Batala, February 21
“The only thing permanent about life is change.” This quote could as well be pasted on the wall behind the Batala SSP’s chair.
The spot is appropriate because that is where the Honour Board hangs. The same board shows that in the last 10 years, the Batala police district has had 15 police chiefs, giving an officer an average tenure of just eight months. Some like Harpreet Singh have spent just two months in office.
Records prove that SSPs are changed here at the drop of a hat, without any rhyme, reason or rationale.
Senior officers say the minimum term given to an SSP-rank officer posted in a border area must be at least three years.
“Drones carrying payloads of drugs and weapons are flying in from across the border with a monotonous regularity. How can a police chief put up a good fight if he or she knows a transfer order is imminent anytime soon? The officer will more often than not leave it to his successor to handle the situation,” says an ex-minister of the area.
Incumbent Batala SSP Ashwini Gotyal’s predecessor Satinder Singh had knocked the living daylights out of numerous groups of gangsters operating in the area before he was shifted last week.
He had marginalised almost all known groups of gangsters including those aligned to Jaggu Bhagwanpuria. Incidentally, the gangster’s native village, Bhagwanpur, is located in this police district and the officer had launched a stringent drive in and around that area to ensure the city remains gangster-free.
His colleagues and constabulary were shocked the day his transfer orders landed at his desk. Ashwini Gotyal, an IPS officer, who joined last week, should remember that she is sitting on a chair that faces a revolving door.
The Batala police district caters to as many as five assembly seats of the state. Of these, two have AAP MLAs, while the party leadership has given the reins of power in the remaining seats to political appointees also known as halqa in-charges. It is a known fact that these satraps dictate terms in the Police Department and any officer who dares to take on them is shifted.
The SHOs presume that they need not worry about carrying out the orders of their boss because he may come under the guillotine anytime.
“Instability and insecurity among the lower ranks becomes a big disadvantage when police chiefs are given short tenures. The diktats of halqa in-charges are blindly followed because SSPs know their future lies in their hands. If you rub a politician the wrong way, you are bound to be given the boot. We are left with no option except to toe the line of the political bosses because they possess the powers to shift you anytime, anywhere,” an ex-SSP said.
The consensus among officers who have served as police chiefs is that the only thing that is permanent is “the sword of Damocles which hangs permanently over their heads.”
Colleagues shocked at Satinder Singh’s transfer
Incumbent Batala SSP Ashwini Gotyal’s predecessor Satinder Singh had knocked the living daylights out of numerous groups of gangsters operating in the area before he was shifted last week. The officer had made commendable efforts to ensure the city remains gangster-free. His colleagues and constabulary were shocked the day his transfer orders landed at his desk.