Politics News

Cops Can Come Anytime, Says Fadnavis After Asked to Appear Before Police in Alleged Phone Tapping Case

Mumbai: The Mumbai cyber police have issued a notice to senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, asking him to appear before them on Sunday in connection with a case of alleged illegal tapping of phones, an official said on Saturday.

Fadnavis, however, said that a senior police officer called to inform him that police will visit his residence to take the required information and there was no need for him to visit the BKC cyber police station. Phones of political leaders, including state Congress chief Nana Patole, minister Bachchu Kadu, former MLA Ashish Deshmukh, former MP Sanjay Kakade and others were tapped illegally by IPS officer Rashmi Shukla, when she was the state intelligence chief, Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse Patil had alleged last month.

“In the notice issued to Fadnavis, police have said that questionnaires were earlier sent to him in sealed envelopes in connection with the case, but he did not respond to them. Besides, notices were also issued to him twice to seek his reply, but he had again failed to reply,” the police official said. In addition to this, three letters were sent to Fadnavis, reminding him to appear before the police.

However, he failed to give any reply. In the fresh notice, he has been asked to appear before the cyber police on Sunday, he said. A case was registered under the Official Secrets Act at the BKC cyber police station in Mumbai last year against unidentified persons for allegedly illegally tapping phones and leaking confidential documents. The complaint was lodged by the State Intelligence Department (SID).

However, before the FIR was registered, the then Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte had alleged in his inquiry report that IPS officer Rashmi Shukla had leaked the confidential report. Shukla is accused of tapping phones of political leaders and senior officials illegally when she was chief of the SID. She found herself at the centre of controversy after Fadnavis cited a letter purportedly written by her to the then Maharashtra Director General of Police about alleged corruption in transfers in the police department.

The letter also had details of intercepted phone calls, leading to an uproar with leaders of the Shiv Sena-led ruling coalition alleging that Shukla tapped phones without permission. In April last year, the Mumbai police had summoned Shukla for interrogation before the BKC cyber cell. She did not turn up citing the coronavirus pandemic.

In May, a team from the Mumbai cyber police recorded her statement in Hyderabad in connection with the phone tapping leak case.

Earlier in the day, Fadnavis, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, told reporters that he had received the notice and he would visit the police station at 11 am on Sunday as being asked. Later, he tweeted saying, Just received a call from joint CP (Crime) informing me that there is no need to visit BKC cyber police station. They will come to my residence to take the required information. I will be at my residence. I have cancelled all Pune programmes for tomorrow. They can come anytime.

The former chief minister said the notice was served to him because he had exposed the MVA government of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.

“I demand that the investigation of this (phone tapping case) should be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The state government cannot conduct a proper probe in such cases,” he said. “The state is trying to pressure me because I had exposed the scam of transfer in the state police force…I have more proofs with me, which I will hand over to the CBI only. I will cooperate with the Mumbai police in tomorrow’s probe as well,” he said.

The leader of opposition in the assembly alleged that the state government and the police department have panicked, which is why the notice has been issued to him. Walse Patil had also claimed that a high-level probe had found that senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla had tapped phones illegally. On Saturday, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said that party workers would burn the photocopy of the notice served by the Mumbai police to Fadnavis.

Speaking to reporters in Kolhapur, Patil said, It is wrong and illegal for the Maharashtra Police to issue a notice to Devendra Fadnavis. Whatever information was revealed by Fadnavis was in the public interest.

“He can give additional information to the CBI, the probe agency. But Fadnavis is not under any obligation to disclose his source, he said. When asked about the submission of a pen drive by Fadnavis in the Assembly which allegedly contained videos of “conspiracies hatched by MVA leaders to implicate BJP MLA Girish Mahajan and others”, Patil said, The MVA government has issued a notice to Fadnavis regarding the allegations levelled by him against the MVA government some months back. What Fadnavis exposed in the ongoing budget session about these video clips is not even used for filing an FIR in this case.

The Ramayan of the fresh allegations is yet to start. All wrongdoings of the MVA government are piling up and it would crash under that burden for sure, he added.

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