A three-minute video clip singing praises of Surat Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthaana and describing him as a ‘jaanbaaz’ police officer has started doing the rounds on social networking sites and WhatsApp, generating curiosity.
The video comes at a time when the 1984 batch IPS officer has been empanelled for central deputation. With him opting for the CBI, if the appointment comes through, Asthaana will become the additional director — the number two in the premier investigating agency.
The clip, made by Surat-based film-maker Mehul Surti, opens with the shot of a speeding train followed by shots of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Swami Vivekananda, Subhas Chandra Bose and Raja Ram Mohan Roy, purportedly comparing Asthaana with them.
The voiceover says, “In this crowded world, some people just pass by, but there are some people, who, by their work, create their own special identity. This is one of those, who, whenever he took a step, was towards a noble path; who raised the respect for his position and became an example of commitment to duty.”
The video also shows Asthaana and his wife on the swing in their home, taking a walk in the garden and driving to the commissioner’s office.
The part introducing Asthaana has a shot of a policeman’s hands with a baton. The voiceover says, “Jisne apni haatho mein aayi hui har daavey ko kadi mehnat aur lagan se poora kiya; jisne apne kandhon par suraksha ka zimma utha kar imaandaari se nibhayi. Wah hai hum sabke pyaare Shri Rakesh Asthaana ji (Who took up every challenge that came his way with hard work and commitment, who took up the responsibility of security and fulfilled it with honesty — he is our beloved Shri Rakesh Asthaana).”
It talks about how Asthaana brought the crime rate down. “Surat city will always remember his stint as the police commissioner… he brought all his workers together and showed them a new way and brought down the crime rate… and took Surat city to an international level. Surat salutes this daring (jaanbaaz) officer,” it says.
In 2002, when Asthaana was repatriated to his parent cadre in Gujarat after a stint in the CBI where he investigated then Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam, the then Modi government had appointed a special investigation team under him to probe the Godhra train carnage that sparked communal riots across the state.
Asthaana’s investigation established that the carnage was a conspiracy, a theory that was later picked up by the Supreme Court appointed SIT under former CBI director R K Raghavan. However, the special court released 63 of the accused arrested by the SIT, including the mastermind Maulana Umarji, and convicted 31.
When contacted, Asthaana told The Indian Express, “I know about this video, but I don’t know its purpose. Obviously it was not for my publicity.” He said the video was shown at an event for physically and mentally challenged children, to motivate them.
According to him, an association of such children — the Mavjat Parents Association — had shown this video a month ago at an event to felicitate police officers, including Asthaana.
Monaben Thakkar, president of the Mavjat Parents’ Association, said, “We had made a five-and-half minute video of which we reserve all the rights. I have no idea how just this bit got leaked.” She said the original video was made for their event on August 18, where 16 police officers were felicitated. Surti, who made the video, refused to comment.