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Axe on DGP as political sands shift

Patna, June 24: The new political alliance in Bihar stamped its bearing on the state bureaucracy today with the Jitan Ram Manjhi government unceremoniously removing director-general of police (DGP) Abhayanand from his post and appointing Pramod Kumar Thakur as his successor.

Thakur was until now the director-general, vigi-lance bureau.

The timing of the change — Abhayanand was due to retire on December 31 this year — has puzzled the police brass. “Abhayanand should have been removed when Patna was left in the hands of hooligans in 2012. He could have been removed immediately after the serial blasts in Bodhgaya and Patna’s Gandhi Maidan last year. But on all three occasions, then chief minister Nitish Kumar had strongly defended him,” said a retired IPS officer who did not wish to be named.

Sources in the police brass said that with talks of a Lalu-JDU grand alliance in the air, Abhayanand had become “politically dispensable”.

Abhayanand, a 1977 batch IPS officer, has been made director-general-cum-commandant general of the homeguards and fire services. Soon after taking charge, Abhayanand said he would bring in amendments to the Bihar Fire Service Act 1948.

After taking charge as DGP from Neel Mani on August 31, 2011, Abhayanand’s first major brush with controversy was when the supporters of outlawed Ranvir Sena chief Brahmeshwar Mukhiya were allowed to hold the city of Patna to ransom in June 2012 following the murder of their leader.

Abhayanand, who earned accolades for providing tuition to scores of IIT aspirants free of cost, had also invited the wrath of Nitish when the then chief minister’s cavalcade was stoned at Khagaria during a rally in 2012.

A section of the police brass said Abhayanand’s transfer was the fallout of the new political alliance emerging in the state in the aftermath of the Rajya Sabha polls. “Abhayanand was never given any important assignment during the RJD regime. He was shunted to the Computer Bhavan, then better known as ‘Ranveer Bhavan’, as most IPS officers belonging to a particular caste (read Bhumihars) were posted there,” said a senior police officer.

The officer, who didn’t wish to be identified for obvious reasons, had a valid point to substantiate his statement. “The change at the helm of affairs has taken place within a week of the RJD extending its support to the JDU to ensure the victory of the Rajya Sabha nominees. Moreover, Abhayanand had played an important role in lodging of a case against Misa Bharti, the eldest daughter of Lalu Prasad, during the Lok Sabha polls for creating a scene at a polling station,” the officer, considered close to Abhayanand, said.

Sources said Abhayanand was under pressure after the sudden transfer of three of his blue-eyed men last Friday — IG rank officers Amit Kumar, Praveen Vashishtha and Vinay Kumar. The trio was replaced by officers whose strained relationship with Abhayanand was no secret.

“His wings were clipped, forcing him either to resign or opt for voluntary retirement,” a confidant of Abhayanand told The Telegraph.

Chief minister Manjhi sought to play down the transfer when he told reporters in Gaya that Abhayanand himself had requested a change. Senior IPS officers said they found this difficult to digest, pointing out that Abhayanand relinquished charge as soon as he came to know about his transfer as DGP. “He didn’t wait for his successor to formally take over charge,” an officer said.

Thakur, a 1980 batch IPS officer, assumed charge as the DGP around 3.30pm. Thakur, originally from Madhepura, said he would expect policemen to behave properly with visitors to police stations and SPs’ offices.


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