The stage has been set for an honourable exit for Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik, who came under fire for the police incompetence in handling a spate of violent clashes over the last few months.
According to sources, while bodies of riot victims were being fished out from drains and recovered from lanes of northeast Delhi, Patnaik was busy in effecting transfer and posting of his favourite officers. A transfer list of fives officers were released by Patnaik when people were killing each other on the city streets. Another list of lower level officers are expected before his retirement.
Patnaik, who could not gauge the communal situation in northeast Delhi that led to mayhem, has been expecting a post-retirement job from the central government. His closeness with a former Gujarat cadre IAS officer, who is basically from Odisha and is posted at Prime Minister Office (PMO), made him untouchable.
His ties made him invincible in the bureaucratic circle and empowered him to subjugate the Delhi Police officers who flagged loopholes in the city's law and order, sources said. Many young officers is said to have opted for the central deputation because of his alleged 'arrogance', they added.
He created his own coterie of officers and indulged in the blatant game of transfer and posting, sources said and added, many transfers were done allegedly on the behest of his predecessor Alok Verma. Even when Verma was unceremoniously removed from Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Patnaik continued to follow him, they added.
He was about to be shunted out from the force in 2018 when four Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers were humiliated outside Verma's residence, but he managed to save his skin due to the retired IAS officer's blessings, according to Home Ministry sources.
His batch-mate Prabhat Singh's name was proposed by the Home Ministry as Patnaik's replacement, but the move was was dropped by the PMO at the last minute.
The friendship with Verma and the ex-IAS officer and their bureaucratic circle helped him sail through even when his own force protested against him.
For the first time in the history of any uniformed force in India, the Delhi Police personnel protested against Patnaik and sat on dharna (strike) in 2019. He was hooted by his own men. But with the "blessing" Patnaik became stronger, the police sources said.
It didn't matter to him whether his men were beaten up by lawyers or the cops entered Jamia Millia Islamia campus and wrecked havoc.
Amid this, he ensured that his batch-mates S.N. Srivastava and Ajay Kashyap were not transferred back to the Delhi Police from their deputation postings, sources said.
A spate of incidents pushed the force's morale to all-time low, but it was overlooked by Patnaik as well as the government. He ensured his reporting bosses remained happy, for which he was awarded a month's extension to oversee Delhi Assembly elections.
All this, sources said, made him untouchable. When riots started in Delhi, he was casual and took it as the 2010 peaceful protests during an anti-corruption movement. He didn't deploy additional forces in riot-hit areas, leading to mob attacks on DCP Amit Sharma and death of Head Constable Ratan Lal death.
All this forced the cops to fend for themselves, instead of containing the riot.
And Patnaik has ensured that he get a grand farewell On February 29.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at email@example.com)
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