Civil servants in India, more or less have to act as puppets in the hand of politicians for their survival. There are hardly a few police chiefs in the Indian history who have stood against the will of the politicians.
Divakar Roopa Moudgil, an IPS officer is an exception. She has been a constant pillar, stressing on the need to bring a change, a change where police officers can make their presence felt in the country.
Without hesitation, she expressed her views on TEDx DSCE Women organised on December 17, 2017. She talked about the challenges faced by bureaucrats during their service. This brave and honest inspector discussed ‘fear and pressure’ that restrict our Indian police officers from acting against those in power, especially their “political” bosses.
She said police officers join Indian Police Service with ‘Singham-like idealism’. With the more time they spend in the force, they analyse situations and more often than not concentrate more on what their political bosses want. She says that the first time when she was made the police head of Dharwad district in Karnataka, a local court issued a non-bailable warrant against Uma Bharati, the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
She was just a month-old in her job and was still strong to take the issue as it comes. Eventually, this non-bailable warrant made the Chief Minister resign from her post. Though this case involved such a high profile personality, for Roopa it has been the easiest challenge till date, she says.
She further said, “In India, we have the deep-rooted menace of VIP culture, the VIPs particularly the politicians are given special treatment.” Police officers assigned for their security act like gunmen. More the gunmen, higher their status. These police officers are usually used as boys to run errands.
Experience as DCP, Bangalore-City Armed Reserve
During her tenure as the Deputy Commissioners of Police – City Armed Reserve in Bengaluru, her job was to supervise man management and personnel deployment. To her utter shock, she came to know that public representatives like MPs and MLAs had kept gunmen (policemen) without proper authorisation. They had more policemen with them than the prescribed number. She found that 82 politicians had 216 gunmen. Therefore, she started withdrawing them and despite resistance from her own boss, she completed the task to bring back gunmen to the unit and in the same stroke, she withdrew 8 brand new SUVs kept by the then CM of Karnataka.
She did not understand first why her predecessors did not take such steps and realised that these were all dirty jobs and they were not willing to invite the wrath of the politicians.
Handling Sasikala and defamation case
Another incident occurred when she was posted as DIG (Prisons), Bengaluru, she found that special facilities were provided to Sasikala, who was held in the disproportionate assets case, in Parappana Agarahara Jail, Bangalore. She submitted a report to the DG.
Her report made headlines. It claimed that Sasikala, who was a close aide of the former CM of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha, bribed the prison officials with Rs, 2 crore and was getting special treatment in return.
Rather than any praise or award from the department, she received a defamation notice and the Karnataka Government transferred her to Road Safety and Traffic Department.
In the TEDx DSCE Women show she said, “If you stir up a hornet’s nest, be prepare for all kinds of oddities and notices.” When she was posted as the District Police Head of Bidar District in 2006, there were prima facie reports that the local members of legislative council (MLC) had incited the riots in the town called Humnabad.
In order to take further action, when she went to the police station to register a case against the MLC. Again, she was not only transferred to a different place but she was slapped with a ‘privilege motion notice’ by a legislator. She said that such transfers are made to generate ‘fear psychosis’ in the whole clan of bureaucrats and if the bureaucrat gets scared, the politician succeeds.
Therefore, many officers are not willing to act against the state as these notices cause a personal discomfort, they take away peace of mind, personal space, and money. Notably, she said these notices are just the occupational hazards which are to be faced boldly.
When it comes to women police officers, she said the peril is that a women officer could be easily ignored and her instructions are not taken seriously. However, crossing all the odds, Roopa has become the first Kannadiga woman IPS officer in Karnataka.
Politicians and power
Another incident took place in Nargund Taluk of Gadag District in 2008. There was a powerful politician who addressed a gathering of followers and his speech made his supporters set three public buses on fire. She instructed her subordinate police officers to arrest the politician as he was guilty of the offense.
He did not arrest the politician because apparently, he already left town. Some days later, with the help of her subordinate officer, the politician reached the police station to threaten her. She informed the Election Commision and they suspended him.
She ended the TEDx talk by quoting Karl Marx who once said “bureaucracy is an iron cage”. She further said, “I find that our bureaucrats have chained themselves. They are the ones holding the chains. The day they break away from these self-imposed chains, the day they start exercising their real powers, we will see a new India.”
The Logical Indian applauds her courage to stand tall against corrupt politicians and other officers. We hope there are more officers in the country like her.