The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sullen policemen sore at CM

Ranchi, Feb. 3: Provoked by the chief minister’s last-minute decision to back out from attending the second annual convention of the policemen’s association, a section of the policemen launched a frontal attack on him this afternoon, prompting home secretary Sudhir Tripathy to walk out in protest.

Organisers, however, saved the situation by switching off the microphone and forcing the association secretary to cut short his speech. The home secretary was persuaded to return and both Tripathy and the director-general of police reprimanded the policemen for their indiscipline. “A uniformed policeman is not expected to criticise even his supervisor, let alone the chief minister,” they reminded their sullen and silent audience.

There was no satisfactory explanation for Madhu Koda’s absence though. While Koda did take the afternoon flight to Delhi, the venue of the convention at New Police Lines was barely half a km from the CM’s residence. Policemen clearly felt that after having confirmed his participation, Koda could have made an appearance for half an hour.

Tripathy stood up and began climbing down the stairs when the association secretary, Chandragupt Singh, sarcastically asked amid applause: “What should we expect from a person who has no time to meet us'” While policemen were ready to lay down their lives to protect the chief minister, the latter appeared to have been frightened by policemen (Woh shayad police-walon se dar gaye), Singh went on to say. It is not just a matter of concern but it is actually “shameful” that Koda finds no time to be here, added the secretary before people rushed to placate him. The DGP and the Ranchi SSP appeared to be in a state of shock.

The “ugly” episode marred the convention for the second consecutive day. Yesterday the policemen had come to blows over who would preside over the concluding session that was to be graced by the chief minister today. It was not clear if Koda’s absence today had anything to do with yesterday’s incident.

Both Mahapatra and Tripathy later pulled up policemen for their indiscreet remarks. Reminding members of the association that they were not trade unionists but belonged to a uniformed force, the director general of police, J.B. Mahapatra, appealed to them to maintain discipline.

Tripathy was even more eloquent. Describing the policemen to be the backbone of good governance, Tripathy wanted them to behave. “There is little point in blowing one’s own trumpet — the exercise should, ideally, be left to others,” he said pointedly. It would be difficult to maintain law and order or control crime, he added, with a disgruntled or indisciplined force.

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