Mumbai: Uncertainty has gripped Mumbai Police after Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil's recommendation to shunt out Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik in the wake of the Azad Maidan riot which claimed two lives.
Ironically, just days ago, the city police was backed by the Ministry for its restrained response, leading to the question, is the Police being made the fall guy to wriggle out of the mounting political pressure.
The Mumbai Police Commissioner, Arup Patnaik, was seen on August 11 tackling a riot, rapidly spiralling out of control in which two had died and over 50 others including many policemen were injured.
Defending the steps taken by the police, Patnaik had said, “The situation could have been horrible if we hadn't controlled it.”
Ten days on, the appreciation for the police's restrained response has died down. It has been replaced by the Maharashtra Home Minister recommending Patnaik's transfer.
However, former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Rebeiro believes that the situation was handled quite well.
He said, “If he is saying that it was mishandled then he is highly wrong. I have been a CP and I think it was very well handled. If they had not exercised restrain, then things could have got very bad and violence could have gone for 15 days.”
Reports of the imminent transfer emerged a day after a police constable defied protocol by greeting Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray with a rose after he took on Patnaik at a rally in the Azad Maidan.
The current turmoil has not only reignited questions over the perennial problem of political interference in police functioning, but Raj Thackeray's attempt to pit the constabulary against its own top brass could have long-term repercussions.