IPS Roopa D Moudgil has become a household name after she unearthed the scam involving Tamil Nadu politician Sasikala for receiving special treatment in the Parappana Agrahara jail, Bengaluru. She has been the voice of fearlessness and has never backed down from a challenge. The Logical Indian speaks to her in an exclusive interview.
1) You have been very vocal about corrupt politicians and police officers. Aren’t you afraid of inviting their wrath?
I have been very vocal about corrupt politicians and police officers. No, I have not targeted anyone. I have not taken anybody’s name anywhere in a way of defaming them. Yes, when something happens in an institution or anywhere about corruption or maladministration, I have spoken out.
I have done my part of reporting to the boss. Generally, the government takes a report from IPS and IAS officers, it never doubts the reports of these officers and I submit reports accordingly. Whatever was happening in the Parappana Agrahara jail, I reported it. But when it was denied by my boss, then media questioned me. That is when I opened up and said everything.
I am not vocal, I act in my official capacity and I have no qualms about speaking about the action I have taken because I think we should act in a manner which is accountable and transparent, that is what is expected of the civil servants, the officers and the bureaucrats.
So, by being vocal about something which is existing, about which I have reported, I am acting in a manner which is more transparent and accountable which will instill an essence of rightness.
2) In your Ted talk, you said that politicians use policemen as their gunmen. Could you elaborate?
Politicians are given policemen for security, that is on the record. But what I meant to say was that these politicians use the policemen to run errands
Ghaar ka kaam kaarate hain, office ka kaam kaarate hain (they use them for household work other office work). Apart from the security, there are many tasks entrusted to them. Sometimes, they are not given the job of security at all.
The politicians take policemen from us and they use them as errand boys. That is one and secondly, even when there is no threat, policemen are given as gunmen. We are supposed to give gunmen when there is a threat perceived, but it has to be done correctly. Generally, Ministers are anyway given even if there is a threat or not. But all MLAs, MPs and all also have it. They need not have it.
3) Bureaucrats speaking out nowadays are either transferred or suspended. How do you think the problem can be tackled?
See, a transfer is not a punishment, so you cannot say that I have been punished or I have been shunted out, though in reality, it is, our jobs are transferable. But obviously, we have a two-year tenure. But even this rule has been done away with by the state government. They made it a one minute tenure. But my transfer was very well within this one year tenure.
If you are asking how the problem can be tackled, then I will say that bureaucrats don’t need to speak out. They need to report. There is nothing to hide in that. Rules say you cannot speak on the subject which will hurt the sovereignty and integrity of India, but once you report something you can speak out in your official capacity.
4) How do you think the rule of law can be upheld by all?
Power corrupts. Politicians are used to it. Everybody succumbs to it. When there is no officer to tell them what is the right thing to do and what is wrong. They have the duty to tell the politicians. For anything, bureaucrats have to tell when something is permitted or not permitted as per rules. They have to clear themselves. They have to put his foot down and say that this cannot be done because the rules don’t permit for this.
But many bureaucrats they don’t so this and they rather listen to their political bosses than do what is right.
5) How did you find out about the entire Sasikala incident?
I was on leave, and my leave got over on June 22rd and I joined on 23rd. I visited Bengaluru jail. First time I did not notice much. Then after a few days what happened was a prison doctor was assaulted by a prisoner and they came and complained. That is when I started digging deeper and I gave a report.
6) Do you face any discrimination in the force for being a woman, or otherwise?
No, discrimination can be very subtle. They will not call you and insult you but you will not be considered for certain posts. The prestigious and powerful posts are given to other men. Everyone has vested interests.
They will say that if a woman comes to such a post then she will listen to us or not, whether she will abide by what we want or not. She is a woman how will she retort. Prestigious postings never come our way.
Secondly, men lobby for it. Men wine and dine with politicians and in India, women don’t do it. But for men, they do and they are available at the beck and call of the politicians. They don’t even hesitate in meeting them at 10 in the night as well. So, what happens is that many important decisions are taken during such informal meetings. That is when women lose out on good postings.
Another thing about being a woman is that you see if something is wrong if a woman is there. There will people say that she is a woman, hence, she cant handle. But if there is a man in the same place and he fails in the similar situation they will say the man is capable but circumstances did not work for him. So, attributing success to women and man is different. A man’s failure is attributed to circumstances while a woman’s is attributed differently.
About the juniors what happens is that the one who has to listen to you, they have a huge problem in taking suggestions and instruction from women. They are all men. So, they feel they need to assert dominance over us, women. But, slowly more women are joining the force and hence, the situation might change soon.
7) How do you want to encourage more women to join the force?
Women should join all walks of life. All kind of career job. Yes, police being more male-dominated, there is more requirement for women, to break down the glass ceiling and that can only be shattered when more women join the force. Police will also become more sensitised and people friendly.