After assault on brother, focus on Vij's tough image.
Two days after DIG Ashok Kumar was booked for alleged assault on Haryana Home Minister and senior BJP leader Anil Vij’s brother Kapil Vij, the 2006 batch IPS officer was placed under suspension even as he secured three-day interim bail up from an Ambala court.
As the case dominates headlines, it has also brought into focus how the Home Minister, Anil Vij, has been acting tough against senior IPS officers in the state.
The actions of the minister, who has an image of a tough administrator, has also caused a lot of resentment among the IPS cadre that says that it is “affecting the force’s morale” and “causing problems in discharging their official duties as per the law”. Vij, however, says he is not against anyone and is only trying to protect people’s rights.
In November last year, IPS officer Manisha Choudhary was booked on charges of abetment of suicide in the case of alleged suicide committed by a former BJP councillor Harish Sharma in Panipat.
On the complaint of Harish’s daughter, Anjali Sharma, who too is a BJP councillor from Panipat’s Ward no. 3, Panipat’s then SP Manisha Choudhary and two other police personnel were booked on charges of abetment of suicide.
Harish and his daughter Anjali had met Anil Vij on November 17 after which the police had to stall further action against Harish who was facing an FIR for allegedly selling crackers on Diwali night and misbehaving with police officers.
“We had met Home Minister Anil Vij on 17th. Unhone hamaare saamne hi SP (Panipat) ko phone kiya tha aur kaha ke ye (Harish) mera bahut purana karyakarta hai aur isko koi pareshaani nahi honi chahiye. Aur ye case aaj hi khatam hona chahiye. SP ne aage se kaha ke SHO aur saare dukhi hain Harish se. Toh unhone (Anil Vij) kaha ke jo bhi dukhi hai, usko kahin aur bhej de taaki voh sukhi ho jaye lekin ye banda dukhi nahi hona chahiye,” Anjali had told The Indian Express.
Harish, however, allegedly committed suicide by jumping into a canal the next day. There were also several questions being raised on the manner in which Harish died. His friend, Rajesh Sharma, who is known to be an established swimmer jumped in the canal in a bid to save Harish, but died too. An SIT headed by an ADGP rank officer is probing the circumstances that led to Harish’s death.
Harish Sharma, according to Panipat police records had 14 criminal cases against him, a few on charges of misbehaving with government officials on duty and attacking them. However, his daughter Anjali told The Indian Express, “There were 14 cases against my father. But, charges could not be proved against him in any of the cases. My father fought all these cases, on his own. He always stood by people and fought for their cause.”
Manisha Choudhary was the same officer who had arrested the liquor baron Ashok Jain chairman of NV distilleries allegedly involved in Haryana’s infamous liquor smuggling scam. In fact, Vij even boasted in the Vidhan Sabha that his police force took action against Jain – a “powerful man” whom nobody ever dared to “touch”in the past.
Several other high profile cases were cracked by Manisha Choudhary who took over as Panipat district police chief in February this year. She was under transfer as SSP (Traffic) to Chandigarh when Harish Sharma incident took place.
However, various BJP leaders including MPs, MLAs and even BJP state chief Om Prakash Dhankar had come out in Harish Sharma’s family’s support and reached his residence to offer their condolences to the bereaved family.
“In such a scenario, where politicians are thronging at their supporter’s residence who has a record of criminal cases against him while police officers are being booked for abetment of suicide, how can the investigation in such a case be considered impartial?”, a senior officer told The Indian Express, not willing to be named.
Another senior officer added, “If such decorated officers like Manisha Choudhary who stand committed to their duty and law are being booked in such a manner, who will act against criminals? It surely impacts the morale not only of the officers, but also in the entire force. If their captain is being booked like this, how safe the other ranks will feel while acting against any influential person who has political connections.
In another case in September last year, Vij had withdrawn all work from Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) AS Chawla – a recipient of President’s Police Medal for distinguished service. Vij was not happy with Chawla over the “Dial 112 Project” — a centralised police helpline. At that time, Vij had told media persons that Chawla was unable to execute the task to implement Dial 112 project for the last one year and the project remained a standstill.
“He doesn’t update me nor has the task been implemented. I issued orders on Wednesday that all works from him be withdrawn,” Vij had told media persons.
In August, Vij ordered a Vigilance probe against another IPS officer Pratiksha Godara over alleged role in liquor smuggling case. Based on the findings of a Special Enquiry Team probing the liquor smuggling scam in Haryana, a show cause notice was also served to Godara to explain her questionable conduct on not taking adequate action in the liquor smuggling cases.
In January last year, Vij locked horns with the then State Intelligence chief Anil Rao. Vij even ordered the then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Vijai Vardhan to chargesheet Rao “for major penalty” for not being able to gather enough intelligence inputs in the absence of which the social fabric of the state was endangered. The chargesheet for major penalty can lead to an officer’s dismissal from service, reduction in rank or suspension as a form of punishment.
However, soon after his retirement, Khattar took Rao in the CMO as Adviser (public Safety, grievances, good governance and overall incharge of CM’s window).
Talking to The Indian Express, Anil Vij said, “I do not have anything against Manisha Choudhary or any other officer. What have I got to do with the case against her? Nothing. A complainant has lodged a complaint that her father committed suicide, shouldn’t her statement be recorded? Who’s name she is taking or not, I do not know. I had only said that whatever statement she has given, a FIR should be lodged verbatim on it. We never asked her to write any officer’s name. It is the complainant’s statement”.
He added, “My job is to ensure that people get justice. And justice demands that whosoever is lodging a complaint, FIR should be registered. And nobody should feel demoralised for this. Rather, they should appreciate that there is such a Home Minister who protects the rights of people. I have nothing against anybody”.
Talking about previous instances, Vij said, “Whatever action was initiated against Pratiksha Godara was based on SET’s findings. What did I do in that? It is the Chief Secretary who had sought her explanation based on SET’s findings.”
In the case involving Vij’s brother, Ambala’s Additional District and Sessions Judge Sandip Singh granted three days interim bail up to February 16 to DIG Ashok Kumar. The court ordered that the accused Ashok Kumar would have to appear before the investigating officer within three days who would submit his report after that period.
DIG Ashok Kumar was also placed under suspension, with immediate effect in an order issued by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajiv Arora Tuesday. The order read, “During the period of suspension, Sh Ashok Kumar, IPS will be entitled to subsistence allowance as provided in the All India Service (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969. During suspension his headquarter will be in the office of RTC/Bhondsi, Gurugram, Haryana.”
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