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‘Singham’ Annamalai — the IPS officer, engineer & MBA who studied Islam to fight terror

Annamalai Kuppuswamy, a 2011-batch IPS officer of the Karnataka cadre, joined BJP in Delhi Tuesday. He says he's a big fan of the PM and BJP is the only party that inspires him.

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Bengaluru/Delhi: For Annamalai Kuppuswamy, a 2011-batch IPS officer who resigned from service last year and took the political plunge Tuesday, the BJP was the “perfect fit”. 

“PM Narendra Modi has risen from humble beginnings and I am inspired by his life. The BJP is the only party that inspires me,” Annamalai told ThePrint, hours after he joined the party in the presence of national general secretary P. Muralidhar Rao and Tamil Nadu BJP president L. Murugan.

“I am a big fan of Modiji,” he had told reporters at an interaction following his induction. “He shows me that a common man can aspire to reach the top and achieve the goal, and he does not need to come from any dynasty.” 

An engineering graduate with an MBA from IIM-Lucknow, Annamalai once aspired to be an entrepreneur but shelved that dream in favour of a career in civil services “to remain connected with people”. And connect with people he did.

Over his eight-year career, he earned the moniker “Singham Anna” on account of his policing style. ‘Singham’, which means lion, seeks to draw a parallel between him and the supercop portrayed by Ajay Devgn in the eponymous 2011 film, and ‘Anna’ is a respectful term for brother.  

Be it undercover crackdowns on gutka sale and campaigns against drug abuse, or his empathetic approach to a rape victim’s grieving mother, Annamalai’s work has earned him many admirers, besides a strong public image he brings to his new career as an asset.


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‘Singham Anna’

Annamalai joined the police service in 2011, and his first posting took him to Karkala in Karnataka as assistant superintendent of police. Here, he spearheaded an awareness campaign against drug abuse and sale of tobacco, shutting down several illegal liquor shops.  

He held seminars in colleges against drug addiction, and set up complaint boxes where students could post anonymous tips about illegal activities.

Between January 2015 and August 2016, he was posted as superintendent of police (SP) in Udupi district. It was during this stint that he investigated his first murder case, involving a 17-year-old student who was also raped by her assailants. 

Speaking to ThePrint, Annamalai said the teenager’s grief-stricken mother had looked him right in the eyes and asked if he could bring back her daughter. 

“I was stunned,” he added, saying he told the mother that he would not only punish the culprits, but also make sure her daughter’s memory lives on. The alleged culprits, a duo aged 19, were arrested within two days, and Annamalai instituted a Rs 10,000 scholarship in the victim’s name, given annually to the girl who tops Class 10 in the Byndoor taluka.

While still in Udupi, Annamalai once walked over to a provision store and asked for cigarettes, gutka and bidis. When the shopkeeper gave him the stuff, Annamalai immediately slapped a Rs 30,000 fine on him for selling the products despite their sales being banned at general stores. “I warned him… Pay this amount today or you will end up paying a lakh tomorrow,”  he told ThePrint. 

It was during his tenure in Udupi — located near Bhatkal in the neighbouring district of Uttara Kannada — that Annamalai developed a deep interest in Islam, he said. Bhatkal is a hotbed of Islamist radicalisation and the birthplace of the Indian Mujahideen.  

Annamalai decided to study the religion to “understand what led to the misinterpretation of religious texts and caused widespread radicalisation”.

“I studied the Quran and Hadith with the help of the religious scholars. I tried to understand the philosophy. It helped me understand the psyche behind terror organisations like the Indian Mujahideen, SIMI and ISIS that had spread its tentacles around the Bhatkal-Kundapura region,” he said. 

The next transfer took him to Chikkamgaluru until October 2018.  

In 2017, the area, rife with communal tensions, witnessed riots after a group of miscreants vandalised the Dattatreya Bababudan Swamy Dargah. As the superintendent of police, Annamalai organised several peace meetings to defuse tensions.

He was serving as the deputy commissioner of police, Bengaluru South, when he decided to quit in 2019. 

In his resignation letter, Annamalai said it was not a sudden decision but a well-thought-out one rooted in a 2018 trip to Kailash Mansarovar. The death of a respected senior helped the realisation take a deeper hold.

“My trip to Kailash Mansarovar made me introspect. The death of IPS officer Madhukar Shetty, 47, in December 2018, made me look back at my life,” he had told ThePrint at the time.


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‘A fan moment’

Annamalai’s colleagues speak of him in glowing terms, with IPS officer Rahul Kumar Shahpurwad suggesting that he courts a star’s image among colleagues. When Annamalai announced his resignation, Shahpurwad said, “several of my colleagues began taking selfies with him”. 

“It was like a fan moment for all of us,” he added. 

He said he realised the level of influence Annamalai has when a complainant in his jurisdiction — Hassan — specifically called for him to lead the case. Annamalai was then the superintendent of police in the neighbouring district of Chikkamagalur. 

“I felt bad as it was my jurisdiction, but I also had admiration for Annamalai sir, whose influence went beyond his jurisdiction,” Shahpurwad said.

When he was transferred to Bengaluru along with Annamalai and four others, he said, the headlines read, “Annamali and five others transferred”. “That’s how he is,” he added. 

Annamalai’s seniors praise him as well. S. Murugan, who currently serves as additional commissioner for Bengaluru city (East Division), said Annamalai is known for “three Hs — honesty, humaneness and hard work”.

