Mumbai police chief Patnaik shunted out

Satyapal Singh dons new Mumbai Police Commissioners hat

Mumbai police chief Patnaik shunted out

The Democratic Front Government in Maharashtra removed Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik on Thursday.

It is alleged that the state government gave in to the pressure of late night liquor lobbies and rival political parties.  Satyapal Singh has been named new Mumbai police commissioner.

Using a smoke screen of August 11 violence at Azad Maidan that claimed two lives and injured many, including 45 policemen, the government shunted Patnaik to  the Maharashtra State SecurityCorporation as director. Patnaik is a 1979 batch IPS officer.

Singh an IPS officer of 1980 batch, on Thursday evening took over as the city police chief after state Home minister, R R Patil, announced the decision in a hastily called press meet. The minister in a long-winded discourse told media that the promotion of Patnaik to the rank of Director of Police (DGP) was pending since July. It was finally cleared on August 16. The decision to place Singh holding the post of Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order,) on the coveted chair of city police chief, according to Home minister, was “because amongst the existing DGPs, he’s the senior-most”.

Though the transfer is seen as the government bowing down to the pressue of political parties like Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the government was already under flak for the past several months following police crack down on late night pubs and beer bars. Interestingly, MNS leader Raj Thackeray during Tuesday’s rally criticised the “effectiveness of the police”, in handling August 11 violence. In his speech, he repeatedly mentioned Patnaik and assistant commissioner of police (Social Services Branch), Vasant Dhoble’s clamp down on late night beer bars.

Moreover, Patnaik earlier had also incurred wrath of police with dubious background activities; he had issued strict instructions on the code of behaviour towards the common man in the police station.Opposition parties, critical of Patnaik's style of functioning since the time he took over as the Mumbai police commissioner two years ago, intensified their attack post-August 11 vandalism, charging him with “being soft on the vandals”.  Patnaik defended it stating that the opening of fire on the crowd would have resulted “in deaths running into hundreds”. However, according to  observers, the reason to replace Patnaik, “is not just because of the shrill cries of political parties; the DF government had also taken 2014 polls into account before kicking him upstairs.”

The new city police chief, Singh, served in Mumbai as the Deputy Commissioner of Police and later as Additional Commissioner of Police.

He was also Pune police chief but was removed following German Bakery Blast.In his first media meet after donning the hat of the Mumbai police commissioner, Singh said that his first task would be to restore the “morale of police force”.

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