His first posting, I heard from friends, was in Shahjehanabad in Uttar Pradesh but after that I lost track of him. The picture I have, therefore of him, is as a thin, wiry young man with a beard that still seemed to hesitate to grow on his boyish face. It, then comes as a both a shock and a pleasant surprise, when a common friend emailed this article from The Hindustan Times that recounts his struggles after he took on the feudal ‘king’ of Pratapgarh district in Uttar Pradesh, Kunwar Raghuraj Pratap Singh, the person well known to us as “Raju Bhaiyya.”
In 1991, when he completed his engineering degree, the Indian Administrative and Allied Services were no longer the career of choice among students who came from the more well to do classes, including those whose parents were in the services. This cannot be attributed to the “reforms” that started that year because the change in their attitude was visible within the second and third years of college, that is, by 1989-90. Most looked for a career in what was referred to as the “IAS of the private sector”, that is an MBA degree, preferably from one of the coveted IIMs. Then there was the lure of the US universities.
The administrative services, and Indian Engineering Services, was still an option for many who came from the smaller towns and the more middle of the urban middle classes. It was rather popular because the number of engineers qualifying for the exams had dramatically increased in the past years and while many debated on the sense, or fallacy, of recruiting trained engineers for what was till then seen as the bastion of arts students, budding engineers starting preparing for the exams in their second or third year itself. The result was a stream of engineers joining the services, leading to a change in not only the educational background but also a change in the the social background of the recruits.
This, resulted in many of the recruits not ‘knowing’ the system, far less knowing how to navigate themselves within it. Many learnt it the hard way, compromised, and became part of one clique or the other within the services. Some differed and maintained their professional integrity, even at great risk and cost to themselves.
Jasveer’s career in the police services illustrates this well, and resoundingly declares that the title of this post “The Honest Policeman” is not an oxymoron.
Excerpts from an article in The Hindustan Times.
They would soon know this young SP came as a package deal, warts and all: he doesn’t listen to anyone when in uniform. Many politicians would unconsciously wince at any mention of Jasvir. His stint as SP in Allahabad was also eventful and he had a great future. Or so he believed.
And that’s when things began to sour. The don was a big man now, with an avowed mission to finish off Jasvir. The young SP was soon reduced to making rounds of courts and the administrative headquarters of UP police. Jasvir faced 16 departmental inquiries and four near-dismissals. These are not corruption cases or of violation of criminals’ rights. But they drained him physically, emotionally and financially.
He had two attacks of facial paralysis, which laid him up at home for a year. And then during a brief hospitalisation for a minor illness he discovered he is diabetic.
“I mortgaged some village land,” he says, “to pay the lawyers.” Jasvir hired the best lawyers, who he says wryly “charged me their usual fees thinking I have piles of corruption money — being an SP”.
Appearing in court once, with reduced security, the don’s goons caught up with him. He managed to escape with a torn shirt. But that’s what life had become for him.
For many years now he is languishing in a department most IPS officers prefer only to retirement — food and civil supplies.
A few other links that I managed to salvage from the internet make references to his work in Raju Bhaiyya’s land.
Here is a report from Indian Express date lined Dec 15, 1997.
Jasveer Singh, an IPS officer, has sought security cover from the Uttar Pradesh Government, saying that there was threat to his life from Cabinet Minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya.
Jasveer Singh, the Commandant of the 30th PAC Battalion at Gonda, sent a request for protection to the State Home Secretary, Rajiv Ratan Shah.
Jasveer, who was SP, Pratapgarh, claimed that a number of fake cases were registered against him at the behest of the minister. The letter also said that the minister’s “henchmen” tried to corner him whenever he went “for these cases.” “There was even an attempt on my life while I was going to Allahabad,” he added. During his stint at Pratapgarh, Jasveer had headed a police raid at Raja Bhaiya’s residence in connection with the kidnapping of a Kanpur-based cloth merchant’s son.
A Frontline report dated Jan 10, 1998.
Take the case of Raghuraj Pratap Singh. Barely one and a half years ago, during the campaign for the Assembly elections, Kalyan Singh himself used strong words about this independent MLA from Kunda in Pratapgarh district. Addressing public meetings in the constituency, Kalyan Singh said that Raghuraj Pratap Singh had won successive elections on the strength of muscle power.
After a spectacular display of his combative skills in the Assembly in the aid of the BJP on the day the motion of confidence was passed, Raghuraj Pratap Singh became a Minister under Kalyan Singh. Recently, a senior police officer, Jasveer Singh, Commandant of the 30th Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) battalion, complained to Home Secretary Rajiv Ratan Shah that the Minister and his supporters were harassing him. He sought protection from the state. While serving in Pratapgarh, Jasveer Singh had initiated action against Raghuraj Pratap Singh.
The Chief Minister’s public response to this was that a police officer who cannot safeguard his own life has no business to be in the force. Jasveer Singh went on leave.
A report from rediff, dated 14 Sept 1999.
“If I disclosed my name to you that would amount to signing my death warrant,” observed an old man in Bhupia Mau village, explaining, “how impossible it was to live like a free citizen here.” Another elderly person points out, “if he can make the life of an upright district police chief like Jasbir Singh hell, so much so that he had to run for safety and seek a posting under the central government, then we are just cattle to him.” He was referring to R P Singh’s alleged witch-hunt against this IPS officer who challenged his extra-constitutional authority.
This is an excerpt from a rediff report dated 17 Feb 2002.
“We do good work,” says the head of Bihar constituency’s youth brigade. “I am only a humble servant of Raja Bhaiya, why do you want my name?” he asks an instant later (someone else, later, tells me he is named Babban Tiwari).
“We ensure that no dowry is asked or accepted, we take the ill to hospital and make sure they get treated,” Tiwari says. “We are there for the people, whatever they need. If people are harassed by the police we let Raja Bhaiya know and he handles it.”
Handles it, and how. When Jasbir Singh took over as district police chief, he decided to curb the power of the self-styled Raja who, by then, had become a local legend with his early morning horseback rides, his armed escorts, his goon squad, and his hair-trigger temper.
Raja Bhaiya hit back. Filing FIRs and such proved to be of no avail — Raja Bhaiya, remember, was a minister. Finally, the cop gave up, and sought a transfer outside the area. His successors, mindful of that lesson, now allow Raja Bhaiya free rein.
Between 1998 and now, Raja Bhaiya has consolidated his hold on the region to an extent unimaginable unless you actually travel through the place. The land is his. A 100-acre lake in the region is, de facto, his — the family exercises fishing rights over that body of water. The local cooperative bank is his. All of which effectively means that every single one of the locals is in his control.