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Maria peers go on leave

Mumbai, Feb. 17: Rakesh Maria’s appointment as Mumbai police commissioner has led two superseded seniors to go on leave instead of assuming their new posts and provoked a protest from the widow of a 26/11 martyr.

The controversy today forced chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and home minister R.R. Patil to defend the elevation of Maria, considered an anti-terror ace and credited with cracking the 1993 blasts.

Patil said he would speak to senior IPS officers Javed Ahmed and Vijay Kamble, who are said to have alleged political bias and threatened voluntary retirement. Ahmed and Kamble are due to retire in 2015 and 2016, respectively, while Maria has three years of service left.

Ahmed, the senior-most, was promoted on Friday night as director-general of police (DGP), Home Guard, putting him out of the race for Mumbai police commissioner, who is of additional DGP rank. Ahmed went on indefinite leave today.

Neither Ahmed nor Kamble, who has not taken charge as Thane police commissioner, answered calls from The Telegraph.

On Friday, Kamble had been recommended for the Mumbai police chief’s post by the Police Establishment Board, a new body appointed under Supreme Court guidelines. But things changed dramatically after Patil summoned him to a meeting on Saturday morning. Maria’s appointment was announced late on Saturday night.

The Police Establishment Board, made up by the two senior-most IPS officials in the state and a senior home department bureaucrat, had recommended Satish Mathur as Thane commissioner and Maria, who is junior to Mathur, as Pune commissioner. Mathur too has gone on leave.

Chavan today said: “We have followed the rules…. The Police Establishment Board has been constituted for the first time. Henceforth, all police transfers would be under its purview.”

Patil denied any bias. “Various factors, not just seniority, were considered. We have also seen who would be able to serve for a longer period,” he said.

He said he had appealed to IPS officers (read Ahmed and Kamble) to “follow discipline” and do their duty.

26/11 widow

A “concerned” Vinita Kamte, widow of slain 26/11 officer Ashok Kamte, has claimed that Maria’s appointment could hamper an RTI inquiry into the call logs of the police control room on the night the terrorists struck.

In her 2009 book To The Last Bullet, Vinita has said her husband had been summoned by then police commissioner Hasan Gafoor to Oberoi-Trident but was diverted towards Cama Hospital where he became an easy target for the gunmen.

Vinita, who made allegations against Maria in her book, had used the RTI Act to obtain the call logs of wireless conversations that night from the control room, manned by Maria. She filed an appeal in May 2013 citing discrepancies between the audiotapes and their transcripts.