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Cop removed by SC for bias in Gujarat riots probe, is the new DGP

NEW DELHI: Senior IPS officer Geetha Johri, who was asked by the Supreme Court to dissociate with the SIT probing the 2002 Gujarat riots following allegation of bias, was appointed the new state police chief.

A 1982 batch IPS officer, Johri, who has often landed in controversy during her career, will replace as the state’s DGP in-charge P P Pandey, who was on extension and forced to quit on the ground that he was charge-sheeted in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter killing case.

Johri will be the first woman to head the state police.

The apex court had yesterday asked the Gujarat government to accept Pandey’s offer to relinquish the posts of director general and inspector general of police forthwith.

A 1980 batch Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, Pandey was on extension till April 30 this year and had offered to resign after his removal was sought by former top cop Julio Francis Ribeiro in a plea to the apex court.

Ribeiro, a former Mumbai police commissioner and DGP of Punjab at the height of militancy, had sought his removal on the ground that the CBI had filed charge sheet against him and others in the Ishrat Jahan case.

“Smt Geetha Johri, Managing Director Gujarat Police Housing Corporation (GPHC), Gandhinagar, will hold the additional charge as director general and inspector general of police, Gujarat state, Gandhinagar, in addition to her duty as managing director, GPHC,” the official order said.

It also stated the government is “pleased to superannuate and revoke the extension of P P Pandey, Anti-Corruption Bureau director, Ahmedabad, and Director General and Inspector General-in-charge of Gujarat state, Gandhinagar from April 4, 2017 (after office hours).”

While making the announcement, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said the government has accepted Pandey’s resignation.

“We have accepted the resignation of P P Pandey. Our Chief Minister Vijay Rupani today appointed Geetha Johri, the senior-most IPS officer at present, as the new DGP-in-charge of Gujarat,” said Jadeja.

In her career spanning almost 35 years, Johri has seen many ups and downs. In the beginning of her career, she came into limelight while serving as Ahmedabad DCP in mid-1990s.

At that time, she had raided the den of slain underworld don Abdul Latif in highly sensitive Dariyapur area and had caught his key aide Sharif Khan.

She was later in news for her role in the SIT probing the post-Godhra riots and as the investigation officer in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounter cases.

In 2015, a special CBI court in Mumbai had dropped charges against Johri in the alleged fake encounter cases of Sohrabuddin and Prajapati in 2005 and 2006 respectively for want of mandatory sanction from the Gujarat government for her prosecution. The CBI had alleged that Johri delayed the probe in the Prajapati case and destroyed some case records.

In 2010, the Supreme Court had asked Johri to dissociate herself from the SIT probing the post-Godhra riots after the victims accused her of bias.

She had filed the FIR on the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin and sudden disappearance of his wife Kausar Bi, which had eventually led to the arrest of the three erstwhile IPS officers, including D G Vanzara.

Addressing the media in Gandhinagar, Johri said her priority would be to address the problems faced by women and maintaining law and order in the state.

“I will assume the office immediately. Being the first woman DGP of the state, my priority will be to address the women’s problems. They can come to me anytime and I will try my best to solve their problems,” she said.

She said though Gujarat has a peaceful atmosphere, it will be her duty to maintain law and order.

“Since this is an election year, I will have to ensure peace during the polls,” the officer said.