By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Mar. March 26 (IANS) In what is interpreted as a retaliatory measure, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has initiated the first steps to counter a suspected nexus of certain officials with the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party intended to defame and destabilise the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress government in Maharashtra.
For starters, the Mumbai Police lodged a first information report to probe the leak of a report marked ‘Top Secret’ by the former Commissioner, State Intelligence Department (SID) Rashmi Shukla.
Taking a serious view, the Cyber Crime Cell of Mumbai Police Crime Branch lodged the FIR against unknown persons under relevant sections of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Information Technology Act, 2008.
Certain sections of the leaked report, marked ‘Top Secret’ in various pages, had been distributed to the media by BJP Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis while raising the issue of alleged corruption in the matter of transfers/promotions in the police department, and claiming that it was ignored by the MVA.
The development came a day after state Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte submitted a 5-pager Status Report to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on the allegations levelled in Shukla’s leaked report of Aug. 28, 2020 vis-a-vis the factual position.
In his report, Kunte categorically mentioned how she had misused the phone-tapping permissions, apologised for making the erroneous (SID) report, sought permission to withdraw it, expected a lenient view since she was not in a proper frame of mind after the recent demise of her husband due to cancer and her children’s education, and since she was a woman with the recent traumatic experience, the (MVA) government sympathetically decided against pursuing the matter further.
Surprisingly, an official pointed out how, after Shukla opted for a central posting, her ‘Top Secret’ report suddenly came into the public domain through Fadnavis, compromising the names of various top officials, ministers, etc.
Reacting to the developments, Fadnavis defended himself by saying he had released only a couple of pages, and the other sensitive portions were ‘leaked’ by NCP Minister Nawab Malik to the media.
In a vicious counter-attack, Malik said “Fadnavis is perturbed” after the FIR was lodged today under the three acts since Shukla had illegally tapped phones of certain people and her report was absolutely baseless.
“That report was based on some private conversations between individuals, and the then Additional CS Kunte had questioned her on the alleged transfers mentioned in the report which had not taken place,” Malik said.
He demanded to know the antecedents of a person reportedly very close to Fadnavis, virtually lived in the CM’s home, was regularly seen hanging around in various ministries, the CoP and DGP, the Municipal Commissioner office and had first tweeted about the (SID) report.
Malik dismissed Fadnavis’ charge that he and another minister Jitendra Awhad had prepared the Status Report and Kunte merely signed on it as blatantly false.
Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission President Kishore Tiwari shot off a letter to the CM demanding a thorough probe into an alleged ‘BJP-Babu’ nexus including retired IAS-IPS officers, which was attempting to stage an ‘Operation Lotus’ and topple the MVA government.
Accorded a MoS status, the VNSSM chief pointed out how several corrupt retired officials, including some of their family members, continue to occupy prime positions in government, semi-government or top corporates, and allegedly collude with the BJP to dislodge the MVA government.
Similarly, the Congress state President Nana Patole is understood to have cautioned the government about a handful of officers in key positions whose intentions could be suspect, allegedly leak out sensitive details to the Opposition, and must be weeded out.
“All such persons must be exposed, investigated for their illegally amassed wealth, tried and sent to jail This rot has set in during the five-years of Fadnavis rule and was never witnessed before in Maharashtra’s history,” Tiwari added.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Quaid Najmi