By Vijay Phanshikar :
No matter the justification various segments offer for their respective actions, the overall picture at least in Maharashtra for about the past one-and-a-half years is that cops are poised against cops -- thanks to the games politicians, particularly of the ruling combine of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), are playing. No matter who is right and who is not, the larger picture is that of Maharashtra’s political system primed against central agencies and using the State Police machinery to put obstacles in the way of investigation of issues that call for serious handling. Another dimension of the picture is State against Centre -- manifesting itself in many forms. By no standard, this can be described as a healthy sign. By no standard can this be called a situation the founding fathers of Independent India had bargained for. It is a very, very dirty picture. This is happening now in the case of the arrest of Aryan Khan, son of superstar Shah Rukh Khan. This had happened in the case of death of another emerging superstar Sushant Singh Rajput one and a half years ago.
Thus in both cases, in which the State stood poised against the Centre -- pushed by mere political considerations -- the central point is Bollywood and the happenings in it. May the law decide what was wrong in which case -- where there is no need to hold brief for one side or the other. But the overall picture is that the Maharashtra Government appears poised against the Centre -- accusing it of political abuse of its machinery. In both cases, though, the impression people carry is that of a Maharashtra Government attempting to block the process of investigation by central agencies into issues of serious importance. Leave aside the politically-motivated sections, the general public believes that the joint-venture Government of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress is making a political issue out of both the cases. The common public just fails to understand the actual motive of the Uddhav Thackeray Government behind this political confrontation hiding behind State Police.
This impression got buttressed by Minister Nawab Malik’s statement that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray proposed to write a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing him not to allow anybody to malign the image of Bollywood which ‘is the second biggest film industry of the world after Hollywood ...’. It is not known if the Chief Minister really wrote such a letter, but the very fact that it was under contemplation, is good enough to demonstrate the approach. In this zest to protect Bollywood, the ruling politicians in Maharashtra are trying to block investigation by central agencies in multiple cases -- the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, the Anil Deshmukh Rs. 100 crore extortion case, in the Aryan Khan drug-related arrest case. The refrain of the Uddhav Thackeray Government is common -- the Centre is trying to malign Maharashtra. Of course, the common public does not buy this perverse and obverse logic. It is of the opinion that if there is a suspicion that Sushant Singh Rajput may have been done to death, then the truth must come out. If a drug angle is involved in the SSR issue, then it, too, must be probed without fear or favour. The common public also thinks that if the then Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh is involved -- or not involved -- in the Rs. 100 crore extortion case, then the truth must be brought out. The people, therefore, believe that Anil Deshmukh must be in the wrong, which is why he is ducking summons after summons, and making multiple accusations against the central agencies probing the matter.
The people also believe that there is some deliberate foul play when a person as important as Anil Deshmukh is hiding from the law, he is doing so with the help of his political co-conspirators. The common public also believes that if top cop Param Bir Singh has levelled some allegations that paint the Police force in bad light, then the truth must come out. But when the officer of the level of Director General is absconding, the people suspect that he is doing so only with the help of and knowledge of the State Police force -- and with the blessings of his political masters. The common people believe that if tainted Assistant Police Inspector -- clearly a low rank -- Sachin Waze is involved in the extortion racket and also in the matter of planting explosives outside the palatial residence of industry tycoon Mukesh Ambani, then the truth must be brought out. But when the people realise that Sachin Waze may have done whatever he is accused of having done under a sly political patronage, then all they want is a swift action to bring the culprit to book. But then, the common people see a picture that militates against their simplistic expectation. They see how the Maharashtra Police block investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) or Income Tax Department (ITD) in all these cases.
The people also see how some Maharashtra Ministers play dodging-and-ducking games to mislead the public as well as block central agencies work. They also see how some Maharashtra Ministers level wild allegations against NCB’s Investigating Officer Sameer Wankhede by raising fully unrelated issues from his personal life. All these are signs of a clash of narrow political vested interests of the State with the central agencies that are painted as villains of the piece. In fact, if the central agencies are wrong, then they can be exposed in the judicial forums easily by blasting their evidence and prosecution. But instead of doing that, the political class from the ruling segment is seen indulging in shenanigans , allegations and manipulations of the worst and illogical order. In this blatantly political game-plan, the Maharashtra Police force is being seen as an accomplice, a hand-maiden of the political masters to whose bidding it indulges in fudging of facts -- as the people suspect. Let alone Maharashtra, no other State in India must have seen such a picture in the past 75 years, except of course West Bengal under Trinamool Congress Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the pre-election times. This is certainly a dirty picture -- Cops against cops; State against Centre! -- whose meaning the common people just are not able to comprehend.