A day after P C Thakur was shifted to Delhi on the Central government’s orders, Director General of Police (DGP) Prithvi Pal Pandey took additional charge as the Gujarat Police chief in Gandhinagar on Saturday.
Pandey is the senior-most IPS officer of Gujarat cadre. Out on bail in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, he was also the senior-most officer who was chargesheeted in the case.
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The Gujarat government had late on Friday night issued a notification to relieve Thakur, giving the charge to Pandey. The 1980 batch IPS, Pandey was arrested in July 2013 in the Ishrat encounter case. Pandey remained in jail for nearly 19 months till he was released in February, 2015. His passport is still in the custody of special CBI court which he has recently sought back, citing plans to travel abroad.
Incidentally, Pandey’s first challenge as the police chief is going to be the “jail bharo andolan” to be launched by the Patidars on Sunday, demanding the release of quota leader Hardik Patel and others who are in jail under sedition charges.
Pandey was reinstated after the bail in the Ishrat case and was promoted to the Director General of Police (DGP) last year. Currently, he is posted as Director, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
“I am serving as a police officer in Gujarat for the last 35 years and my every bit has now turned for Gujarat. Now I have only one duty and that is to serve the people of the state with all my abilities,” Pandey told reporters in Gandhinagar after he assumed charge. Later, while speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “I will act according to what is written in the law book. If police can implement what is there in the book of law, nothing else would be required to do.”
A close aide of Pandey said that “the charge of police chief has come as a surprise. We never thought he was in the race due to the Ishrat case. This is the best he could have got in view of the serious allegations in the case.”
Pandey, along with IPS officers G L Singhal, N K Amin, retired IPS D G Vanzara and three other policemen, was chargesheeted for conspiracy, murder and kidnapping of 19-year-old Mumbai girl Ishrat Jahan, her friend Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai and two alleged Pakistani nationals. The case is at present pending before a local court.
Thakur’s ouster is being largely attributed to several law and order issues in the state, including the “mishandling” of the Patidar agitation for reservation.