Srinagar: Suddenly, the social media went abuzz with the news that Inspector General of Traffic (IGP), Basant Rath, has been relieved of his charges on Monday.
Several reasons were put forth with respect to his transfer. The foremost logic put forward by the netizens was his tiff with the newly elected mayor of Srinagar, Junaid Matoo, who is also a politician, on social media.
If Basant called Matoo a “cabbage” for his insensitive remarks on the wetlands of Srinagar, the later shot back and suggested him to concentrate on the ‘traffic mess”.
Basant could hardly digest Matoo’s remarks. He took a pot shot and wrote that municipality should clear the vendors occupying roadsides and path ways, the main cause of traffic mess in Srinagar.
As the war on social media escalated, so was the news that IG traffic was transferred.
However, no one when knew who leaked the news even as netizens and journalists started naming even the department where Basant was transferred.
According to the sources in the police department and the government, the proposal to transfer Rath was moved during the tenure of former governor NN Vohra.
It could not mature for unknown reasons.
Basant gained popularity for his unorthodox ways to streamline traffic and his jovial ways to mingle with the people.
He acquired a larger than life image, more so among the large sections of Kashmir youth who loved to take selfies and play cricket with him.
Basant to a large extent presented a “friendly face of the police” which was unknown to people. His actions apparently indicated he was seriously improving image of police among the public.
After the term of Vohra’s rule ended in Kashmir, the same officials, who had presented the proposal earlier, again moved it before the dispensation of governor Satya Pal Malik, sources told The Kashmir Press.
Sources revealed that officials recommended that Alok Kumar be made the IG traffic while Rath should be transferred to some other wing of the police department.
“But IG Alok Kumar has expressed his wish to become the next IGP of Jammu region,” sources said.
“So far Kumar has declined to be the IGP traffic. He wants to be posted as IG Jammu”.
On the other hand, some members of the Bhartiya Janta Party from the Jammu region wanted that Basant to be the IG Jammu.
“There is a section of Bhartiya Janta Party leaders who want him so. They believe Bansant’s posting will reduce the crime radically in the Jammu region,” sources said.
“There have been thus various attempts to post Basant Rath as IG Jammu. He frequently visits Jammu as well”.
“The governor led dispensation wants to end this competition. Some close circles of governor and some police officials are reportedly resisting the move, citing that Rath refuses “to listen”. He does not likes to be dictated”.
The recent tiff between the Basant and Matoo has only added to the already discussed process of transfer.
But, sources said, it was not the major reason for which the government was discussing Basant’s transfer.
“The internal politics within the police circles and coupled with mainstream politics is at play now,” sources said.
“It is not a black and white thing as people suggest. The deadlock continues as IG Alok Kumar refuses to take the appointment. So Basant will continue to be IG traffic for some more time till government finds a new way to address the transfer issue”.
According to the sources, there is realization within the government that Basant has a clean image and is honest, has very few parallels in the department.
His image as an extremely secular officer adds to his qualities, they said
His transfer drama which unfolded on social media and subsequent reactions even forced the former Director General of Police, SP vaid to comment that Basant “follows unorthodox ways, but his honesty and dynamism is appreciable & commendable”.
Social media agog with rumours of transfer of Basant Rath @KangriCarrier IGP Traffic; I hope it isn’t true. He may follow unorthodox ways, but his honesty and dynamism is appreciable & commendable.
— Shesh Paul Vaid (@spvaid) November 12, 2018
Talking to the senior traffic police officials, working under the command of Basant, they said the IG proved that the “system has the capacity to deliver”.
“One man can make the difference,” a senior traffic police official said.
“He succeeded to large extent to give traffic a make over. Otherwise, it is all about making money in the traffic department. He succeeded in creating a discourse about traffic in Jammu and Kashmir”.
Basant’s sub-ordinates in the traffic police, however, said that he was never given the support that he had asked for.
“He is against people who consider them above law,” a traffic police official said.
“His tiff with the Junaid Mattoo, the Srinagar Mayor, is an apt example. Basant will never remain silent. He will continue to speak and point out the deficiencies which contribute towards the traffic congestion. He is against entitlements, particularly if they are influential. He has proved it”.