Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj had reached Gandhi Maidan soon after taking charge from his predecessor, Vikas Vaibhav, without even waiting for a minute yesterday.
The 2005-batch IPS, who has had two bitter experiences as far as Gandhi Maidan is concerned, was back in office late in the evening after which he held a meeting with his men on security arrangements being made before again going to Gandhi Maidan.
Today, an office assistant at the SSP’s office, said: “He came to the office in the afternoon and had a meeting with the superintendents of police (SP) and some other officers before leaving. He hasn’t returned to office till now.”
However, the SSP’s official vehicle was seen zipping past Fraser Road many times during the day.
For Maharaaj, tomorrow’s rally is going to be a challenge both as a police officer and an individual.
The officer, known for his commendable policing and clean image, received two shockers at Gandhi Maidan – the serial bomb blasts at Hunkar Rally in October, 2013, and the Dussehra stampede in October, 2014.
During both these tragedies, which claimed the lives of many, Maharaaj was the Patna SSP.
“He had not waited to meet the media after taking charge yesterday. He went straight to Gandhi Maidan, where he came face to face with Nitish Kumar, who was overseeing the preparations.
“There were other senior police officers too. And there were murmurs about the same subject. Some said he (Maharaaj) had landed at the same place, which had become the reason for his unceremonious exit as the Patna SSP last year. And the officer knows that and he would be desperate to get the monkey off his back anyhow,” said a police officer, who was at Gandhi Maidan yesterday.
Maharaaj didn’t face any action after the serial bomb blasts on October 27, 2013, which claimed six lives, including that of a bomb planter. The blasts had been carried out by the Indian Mujahideen.
However, the stampede, which had taken place on October 3 last year and had claimed 33 lives, was unforgivable. With stark loopholes in the arrangements made, the state government booted out the entire administration, including the SSP, on October 6.
An inquiry was set up and Maharaaj was made to wait for posting. Later, he was made Darbhanga SSP on November 13 last year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Gaya and had addressed people at the Parivantan Rally on August 9, when Maharaaj was the SSP there.
“There was no law and order issue but Gandhi Maidan would test him. He burnt his fingers twice here and he would surely be stressed. However, he is committed and the rally would face no problem,” said another officer