INFIGHTING AMONG THE top brass of Punjab Police is one of the worst kept secrets in the state. Top police officers accusing each other of corruption, protecting drug mafia and worse is common. There have also been instances of cases being instituted or investigations launched against one another.
Ironically, almost all those involved in such bickering were in the forefront of tackling militancy in the 1980s and 1990s as young officers. They were foot soldiers of the then Director General of Police, KPS Gill, and bore the brunt of the struggle against the militants. Gill had given them extraordinary powers and they took full advantage of them. Some see a link to the continued bickering with professional rivalries harking back to that era.
For a border state that has been on the Pakistani radar, an undisciplined police force can just be the best thing to happen for the enemy who might seize this chance to create trouble in the state.
But the culture of indiscipline in the police force percolated to even lower levels. So much so, that an inspector-level station house officer (SHO), Parminder Singh Bajwa, addressed a press conference and made snide remarks about the chief minister’s personal life. He was, of course, suspended and then dismissed from service but the rot appears to have set in.
Perturbed over the washing of dirty linen in public, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh recently called a meeting of the top brass and warned of severe action against those indulging in indiscipline. As part of his intervention he even changed the head of the Special Task Force (STF) entrusted with the job of checking drug trafficking. He had himself requested the Centre to prematurely release a 1992-batch, Punjab-cadre, IPS officer Harpreet Singh Sidhu, who was heading CRPF’s anti-Naxal Operations in Chhattisgarh, to head the newly-created STF.
This had caused some resentment in the state as many senior officers were available to head the Task Force. Capt Amarinder even went further and asked him to report directly to him instead of the DGP Suresh Arora. This led to dual power centres. The chief minister had then given the explanation that since Sidhu was recalled prematurely from central deputation, he had to directly report to the CMO.
But in a surprise move earlier this month, in an evident attempt to tackle infighting among the top police officers in the state, the chief minister removed Sidhu as STF head and appointed him special principal secretary to the chief minister. In his place he appointed another senior officer, Mohammad Mustafa, as STF chief. Unlike Sidhu, he is supposed to report to the DGP. Simultaneously, he also obtained an extension for DGP Arora who was to retire month-end.
It was well-known that Sidhu was resisting reporting to the DGP while the top police officer of the state had taken the stand that two power centres were causing friction in the police force. Thus he has tried to mollify both Arora and Sidhu by giving Arora full control and authority while moving Sidhu to the privileged Chief Minister’s Office.
The trigger for the latest turmoil was the statement given by another senior officer, DGP (HRD) Sidharth Chattopadhyay in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He had approached the court alleging that he was being targeted by some senior officers "whose role was under investigation for being closely associated with SSP Raj Jit Singh”. He was obviously referring to DGP Arora and DGP (Intelligence) Dinkar Gupta.
He had approached the High Court to claim that he was being implicated in a case of abetment of suicide due to internal politics of the state police. He had refused to withdraw his allegations despite being asked by the government to do so. The name of the SSP had, in turn, come up during the interrogation of Inspector Inderjit Singh, who has since been dismissed. The inspector was arrested by the STF led by Sidhu with four kilograms of heroin. It was considered the biggest achievement of the STF. SSP Raj Jit, too, had approached the High Court alleging he was being harassed by certain police officers as part of departmental politics.
In yet another related case, the court had stayed a probe against Chattopadhyay in a case connected with the suicide of a businessman, Inderpreet Chadha, in January. Chattopadhyay submitted that his name was unnecessarily being dragged into the case and had sought a CBI probe into the death.
The High Court has thus become a battleground for the infighting among a section of senior police officers. It is hearing multiple complaints of harassment by senior officers against each other. It remains to be seen if the latest reshuffle improves discipline and relationships within the police force. For a border state that has been on the Pakistani radar, an undisciplined police force can just be the best thing to happen for the enemy who might seize this chance to create trouble in the state.
*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)
Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.
Most shared Punjab Today articles:
Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous
UNHOLY HASTE To save the faith
Hua Panthik-Panthik Punjab - How do we reclaim real politics?
The Yuba City Attack on Manjit Singh GK & General Sambit Patra
Pakistan, Navjot Sidhu & the hug: Amarinder Singh 2018 is opposing Amarinder Singh 2004
Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal
Paragraphs that went missing from PM’s Red Fort speech could have pre-empted Opposition attack
Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?
Mr SY Quraishi, can you please help to save this pet dog locked inside this sealed building?
In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart
Punjab is Silent as India Wakes Up to Talk of Refugees
AAP-CONG ALLIANCE: ARREY BHAI, YEH KYA LIKH DALA?
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS PLANNING HONEYMOON?
WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron
DEATH EMBRACING LOGIC: Drugs in Punjab
PANJAB'S EMERGENCY: FORMAL AND INFORMAL
THE KASHMIR GOVERNOR, THE TRIBUNE TRUST & ETHICS - How Journalism Fails Readers?
"Congress Sikhan Di Dushman Jamaat Hai?” —Akalis need to dump broken record, shift gears
"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship
SARKAR IN MANALI: From Shahkot to Mohali Court, Sara Alam Bigrra Jaye
If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?
SIKHS & FEMINISTS – We hailed Harjit Sajjan; they didn’t hail Gina Haspel
AFTER BEING RAPED, I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOUR WAS NOT
The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!
WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?
A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR
ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES
SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab
OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES
WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed
'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'
ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS
RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY
WHAT MAKE NEWS IN INDIA, AND WHAT DOES NOT?
HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?
PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA
APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO
AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER
SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER
OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties: The Coordinated Silence of Amarinder Singh & Badals
PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE
NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar
JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?
TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE
J&K – RAM MADHAV LEAVES SPACE FOR MEHBOOBA’S POLITICS
SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS
OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...
PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?
Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar
RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.
MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi?
MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER
PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals
Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!
SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary – Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?
THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE
NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty
BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah
MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame
RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience
PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity
Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.
— Team PT