In Modi's Gujarat, elite police officers stand divided

In Modi's Gujarat, elite police officers stand divided

Sanjiv Bhatt
Batch:1988
Cadre: Gujarat

Suspended by the Gujarat government for unauthorised absence from duty, few months after he filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court alleging complicity of chief minister Narendra Modi in the riots cases.

Rajnish Rai
Batch: 1992
Cadre: Gujarat
An upright officer who has to his credit busting several sensational cases, including the multi-crore high speed diesel scam. Now on a year long study leave. Sidelined by the Modi government. Invited the wrath of the government when he arrested three senior IPS officers in connection with the fake encounter of Sohrabudin Shiekh and his wife Kausarbi. He approached the CAT recently alleging that his ACR had been downgraded by the Modi regime since he had exposed official involvement in the encounter case.

Rahul Sharma
Batch: 1992
Cadre: Gujarat
Served a chargesheet by the Modi government recently for allegedly illegally obtaining call records which pinned down several ministers, politicians, cops for their alleged links with the rioters during the post-Godhra riots. Presently dumped in an insignificant position.

Kuldeep Sharma
Batch: 1978
Cadre: Gujarat
Once a top cop who enjoyed the support of his senior political bosses, finds himself on a collison course with Modi.

The government suspected that as CID head he had played an important role in pinning down officials and politicians in the Sohrabudin fake encounter case. He was dumped to an insignificant post and complaints were lodged against him in old cases. His deputation to the Centre was halted by the Modi government, but after he approached the CAT he was allowed to go.

The list seems endless. IPS officers of the Gujarat cadre who have been on a collision course with the Narendra Modi government. And it is this showdown which has put the limelight on the Gujarat cadre which not long back would boast of being one of the best cadres in the country. With more and more officers coming forward and taking the government head on, faultlines have started emerging in the cadre -- between those in the line of fire and those considered close to the Modi administration.

“The result is there for all to see. It’s a fractured cadre today. Either you belong to the Modi group or not. There is chaos and at times inaction. Officers are unwilling to do that extra bit to do effective policing,’’ commented a senior officer.

Interestingly, the fissures were exposed even during the ongoing probe into the killing of teenager Ishrat Jehan in an encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in 2004. The Gujarat High Court recently set up a special investigation team (SIT).

Though the chairman of the three member team is a non-Gujarat IPS officer, the other two -- Satish Verma and Mohan Jha -- are from Gujarat cadre. During the course of the probe, Verma had informed the court that prime facie the encounter was fake and accused police officers of orchestrating it. Significantly, he had taken a pot shot at Mohan Jha accusing him of leaking sensitive SIT information, indirectly hinting at him being a government ‘mole’ in the team.

“There is lot of distrust now even among those officers who used to be close earlier. Now, nobody knows what to expect next. So all have gone into their respective shells,’’ an officer of the rank of DIG, said.

Avoid returning
Not surprisingly, with the cadre in a state that it is in, a good number of officers have gone on Central deputation, many of them getting extension after extension, all in a bid to avoid returning the state. According to state home department sources, about a dozen such officers are already out, including Vivek Srivastava, who was also in the firing line after he resisted attempts to go slow on rioters when he headed the district police in Kutch.

“There is a situation prevailing here which everybody fears could put them into trouble. So all of them are avoiding coming back and trying to get their deputation extended,’’ said an officer. Former Additional Director General of Police R B Sreekumar who was one of the first serving officers to have raised his voice against the Modi regime in the aftermath of the 2002 riots said: “At present, most of the officers do not perform their duties as per their oath in the Constitution.''

He said that serving police officers do not want to rub the wrong side of the law and go ahead with their careers. “These officers prefer to be in the good books of the elected government and not raise their voice of dissent even if they realise everything is not alright,'' Sreekumar said.

Ironically, even the IPS Officers’ Association, an unmbrella body of officers in the state, has so far failed to initiate any steps which could at least repair the damage.
“The problem with the association is that taking any step either for those who are being victimised by the government or even some making generic statement could result in motives being attached. That is perhaps why even the association is not able to come out with some concrete steps to stem the rot,’’ an IG rank officer said. For now it seems it will take a lot for the Gujarat police to get back what many say is its lost glory.

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