Former minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday hit out at the former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh and sacked cop Sachin Vaze for making false allegations against him that led to his incarceration for nearly 14 months.
“I was jailed on the false allegations levelled by Param Bir Singh and Sachin Vaze. That same Singh later told the probe panel that his statements were based on rumours or hearsay and he had no evidence against me,” said Deshhmukh, 73, who walked out of the Arthur Road Central Jail here on bail.
He pointed out how the Bombay High Court judges had also taken note of this and observed that Singh’s statements could not be relied upon.
“Similarly, Vaze had a criminal bent of mind, he was suspended thrice from the Police Department by the Maharashtra government. He was involved in the planting of the explosive-laden vehicle outside the Antilia Building (the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani),” said Deshmukh.
Even on Vaze’s role, the high court had made observations that his statements were unreliable, and there was no basis to the allegations hurled against Deshmukh.
“On the basis of these baseless accusations, I had to undergo nearly 14 months in jail. However, I have full faith in the judiciary and I thank them. I also thank (NCP supremo Sharad) Pawar Saheb and his family, all other leaders and the entire party for having faith in me and standing behind me solidly throughout this ordeal,” said Deshmukh with folded hands.
Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar – who flew down in a special government flight from Nagpur, leaving the Legislature Session, flanked by his cousin and MP Priyaya Sule, NCP President Jayant Patil, senior leader Praful Patel, ex-ministers Dilip Walse-Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, MPs and MLAs, accorded a rousing welcome to Deshmukh.
Pawar, Patil and Bhujbal said that they were “extremely happy” that their close associate and senior leader Deshmukh was finally set free from jail where he was kept in fake cases out of vendetta.
After the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation to extend the stay on its order granting bail, the road was clear for Deshmukh’s release, said his lawyers Aniket Nikam and Inderpal Singh.
A single-judge vacation bench of Justice Santosh Chapalgaonkar declined to entertain the CBI plea against the backdrop of the regular court’s previous order that no plea for further extension of custody will be entertained, thus paving the way for his release.
When Deshmukh stepped out of the jail gates around 4.55 p.m., sporting his trademark dark waist-jacket and white kurta-pyjama, he was greeted with loud cheers, clapping, garlands and showers of flower petals by the hundreds of NCP activists and top leaders waiting for nearly two hours for his exit.
Deshmukh’s family members were also seen, smiling but with tears of joy streaming down their cheeks, along with close associates and other well-wishers.
Many NCP activists, men and women were seen dancing, a band played drums to salute the end of his incarceration and others distributed sweets on the road outside the ARCJ.
Seeming overwhelmed at the unexpected tumultuous welcome, a cheerful but weary Deshmukh initially folded his hands in acknowledgement at the gathering, initially declining comments.
Later, at the prodding by NCP leaders and the media, he stepped onto an open vehicle and gave a few bytes on his long jail sojourn, as other party leaders listened attentively.
Trailing a motorbike rally, Deshmukh later went for darshan at the famed Siddhivinayak Temple in Prabhadevi in a procession of several vehicles with activists waving NCP flags, and thereafter he is likely to call on Sharad Pawar.
Similar joyous scenes were witnessed at Deshmukh’s Nagpur residence with hundreds of supporters and party workers dancing with joy, sprinkling the celebratory red ‘gulal’, distributing sweets, as they watched the live telecast of his release in Mumbai.