On the low morale of Gujarat Police: RB Sreekumar
This guest post by former Gujarat DGP RB SREEKUMAR is a letter to the Union Minister of Home Affairs.
Dear Shri P. Chidambaram,
I belonged to Gujarat cadre of Indian Police service (IPS)-1971 batch-and retired from service on 27.2.2007 in the rank of Director General of Police (DGP), Gujarat state.
2. As a senior citizen (age-65 years) staying in Gujarat since 1970s, I am constrained to write the following for your kind consideration and urgent remedial action.
3. The morale, self esteem and image of the Gujarat Police in general and of IPS officers giving leadership to police force in the state in particular, have been in steady decline since 2002 anti-minority genocide. The media, reputed human rights activists and national bodies like the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Minorities and the National Commission for Women have thrown light on serious intentional acts of commission and omission by Gujarat government functionaries (except in cities like Surat, Bhavnagar and a few districts in South Gujarat and Saurashtra), that facilitated extensive and gruesome mass violence against minorities.
4. Numerous severe strictures on the State Administration and Police by the High Court of Gujarat and the Apex Court have further impaired the organizational health of the Police Department; and the confidence level of Gujarat Police officers since the 2002 ‘riots’. Strangely, the State government headed by the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi since October-2001 did not initiate substantial and purposeful corrective measures to remedy the maladies in the Criminal Justice System(CGS), on the suggestions by the higher Judiciary and National Bodies. Consequently, the issuance of stinging remarks against the Gujarat government by Senior Courts have become a serial story since September 12, 2003 when Justice Khare of the Supreme Court observed “I have no faith left in the prosecution and Gujarat government. I am not saying Article 356. You have to protect people and punish the guilty. What else is Raj-Dharma? You quit if you cannot prosecute the guilty. ”
5. Later, while transferring the trial of Best Bakery mass killing case to Maharashtra State, the Apex Court called the Gujarat bureaucracy “Neros”, The Court observed “Modern day Neros were looking elsewhere when innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be protected…” (April-2004 ).
6. Recently the High Court of Gujarat judging on the issue of delay in appointment of Lokayukta, adversely commented on the State government thus, “The constitutional mini-crisis has been sparked by the CM. The pranks of the CM… demonstrate deconstruction of our democracy, and the questionable conduct of stone-walling the appointment of Justice R. A. Mehta as Lokayukta threaten the Rule of Law.” (January 18, 2012)
7. Lastly, the High Court observed, “Gujarat government’s inadequate response and inaction (to contain the riots) resulted in an anarchic situation which continued unabated for days on …the State cannot shirk from its responsibilities” (February 8, 2012).
8. Besides, these unprecedented orders by the Apex Court viz. (1) The transfer of trial of two major riots cases to Maharashtra state (2) Entrusting of investigation of fake encounters and riot cases to C.B.I. (3) Appointment of a retired Judge to probe into nearly 22 extra-judicial killings by the Gujarat Police (4) Re-investigation of 2000- odd riot cases unjustly closed by the State Police (5) Appointment of Special Investigation Team (SIT) under Dr. R. K. Raghavan, to re-investigate 10 major carnage cases and Mrs. Ehsan Jafri’s petition accusing Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others for the crimes of conspiracy and mass murders etc. had a debilitating effect on the confidence and competence of Gujarat Police.
9. However, SIT chaired by Dr. R. K. Raghavan had allegedly deliberately kept the complicity level of officials and politicians for the crimes in the 2002 riots as low as possible, by arresting only 2 Police Inspectors, for the protracted mass murders resulting in killing of nearly 1200 citizens, destruction of millions of rupees worth of property and disappearance of many historic cultural, religious, social and architectural symbols of Muslim Community. This has generated a feeling of euphoria, contentment and immunity from accountability and impunity from prosecution among the real planners and perpetrators of anti-minority blood-bath in 2002. But this stance of SIT did not generate any positive signals for putting morale of Gujarat Police on the upswing because, three senior IPS officers of Gujarat Cadre (one DIG and two SPs), were imprisoned from April- 2007 for their alleged culpable role in the fake encounters (mostly victims were Muslims) from October-2002 to April-2007.
10. Non-appointment of a full-fledged regular DGP in Gujarat State since September, 2010 (in fact there is no DGP-ranking officer today in Gujarat Police), has immensely crippled the motivational range and quality of service delivery of the State Police and particularly of IPS officers, already afflicted with multiple maladies and judicial indictments. The senior-most Additional DGP is officiating as DGP since the retirement of the regular DGP Shri S.S. Khandvawala on 31.08.2010. In national level meetings and interaction with the Central government officials, an in-charge DGP holding the rank of Additional DGP (without an assured tenure security and adequate trust bestowed on him by the government) will not be in a position to participate effectively and emphasize the imperatives of internal security of Gujarat State. It is ridiculous like a State Minister constantly represents the Chief Minister in the meetings convened by the Prime Minister and Union Cabinet Ministers.
11. Negative impact of keeping four vacancies of DGP in Gujarat (the State has two cadre and two non-cadre DGP posts) without any sound and plausible reasons is quite visible. The percolation effect of keeping vacancies is felt in the lower ranks from ADGP to SP. Police, like any force in uniform, put under regimental discipline functions on the strength and stamina of the hierarchal command and control system. An enfeebled leader, not empowered with the rank and position intrinsic to the post of DGP, will never inspire confidence in the rank and file.
12. Members of All India Services do nurture a national esprit de-corps; and promotion, reward, punishment etc. of a batch of officers are gauged in the perspective of the batch recruited in a particular year and trained together for nearly two years. Due to arbitrary withholding of promotion to deserving Additional Director Generals of Police (ADGsP) to the grade of DGP, already two highly decorated ADGP ranking officers (now retired) who were awarded with Police medals for (1) meritorious and (2) distinguished service of 1977 and 1978 batches have suffered as they will get pension benefits of ADGP rank only. It is relevant to note that their batch-mates in most of the states and Central government have been promoted in time and they will get deserving payments at the time of retirement and later as pension.
13. Keeping cadre posts vacant beyond six months by any state government is an act of flagrant violation of Rule 10 of the Indian Police Service (cadre) rules 1954. Many IPS officers in Gujarat are quite dismayed that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) did not exercise its responsibility for safeguarding genuine career interests of IPS officers of Gujarat cadre. They feel that the Central government must have been informed about the abysmal depths of de-motivation and depression at the higher echelons of Gujarat cadre of Indian Police Service. Nonetheless, Gujarat Govt. is duty bound to submit a suitable explanation to the MHA, the cadre controlling authority of IPS and the guardian of IPS Service Rules, regarding its unholy omission of keeping all four posts of DGP vacant since September-2010. Does the political elite heading Gujarat state government deem that repeated electoral mandate conferred on them by the people of Gujarat give them license to go against the codified wisdom in the laws and regulations?
14. IPS officers of Gujarat cadre are still hopeful of getting justice from the Union government. In the ancient Tamil treatise Saint Tiruvalluvar warned “that country will perish any day whose monarch does not administer justice day to day” (Kural No. 553 in the chapter – On Unrighteous Rule)
15. In the context of above facts, I humbly appeal you to move Gujarat State Govt. to get a regular DGP appointed in the state and also to fill up vacancies at senior levels through promotions, within a prescribed time frame. Let us hope that no natural or man-made disaster will hit Gujarat and challenge the quality of morale and professionalism of Gujarat Police, before appointment of a regular DGP in the state.
With respectful regards,
Copy with compliments to:
Shri Narendra Modi,
Hon’ble Chief Minister,
Block No. 1,
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