Patna SSP draws parallels between Islamic extremist body and RSS; BJP roiled

The cop courted trouble for having said that PFI members arrested from Phulwari Sharif here underwent 'physical training similar to what happens in RSS shakhas' (branches)'.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | PTI)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | PTI)

PATNA: The BJP flew off the handle on Thursday after a senior IPS officer in Bihar sought to draw a parallel between its parent body RSS and an Islamic extremist organisation, a network of which was recently busted in the city.

Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manavendra Singh Dhillon courted trouble for having said that PFI members arrested from Phulwari Sharif here underwent "physical training similar to what happens in RSS shakhas' (branches)".

BJP leaders, including high-ranking ones like former Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and ex-deputy CM of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi, expressed outrage, while others questioned the police officer's soundness of mind and demanded his sacking.

"I condemn the irresponsible and despicable utterance of the SSP of Patna, my parliamentary constituency, who has sought to compare the PFI, a known terrorist organisation, to a nationalist organisation like the RSS," fumed Prasad, who represents Patna Sahib in Lok Sabha.

"I have learnt that senior officials have taken note of the reprehensible conduct of the officer. I hope proper action will be taken," added Prasad.

When approached by journalists, Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters), J S Gangwar said the SSP could have spoken out of context "Comparing one organisation with another is wrong. We will speak to him on the issue and advise him to concentrate on investigating the case," he said.

According to Dhillon, a raid was conducted in Phulwari Sharif following a tip-off about "Islamic radicalisation" inside a premise owned by a retired police official of Jharkhand, where many people, some of them from far-off Kerala and Tamil Nadu, were undergoing "normal physical training, not armed training".

Altogether 26 people have been named in the FIR out of whom three, including the owner of the house, have been arrested since Wednesday night, said the SSP, adding, recoveries from the spot include propaganda material that spoke of "turning India into an Islamic state".

He ruled out any Pakistan links of the network, but said the "terror funding" angle was being probed and though the police had recently intensified its surveillance in view of the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 12, there were "no indications" that the group was aiming at disrupting the VIP event.

However, his offhand use of a simile triggered predictable outrage.

Sushil Kumar Modi came out with a couple of tweets asking how could the police officer be loose tongued about RSS, which has had among its members top leaders like PM Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Sushil Modi also demanded "a withdrawal of the statement and an apology" from the SSP, though stormy petrels wanted him to be booted out.

"He has evidently lost his mental balance. He must be removed from his current assignment, which requires sensitivity and a sense of responsibility," said Haribhushan Thakur Bachol, a BJP MLA.

He also alleged that PM Modi "has been targeted by Islamic terrorists whenever he has visited Bihar, starting from the 2013 serial blasts".

The prime minister, the then Gujarat CM, had addressed his maiden rally in Bihar at the Gandhi Maidan here in October 2013, while several bombs went off at the venue.

State BJP spokesman and OBC Morcha's national general secretary Nikhil Anand alleged "it is not a slip of tongue by the Patna SSP, but a statement given in confidence and in a cool manner" to show his political affinity and keep masters in good humour.

"He must apologise and if he wants to indulge in politics, he must resign," Anand said, urging the state DGP and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to take note of the indiscretion and initiate "disciplinary action" against the officer.

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