In a major embarrassment to the Mumbai police, an IPS officer and four other personnel faced suspension on Saturday after they were allegedly seen dancing at a Christmas-eve party thrown by underworld don Chota Rajan.
Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandan recommended the suspension of DCP V. N. Salve, an IPS officer, and ACP Prakash Wani, and three other police personnel.
The Maharashtra government had on Friday ordered an inquiry into allegations that besides Salve and Wani, senior police inspector Tulsidas Khakkad, a police inspector of anti-extortion cell and a constable from Chembur police station, had attended the party.
“I have recommended to the state government to initiate disciplinary action against the five policemen and suspend them pending inquiry,” Mr. Sivanandan told PTI.
He said there were “CCTV footages and photographs which may prove” that the officials were present at the party held at a private gymkhana in suburban Chembur.
They were dancing to a track from a popular film based on the underworld and matching step for step with the gangster’s henchmen.
The party was reportedly organised to celebrate the release of some top-ranking members of the gang. Among them were D. K. Rao, believed to be the right-hand man of Chota Rajan, who was released from jail after 13 years of imprisonment, Farid Tanasha and Sunil Poddar.
Maharashtra Home Minister R. R. Patil had on Friday ordered the inquiry after photographs and grainy video footage purportedly showing them were aired on TV channels.
Meanwhile, Wani vehemently denied the accusation, claiming the video clippings and photographs were doctored.
“This is a conspiracy against me. I am a member of the Gymkhana and had gone there with my wife for dinner and not to party with any gang members,” Mr. Wani told PTI.
“We are investigating the clips,” Additional Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti said.
Mumbai police officials have been in the dock in the past for their close links with underworld dons, gangsters and criminals.
Encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma is among crime branch officials who faces allegations of links with the underworld.
The party was reportedly thrown by Paulson Joseph, a close aide of Chota Rajan, who is said to be looking after the underworld don’s business interests in Mumbai’s suburbs.
Sources at the Gymkhana said Joseph was a member of the upmarket club, which charges a membership fee of Rs five lakh, and used to go there regularly to play cards and party.
Speaking strictly on condition of anonymity, they said that a member could bring along any number of guests after paying Rs 30 for each of them.
“So many people visit the club on the Christmas-eve and it is not possible to ascertain the identity of each one of them,” they said, when asked if they had spotted any police officer at Joseph’s bash.