The government's decision to hand over all cases related to arrested mafia don Rajendra Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan to the CBI assumed political overtones in Mumbai on Friday, with two opposition parties saying it would demoralise the Mumbai police.
The two main opposition parties, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, lashed out at the state government's move.
Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam said first it was the Sheena Bora murder investigation and now it's the Chhota Rajan case which Maharashtra has handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
"If all the cases the CBI will handle, then what will Mumbai police do," Nirupam wondered, urging the government to reconsider the decision.
NCP state spokesperson Nawab Malik said only three days ago, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and even Mumbai Police Commissioner Ahmad Javed had assured that the mafia don would be brought to Mumbai.
"Why now he has been taken to New Delhi? What is their strategy? All major cases including the journalist Jyotirmoy Dey killing and the Pakmodia Street firing shall be handled by the CBI. Do they doubt our police's capabilities? It is demoralizing the Mumbai police force," Malik said.
He said that the state government has no faith in the Mumbai police which would send a wrong message to the people.
"The BJP-Shiv Sena government must clear their stand on this issue and rebuild the morale of the Mumbai police, and assure people that they can be trusted," Malik urged.
Former Maharashtra director general of police D. Shivanandan also criticized the move to hand over the Chhota Rajan cases to the CBI and reiterated that the Mumbai police are among the best in the world to investigate any such cases.
He also termed as 'an eyewash' Chhota Rajan's claims of patriotism and his desire to 'help' the Indian authorities, saying "he is just an ordinary criminal and must be dealt with accordingly".
Chhota Rajan was brought from Bali, where he was nabbed by Indonesian police, by a special flight to New Delhi early Friday morning and then taken into CBI custody.
The development came after the state Additional Chief Secretary (Home) K.P. Bakshi made a surprise announcement on Thursday evening that all cases pertaining to Chhota Rajan would be handed over to CBI since they had national and international ramifications.
Ironically, earlier this week, ancitipating Chhota Rajan's arrival, the Mumbai police had made elaborate plans to lodge him in the high-security 'anda cell' (Oval Cell) inside the Arthur Road Central Jail, which was once occupied by the hanged Pakistani terrorist M. Ajmal Kasab.