These days many senior officers of the Indian Police Service (IPS) are writing their memoirs. We, the public at large, get to hear from them their perspective of what happened and what did not, why they did something, and why they did not! In the old days, we had only newspaper reports to find out details about the case. We naturally were biased based on what we read.
Now things have changed so much. We are no longer ignorant of what is going on, thanks to 24x 7 high volume, ‘breaking news’ media coverage of the more sensational cases on national television. Channels vie with each other to spill the beans, often trying to solve the cases before the cops do so!
In such a context, it’s fascinating to read the story of one senior IPS officer who was involved in some of the most notorious cases in recent decades. Rakesh Maria wrote, “Let Me Say It Now” – published by Westland in 2020- to give his versions of these cases.
They included the infamous 1993 Bomb Blasts that rocked Mumbai and changed the dynamics of religion of that city (and probably the country itself ) for ever ; the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai again in 2008, this time by Pakistan trained terrorists sent to create mayhem and kill themselves while doing so; and more recently, the Sheena Bora murder case in which a highly placed socialite, Indrani Mukherjea was accused of a foul murder of a young lady, her own daughter!
Rakesh Maria IPS, served the Indian Police Service for 36 years in the Maharashtra cadre before he retired in 2017. He was awarded the Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 1994 and later the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2007.
We read about how a young boy born and bred in suburban Bandra of Punjabi origin knew early in life that he wanted more than anything else to become a police officer. His father was a well- known figure in the Hindi film industry. In those days, Bollywood was less ” associated ” with crime and the underworld as it has been for the past few decades.
In his book, Maria comes across as a forthright, honest officer who had inherent skills to investigate crime. He could get the best out of his overworked, underpaid investigators who did the drudgery or the donkey work in finding clues and piercing the case together. He also steered clear from politics the involvement in which has proved to be the undoing of many a police officer. We know that politicians have long memories. They come back to power just as often as they are eased out of power. For a police officer to remain largely neutral and not take sides calls for a certain amount of moral courage.
The cases described in the book are too well-known to be detailed here. You must read the book to understand the nuances of each case, how difficult it was to get that vital break through, and how the pieces of the puzzle were put together by painstaking investigation.
Maria was not new to controversy. In the 26/11 case, Vinita Kamte widow of Ashok Kamte IPS made grave accusations against Maria . Later in the Sheena Bora case, again certain accusations were made about him. In this book, Maria defends his actions spiritedly and explains things from his perspective.
If you like books on crime, here’s one that you shouldn’t miss. Maria happened to be the man on the spot in some of the most publicized cases in recent memory. Read for yourself, how he conducted himself in highly trying circumstances.