On Thursday a court in Mumbai, India, issued an arrest warrant against police officer Param Bir Singh, the third and last before the man is officially considered a fugitive. Singh is the former Mumbai police chief and has not been found for months: in March he was transferred to another department for reasons related to the management of the alleged plan to attack Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India, and subsequently he had accused one of his superiors of corruption and extortion, being in turn accused of having pocketed bribes. His disappearance and the cases in which he is involved have received great attention in the country’s media.
Singh is 59 years old, has a BA in Sociology and is known for being quite a swashbuckler. He has been working in the police for almost forty years and began to make a career in the 1990s, working together with the so-called “encounter policemen“, That is, specialists who were involved in investigating criminal and terrorist associations, often with particularly controversial and violent methods. He was appointed chief of the Mumbai police two years ago.
He has not been seen in his office or home since May, and the police have not even found him in his hometown of Chandigarh in the north of the country. His lawyers and family refused to give any information about him. Some newspapers and media have speculated that he escaped to Russia, while others say to Belgium. The first arrest warrant against him was issued in September: in August, speaking on the phone with a journalist, Singh said he was “absolutely in India and had not left the country,” he says. BBC.
On the morning of February 25, an SUV containing explosives and a warning message was found near the luxurious building in Mumbai where the family of Mukesh Ambani lives, the head of a large industrial group, which is estimated to have assets of around 65 billion. of Euro. The story had all the contours of a movie story: the police had tracked down the alleged owner of the SUV, but he had said that the car was not his, and the video surveillance images had shown that the vehicle had been towed to the place by a another car, a White Toyota.
Within days, the alleged owner of the SUV was found dead near a river near Mumbai, while the white Toyota was found to belong to a police department. In connection with the case, an agent of the Mumbai anti-crime team, Sachin Waze, was arrested, accused of being involved in both the plan to attack Ambani’s family and the murder of the owner of the SUV.
Due to the white Toyota scandal, Singh was replaced in March and transferred to the department of a minor police force in the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, in a less prestigious role. Without giving many details, the then interior minister of the state, Ani Deshmukh, said that Singh’s “was not a routine transfer”, but had been caused by the “mistakes” he had made, “very serious for being the police chief ».
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Singh started his new job in mid-March. A few days later, however, he sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Maharashtra accusing Deshmukh of corruption and extorting millions of dollars from bars and restaurants in exchange for favors to loosen controls on the management of their activities, also thanks to the help of Waze. . Singh provided no evidence of his allegations, but in April Deshmukh was forced to resign, while denying the allegations. A federal financial investigation has been launched on him and he has been in custody since last November, waiting to find out if he will be indicted.
As for Singh, the last time he was seen in early May, when he was absent from work due to illness, then extending the leave for two more times.
In the summer, the Maharashtra state government set up an investigative commission to investigate his disappearance: Singh never showed up at the hearings to which he was summoned (and was never found to receive notifications), but according to his lawyers the fact that he formally asked to contest the investigation against him would be proof that he does not want to escape from the law. In the meantime, he was also accused of extorting money from some bookmakers in the context of some cricket betting, on which further investigations have been launched.
It is not yet clear whether Singh’s disappearance has anything to do with the case of the attempted attack on Ambani or what were the real reasons that led Deshmukh to remove him from his post. Likewise, it is unknown why Singh decided to disappear after having openly accused the former minister and why he did not want to speak to the commission of inquiry. In recent days Deshmukh has been hospitalized for a medical problem, while the government has started the process to suspend Singh from his post, of which there is still no news.
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