Retired IPS officer and Padma Bhushan awardee Julio Frances Ribeiro has, again, shamed the Narendra Modi government for their undemocratic policies which exclude minorities. The former cop wrote a scathing yet thought-provoking blog against the prime minister in The Times of India.
Image Courtesy: India Facts
If the trend continues India will soon become a “saffron Pakistan”, Ribeiro noted in his blog titled ‘A prayer for Secularism’. He defended Delhi Archbishop who had recently called for a prayer campaign ahead of 2019 elections.
Ribeiro is one of the founders of the Mohalla Committees in Mumbai.
Some excerpts from the blog:
Ever since the Modi government was installed, Muslims have been subjected to a steady onslaught that has terrorised the entire community. It will not be long before ‘they’ come for the next target in true fascist tradition.
I, for one, am preparing for the Hindu Rashtra! I am trying to figure out, to start with, what Hindu Rashtra really means.
I should be prepared for second-class citizenship that denies top jobs like that of a judge in the Supreme Court, a governor of a state, the chief of defence staff or the intelligence bureau.
What I will not accept is being accused falsely of being anti-national and pilloried on that count.
In 2002, soon after the Gujarat genocial carnage too Ribeiro had spoken and spoken sharply against the acute polarisation in the state. Modi presided over a massacre as chief minister of the western Indian state. Ribeiro's two remarks, quoted in The Times of India are worth recalling.
He had spoken out about the acute isolation faced by Muslim police officers ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Muslim-IPS-officers-isolated-Ribeiro...)
Significantly in this interview with The Times of India, Ribeiro minced no words. The entire interview may be read here https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Gujarat-police-has-no-in...
What made you visit gujarat?
My trip had been organised by the ahmedabad management association well before the violence, but i extended it to three days because i wanted to understand why there was such a total and massive failure on the part of the police.
Did you speak to the top police officers there?
Normally, when i go to gujarat, senior police officers come to see me. this time, they tried to avoid me. finally, i went and met a dozen or so of them in their offices. however, despite my best efforts, i could not meet ahmedabad police commissioner p.c. pande.
what in your opinion was the reason for the failure of the police in gujarat?
the top brass must take the blame. i did not sense a whiff of leadership from top police officers. senior officers have been reduced to mute spectators as they have little control over the force. generally, senior police officers discipline errant subordinates by transferring them to insignificant wings. but in gujarat, officers from the subordinate ranks manipulate all the transfers and postings at the police-station level, which is the cutting edge of the force.
Did you come across any instance of political interference?
I was told that 95 per cent of the transfers in gujarat police were done by one man, gordhan zadaphiya, the minister of state for home. he shifted all senior police officers who happened to be muslims to branche stations, such as the traffic and prohibition departments and repeated it at the police station level.
How did the officers of the indian police service in gujarat allow their authority to be eroded?
They have succumbed to temptation. now i don''t mean to say that they are corrupt but that they don''t want to risk being transferred frequently to what are known as hardship postings, which is what happens to those who resist the illegal diktats of politicians. it requires guts to say no and most of the officers in gujarat don''t have it.
Couldn''t the godhra incident have been prevented?
Of course it could have been prevented had the police been vigilant. the kar sevaks who were going up and down in various trains were harassing the vendors and even baiting them. the fact is that the police has lost all interest in its work.
What about the post-godhra violence?
The police had a full 24 hours to gear up for the vhp-sponsored bandh but they accepted the chief minister''s assurance that there would be no violence. i am told that the cm addressed a meeting of senior ias and ips officers on the evening prior to the bandh and told them that there would be a reaction to godhra but it would be peaceful. he advised the police officers not to overreact.
Was there no soul-searching among senior police officers in gujarat?
Many police officers feel bad about it but don''t know what to do. they are totally directionless. some of the younger officers asked me whether they should resign. but this is a decision best left to them. pressure can be built on the government to do the right things only if more senior officers show their displeasure and refuse to obey illegal orders.was there no instance of the bureaucracy resisting illegal orders in gujarat? the bureacracy did succeed in scuttling the government''s plan of introducing half-trained policemen who would be used as `police sahayaks'' and paid half the salary of regular constables. the government had successfuly tried this out in the field of education where they pushed in a lot of `vidya sahayaks'', who went about preaching the rss philosophy.
What were the complaints about the police that you heard from the citizens?
Apart from the usual complaints of inaction, people said that the police were recording absolutely incorrect firs. i met a respectable hindu gentleman who said that the police did not take down the names of the rioters he had seen and wrote that it was a group of unidentified people. if people who have seen their mothers and sisters raped and burnt before their eyes have no hope of getting justice, they will all turn into terrorists. why are we talking about isi and pakistan when we are doing their job for them by creating terrorists?
Do you foresee a situation where policemen who turned a blind eye to the violence will be indicted by a judicial inquiry and punished?
Not unless this government goes and another, which does not have any sympathy for rioters, takes its place.
What can be done to insulate the police from political interference?
The police force of each state should be made accountable to its state security committee, as recommended by the national police commission in 1981. apart from the chief minister and leader of the opposition, this committee is supposed to include non-political persons of integrity who command respect of the public at large. this will ensure that officers known for their integrity are selected as police chiefs and given a fixed two-year term, which will allow them functional autonomy.