IPS officer suspended for public criticism of government

Kerala has suspended senior IPS officer Jacob Thomas 10 days after he publicly criticised the government's handling of the post-Ockhi search and rescue operations and alleged ineffectiveness  in the law and order machinery.

The suspension removes from service Kerala's senior-most IPS officer, of the 1985-batch, while  he was serving as the director-general of the Institute of Management in Government (IMG) in Thiruvananthapuram.

In  the order issued on Tuesday, the government said the officer's conduct was in violation of the All India Service Rules and his statements were inflammatory and provocative.

Thomas, an officer of the DGP-rank, in his talk at the Press Club here on December 9 alleged a lack of accountability in coordinating relief and rehabilitation measures after Ockhi.

"There are no figures of the dead and the missing. Is anyone accountable for this? Would the government treat the rich who go missing in the sea like they treat the case of poor fishermen?" he said.

He said those who spoke against corruption were not ending up with "51 cuts" on their bodies but were being silenced.

The '51 cuts' is a possible reference to the murder of communist leader T P Chandrashekharan, in which the  CPM's alleged involvement had stirred up much controversy.

"We are now scared of speaking about corruption. If we have a rule of law, we don't have to be," Thomas said.

On Wednesday, he said the suspension would not make him silent. "Attempts to silence people who speak against corruption happen the world over," he said.

Jacob Thomas, often celebrated as an anti-corruption crusader, had recurring troubles with the previous Congress-led dispensation.

He was initially seen as close to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan; his return as Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau chief after the CPM-led government took over last year was also seen as an endorsement.

Later, his decision to launch anti-graft probes against senior IAS officers triggered a controversy.

Following the high court's criticism of his functioning, he was asked to go on leave in April this year.

On his return in June, he was posted as the IMG Director-General.

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