IN THE tussle between the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi ruling coalition and the BJP-led Centre, a 50-year-old Police Inspector in Mumbai has emerged as the go-to person for the state government to investigate major cases that are being seen as “politically sensitive”.
The Indian Express has learned that Mumbai Police’s Sanjay Mohite was picked by City Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey to handle these cases after he helmed the investigation that led to a 750-page chargesheet being filed against former State Intelligence Department (SID) chief Rashmi Shukla for allegedly tapping the phones of Shiv Sena and NCP leaders Sanjay Raut and Eknath Khadse.
According to sources, Mohite has now been entrusted with the probe in “two other politically sensitive cases” and “an inquiry” against a senior IPS officer who has been accused by a retired officer of having links with a gangster.
In mid-May, Mohite was made the Investigating Officer of the case in which a pen drive with “sensitive call recordings” was allegedly leaked to Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis from the SID last year. Fadnavis subsequently alleged that there was hectic lobbying by IPS officers for plum postings in exchange for money to politicians in the ruling coalition.
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An FIR was registered in this case under the Official Secrets Act against unknown persons at BKC cyber cell in March 2021. The cyber cell was in the final stages of its investigation, having recorded the statements of 25 persons including former CM Fadnavis and Shukla, when the probe was abruptly transferred to Mohite last month.
Subsequently, Mohite was also instructed to take over another case in which jailed gangster Ejas Lakdawala was booked. The case, which pertains to an alleged extortion bid of Rs 2 crore made by Lakdawala against a Mumbai-based hotelier, was being probed by the Anti Extortion Cell of Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch — until Mohite was made the Investigating Officer.
Mohite has also been assigned the probe into allegations made against the senior IPS officer by a former assistant commissioner of police.
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Apart from these cases, Mohite is part of the Special Investigation Team that is probing the suicide of Dadra and Nagar Haveli MP Mohan Delkar. The seven-time MP was found dead in a hotel room in the Marine Drive area on February 22, 2021. An FIR was filed against BJP leader and the UT’s administrator, Praful Khoda Patel, as well as IAS and IPS officers on charges of alleged allowance.
Mohite is currently Police Inspector (Crime) at the Colaba station. He holds a BSc degree, a bachelor’s degree in Legislative Law and a master’s degree in Business Administration. He started his career as a sub-inspector at the Khar station, and has worked in the Traffic department and the Anti Corruption Bureau.
Mohite did not respond to calls and messages from The Indian Express seeking comment. Asked why Mohite has been tasked with handling these cases, Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey said: “The said officer has been handed these cases as he has expertise in the said field.”
In the first week of March, an FIR was registered against Rashmi Shukla at the Colaba station under the Indian Telegraph Act and relevant sections of the IPC. The FIR was based on a complaint from a senior officer Rajiv Jain, who accused Shukla of placing the phone numbers of Raut and Khadse under surveillance when she headed the SID.
A similar complaint was filed in Pune as well in February in which Shukla was accused of tapping the phone of Congress leader Nana Patole between March 2016 and July 2018 when she was the city’s Police Commissioner. No chargesheet has been filed in the Pune case.
According to the chargesheet in the Colaba case, investigated by Mohite, the police found “evidence” to show that Shukla allegedly tapped the phones of Raut and Khadse for “rogue political purposes”.
The chargesheet contains statements of 18 key witnesses, including that of an officer holding the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police who purportedly claimed that he had told Shukla she was flouting rules.