Things aren’t going too well for the Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police. After its officers were involved in a scuffle with the Vile Parle police over custody of an accused in the Rs 1.95-crore heist of an ATM cash van, the investigating officer in the case has put in his papers.

The senior officer, Deepak Phatangare, has a controversial past. File pics Sadanand Date, Joint CP (Crime), said he has ordered an inquiry into the matter
The senior officer, Deepak Phatangare, has a controversial past and Sadanand Date, Joint CP (Crime), said he has ordered an inquiry into the matter. File pics

He did so because his senior officer allegedly forced him to work on a case outside the jurisdiction of the Crime Branch and later blamed him for doing so in front of a senior. According to Crime Branch sources, Inspector Sudhir Dalvi, who was earlier with the Anti-Extortion Cell of Mumbai Police, was transferred to Unit VIII of Crime Branch, which handles cases between Andheri and Bandra (East).

Dalvi, who is said to have a good informer network, got a tip-off that four people working as security guards for a Khar-based builder, possessed arms that were licensed for use in Uttar Pradesh but not in Mumbai. The builder had been given police protection due to threats to his life.

Dalvi casually discussed the matter with Deepak Phatangare, senior police inspector, Unit VIII. He was shocked when Phatangare told him to work on the case. Dalvi refused because it was a matter to be handled by the local police and not the Crime Branch. Phatangare persisted and Dalvi acquiesced to his senior’s demand.

Along with his staff, Dalvi went to the realtor’s site in Khar (West) and registered a local act case (LAC) with the Khar police. The builder raised an objection and contacted senior IPS-level officers. The matter reached Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sadanand Date, who summoned both Phatangare and Dalvi to his office.

It is here that Phatangare allegedly washed his hands off the matter and squarely put the blame on Dalvi. Date stated that such cases are not the responsibility of the Crime Branch and this should not be repeated in future.

Humiliated by the censure, Dalvi tendered his resignation and detailed the whole incident in his letter. Upon hearing of the resignation, Date asked Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Mohan Dahikar, of the Crime Branch, to conduct an inquiry. The entire episode took place in the first two weeks of the month.

A senior IPS officer, who chose to remain anonymous, explained, “Filing such cases is the work of police sub-inspectors of local police stations, not the Crime Branch. This was not even in his jurisdiction. It raises serious questions against the senior inspector.” Sources added that both Dalvi and Phatangare have stuck to their positions in the inquiry, with each blaming the other.

Crime Branch sources said Dalvi is a reputed officer with immense knowledge of the underworld, and has cracked several cases in the city. He has also made three arrests in the ATM van heist. Sources said Dalvi’s resignation has not been accepted and he has been asked to concentrate on solving the robbery, whose mastermind is still at large.