The Gujarat Government on Saturday replaced Director General of Police P C Pande,barely six weeks before he was due to retire,with 1973 batch IPS officer Shabbirhussain Shekhadam Khandwawala. Pande will take over from Khandwawala as Director General (Anti Corruption Bureau). Khandwawala is the senior-most officer in the state after Pande.
This is the second reshuffle of senior IPS officers in the state within a span of three days. On February 19,the government had transferred or promoted as many as 45 IPS officers.
Pandes removal is being viewed in IPS circles as a pre-emptive move against any action by the Election Commission.
In the run-up to the 2007 Assembly elections,the EC had got Pande removed since there were allegations about his role as Ahmedabad City Police Commissioner during the 2002 riots. Pande was,however,brought back after the BJP won the elections and Narendra Modi returned as Chief Minister. Incidentally,way back in 1977,Khandwawala had replaced Pande as ADC to the Governor after a stint as the Valsad SP.
A postgraduate in organic chemistry,Khandwawala (58),holds a police medal and the Presidents Medal for meritorious and distinguished service. As Deputy Commissioner of Police (Ahmedabad) in 1980,Khandwawala was one of the officers who arrested dreaded gangster and city-based don,Latif. As a young officer,he had also arrested notorious criminal Zinda,who was wanted in several high profile murders in 1988.
Though Khandwawala brings the image of an upright officer to the states top-most police office,he also carries the blemish of beating and maiming one Meraj Sutreja,a Junagarh youth in 1976,who was arrested on charges of keeping illegal arms. Khandwawala was convicted and sentenced by the trial court,but the Gujarat High Court subsequently suspended the order.
Khandwawala is also a short story writer of some repute.