Politics

A Not-So-Mulayam Knock for Police Officer Who Took on UP’s Super CM

IPS Amitabh Thakur after meeting with MHA officials in New Delhi on Monday. Thakur has alleged SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav of threatening him and demanded a CBI probe into the case. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla

IPS officer Amitabh Thakur after meeting with MHA officials in New Delhi on Monday. Thakur has accused SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav of threatening him and demanded a CBI probe into the case. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla

Lucknow: The ongoing spat between senior IPS officer Amitabh Thakur and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is turning into a typical Bollywood drama, one of those potboilers about a seemingly invincible villain playing every dirty trick to tame a defiant, upright hero.

While much official effort is on to label the 1992 batch IPS officer as “villain” of the piece, with a large part of the local media playing dutifully in tune, those who have known Mulayam, a three-time former UP Chief Minister, can see where the truth lies.

The vicissitudes of politics have not changed the powerful politician’s psyche since 1989 when he became Chief Minister for the first time. Mulayam might have struggled his way to that slot after years of fighting against social inequality, but at the end of the day he has proved that intolerance is deeply ingrained in him too. He likes people – bureaucrats, cops, journalists – to pay obeisance to him; anyone who disagrees becomes persona non grata.

No wonder, therefore, no sooner did Amitabh Thakur chose to release the audio clip of a telephone conversation in which Mulayam is heard directly threatening him with dire consequences that the entire official machinery got down to training its guns on the police officer. The message was loud and clear: the “super CM” Mulayam, who blatantly bosses over his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s regime) wants Thakur to be taught the lesson of his life. Merely transferring him from one office to another would not have served the purpose as there couldn’t have been a more insignificant posting than his current job as Inspector General of Civil Defence.

Rape allegations surface

Within 24 hours of the audio clip going viral on the electronic and social media, and even as Thakur’s written complaint against Mulayam was still pending, a case of “rape” was registered against the cop. What came in handy to register the case was a six-month old complaint by a Ghaziabad-based woman, accusing the IPS officer of assaulting her.

Interestingly, the complaint had cropped up shortly after Thakur’s RTI activist wife Nutan sought a probe by the state Lokayukta into illegal mining across the state, for which she pointedly blamed the UP mining minister, Gayatri Prajapati, widely known as the biggest fund raiser for the ruling SP. What made it worse for Thakur was Nutan’s demand for an inquiry also into the grossly disproportionate assets of Prajapati, whose close proximity to Mulayam is an open secret.

Interestingly, two identical complaints were engineered against Thakur, both addressed to the State Women’s Commission. After one of the complainants remained untraceable, the other complaint too lost credibility and was not pursued at all.

Six months down the line, after Thakur raised a somewhat unique banner of revolt against Mulayam, the woman’s accusation of assault against the cop became a ready tool to implicate him. The promptness with which the six-month old complaint was converted into a serious FIR under IPC Sections 376 (rape), 304 (intentional insult) and 508 (criminal intimidation), was quite unusual. What became even more dramatic was the inclusion of Thakur’s wife Nutan as a “co-accused”.

Left with very few options, Thakur rushed to Delhi to make a representation to the Union Home Ministry. And in the next few hours, the state government slapped a suspension order on him.

The suspension order was announced through a Monday night press release, issued shortly after Thakur blasted Mulayam during the course of a TV debate on Times Now . The knee-jerk reaction of the state government to get Thakur implicated in a rape case within 24 hours of him releasing the recorded threat by Mulayam came under heavy attack during the hour-long TV debate.

Throwing the book at Thakur

The state government’s suspension order charged Thakur with “gross indiscipline, violation of service conduct rules, dereliction of duty, indulgence in anti-government activities and filing PILs in utter violation of orders of the Allahabad High Court.”  The suspension order also bound him down “to remain attached to the officer of the Director General of Police from where he would not permitted to leave without prior permission”.

The order also questions his participation in various demonstrations and protests by different organisations. Issues have also been raised about his wife’s  RTI activism, through which she was known to have raised many serious issues. Strictly speaking and going by the archaic rules , some of Thakur’s actions were in contravention of service conduct rules. But the government needs to explain why he was not taken to task while he was doing that all through the three years the Akhilesh government has been in power.

Curiously, the charge-sheet issued to Amitabh Thakur charges him with violating the law by personally going to meet the Shahjahanpur journalist Jagendra Singh and recording his dying declaration in hospital where he was getting treated for 80 per cent burns after the local police allegedly set him ablaze. Thakur has also been asked to explain why he commented on the police investigating the “stolen” buffaloes of powerful urban development minister Azam Khan.

In India’s most populous state where even getting a FIR registered with the police can be a Herculean task, the “rape” complaint against Thakur is being dealt with at amazing speed. By the time the officer returned from Delhi to Lucknow, the city’s Gomti Nagar police station had not only ensured the recording of the alleged victim’s statement before a magistrate but also got a medical examination carried out.

The alleged victim was also taken by the police to Thakur’s private residence in an obvious bid to make her familiar with the surroundings. Thakur termed this act as “grossly violative of the law of the land.” According to him , “the woman’s visit to my house during my absence was organised with the intent to tutor her on the layout of the residence so that she could give some credence to her false rape accusation.”

Those sitting at the helm of affairs in Lucknow are quite confident that the Union Home ministry will not intervene in the matter – thanks to the close rapport between Mulayam and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Perhaps that is the reason Thakur is now already planning to seek judicial remedy.  “I will move the High Court against the manner in which I am being targeted by the government at the obvious behest of the ruling party president”, says the IPS officer .

With even Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav declaring, “when Netaji (Mulayam) can scold the CM, I see no wrong in him scolding an IPS officer”, Thakur is unlikely to find little remedy in the state. Even his peers in the elite IPS seem to be shying away from displaying solidarity and there is no hope of support from the highly demoralised IPS Association either. As matters stand, Thakur is now in a fight that he will have to wage by himself.

Note: This article has been edited to add more details from the UP government charge-sheet against Amitabh Thakur