Refuting suggestions that the transfer of Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik was a direct fallout of the August 11 rioting near Azad Maidan, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil on Thursday asserted that the shift was merely an "administrative move".
While senior IPS officer Satyapal Singh will take over as Mumbai Police Commissioner, Mr. Patnaik has been promoted as Director- General and posted as Managing Director of the Maharashtra State Security Council (MSSC).
Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Mr. Patil explained that the process of filling up the DG’s post at the MSSC had been by mooted on July 6 itself. The proposal had been sent to the state government by August 8 and approval granted by August 16.
The Chief Secretary had chaired a meeting on August 16 regarding the appointment, he said.
“With festivals and other events requiring high-security due in the coming months, we did not think it wise to delay appointment for this important post,” Mr. Patil remarked, defending Mr. Patnaik’s promotion.
Likewise, the Home Minister emphatically denied that the government had effected the transfer owing to opposition pressure and claims by political parties that Mr. Patnaik’s conduct during the Azad Maidan violence had adversely affected the morale of the city’s police force.
“Mr. Patnaik is being promoted, so in what way can a promotion dent the morale of the police force?” said Mr. Patil, who lauded the efforts of the police force in preventing the Azad Maidan violence and from spreading to other parts of the state.
The Opposition, notably the Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had launched tirades slamming the Home Minister and Mr. Patnaik for failing to check the Azad Maidan violence.
On Tuesday, the MNS had succeeded in mobilising an impressive crowd at a protest demonstration condemning the rioting.
“The move has transpired owing to the consistent pressure put by our party on the State Government,” said MNS legislator Nitin Sardesai.
Similarly, BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari censured the move by commenting that Mr. Patnaik should have been suspended instead of being awarded a promotion.
Two people were killed and more than fifty, including several policemen and media personnel, seriously injured in the full-scale rioting that broke out after agitators, led by the city-based Sunni Islamic Raza Academy went on a rampage. They had gathered in massive numbers to voice their dissent against ongoing atrocities being committed on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar.
The rioting had resulted in the gutting of police and media vehicles and damage to property worth crores of rupees, including the desecration of a memorial dedicated to the memory of war veterans near Azad Maidan.
This article has been corrected for a factual error.