NEW DELHI: IG CRPF Rajnish Rai has been moved out with immediate effect from the North East, to the Counter Insurgency and Anti Terrorism School of the CRPF at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh for a letter written to different departments of the government alleging that a joint ‘encounter’ was fake. And that the two National Democratic Front of Bodoland suspects had been picked up and killed in cold blood and later shown killed in the staged encounter.
Rai in his investigation of the March 30 encounter had found that the two suspected militants had been killed earlier and weapons planted on the bodies for the ‘encounter’ by the Army, CRPF, SSB and Assam police in what they claimed was a joint operation. And had written so to all the agencies and the government departments concerned, voicing his concern about the “deeper institutional malaise” as reflected by this joint claim, adding that he would not have been so concerned if this had been done by just a few deviant officers. His was a gist of a 42 page report but he has not been contacted by anyone in the government on the Assam encounter.
Predictably again, the investigation done by a top officer of the CRPF has been ignored, and instead the officer himself has been shunted out. And this has been done in a manner that defies all professional protocol. An officer was sent to the CRPF North East headquarrers while Rai was travelling to supposedly acclimatize himself. But this was not the reason, as the officer had been sent to ‘take over’ with Rai being told of the fait accompli in a manner that is unbecoming of a professional service.
Rai is not an ordinary cop. He nurtures a strong belief that the services should act according to the law and not outside the law. And has tried to live this through his career starting from Gujarat, at great risk and victimisation
if one traces Rai’s performance as a cop from his own writings and research papers written for prestigious journals it is clear that for him fake encounters are indicative of the lowest depths to which the institutions of a state can sink.
In 2011 he was in the news when the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat offered to expunge adverse comments made in his annual confidential report by the former Director General of Police PC Pande. Rai had protested against the downgrading of his ACR in October 2010 that was rejected by the Gujarat government. Rai had moved the Central Administrative Tribunal then with an affidavit that had implicated the then state home minister and now BJP President Amit Shah and others.
As newspapers reported at the time, “the government’s surprising move is seen by legal experts as an attempt to put a lid over the case in CAT, which had become an acute embarrassment because Rai had clearly linked the murders of Sohrabuddin and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati, allegedly at the behest of the political leadership and at the hands of police officials from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.”
Rai was the cop who arrested IPS officers D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh M N earlier in April 2007 in the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin. Pande had accused Rai of insurbodination and claimed that he was not informed about the investigation by Rai about the decision to arrest Vanzara and others. Rai had responded to this by accusing Pande, and the others of following Shah’s political line. And that Shah was trying to cover up the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.. The Supreme Court handed over investigation in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter to CBI in January 2010. As was the Tulsiram encounter case that Rai had said was fake as well. This is all part of media records.
For Rai, sources who have worked with him said, fake encounters are abhorrent. And he believes that the CRPF, the police are the worst for it. He has held true to this belief as research papers for prestigious journals reveal. It has been a rough road for Rai, with the transfer to the North East expected to silence him. He broke through again with the report on the false encounter.
A couple of excerpts from a paper written by Rai along with another scholar Srinath Jagannathan for Business Ethics Journal gives an indication of where this policeman comes from:
“In India, there exist a set of police actions of questionable ethical and legal content, known as encounters, ‘‘portrayed as sponta- neous shootouts between the police and hardened crimi- nals’’ (Belur 2009, p. 237). In India, police encounters become problematic on account of institutional cultures where police officers who stand up to wrongdoing are subjected to systematic administrative retaliation (Dhatti- wala and Biggs 2012).
Furthermore, whenever the State in India is under the control of right wing political parties, which espouse the cause of cultural majoritarianism, the problem is exacer- bated as religious minorities, particularly Muslims, are often the target of violent police brutalities such as encounters (Sarin 2011). Cultural majoritarianism embod- ied in the ideology of communalism in India has often been mobilized by the State apparatus to produce cultures of violence against religious minorities such as Muslims (Simpson 2006).
Police officers in India often lack independence and are unable to express dissent, which can prevent elites who control the State from engineering violence in society (Subramanian 2007). In this article, our aim is to under- stand organizational contexts which enable wrongdoing, and whether expressions of moral anger can prevent such wrongdoing. It has been argued that accessing justice in India is difficult on account of class and cultural inequal- ities (Teltumbde 2015). India’s Supreme Court has also not progressively intervened on several issues of cultural dis- crimination, including discrimination leading to residential segregation (Robinson 2015). Inequities of caste, hunger and violence inform the everyday reality of marginal sub- jects in India (Kannabiran 2015).”
“While angels represent God, it is not clear how they receive God’s instructions in the first instance. Similarly, instructions pertaining to wrongdoing in the police are never articulated formally and clearly. There is a sense of mystery about how police workers receive and execute them. This sense of mystification produces networks and conduits through whom hierarchical superiors whisper commands of what needs to be done. In turn, the power and authority of angelic conduits expands within the organizational hierar- chy of the police.
Through these conduits, police workers may be encouraged to read their participation in the police encounter as the enactment of a nationalist cause. In such circumstances, it is only when coalitional and dialogical forms of moral anger can be mobilized, that wrongdoing can be resisted (Geddes and Callister 2007). In the absence of such coalitional forms of anger, societies may be unable to evolve institutional maturity to engage with terror and violence and may sanction random acts of murder and revenge (Subramanian 2007). “