Patna, Dec. 14: Power does not always flow from the barrel of a gun. Sometimes it flows from the brain, as in the case of director-general of police Abhayanand.
The director-general of police (DGP) has not used his licensed revolver even once in his 35-year career, not even in the 22 police encounters he has led. In fact, he has no gun to use. IPS officers are issued either a 9mm pistol or a .38 bore revolver by the armoury of police lines of the district they are posted in after training. An officer can even get additional guns issued for police operations. But Abhayanand has never got a weapon issued.
He has never carried one on him, not even when he was superintendent of police (SP). Beginning as additional SP of Rohtas, he has been SP of Bettiah (West Champaran), Madhepura, Aurangabad, Nalanda and Sahebganj (Jharkhand). His bodyguard is armed with a .38 bore, but that’s about all. Abhayanand goes around without a gun even when in full uniform at official functions.
The 1977 batch IPS officer says: “I believe a team leader is supposed to guide security personnel in the use of arms during encounters.” Besides, the 1955-born top cop said, if the team leader carried a weapon, he would be more concerned about his own safety. “It is your strategy and not weapon that leads to success,” he said.
Former DGP of the Uttar Pradesh Police and the BSF, Prakash Singh, differs. “What would you say if the Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh DGP move around without weapons? They always carry it as they need it more that anybody else,” he said. “I find it very strange that he (Abhayanand) has never used his service or any other weapon. It is sheer unprofessionalism…”
Service rules do not say anything specific on when to carry firearms but it depends on “common sense” and “circumstances”. Singh said: “An officer should always carry a revolver, even when going to a peaceful area, and should not depend on subordinates to fight crime.” Singh always carried his own carbine when he was UP DGP.
But Ved Marwah, security expert and former DGP of the National Security Guards, said it’s normal for a DGP not to carry weapons, as subordinates always carry them. Marwah, himself, never carried a weapon as DGP. “But DGPs are supposed to practice firing like other officers,” he said.
Abhayanand asserts not wielding a gun has not kept him out of action. He recalled an eight-hour nightlong police encounter he led as additional SP in 1981 in which three anti-socials, including a dreaded criminal from Bikramganj in Rohtas district, were killed. But even in that encounter that left two cops dead, Abhayanand never reached for his revolver.
Instead, he saved a few lives. The policemen, aggrieved at the loss of their colleagues, wanted to eliminate five members of a family that had given the gangsters shelter. It was on Abhayanand’s intervention that their lives were spared.
Abhayanand, who comes from a family of cops (his father was a former DGP), became the state’s 48th DGP after Neelmani, a 1975 batch IPS officer, retired on August 31, 2011. Abhayanand would retire on December 31, 2014.
Neelmani (1975 batch) used to carry his .38 bore service revolver with him and even fired with it during an encounter when he was additional SP in Muzaffarpur from 1977 to 1980. “I have led police teams in police encounters during my stint as SP of Saran, Vaishali, Darbhanga, Madhubani and Bhagalpur. But most of the time I didn’t get an opportunity to use my revolver,” Neelmani, now a member of the state human rights commission, said.
Former DGP Ashish Ranjan Sinha (1970 batch) said: “I have used my service revolver quite a few times when I was SP of Dhanbad, Palamu (undivided Bihar) and Aurangabad.”
Of the serving IPS officers, most, except Patna senior SP Manu Maharaj, have not fired from their service revolvers. But then, Manu (2005 batch) is an encounter specialist.
(With additional inputs by Imran)