CHANGING COLOURS OF THE UNIFORM
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- Published 16.12.03
Could this be the beginning of the era of the righteous? Or is khaki showing its true colour after washing off the grime in Bihar’s political badlands? It may be too early to hazard a guess, but the suspended Bihar director-general of police, D.P. Ojha, seems to have set a trend.
The friend-turned-foe of RJD chief, Laloo Prasad Yadav, has had to pay for taking on the powerful politician-criminal nexus in the state. Exposing the underworld links of Mohammed Shahabuddin, the member of parliament from Siwan, in a report to the Bihar government, cost Ojha his job. Now the Rabri Devi regime is digging up demons from the past to pack the war chest against Ojha.
It could well be the Bihar top cop’s improvised take on the film, Shool (the Manoj Bajpai starrer which portrayed the travails of an upright cop), or the scores of celluloid blockbusters putting khaki conscience on the pedestal.
The grapevine is abuzz with speculation. Why did Ojha, who shielded the former chief minister, Laloo Yadav, in the fodder scam and was “gifted” the DGP’s post, suddenly turn against him? Perhaps he too nurtures political ambitions like his predecessor, R.R. Prasad, who contested the panchayat polls after retiring.
Ojha, a Bhumihar by caste, might be the National Democratic Alliance’s new pawn in “Mission Bihar” — one of Arun Jaitley’s test missiles against Laloo Yadav.
Follow the leader
Speculations aside, Ojha is emerging as the new face of the police desperately looking for heroes. The involvement of several top officials in scams, including the multi-crore fake stamp paper graft, has shaken the morale of the force and eroded its public image. Ojha is now a straw in the storm.
He seems to have inspired a legion of bravehearts with his dare-devilry. It took an inspector-general of Jharkhand police, Rajiv Kumar, just two weeks to tread the Ojha path. He was assigned by the state government to prepare a report on the criminal-politician nexus in the cash-rich coal belt following a high court whip on a petition filed by a Youth Congress leader from Dhanbad. Kumar has come up with a damning report against the urban development minister, Bachcha Singh, and his clan, who trace their lineage to the dreaded coal mafia don, late Surajdeo Singh.
The report, which calls Bachcha Singh “aparadh jagat ka badshah” (the king of the crime world), with his hand in every pie — from the illegal coal linkage racket to abduction, murder, arson and manipulating postings of policemen in the district — has become a hot potato for the Jharkhand chief minister, Arjun Munda.
But, unlike Rabri Devi, it will be difficult for Munda to cast Kumar’s report aside since he will have explanations to give to the court. Munda, who heads an unwieldy coalition of diverse caste and ethnic groups, has already prepared a shield for Bachcha Singh.
If Bihar and Jharkhand police association insiders are to be believed, many more are raring to go. All of them have chilling tales of corruption to tell. With Lok Sabha polls drawing near, parties are zeroing in on the “story-tellers”, goading them to bare it all in confidential reports, to be leaked “selectively” at the right time.
But the end result is heartening. In undivided Bihar, the police force was more of the state’s political security wing than its keepers of conscience. The top officials were the ministers’ personal bodyguards, dispensing and currying favours with impunity. Most of the plum posts were rewards for faithful service and tacit silence.
According to a senior Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) leader, the force is sharply polarized on caste lines with each official owing allegiance to a politician of the same caste group and party. As a result, they are condemned to silence and servitude.
But if Ojha continues to inspire the force into breaching the barriers of silence, then politicians are in for trouble. The police, in true Bollywood style, can then proclaim, “Mera vardi mahaan” (my uniform is supreme).