‘Bringing BJP nationalist spirit to Tamil Nadu’

Annamalai, who joined the IPS as part of the Karnataka cadre, is a native of Tamil Nadu. His induction into the BJP comes about a year before the state heads for assembly elections in the summer of 2021 — the first election since the death of political stalwarts Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK and M. Karunanidhi of the DMK. 

The BJP, a fringe player in Tamil Nadu, is in alliance with the ruling AIADMK in the state.

Asked if he will be the party’s CM candidate, or will handle another similar responsibility within the party, Annamalai said he has joined the BJP as “a loyal foot-soldier” and will work to “bring the party’s nationalist spirit to Tamil Nadu”.

Talking to reporters in Delhi after his induction Tuesday, he invoked the ancient Tamil text Thirukkural to describe Modi as a true leader. 

“I come from a land which is historic and, in this beautiful Thirukkural, it talks about the qualities a king and an administrator should have. It talks about fearlessness, it talks about courage, it talks about (having a) giving spirit, it talks about knowledge. I see all four of these in our Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji and all the eminent people of the BJP,” he said.  

“I have decided that I should strengthen the movement that the party stands for.. to bring that nationalist spirit to the state of Tamil Nadu,” he added. “I will try my best as a loyal soldier of the party to dedicate my time and energy to further this cause across Tamil Nadu and India… It is a privilege to join the BJP.”


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23 COMMENTS

  1. He contested in Aravakurichi assembly in 2021 General election. He paid 1000 rupees to all voters.
    1000* 2 Lack voters. =2000 Lacks.
    Daily food and stay for more than 1000 karnadaka BJP people for election campaign.
    200 rupees for people those attending election event.
    Where money come from? If he was Singam Anna.

  2. For the same reasons he quit the police force, he will quit politics oneday. He will realise the police force was better!

    • He contested in Aravakurichi assembly in 2021 General election. He paid 1000 rupees to all voters.
      1000* 2 Lack voters.
      200 rupees for people those attending election event.
      Where money come from? If he was Singam Anna.

  3. All propaganda to propogate own career n earnings… Therez no truth in Islam retawd to terror.. it’s d other people who provate n r responsible

  4. Great PR for BJP since this guy has been widely held as a responsible officer, he will surely get a seat. Only thing remains, that hold back BJP is the casteism against others

  5. He did study Islam to fight terror but not in the way you are trying to imply. He studied it so that he could understand what drives Muslims crazy to become terrorists in the name of Islam.
    Any place where Muslims become in majority, the chances of radicalisation & extremism goes up because it is the diversity & tolerance of Hinduism that they see around makes them moderate with respect to religion.
    You see the extremist Islamism in Kashmir with no Hindus left, in pockets of Coastal Karnataka, Mallapuram in Kerala, few districts in UP. Everywhere the same pattern. It’s high time that Govt of India makes a policy to keep the religious demographics of India as intact if we want peace & tranquility in this country. The relative proportions of different religious groups need to be maintained at any cost. Otherwise our beautiful country will again witness the kind of religious politics during Partition
    Singapore has done the same with respect to racial proportions.

  6. I pity on this singham for joining the BJP. Shortly he will realise his folly if he is really interested in the welfare of the grossroot common people.
    or he will be a normal power mongering sanghi if he continues in BJP for more than a year

  7. It is becoming increasingly clear that those who do badly in math and science join Congress and those who do well join BJP. But for the Congress, the Luddite Liberals, Selective Secularists, et all, the more worrying thing is that these Left Brain types are now even able to communicate in English. No wonder the they are now resorting to things they have in the pass accused their opponents of, de-platforming books whose ideas they do not agree with.

  8. If is increasing clear that those who do poorly in math and science join Congress and those who excel in the same join BJP. And wonder of wonder, these math and science people are even good in communicating their ideas. This is increasingly making our luddite liberals and selective secularists insecure, not to speak of mainstream media.

  9. This was expected when he resigned, nobody knows what kind of a person one is from inside. Maybe this was the result of his introspection.

  10. Will he be able to understand why there were riots by ” secular votes ” based on rumours. Why dalits were attacked in BANGALORE. And how desperate journalist would spin rioters as “victims”

  11. Singam was a Tamil superhit by Actor Soorya and was later made in Hindi. Singam (Lion in Tamil) is the original name of movie in Tamil. Pls study and write especially with South Indians.

    • Yes! Singam was a Tamil movie, that was later remade. Given that Annamalai is from Tamil Nadu, and served in South India, I am certain that he people have Surya’s Tamil movie in mind when they refer to him as “Singam”. Print should put a bit more effort in researching such finer details — things like this will help you achieve the quality and journalism and reporting that you aspire for!

  12. It is very unfortunate that brilliant officers like Mr.Annamalai Retd IPS officer has failed to understand that BJP is meant for the percentage of the Population and the Manusmithi is approving discreminatory of Human’s by birth. He could have served for the betterment of neglected Non Brahmins and illiterate Indians being in service. Even poor raped girls are not able to file FIR.Anyhow all the best to my brother. May Allah guide you on the right path. Ameen. May Allah give you Hidaya. Ameen

    • First your Allah has to give some brains in your head. Your religion encourages violence, killing and mayhem.

    • Your lack of knowledge, objectivity and understanding is not his fault. You sound like a brainwashed person. Please come out of echo chambers. Explore and learn. I’m no fan of BJP but I hate it some parties use Muslims as tools by brainwashing them. 😞

      • Great comment bro. People like Jafrullah Khan AND Gopal both require to come out of their echo chambers, instead of having fixed stereotypes of the BJP or of all Muslims.

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