SP Vaid, 1986 IPS officer of J&K cadre, was on Thursday night removed as DGP and replaced by Dilbagh Singh as an interim head.
Srinagar: The unceremonious exit of Jammu and Kashmir’s director-general of police Shesh Paul Vaid has led to the spread of rumours, speculation and even gossip across the restive state. Mr Vaid, a 1986-batch IPS officer of the J&K cadre, was on Thursday night removed as DGP and replaced by Dilbagh Singh as an interim arrangement till the formal appointment of the state’s new police chief.
Mr Singh, an IPS officer of the 1987 batch, who was serving as DG (prisons) for past several months, was given additional charge as DGP. He took over as the new police chief on Friday.
Mr Vaid has been transferred and named transport commissioner, a post held by Saugat Biswas, a 2006-batch IAS officer. The post was upgraded from the rank of additional secretary to secretary, and will be based in Jammu, the state’s winter capital.
Mr Singh’s appointment as the state police’s interim head is in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines. It ruled in July there will be no ad hoc arrangement for the DGP post in states without consulting the Union Public Service Commission.
The J&K government has, however, tried to justify its decision by asserting that since the state police has been fighting militancy for the past three decades, it cannot be left headless even for a minute. Shoeb Alam, standing counsel for the state, on Friday moved an application before Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to explain the reason for appointing an interim DGP without following the guidelines issued by the court in July. The matter is likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court on Monday.
The entire state of J&K is agog with rumours that Mr Vaid was remo-ved unceremoniously as the Union home ministry was not happy over the stand he took over certain issues. Mr Vaid, 59, a native of J&K’s Kathua district, was appointed DGP on December 31, 2016, replacing K. Rajendra Kumar, a 1984 IPS officer from Hyderabad.
Some reports suggest the home ministry top brass were unhappy at the way the recent crisis set off by the police detaining family members and other close relatives of some comman-ders of Hizbul Mujahideen were handled by it. The outfit retaliated to the police action by abducting three policemen and seven relatives of other members of the force and, after a two-day stalemate, all abductees were freed unharmed but only after the police released detainees, including the father of top Hizb commander Riyaz Naikoo. This was seen locally as a “moral victory” for the militants and an embarrassing moment for the police.
Another issue cited as a reason for Mr Vaid’s abrupt exit is the reported unease in New Delhi’s corridors of power by a purported letter by him to the MHA that cautioned it of a possible revolt in the J&K police in the event of Article 35A of the Constitution being scrapped. The buzz in the state is that the MHA saw it as an attempt to shift responsibility for controlling the situation in such an eventually to the Centre, instead of dealing with it locally.
The BJP is opposed to the continuation of Article 35A as well as Article 370, that guarantees J&K a special status within the Indian Union. Mr Vaid is reported to have irked party leaders in the state by his reportedly asserting that being a J&K resident he also believes that abrogation of Article 35A won’t be in the interest of the state and its people.
Also, the BJP and likeminded groups had openly criticised the stand of the J&K police under Mr Vaid over the alleged gangrape-murder of an eight-year-old nomad Bakarwal girl inside a temple in Rasana village of Kathua, incidentally the home district of the then police chief, in January this year. The BJP’s demand that the case, which was investigated by the crime branch of the J&K police, be handed over to the CBI was turned down by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. BJP insiders said the role played by Mr Vaid in this case was not to the party’s liking. It is also said Mr Vaid and MHA officials held divergent views on effecting reforms in the working of the J&K police.
This was the second major transfer in the state police. Earlier this week, the governor’s administration had replaced senior police officer Abdul Gani Mir by B. Srinivas as J&K’s intelligence chief.
Reacting to the way in which Mr Vaid was replaced as chief, former CM Omar Abdullah questioned the wisdom behind the decision, and asked: “Why a DG as a temporary arrangement?” He tweeted on Friday: “The current DG won’t know if he’s going to stay and others who would like his job will be trying to replace him. None of this is good for the Jammu and Kashmir police.”. In another tweet, he said: “He (Mr Vaid) should have been changed only when a permanent arrangement had been worked out. @Jmu KmrPolice has enough problems without having to deal with confusion of leadership.” In New Delhi, a three-member bench of the SC comprising CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud had, while taking note of an application filed by the Centre, said none of the states “shall ever conceive of the idea of appointing any person on the post of director-general of police on an acting basis, for there is no concept of acting director-general of police.”
The court had also ruled that all states shall send their proposals in anticipation of vacancies to the UPSC well in time, at least three months prior to the date of retirement of the incumbent in the post of DGP. The Centre had, in its application, claimed that certain states were appointing acting police chiefs and then making them permanent just before the date of their superannuation to enable them get the benefit of an additional two-year tenure till the age of 62 years.