NEW DELHI: An internecine war has begun in the Delhi Police. Even though the top post in the 77,000-strong force will fall vacant six months from now, backroom manoeuvring on who will become the next Commissioner of Police has already begun.
Sources claim that incumbent Bhim Sain Bassi (a 1977 batch officer) has already started lobbying hard for a post-retirement job after February 2016.
The force is keenly clued in, some even taking sides, as there are five eligible candidates for the hot seat. But the bitter fight is between the two senior-most IPS officers – 1979 batch’s Alok Kumar Verma and Dharmendra Kumar of the 1984 batch. However, another senior officer and Kumar’s batchmate, Deepak Mishra, cannot be ignored.
Technically, the appointment of a new CP should not disturb the force, but junior officers are hedging their bets as changes would ensue.
Sources point to last week’s massive reshuffle of 35 IPS and DANIPS (Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service) officers, saying it is linked to the change of guard six months from now. “These were strategic transfers. Some more may follow soon at the top level,” a senior police officer told Express. He pointed out that the longer the speculation, the greater will be the demoralising impact on the force.
The Commissioner of Police post has become important as there is an Aam Aadmi Party Government in the national capital. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did not mince words while speaking about the men in khaki.
The NDA Government at the Centre would want an officer who can withstand Kejriwal’s antics to browbeat the police.
Men in Waiting
Anyone, who joins the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) cadre dreams of becoming Delhi’s CP.
Among key contenders this time are Alok Kumar Verma, currently posted as Director General of Tihar Jail. He is the “natural successor” after 1978-batch officer Vimla Mehra, the senior-most officer in the Delhi Police after Bassi as Mehra will retire on the same day as Bassi, thus clearing the succession line.
Verma’s immediate junior J K Sharma (1982 batch and posted as Director General Home Guards) can also stake a claim to the top post. But the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had investigated him in a corruption case long ago. The CBI case virtually shuts the doors for Sharma. Then there are officers much junior to Verma, who also consider themselves as serious contenders for the top job. Kumar and Mishra, both batchmates and good friends and Senior Special Commissioners of Police, are eyeing the top slot.
Two other 1984-batch officers, Ajay Kumar Singh (currently Special Commissioner of Police, General Administration) and Karnal Singh, who holds the top post in the Enforcement Directorate (ED), can’t be ignored either. Both Ajay Kumar and Karnal can stake a claim to the top seat anytime.
Ajay Kumar was recently promoted to the rank of Director General of Police, as there was a case pending against him for being absent from services. He won the case this year.
Karnal Singh has decided not to come back to the parent cadre as he is heading the Enforcement Directorate and will retire within a month of Verma’s superannuation.
Sources say that Verma is not leaving any stone unturned and has been seen running around ministers. However, the rival contenders are in no mood to leave the field open to him. Stories abound about how Tihar Jail has been mismanaged under him, especially in the wake of BBC documentary on the convicts of the December 16 gangrape case.
When he was summoned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to explain the BBC interview, he blamed his predecessor Mehra for giving her nod for it. Mehra was removed from the post of Director General Tihar Jail last year after the Ministry of Home Affairsordered an inquiry against her for allowing an inmate to sculpt a statue of her.
This leaves the field open for Kumar of 1984 batch. Kumar was transferred out of Delhi Police to Mizoram as Director General, but returned within 13 months after Bassi made at least eight representations to the MHA to transfer him back.
The chemistry between Kumar and Bassi dates back to their days at North District when Bassi was the Deputy Commissioner of Police and Kumar his deputy.
However, Kumar may not be the obvious choice of the NDA Government because when he was Special Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, in 2011, he had ordered a midnight crackdown on hundreds of followers of Baba Ramdev, during which one of them died. “If Verma were to take charge as Commissioner of Police in February 2016, he will retire after serving 17 months as police chief. This will leave just 11 months for Kumar,” an insider said. Interestingly, Bassi is learnt to be lobbying for Kumar.
Mishra is currently Senior Special Commissioner of Police. His claim for the top job was ‘spoiled’ three years ago when his rivals put the onus of delayed police response in the December 16 gangrape incident on him. Mishra along with then JCP Satyendra Kumar Garg and Additional Commissioner of Police G C Dwivedi were issued showcause notice.
However, Kumar, who was the Special Commissioner of Police Law and order then, did not face heat for the botch up in the gang rape incident. Some claim the action against Mishra was to scuttle his chances of becoming the Commissioner of Police.
However, Mishra was cleared by the MHA probe and was promoted as DGP in the cadre. In the recent crackdown on war veterans protesting for ‘One Rank One Pension’, Mishra was upbraided by Bassi for not informing him and taking a decision to forcibly remove the veterans ahead of Independence Day.
With a budget of Rs 5,372.88 crore, the Commissioner of Police has to ensure protection for VIPs and keep the crime rate down. Delhi’s ambiguous status makes his role tedious as he often has to struggle between two power centres. Under Bassi’s regime, the crime rate has almost doubled with registration of 1,55,654 cases in 2014. In 2015, police have registered 1,13,969 cases so far. Bassi says more registration of cases will help police in nabbing more criminals.