CBI quizzes ex-Maha home minister Anil Deshmukh for 8 hours

MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh was on Wednesday questioned for eight hours by the CBI conducting the Preliminary Enquiry (PE) on orders of the Bombay High Court in connection with the allegations of corruption raised against him by former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh, an official said.

Deshmukh denied the allegations raised against him by Singh during questioning and told the officers that they were an attempt to malign the image of the state government, sources said.

The senior NCP leader reached the DRDO guest house in suburban Santacruz, where a team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is camping, around 10 am, the official said, adding the questioning ended for the day around 6 pm.

“The ex-home minister of Maharashtra was questioned by SP-rank officers for eight hours,” he said. Deshmukh left the DRDO guest house around 9 pm, three hours after his questioning ended. It is not clear whether Deshmukh is called by the CBI for another round of questioning on Thursday.

The CBI on Monday issued a notice calling Deshmukh to join the agency’s probe into the allegations levelled against him by Singh and suspended police officer Sachin Waze, who was arrested by the NIA.

After his removal as Mumbai police commissioner last month, Singh wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray saying Deshmukh had set the target to some police officers, including Waze, to collect Rs 100 crore per month from bars and restaurants. Deshmukh had denied the allegations.

Waze, an assistant police inspector, is currently investigated by the NIA in connection with the recovery of an explosive-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in south Mumbai on February 25 and the subsequent murder of Mansukh Hiran, the purported owner of that vehicle.

The CBI is conducting a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Deshmukh on the orders of the Bombay High Court. Following the PE order, Deshmukh resigned as home minister of Maharashtra last week.

The allegations raised by Singh were reportedly corroborated by Waze, officials had said. Waze is currently in judicial custody till April 23.

So far, the CBI recorded statements of Singh, Waze, Deputy Commissioner of Police Raju Bhujbal, Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjay Patil, advocate Jayshree Patil and hotel owner Mahesh Shetty.

The central agency also questioned Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde and personal secretary Sanjeev Palande on Sunday.