Mumbai top-cop Rakesh Maria refutes retirement claims
Rakesh Maria, who was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner, denied claims that he was planning to retire. This speculation came after there were reports that he was unhappy with this sudden move. Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra's CM, after signing off the approval is believed to have commented that police should also pay attention to cases which are not in the public glare.
Born on 19 January 1957, Rakesh Maria is a high profile IPS officer of the 1981-batch. He rose to fame after handling several high profile cases; as Deputy Commissioner Police (Traffic) in 1993, he handled the Bombay serial-blasts case. In 2003, he successfully cracked the Gateway of India and Zaveri bazaar bomb-blasts. He also investigated the 26/11 case and interrogated the Pakistani terrorist Kasab.
Maria had been taking a personal interest in the Sheena Bora case, ever since an anonymous tip started a high profile investigation that has been attracting major media attention. Despite putting his best lieutenants on the case, he personally handled the interrogation of Indrani Mukherjea and grilled her for hours. Known for not giving interviews, he made an exception by holding regular press conferences.
Rakesh Maria is closely associated with the Mukherjea family. Indrani Mukherjea is married to Star India chief Peter Mukherjea; Maria's close connection with Peter is well known in media and Page 3 circles.
Maria's involvement in the Sheena Bora case was questioned since he is so closely connected with the Mukherjeas. Interrogating a suspect is usually done by the investigating officer and the Police Commissioner of Mumbai doing it himself was completely uheard of. He was also questioned by the Maharashtra government after he met with Lalit Modi in London; he was later given a clean chit.
In the middle of the high profile case of Sheena Bora, Rakesh Maria, the Police Commissioner of Mumbai, who was leading the investigation has been promoted to Director General Home Guards. He no longer remains Mumbai's top cop, becoming the first high profile casualty of this case. Instead, Ahmed Javed, who was the DG Home Guards, has been made the Police Commissioner of Mumbai.
The transfer of positions was made with immediate effect on 8 September; Javed is also from the 1981-batch. It has been suggested that Maria's deep involvement and personal interest in the probe, despite his proximity to Peter Mukherjea may be the reason for his rather sudden transfer. The transfer seems to be a sign of political interference, removing Maria from the high profile case.
According to Maharashtra additonal Chief-Secretary (home) KP Bakshi, the transfer decision was not made overnight. Maria's term as Police Commissioner was supposed to expire next month; his transfer 22 days ahead of schedule apparently has valid reasons. Bakshi said that it was put into effect now rather than 30 September, because Ganpati festival celebrations would give less time and pose difficulties to the transfer.
The Maharashtra government put an end to speculation by announcing that Maria will continue the probe into the Sheena Bora case. The announcement of his transfer ahead of schedule was accompanied by much debate over whether it was because of the deep personal interest he was taking in the case. However, Javed stated that the investigation will be handled in a more professional manner.