Srinagar: IPS officer Basant Kumar Rath has been suspended by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) two weeks after he filed a police complaint against Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh, with whom he was also allegedly involved in a nasty social media tiff.
According to an order issued Tuesday by S.D. Sarkar, under-secretary to the Government of India, Rath was placed under suspension with immediate effect for “repeated instances of gross misconduct and misbehaviour”.
“It is further ordered that during the period that this order shall remain in force, the headquarters of Shri Basant Rath shall be Jammu, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and… Shri Basant Rath shall not leave the said headquarters without obtaining permission of DGP, Jammu and Kashmir Police,” the order stated, adding that Rath is eligible for a subsistence allowance and dearness allowance during the suspension period.
The order, a copy of which was seen by ThePrint, didn’t specify the duration of suspension.
ThePrint approached Rath, a 2000-batch IPS officer originally from Odisha, through calls for a comment but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.
Not the first controversy
Rath, a JNU alumnus, is a well-known IPS officer who courted significant goodwill during his posting in Kashmir through an initiative where he distributed free books among students aspiring to take competitive exams.
ThePrint had reported on 25 June that Rath was allegedly involved in a big war of words with DGP Dilbag Singh, a 1987-batch IPS officer.
Last month, Rath filed a police complaint with the station house officer at Jammu’s Gandhi Nagar, alleging that Singh posed a threat to his safety and reputation. Rath said he was not seeking an FIR, but asked the authorities to take note of his complaint in case something untoward happens to him.
Earlier, in several tweets where he allegedly employed the moniker “Dilloo” to refer to Singh, Rath is believed to have taken potshots at his senior. Singh subsequently discussed Rath’s misbehaviour on a WhatsApp group called ‘Kashmir Firstpost’, run by a journalist, according to screenshots sent to ThePrint by one of its members.
“Shame on this IPS officer who has risen to become IG and is dumped without any work again because every-time he is given responsibility he proves to be a joker and useless. I challenge to prove an inch of land or proper or any business worth a penny in my name,” Singh purportedly posted on the group.
A purported screenshot from the group shared by Rath on Twitter featured a call for a “flood of complaints” to be filed against him.
This is not the first controversy Rath has been embroiled in. His November 2018 transfer from the post of inspector general for traffic in Kashmir to the office of the commandant general, Home Guards, Jammu, came days after a verbal spat between him and former Srinagar mayor and Peoples Conference leader Junaid Mattu.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.