Mumbai: A police force that eats out of politicians' hands is a hard reality in Maharashtra today.
Startling details have emerged in response to an RTI application filed by activist Shailesh Gandhi, which say politicians have a hand in the lives of hundreds of policemen in the state.
In fact, Maharashtra politicians are abusing their office and openly indulging in the business of sifaarish (recommendation) for the transfer of cops, starting right from assistant commissioners of police down to constables.
If you are a police officer posted in some obscure corner of Mumbai and plum postings are passing you by, then all you have to do is reach the Mantralaya and seek a date with a powerful neta. These netas will simply make a recommendation, which they are not supposed to make in the first place.
A look at the contents of the file, obtained under the Right To Information Act by activist Shailesh Gandhi, reveals that offices of the CM, the DCM and many other ministers have one thing in common: they have all been sending out recommendation letters for transfer of policemen right from assistant commissioners level down to havaldars.
The findings add more credence to the fears of the Supreme Court, which has been crying itself hoarse on the issue of police reforms. The RTI findings reveal that some 407 police transfers were recommended through political offices between January 2005 and February 2006.
Out of these
* 19 recommendations came directly from the Chief Minister
* 189 came from the Deputy Chief Minister, who is also the Home Minister
* 199 from other Ministers and Secretaries
"Shifarish anusaar badali keli nahin." Translated into English, it means, "Not transferred as per recommendations." But it is surprising that so many police officers have chosen to ignore recommendations that come straight from the Chief Minister or the Deputy Chief Minister, who is also in control of the police force.
Former officers say they were caught in a Catch22 situation when there is pressure from the top, in spite of this being against all service rules. "When a recommendation is made, then to please the boss, one is bound to effect at least 10, 20 or 30 per cent of transfers," former Maharashtra DGP Arvind Inamdar says.
Interestingly, it's not just politicians who misuse their positions, even their personal secretaries have got into the transfer game.
The RTI findings reveal
* Four transfer requests came from the personal secretary to the Chief Minister
* While three requests were received from the personal secretary to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar
Most policemen know that asking for a transfer comes with a price, but with a plum posting virtually guaranteed by one pen strokes of a powerful politician, it's a price that the average policeman is willing to pay.