Rakesh Maria, head of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, was named Mumbai’s new Police Commissioner on Saturday, two weeks after his predecessor Satyapal Singh resigned to join the BJP.
A 1981-batch officer, Mr. Maria was selected over his immediate seniors Vijay Kamble and Satish Mathur for the most coveted position in the Maharashtra Police.
Since Mr. Singh’s resignation on January 31, the position had remained vacant as there were differences in the ruling Congress-NCP alliance over the replacement. Sources say Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was backing Mr. Kamble, while the NCP, which controls the Home Ministry, preferred Mr. Maria.
Maria solved 1993 blasts case a day after the terror strike
Mr. Maria is well known as the policeman who solved the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, just a day after the terror strike. The breakthrough came when a motorcycle parked outside Century Bazaar — one of the targets — was traced to the family of Tiger Memon, one of the masterminds of the attack. The book Black Friday recounted Mr. Maria’s role.
Almost a decade later in 2003, he solved the Gateway of India blasts case with the help of a taxi driver who ferried the accused.
The new Mumbai Police chief is also considered to be among the officers who helped crack down on the Mumbai underworld.
As Joint Police Commissioner when the 26/11 terror attack took place, he was among the first to interrogate Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist captured alive.
He later supervised the probe, tracing the role of the Pakistani perpetrators. This is when he exposed the role of the Indian Mujahideen, a home-grown terror outfitthat had been engineered a series of blasts since 2005, including the Mumbai train blasts.
However, Mr. Maria attracted criticism for the detention in 2010 of Abdul Samad, brother of IM leader Yasin Bhatkal, who was mistaken for Yasin.
Subsequently, the then Home Minister, P. Chidambaram’s office had to tender an apology.