The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis is exploring all possibilities including transferring Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria after photographs of him with former IPL chairman Lalit Modi surfaced. While Maria in a written explanation has stated that the charges against him are false, there is talk that the CM is not convinced and may transfer him.
While the Lalit Modi controversy rages on, it is interesting to note that Maria is no stranger to controversy. Be it the shoddy 26/11 attack investigation or his callous handling of the control room on that fateful night when Mumbai was attacked by ten Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists, Maria has been questioned about his efficiency several times.
The callous handling of the control room on 26/11:
The allegation of the control room being handled in a callous manner came from the wife of slain hero Ashok Kamte. In her book, Ashok Kamte's wife, Vinita Kamte states as per the call log records procured under the RTI, the handling of the control room was very callous by Rakesh Maria who was then a joint commissioner of police.
It was alleged that Maria who was in charge of the Mumbai control room had faltered in communication when three officers, Hemanth Karkare, Vijay Saluskar and Ashok Kamte were battling terrorists on the field. The book alleges that no heed was paid to the Karkare's orders to the control room. Had the approach not been this callous, the officers would have got reinforcements and survived too, the book further alleges.
The investigations into the 26/11 attack:
After the ghastly attacks came to a close, the investigations were headed by Rakesh Maria. The 26/11 strikes after the parliament attack was the biggest the country has seen and could have mandated some better investigation leave alone a professional one.
The entire investigation was conducted in a hurry and relied on the statement of Ajmal Kasab. The lead investigator failed to bring forward the local link convincingly and the manner in which the courts shot down the probe in this respect is proof of the same. The case which was filed against Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed the alleged local men in the attack did not survive the legal test in the trial court, high court and the supreme court. In fact the investigators were asked about the planted map on the body of the terrorists which was surprisingly crisp and without any creases.
Maria has always managed to get out of controversy:
When the Vinita Kamte allegations threaten to usurp him he got support from within the then Maharashtra government. He had offered to resign stating that the Home Ministry has to clarify these allegations made against him.
While the Congress led Maharashtra government stood by Maria stating that such outbursts were made as Vinita was emotional, the Ram Pradhan committee set up to look into the police actions during the attack also gave him a clean chit. Then came the movie, the Attacks of 26/11 which gives one of the worst potrayals of the attack not going into the real facts.
Will Maria get away this time?
A lot would depend on what action the Chief Minister of Maharashtra decides to take against Rakesh Maria. The CM has stated that the matter would be discussed before further course of action is taken.
Maria has however defended his actions and in a detailed submission to the CM stated that he has done no wrong. The Maharashtra CM however is considering all options before him. Sources also say that transferring him is also an option, but nothing has been finalized as yet.