The Telegraph
Saturday , February 1 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Modi praise whiff in notice

- Senior cop in soup for ‘fanning regionalism’

Patna, Jan. 31: A senior IPS officer has been served a showcause notice two months after he almost praised BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for sympathising with people of the Mithilanchal region.

Senior IPS officer R.K. Mishra has been charged with fanning regionalism and making provocative statements that violate Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964. The action has raised eyebrows, not least for its timing, just days before Mishra was tipped off about being relieved for a central deputation.

Sample the sequence of events.

Speaking at the Hunkar Rally in Gandhi Maidan, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had said: “Bihar ke log awsarwadi nahi hoyee chhey, kitcch log key chhoer ku. Pura Mithilanchal barh ke samasya sey trast chhhai (People of Bihar are not opportunists, except for a few. The entire Mithilanchal is reeling under floods).”

A month later, speaking on the concluding day of the three-day Vidyapati festival in Darbhanga on November 17, R.K. Mishra had said: “Hawa key rukh badal rahal aichhe. Gandhi Maidan mein Hunkar Rally ke din jakhan hamar sab ke MP aur ar log sab Maithli mein bajai chhheth, takhan khoob tali bajai chhai (The winds of change are blowing. Now, when our MP and others speak in Maithili at Gandhi Maidan during the Hunkar Rally, it evokes applause).”

The 1986 batch officer left Bihar for New Delhi on January 20 to join on deputation as inspector-general (IG) in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). He has triggered an animated discussion in the state — Does naming any political party leader violate the service code for a serving IPS officer in Bihar? It is another matter that he has not named Modi directly.

The first salvo against Mishra came in the last week of December 2013, when he resumed duty after being on leave for about a year.

Sources in the police headquarters said a proposal was sent to the home department, recommending departmental proceedings against him. A compact disc containing Mishra’s Darbhanga speech was also sent with the proposal.

The chief minister, sources said, didn’t agree to the proposal and, instead, asked the home department’s principal secretary, Amir Subhani, to seek an explanation from the officer concerned. This is borne out from the fact that Mishra was officially relieved for deputation on January 20, almost a week after Nitish, who holds the home portfolio, cleared his deputation on January 13.

On January 18, two days before Mishra was to be relieved for deputation to the central force, he was slapped with a show-cause notice asking him to explain why he uttered words that would encourage regionalism. He was asked to reply to the notice before leaving for Delhi to report his joining in the ministry of home affairs.

“It was a deliberate attempt to stall proceedings,” a senior police officer close to Mishra told The Telegraph.

Mishra’s confidant said he (Mishra) replied to the show-cause notice immediately, by denying all charges. “It is a fact that I was invited to inaugurate the cultural programme on the concluding day of the Vidyapati festival held in Darbhanga on November 17. But I didn’t name any politician. I just talked about the demand for a separate Mithilanchal for about 4 crore Maithili-speaking people. I merely said that Maithili enthusiasts had clapped when some senior politicians spoke a few words in Maithili at the Patna Hunkar rally,” the officer quoted Mishra as saying.

He also claimed that politicians cutting across party lines were present at the show. He said it was obvious that making a passing reference to Narendra Modi apparently didn’t go down well with the police brass.

The IPS officer asserted that merely naming a person or making a passing reference does not amount to violation of service rules or code of conduct.

A DGP-rank officer, who retired recently, pinpointed that criticising government policies amounted to violation of code of conduct. Or, if an officer makes a statement that may harm the country’s interests and lead to strained relationship he or she may be liable for disciplinary action for violation of code of conduct, he said.

Mishra did not rule out the role of two police officers, including an IPS officer, in the entire episode. He had submitted reports against the two officers when posted as inspector general of Darbhanga zone. While disciplinary action was initiated against a lower rank officer posted in Madhubani district, the headquarters is still sitting on the 40-page report submitted against the IPS officer. When contacted for comment, home department’s principal secretary Subhani said, “The department has received the IPS officer’s reply. The matter is under the consideration of the government.”