New Delhi: If there is one thing D. Roopa has learnt in her 20 years of being an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) it is to always keep her bags packed and be ready for a transfer.
Her learning from two decades of service came handy Thursday when she was transferred to the Handicrafts Emporium as its managing director, days after she accused a senior IPS officer, Hemant Nimbalkar, of wrongdoing in the tendering process of the multi-crore Bengaluru Safe City Project last week. Roopa was serving as the home secretary, the first woman to hold the position in the state.
“Transfers are part of government job,” she tweeted hours after she was transferred Thursday. “I’ve been transferred more than double the times than the number of years of my career.”
Yes. I've always held tht. Transfers r part of govt job. I've been transferred more than double the times than number of years of my career. Whistleblowing&firm action is rift with risks& I know that. I continue to do my job uncompromisingly,this post or that post,doesn't matter https://t.co/5mr7xyxKg4
— D Roopa IPS (@D_Roopa_IPS) December 31, 2020
Speaking to ThePrint, Roopa said while whistleblowing can be demoralising sometimes when others don’t speak up, it has become a part of her personality now.
“I think it is just a part of my personality to not put up with wrongdoing… It is just my nature,” she said in a telephonic conversation. “Many officers just want peace of mind so they avoid addressing an issue which might invite the wrath of the mighty and powerful … As for me, I am not averse to chaos and conflict, so long as I am on the right side of things.”
She added: “I also believe that bureaucrats who are in a position to act have to act. You cannot expect an outsider to change the system.”
‘My actions not motivated by politics, publicity’
Three years ago, Roopa made national headlines when she alleged that late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa’s aide V.K. Sasikala, who was jailed after a disproportionate assets conviction, had struck a deal with officials at a Karnataka prison for preferential treatment. Roopa was slapped with a Rs 20-crore defamation suit over this.
In 2011, she took on a former chief minister of Karnataka when she removed a number of police vehicles being used in his cavalcade without permit. On several occasions, she was summoned to depose before the Karnataka council speaker after an MLC from Gadag moved a privilege motion against her. She had arrested him in 2006 on the grounds that prima facie he had incited riots.
“My actions have never been personally motivated. Some keep conjecturing that I’ll join politics someday, but no,” she said. “This is a chosen and prized service for me, and I’ll continue to remain an officer in the same Indian Police Service in the same uncompromising manner.”
On talk that her actions are motivated by wanting to stay in the limelight, she said, “To my critics who believe I want I do this for publicity, there are several gimmicks you can pull off to stay in the media glare… One need not take on the mighty and powerful for that, which is a path fraught with risks.”
The 2000-batch IPS officer has been awarded the President’s Police Medal twice, in 2016 and 2017.
‘Bureaucracy works in fear of transfers’
Delivering a Ted Talk in 2018, Roopa had said the bureaucracy gets chained up in phobias of transfers and politicians. “The day bureaucrats are able to come out of the phobia of transfers, the phobia of politicians, we will have the best bureaucracy in the world.”
She said officers are often transferred by politicians to teach the whole bureaucracy a lesson, but one must remember that officers of the All India Service get their powers to act in public interest from the same Constitution from which MPs and MLAs get their powers.
“For me posts are neither important, nor do I get too comfortable in any post. My bags are always packed.”
Roopa also said she has no plans to leaving the service. She had secured the 43rd rank in the UPSC exam in 2000. She is also trained in Bharatnatyam, and well-versed in Hindustani classical music — she even did playback singing for a Kannada film in 2019.
“My motivation and idealism are intact, I never lose hope,” she said.
“Officers keeping quiet to avoid transfers and staying in their comfort zone is unfair to the system,” said Roopa, who has spoken against the VVIP culture in India on several occasions.
“I will stay here, and neither compromise nor change … The fact that I can act in a manner that several people can’t is a gift of god. I won’t squander it by leaving.”
She added: “The way a common man identifies himself with me and makes my fight his fight is proof enough that I’m on the right track … That’s where the motivation to keep going comes from.”
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