charge-sheet in a money laundering case in which the senior NCP leader and his two sons have been named as accused. The supplementary charge-sheet was filed in a Mumbai court in December last year.
The NCP leader, in the statement to the ED, denied knowing former Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze, who is an accused in the bomb scare-Hiran murder case.
Responding to a question, the former state minister said days after the twin incidents in February-March last year, Singh was called for a briefing at Vidhan Bhawan (state secretariat) in south Mumbai, according to the charge-sheet.
"I state that on March 5, 2021, when the assembly session was going on, Singh was called for a briefing on this matter in Vidhan Bhawan where I, as state home minister and senior officers of home department, were present. During the briefing, Singh was found giving misleading replies with regard to the two incidents - Antilia Gelatine Case and Hiran murder," the document quoted Deshmukh as saying.
Referring to another meeting at 'Varsha' bungalow, where chief minister Uddhav Thackeray was also present, Deshmukh said, "It was again found that Singh was giving misleading replies and trying to hide the truth." "Thereafter, on March 17, 2021, CM and me as state home minister took a decision to remove Singh from the post of Mumbai police commissioner with immediate effect as I found him mastermind in the aforesaid matters as he was hiding the truth," Deshmukh claimed in his statement to the ED.
Referring to a letter written to the CM by Singh, Deshmukh said the missive, in which he had levelled "false allegations" against him, was in retaliation to the IPS officer's removal from the post of police commissioner.
The 71-year-old politician reiterated that corruption allegations levelled against him by Singh, now suspended by the state government, in the letter were "false".
The senior NCP leader said he resigned from the state cabinet in April 2021 on moral grounds after the Bombay High Court directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the graft allegations.
Days after he was shunted out as Mumbai police commissioner and transferred to the Home Guards in March last year, Singh, in the letter to Thackeray, had claimed Deshmukh used to ask police officers to collect money from restaurant and bar owners in the metropolis.
Responding to a question on Waze, who, too, has made several allegations against him, the politician denied knowing the dismissed cop.
"There are approximately 10,000 assistant police inspectors in Maharashtra state. Specifically, I do not know Waze," he said.
"However, I came to know about him when his name cropped up in famous Antilla Case and murder of Shri Mansukh Hiran Case," Deshmukh said, according to the charge-sheet.
Earlier, in a statement before the ED, Waze had alleged that Deshmukh had asked him to collect money from pub and hotel owners in Mumbai, a charge denied by the former minister.
The dismissed cop had also claimed that Deshmukh used to give instructions in high-profile investigations.
Waze had alleged that during a meeting held in October 2020 at Deshmukh's residence 'Dyneshwari' here, the NCP leader gave him a list of 1,750 bars and restaurants and asked him to collect Rs 3 lakh each from these establishments for granting various favours.
However, Deshmukh, in his statement to the ED, has denied giving instructions for collecting money from bars and restaurants.
Deshmukh has also denied giving any direction to police officers as the home minister of the state.
He, however, admitted receiving unofficial lists for transfers from another state minister Anil Parab when he was a cabinet member.
Asked about receiving unofficial lists for transfers from a cabinet colleague, Deshmukh said, "Reason for receiving such unofficial lists from Anil Parab, transport minister, could be that he used to receive the references/ representation from MLAs/MLCs from his party Shiv Sena for transfers and postings of police officers and then he used to forward the same references/representations to me in person." The Shiv Sena heads the ruling MVA coalition in which the NCP and the Congress are also constituents.
Asked whether such lists were included in official names issued by the competent authority, Deshmukh said he used to forward them to a top home department official for action as per established norms.
Deshmukh said after receiving such lists from Parab, he used to hand over the same to Additional Chief secretary (ACS), home, personally with the instructions to look into them and take appropriate action as per guidelines/rules laid down for transfer and posting of police officials.
"I further used to give clear instructions to ACS (home) that discuss this in the Police Establishment Board (PEB) and consider in case found as per guidelines/ rules otherwise reject the same," he added.
The NCP leader is currently in judicial custody following his arrest last year in the money laundering case being probed by the ED.
The ED case of money laundering against Deshmukh and others came after the CBI booked him in the corruption case related to allegations of bribe made by Singh.
Waze, too, is in judicial custody after being arrested in the bomb scare-Hiran case.
The NIA is probing the case related to the recovery of a Scorpio SUV packed with gelatin sticks and parked near Mukesh Ambani's residence in February 2021. Hiran, the SUV owner, was later found dead.
With PTI inputs