With Surat Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthaana all set to join the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in New Delhi, the Gujarat government has started hunting for a suitable officer on the rank of Additional DGP to succeed him.
Three ADGPs — AK Singh, Geetha Johri and Ashish Bhatia – are in the race for the coveted post.
Ten IPS officers from the state had expressed their willingness to move to the Centre on deputation, including the Additional DGP Rakesh Asthaana, a 1984 batch IPS officer from Gujarat cadre.
Rakesh Asthaana’s name was among the frontrunners to be appointed as additional director in the country’s premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) among officers of his batch in other states.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had given a go ahead to Asthaana’s deputation at Centre while the CBI had sought Asthaana’s services for the agency in July. Asthaana had earlier served in the CBI as Superintendent of Police and probed the Bofors scandal.
The state government had cleared the names of ten IPS officers in July for Central deputation. Asthaana’s name figured first among the ten in the list that was sent to Delhi which was first reported in this newspaper.
Asthaana’s appointment in the CBI is, however, waiting for official confirmation in the absence of the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), who clears such postings.
When contacted, Additional DGP Rakesh Asthaana said, “I have yet not received any official confirmation from the Centre about the appointment. The appointment letter hasn’t been sent yet.”
However, the state government which had received the communication from the MHA about the acceptance of Asthaana’s deputation has begun a hunt for the new Commissioner of Police of Surat and a reshuffle of the additional DGPs in the state.
According to the sources in the Home Department, in a recent meeting held before former additional Chief Secretary (Home) SK Nanda was transferred to Vadodara, a team of senior bureaucrats from the home department had a discussion with the CMO about the reshuffle of the additional DGPs.
A senior officer from the Home Department said, “The appointment of a new CP in Surat will bring a reshuffle among a few additional DGPs in the state. We cannot divulge any name now. But names of three officers have been considered for the post of CP Surat. Of the three, two of them have worked in Surat for a considerable period of time. As Asthaana moves to CBI, we need an officer who knows Surat well to be able to lead the control Asthaana brought in Surat.”
Among the probable successors, Additional DGP Ashish Bhatia is Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau in Ahmedabad while additional DGP AK Singh is the ADGP (Administration) in Gandhinagar. Singh’s marvel in his work as IGP Surat had brought formation of a special investigation team that worked on cracking the network of Maoists that was allegedly developing its network in South Gujarat.
Singh’s tenure as the ADGP Administration also brought about the materialization of some of the biggest projects of modernization of police from CCTV cameras, paperless FIRs and e-records (now known as E-GujCop), UAV ‘Netra’, aviation wing of the state police to name a few.
Ashish Bhatia who had also earlier worked in Surat knows the city’s pulse. As the Director of ACB, he has been the lifeline of the agency since 2011 and instrumental in cracking some high profile traps in government offices. Bhatia revamped the functioning of the ACB by appointing special advisers, ACB police stations in each district, toll-free number for complaints, and videos for ACB and reaching to common citizens with various ways to register complaints and ensure their security.
Bhatia who is also the member of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team probing the 2002 Godhra riots has been one of the experienced officers in cracking crimes. His stint in Surat and Ahmedabad in the crime branch bears the testimony of the same.
Johri, currently posted as MD of the Gujarat Police Housing Corporation has been chargesheeted in the Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case (a part of Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case). She was also a part of the SC-appointed SIT but was shifted on the apex court’s direction.