1 Jan : Mumbai Police top brass came in for severe criticism for the way it handled the 26/11 crisis even as film personalities hit the headlines for their alleged involvement in heinous crimes like rape and links with terror suspects like David Coleman Headley.
Squarely blaming the then Commissioner of Police Hassan Gafoor for “serious lapses” in dealing with the 68-hour terror siege, former governor and Union Home Secretary Ram Pradhan, who probed the State’s response to the crisis cited “absence of overt leadership” on the part of the police official and “lack of visible command and control at his office.”
Gafoor’s comments in a magazine that four top police officers did not go out in the streets on the day of the terror strike sparked off a major controversy with aggrieved officers threatening to sue him and Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil terming his remarks as “highly irresponsible”.
Ashok Kamate’s widow, Vinita accused Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria of not having disclosed movements of Kamate and other slain officers including the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar to the Police commissioner.
In a startling revelation related to the case of Karkare’s missing bullet proof jacket, the sweeper of a government hospital disclosed before a magistrate that he had disposed it off in a waste bag by mistake.
Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja was in news for allegedly raping his maid and son of noted filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt was interrogated by the investigating agencies to probe his links with US terror suspect Headley.
Ahuja, arrested in June on charges of raping his maid at his Oshiwara home, spent three months in jail before being released on bail by the Bombay High Court.
Rahul Bhatt, son of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, was questioned by National Investigating Agency in the 26/11 case for his alleged links with Headley and was made a witness in the case.
In the sensational Neeraj Grover murder case, a sessions court framed charges against Kannada actress Maria Susairaj and her naval officer fiance Jerome Mathew.
Another highlight of the year on the crime front was the removal of DGP A N Roy on the directives of Bombay High Court and his replacement by S S Virk after the former’s appointment was challenged by an IPS officer on the ground that it was contrary to Supreme Court guidelines.
Eventually, Virk also retired and Roy was reinstated as the DGP, a post he still occupies.
The year also saw massive restructuring of the police force in the wake of Ram Pradhan Committee submitting its report to the Government on the state’s response to 26/11 strikes.
The post of Anti-terrorism Squad Chief was upgraded to the rank of Additional Director General of Police from Special Inspector General of Police.
K P Raghuwanshi was made the new ATS chief after the killing of Hemant Karkare in the 26/11 attacks.
A new post of Director General Special Operations was created with Jayant Umranikar as its chief. The key officers who now report to DG Spl Operations are ATS Chief, Chief of Anti-Naxalite Operations and Commissioner, State Intelligence Department.
Another major development during the year was that Maharashtra became the first state in India to have a dedicated intelligence cadre. The first batch of assistant intelligence officers, numbering around 50, passed out.
During the year, the department witnessed modernization of the Police Force. Force One, a special police force, was set up on the lines of National Security Guards (NSG) to meet any terror eventuality.
Besides, for the first time, an NSG hub was opened in Mumbai.
The city police was given modern weaponry and vehicles to help in tackling terror and serious crimes effectively.
Among the politico-crime, the most important case was that of Padamsinh Patil, NCP leader and MP, who was arrested by CBI in June for allegedly hatching a conspiracy and murdering Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar on 3rd June, 2006 at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai.
According to CBI, Patil had paid a contract sum of Rs 30 lakh to the co-accused for murdering Nimbalkar. The motive behind the murder was political and business rivalry.
CBI had filed over 5,000 page charge sheet on 20th August. Patil was released on bail in September by Alibag court.
But within two weeks he was arrested again in a complaint filed against him by social activist Anna Hazare who alleged that Patil had offered ‘supari’ to kill him also.
Patil was granted bail in this case by the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court.
In another case, Sarobjot Singh aka Sweety son of Buta Singh, chairman of National commission of Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe, was arrested by CBI in July for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs three crore from a contractor to close an atrocities case filed against him under the SC/ST Act.
Initially, Buta Singh was also a suspect in the case but CBI later recorded his statement only as a witness. A special CBI court granted Sweety bail a week after he was arrested.
Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli spent almost a whole year behind bars with his arrest in an extortion case and on charges of murder of City Corporator Jamshadikar. He is being tried by a special court under Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) and was denied bail.
Another case which rocked Mumbai was the gangrape of a 23-year-old US national, student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) by six boys at suburban Andheri on 15th April.
The accused were introduced to the victim by a common friend. The group had gone for partying at Club XO in Deonar after which the boys took the girl, who was drunk, to one of their residences in Andheri where they allegedly raped her.
Police filed charge sheet on 13th July. The court has framed charges against the accused. One of the boys is out on bail while the remaining five are still lodged in jail.
Another case which generated public interest was the acquittal of beer man Ravindra Kantrolle due to lack of evidence. He was tried for murder of five persons on the streets while they were asleep.
In separate incidents, over four senior citizens were murdered in their homes prompting the police to spruce up their Suraksha helpline which required compulsory registration of the elders with police.