Civil society groups in Nagaland on Monday held a demonstration in Kohima and started a signature campaign across the state demanding that the incumbent director general of state police be retained.
The issue of 1992 batch Nagaland-cadre IPS officer Rupin Sharma (51) continuing as the DGP became a bone of contention between the government and civil society groups ever since Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton and Chief Secretary Temjen Toy wrote letters to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in March seeking Sharma’s replacement.
Scores of people carrying banners that read “Retain People’s DGP” gathered outside the police headquarters in Kohima in the morning but were not allowed to enter the headquarters premises. Signature campaigns — expected to go on over the next two days — are also planned in other parts of the state, including Dimapur.
“He (Sharma) is a people’s DGP and an honest officer. He has done several good things for Naga people and has effected positive changes in functioning of the police department. Therefore he is enjoying full public support,” said a senior administrative officer at the headquarters on the condition of anonymity.
“We have collected 700 signatures from our office today and signatures from other parts of the state, some of them remote, will be reaching us over the next two days. We will be sending our petitions and signatures to the Union Home minister,” the officer said.
Members of several Nagaland-based Facebook groups are coordinating for the signature campaign. “After a long time, Nagaland got to see an honest and transparent officer that we have been longing for years. The government does not want him so that they can do whatever they want,” said Pito Swu, founder of The Naga Mirror, which claims to be the largest Facebook group in the state.
An open appeal to the President of India by a forum called Concern People of Nagaland read, “Young Nagas are driven to insurgency as a result of the blatant manipulation of the system by the corrupt… Amid this chaos, disorder and darkness, Mr Rupin Sharma has emerged as a beacon of hope for all the people of Nagaland.”
Sources said that one of the main reasons Sharma was not wanted by the government is because he has stopped back-door appointments in police and formalised recruitment processes. He was a key CBI officer in tracing Abu Salem in 2005 which led to the gangster’s extradition.
In his letter dated March 24, Rio said that Sharma’s appointment was a “stop gap arrangement” ahead of state elections after the deputation period of former DGP L Doungel ended in November last year. Rio further alleged that Sharma had mostly served outside Nagaland during his 26-year career and did not have the “requisite experience” to be posted as DGP.
In his letter on March 27, Chief Secretary Toy alleged that Sharma’s inexperience led to “challenges and issues in the conduct of the state assembly elections in February 2018”.
“Actually in order to become a DGP in other states, one has to have completed 30 years of service, but in the case of Nagaland, as a special category, up to 28 years have been considered during the past years,” the letter from Patton on March 28 read.
Monday’s demonstration comes on the heels of unconfirmed reports that Sharma will be replaced by T J Longkumer, a senior IPS officer posted as an Additional DGP in Chhattisgarh.
Chief Secretary Toy told The Indian Express, “The appointment of the director general of police is the prerogative of the government. It is entirely upto the government to decide whom they want to appoint as the DGP.”
When asked for a response regarding the controversy over his continuation as the DGP, Sharma told The Indian Express, “I am a government servant and I will abide by government orders and service rules as may be applicable.”