An IPS officer has accused the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in Rajasthan of targeting him after he refused to let rioters from the VHP and Bajrang Dal go free last year despite “pressure from all levels of government”.
Former Bundi SP Pankaj Chaudhary said that he was removed from the post for resisting pressure from the administration, including senior IAS and IPS officers, to let the rioters go and “register false cases” against Muslims instead.
On Monday, Chaudhary, who now heads the 11th Battalion of the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary in New Delhi, was served a chargesheet by the Rajasthan government, which accused him of not acting in time to tackle the riots in Bundi’s Nainwa and Khanpur on September 12, 2014.
Asked about Chaudhary’s allegations, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said the government would respond after studying the officer’s official response. “He is free to say anything. If we get something officially from him, we will investigate and act accordingly,” Kataria said.
Chaudhary said the chargesheet has given him an opportunity to expose “traitors” within the administration.
“Riots don’t just happen. They are made to happen, and if the police is allowed to act freely, nothing can go wrong. But there are traitors within the government who could even sell the country for their selfish gains,” Chaudhary told The Indian Express.
“The chargesheet has given me an opportunity to expose these traitors within the All India Services. They are the ones who are scared of chargesheets, not those who are patriots and followers of the Constitution,” the 2009-batch officer said.
A mosque was reportedly damaged and several vehicles set ablaze in Nainwa and Khanpur last September after rumours spread of the desecration of an idol inside a temple.
Chaudhary said that on investigation, including questioning of the temple priest, the police found the riots to have been “completely manufactured”.
“Everything was planned, targets were fixed as to who would damage the bus, who would cause arson, etc. Soon, I started facing pressure from all levels of government, including senior police and administrative officials, to let the rioters go. I was under tremendous pressure to let the rioters go free and instead, register false cases against Muslims for inciting violence. But I resisted all pressure and refused. That is when the government removed me on September 21,” he said.
“As the district SP, I led a team of policemen who rounded up 11 persons…some from the VHP, others from Bajrang Dal. All of them had criminal records. Five persons from the other side (Muslims) were also detained and questioned. If we had not acted, the situation would have escalated into a violent communal riot with serious repercussions,” Chaudhary said.
Responding to the main charge in the chargesheet, Chaudhary said he had immediately left for the riot spot. In the three hours that it took him to reach the area, Chaudhary said, he was in touch with police officers on the spot.
“That night, we rounded up six persons and the next morning, imposed a curfew. The Muslim community was very angry after the desecration of the mosque but they did not retaliate because they had faith in what the police had done,” he said.
After he was removed, Chaudhary claimed, the rioters were allowed to go free.
“The morale of the force had plummeted. The team I had led would call me and say that the rioters had become emboldened and were challenging the police to act against them now that they had succeeded in getting the SP removed,” the IPS officer said.