With allegations of corruption, a suspicious death and a bomb threat against India’s richest man, the case has the hallmarks of a Bollywood thriller.
A senior Mumbai police official has lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court, accusing a state government minister of corruption, the latest development in a bizarre case that has stabbed the media for weeks.
“Every sordid revelation … has undermined public confidence in the functioning of a vital arm of government in the country’s financial capital,” an editorial in the Indian Express, one of the country’s leading English-language newspapers, said on Monday.
Param Bir Singh, the former police chief in Mumbai, filed a petition calling for an “impartial, uninfluential, impartial and fair investigation” into the corruption allegations against Anil Deshmukh, the state’s interior minister of Maharashtra which is home to the city.
Deshmukh denied any irregularities.
One month old mystery
With allegations of corruption, a suspicious death and a bomb threat against India’s richest man, the case has the characteristics of a thriller directed by the country’s Bollywood film industry, dominating networks. television and headlines and social media trends for nearly a month.
On February 25, a car loaded with explosives was found near the home of Mukesh Ambani, who runs Reliance Industries and is India’s richest man.
The purported owner of the vehicle was later found dead, with police considering his death suspicious.
Sachin Vaze, a senior Mumbai police official, was arrested on March 13 by India’s Federal National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the bomb threat. He denies any wrongdoing.
In a statement, Reliance said he was confident Mumbai police “will quickly complete their full investigation.”
Last week, Singh was transferred from his role as Mumbai Police Commissioner for his handling of the case.
In Monday’s petition, Singh said his transfer was illegal and Deshmukh intervened in police investigations and worked with Vaze and other agents to extort money from local businesses.
Deshmukh denied the allegations, saying alleged meetings with Vaze last month were impossible because he was in hospital with COVID-19 and then in quarantine.
The case is yet another headache for the opposition-led government in Maharashtra, which is already battling an upsurge in COVID-19 cases.
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has repeatedly called for the resignation of Maharashtra’s chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who has turned against the BJP after a failed power-sharing deal.