Patna: Two Bihar IPS officers are seemingly caught in a stand-off that has not only played out in public domain but also potentially puts Chief Minister Nitish Kumar under the line of attack from the opposition.
Inspector General, homeguard and fire services, Vikas Vaibhav had put up a series of tweets accusing Director General Shobha Ohatkar of abusing him unnecessarily. This led to the DG rejecting his application for two-month leave and issuing a show cause notice.
This is not the first time that a senior officer has been accused of using foul language and ill-treating subordinates and colleagues. As recently as last week, senior IAS officer K.K. Pathak was in the news for wrong reasons after a video went viral in which he is heard using expletives to pull up a deputy collector. Pathak later apologised but still maintained that the trainees were indisciplined.
Both Ohatkar and Vaibhav are known for their tough image and for delivering their work. It all started when the IG Wednesday put out a tweet against his senior. “I have done my duty as IG to the best of my ability from October 18, 2022.. Everyday I have been abused unnecessarily by Madam DG,” he tweeted.
Though he deleted the tweet, the damage was done as its screenshots went viral all over the media.
Subsequently, Ohatkar sent a notice to Vaibhav Friday saying that he violated the All India Services Conduct Rules and the Official Secret Act as he claimed that he had audio recordings of an official meeting to back his allegations. The IG was given 24 hours to put forth his stand.
On Friday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar disapproved of the officer taking to social media and said that he had asked senior officials to carry out an inquiry.
“You should know this very well, anyone working in a job, an officer, their job is not to tweet. This is the worst thing. If they have a problem, they should inform their department, or seniors. They should convey it personally, not declare it publicly. This is the law,” the chief minister said.
Calls from ThePrint to the IG went unanswered.
Even as he was unreachable over the phone, the IPS officer posed a cryptic tweet in Sanskrit/Hindi on Saturday whose rough translation is: ‘the five signs of a fool are pride, anger, stubborn argument, foul conversation and lack of respect for other people’.
"मूर्खस्य पञ्च चिह्नानि गर्वो दुर्वचनं तथा ।
क्रोधश्च दृढवादश्च परवाक्येष्वनादरः ।।"
अर्थात – "एक मूर्ख के पांच लक्षण होते हैं घमण्ड, दुष्ट वार्तालाप, क्रोध, जिद्दी तर्क और अन्य लोगों के लिए सम्मान में कमी ।"#SaturdayThoughts
— Vikas Vaibhav, IPS (@vikasvaibhavips) February 11, 2023
Retired state chief secretary V. S. Dubey felt the irony was that the two officers in question were known for their positive image. “Both these police officers have outstanding track records and are known performers. But it does not justify use of foul words or violation of service code,” he told ThePrint.
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Tough but overzealous officers?
A 1990 batch IPS officer, Shobha Ohatker is famed for her iron hand dealing with criminals and politicians when it came to violation of law. As SP Vaishali, she took on BJP MLA Nityanand Rai, who is now MoS Home department, in a murder case. In the 2005 Bihar election, she arrested RJD minister late Udit Rai for venturing out with armed guards on polling day in his constituency. She was then the SP of Chhapra district.
Vaibhav, too, has a reputation of performing in the field. As the SP of Rohtas district, he brought ultra Left elements to the point of extinction. In 2005, he had also arrested Mokama strongman Anant Singh from Patna in a murder case. Apart from law and order duties, the 2003 IPS officer runs a campaign on Bihar’s history on social media and has a deep knowledge about writers and historical places of the state.
As the episode played out in the power corridors, former Union minister RCP Singh pointed out that such controversies show how things are in a free fall in Bihar.
“The moment you become an IAS or IPS officer, there are things you have to do or cannot do. Your identity is the post you hold. You can’t freelance. You are expected to follow the rules of the system,” the one-time Nitish confidant told ThePrint.
In December last year, IPS officer Amit Lodha was booked for not following the service code and other irregularities. Similarly, IAS officer Harjot Kaur Bamhrah got into controversy in September when she mocked a girl asking for the distribution of free sanitary napkins to girl students.
“If you want to be a public icon, you better resign because your performance does not give you the licence to violate the system. The tragedy is that these incidents are allowed to happen. What is the chief secretary or DGP for? They should deal with it with a heavy hand. Unfortunately, they look towards the CM to react,” Singh, a former IAS officer, said.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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