Mumbai, Aug 23 (IANS) Mumbai's no-nonsense Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik was Thursday shunted out with a promotion, after coming under flak for the Aug 11 violence at a Muslim rally, and replaced by Satyapal Singh, the brother-in-law of Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.
I am proud to be the Commissioner of Mumbai, Singh said soon after taking charge. Mumbai is going through a difficult phase and it is my job to restore the confidence of people who reside here.
Winning over people's confidence and safeguarding the city from traitors, terrorists and anti-social elements will be my priority, added the man who had initially wanted to become a scientist.
Singh is a Maharashtra cadre Indian Police Service officer of the 1980 batch.
The Congress-led government said it had promoted Patnaik as the Director General of Police in the Maharashtra State Security Corporation.
After relinquishing charge, a smiling Patnaik told the media that he was happy to be promoted.
Home Minister R.R. Patil said Patnaik's promotion had been pending since July and this was finally cleared Aug 16.
Patnaik's admirers felt that he had been shown the door for cracking down on beer bars and late night parties.
Patnaik had vocally backed Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble, who mercilessly cracked the whip on illegal liquor joints as well as noisy parties.
Some of these bars were apparently linked to powerful politicians who had been eager to see the back of Patnaik.
The Aug 11 Muslim rally in the city which turned violent leading to the death of two men and injuries to several policemen proved to be the proverbial last straw.
On Tuesday, addressing a nearly 50,000-strong rally, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray asked both Patil and Patnaik to accept moral responsibility for the Aug 11 violence and resign.
On Thursday, political parties welcomed Patnaik's exit but said Patil too should go.
Patnaik was criticised for not using enough force against the Muslim rioters who tried to even molest some policewomen, snatched the weapon of a policeman and damaged a martyrs' memorial.
That rally was called to denounce attacks on Muslims in Myanamr and Assam. Muslim leaders later offered public apologies to Mumabikers for the violence. Several journalists too were attacked Aug 11.
Patnaik had argued that but for his intervention, police would have shot dead a large number of people that day.
The new Mumbai police chief was born Nov 29, 1955, in Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh.
A post-graduate in chemistry, he is also a M. Phil in the same subject and holds a PhD in Public Administration.
Singh has served in Nasik and Buldhana. He was the joint commissioner of police (Crime) in Mumbai and has received the President's Police Medal for Distinguished Service.
He was on deputation to the Central Bureau of Investigation and has been decorated for his work in Naxalite areas of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.