By Zoya Sham:
Policing by definition means to maintain law and order, to detect and prevent crime and to regulate and secure matters pertaining to public welfare. In this case, policing pertains to anyone within the confines of the law of the land. So, as seen in the Amitabh Thakur case, why is the police expected to draw a line when it comes to enforcing these laws on the lawmakers themselves?
Uttar Pradesh senior IPS officer Amitabh Thakur was suspended on Monday night due to charges of rape, intentional insult and criminal intimidation made against him by a woman from Ghaziabad. The FIR was filed against him, co- accusing his wife, on Saturday night, hours after a complaint he lodged. His complaint, coupled with an audio clip as evidence, alleged that Samajwadi Party head, Mulayam Singh Yadav had threatened him with dire consequences over the phone. The timeline of these events is questionable at best and may support Thakur’s claim that the suspension was an ‘act of revenge’.
Amitabh Thakur is no stranger to being pushed around by the government. He has been transferred 30 times since he entered the service and this is the third time he has been ‘suspended as the superintendent of police.’ Along with his lawyer- activist wife, Nutan, Thakur is known to stand up against government entities that have abused their power. They participate in dharnas and rallies and submit representations to authorities on different occasions. According to Thakur this is also the reason for his current suspension.
In December last year, complaints were filed against mining minister Gayatri Prajapati saying that the minister was involved with illegal mining while in office. However, when these complaints were withdrawn under suspicious circumstances, Nutan Thakur filed a similar complaint in the Lokayukta’s office about a mining syndicate allegedly headed by Prajapati. It was then that the SP chief called Thakur, threatened him with serious consequences and asked him to mend his ways.
While a state home department officer told Hindustan Times the suspension was following the FIR against Thakur and for, “indiscipline, holding anti-government views, dereliction of duty and violating service rules” as well as improper information about his assets in the annual declaration, Thakur told the Indian Express, “This is nothing but political conspiracy and harassment against me,” he said. “No wife will help her husband to rape a woman… Let the CBI probe the allegation.”
Even though Thakur may have been lax in his duties as superintendent by spending much of his time at rallies and dharnas, one of the main functions of a police officer is to safeguard public interest- interest that is clearly negated when politicians use their influence for personal gain. Threatening an officer to bury an issue that he has personal links with, and using power to punish him if he doesn’t do so, is a prime example of the ‘gunda raj or jungle raj’ which exists in Uttar Pradesh, that leaders like Prasad Maurya and Prashant Bhushan have pointed out. It threatens people’s freedom and right to self-preservation. If government abuse of power is taking place, it is the right of any citizen to stand up against it, even more so by a police officer.
Amitabh Thakur’s case suggests that there may be many others who shy away from their claims when faced by similar forces. As he stands firm on his accusations and those of his wife, even after the suspension, let’s hope that this improves the level of transparency in the bureaucracy and the nexus between politicians and the police force gets healthier rather than corrupt.