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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rajendra may emerge as dark horse between 3 Biharis

J&K Govt unlikely to appoint new DGP on Delhi’s choice

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 24: Even as the union Home Secretary, R K Singh, has recommended three senior IPS officers from his home state of Bihar and he wants one of them to succeed Kuldeep Khoda as Director General of Police in Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah government is now expected to assert with its own choice. In the gradually changing circumstances, state’s senior most Additional DGP (ADGP), K Rajendra Kumar, is emerging as the dark horse between the three nominees---Arun Choudhary, Ashok Prasad and P M Nair.

Sources linked to top corridors of power revealed to Early Times today that the state government had developed ‘serious reservations’ to the idea of taking the choice for the top post from Government of India. According to these sources, it was “simply a routine practice” for the union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to submit a panel of three senior IPS officers whenever the post of DGP fell vacant in any state in the country.

“For Union Territories, the decision lies with MHA. In case of states, it is the state government that has to take the decision”, said a top level government functionary. He sought to make it clear that MHA had been only regulating the Indian Police Service (IPS) the way Department of Personnel & Training of the union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, had been regulating Indian Administrative Service (IAS). While as the former functions under the union Home Minister, latter works under the direct control of Prime Minister.

J&K Government is supposed to appoint new DGP before the end of next month as the incumbent head of the state Police, Kuldeep Khoda, is reaching superannuation on 31-05-2012. A son of the soil, Khoda is a regular recruit of IPS batch 1974. Even as his detractors are said to be planning ‘Gen Bikram Singh type’ impediments against the outgoing DGP towards his retirement in Police, Omar Abdullah government is believed to be determined to appoint Khoda as the first chief of the State Vigilance Commission (SVC), constituted under law in February 2011.

Previously, a technical problem was stated to be the roadblock in appointing an IPS officer of J&K cadre as the new DGP. Neither of Khoda’s immediate followers, namely K Rajendra Kumar and P L Gupta, has completed 30 years of service in IPS. Both of them are regular recruits of IPS 1984 batch. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, Rajendra has been functioning as ADGP Armed and Law & Order since August 2010. A permanent resident of Jammu, Gupta has been on the ex-cadre posting of Vigilance Commissioner since July 2009.

Those insisting on appointment of someone from J&K cadre of IPS as the new DGP have been cautioning that ‘importing’ an outsider would be unwise for a host of reasons. According to their averments, any outsider at the fag end of his career would not contribute anything to Police force in J&K. “It takes decades, nor years or months, to understand a conflict-riddled and politically sensitive state like Jammu & Kashmir”, said one of them, who has retired on a senior position in J&K Police 20 years back. He maintained that 30 years of service was “a custom, not a rule” and narrated how FTR Colaso had been “imported” and appointed as DGP in J&K when he was just 49 year old and had put in total of 24 years in IPS.

Politicians have their own apprehensions. “Our opposition leaders have already created an impression that this state was being run by Biharis and Intelligence Bureau. It would be extremely imprudent to take diktats from the Centre and appoint an outsider as the new DGP in J&K”, said a senior Cabinet Minister. He asserted that the union Home Secretary, who is himself from Bihar, should not have picked up all the three names from the IPS officers of Bihar. He described both, Rajendra as well as Gupta, as “very competent and experienced officers” and said that one of them had the distinction of having held the most sensitive postings including those of SSP Srinagar, DIG Kashmir, IGP Kashmir, IGP Jammu, IGP CID and ADG Law & Order. “He remained on the forefront of counter-insurgency operations and nearly got killed while protecting former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad”, he said with obvious reference to Rajendra.

However, yet another Minister described Rajendra as “highly arrogant” and said that he would never care for requests and recommendations from the Ministers. Gupta, according to him, was “well mannered, soft-spoken and unassuming”. He took pride in saying that Gupta, as well as his brother Jeet Lal Gupta, who is Commissioner-Secretary Social Welfare Department, were “icons of integrity”.

Sources in bureaucracy said that the union Home Secretary’s first choice, Arun Choudhary, had the advantage of having functioned as Special Director in IB and had extensive knowledge about the state’s persons, places and politics. Before his appointment as Special Director General of Central Industrial Security Force on June 7th, 2011, Choudhary remained associated with and posted in J&K for several years. However, after his last posting as SSP of Patna and going to Central deputation in 1994, this IPS officer of 1977 batch, Bihar cadre, has never had any exposure in Executive police.

Currently posted as Additional Director of IB in J&K, Ashok Prasad, belongs to 1979 batch of IPS, Andhra Pradesh cadre. His residential state is also Bihar. Centre’s third nominee, PM Nair, is from IPS batch of 1978. He too is from Bihar. Having worked as IG Operations in CRPF in Jammu, in the year 2005-06, Nair is currently Special DG Operations in CRPF. Last year, he had been nominated for his appointment as DGP in Jharkhand but was dropped at the eleventh hour.

According to these sources, Choudhary and Prasad were equally influential in MHA. Both were being supported by powerful lobbies. However, Prasad was believed to be having an edge over Choudhary as both, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, as well as Governor, N N Vohra, were on his side until last month. “Mr Nair is just filler. Choudhary and Prasad are 50:50 in New Delhi. There being a tie between them, Rajendra can emerge as the dark horse”, said a top ranking IAS officer. He said that the only thing that could go against his prospects, and would not be liked by Chief Minister, was Rajendra’s act of mobilizing opinion in his favour through media and retired DGPs.


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