The Home Department remained dormant. The state Police Chief, expected to lead from the front in a crisis situation, also failed to do so. No wonder, officers in the field felt leaderless, this has been stated by Parkash Singh committee, appointed to probe the administrative and police failures during the Jat quota violence. The report, submitted to Haryana Chief Minister, about 2 weeks ago, was made public by the Haryana government. The report has been submitted to Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday.
The Home Department was a washout. The Additional Chief Secretary (Home) could not produce before the Committee even one page of directions or instructions which he may have issued to the Deputy Commissioners or the Superintendents of Police, the report stated.
“What is distressing is that the Army was not properly utilised and in at least one instance they were perhaps mislead into inaction,” the report further states.
Parkash Singh, a retired IPS officer and former DGP of Uttar Pradesh, in his report stated that the reservation riots which convulsed Haryana in February 2016 were unprecedented in their scale, dimensions and intensity. Thirty lives were lost and, on a conservative estimate, property worth Rs. 20,000 crores was devastated. It is estimated that 1,196 shops were set ablaze, 371 vehicles were damaged or set on fire, 30 schools/colleges were burnt, 75 houses were set on fire, 53 hotels/marriage palaces were devastated, 23 petrol pumps were attacked and 15 religious institutions vandalized. Environmental damage was also on a huge scale. A total 7,232 trees were cut by the agitators to block the roads and disrupt the movement of traffic. Police establishments were not spared. 29 police station/post buildings were set ablaze and police weapons were looted.
Parkash Singh, in his report stated that the DGP Yash Pal Singal found time to visit the places affected by violence on February 23 and 24. It would have been better if he had visited by chopper at least the districts worst affected while the agitation was at its peak. The Committee was also disappointed that the DGP did not even have video conference with the Superintendents of Police when they were battling a very critical law and order situation. A Police Chief is expected to lead from the front in a crisis situation. Yash Pal Singal unfortunately did not give that impression, giving the reason that he was unwell those days.
The report further stated that Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) at the headquarters, Mohd. Akil, could have gone round the districts. However, Mohd. Akil told the committee that he was prevented from going on tour during the worst period of riots because the DGP wanted him by his side to assist him.
The report severely indicts several officers at the district or commissionarate level,
Shrikant Jadhav, IGP Rohtak Range
Referring to role of Shrikant Jadhav, IGP Rohtak Range, the senior-most police officer present in Rohtak, report stated “Had he risen to the occasion, the complexion of events would probably have been very different. However, unfortunately, Shrikant Jadhav got obsessed with the feeling that the rioters were out to kill him. Talking to a senior officer in Chandigarh, he is reported to have said, ‘Sir, you have no idea the situation we are facing. Death is staring me in the face’.”
The report further stated “the senior officers, A.K. Singh, IAS and B.S. Sandhu, IPS, who were deputed by the state government to go to Rohtak and assist the local administration, found Shrikant Jadhav ‘very unstable and highly emotional’. The IGP made the terrible blunder of even calling the SP Jhajjar to come to his support with whatever strength of policemen he could spare. The SP complied and moved with 350 policemen. While the SP Jhajjar was away from his jurisdiction, Jhajjar district also started witnessing trouble. The Committee found that the IGP, at his residence, was protected by one company of BSF and more than 400 Haryana Police personnel. This was absolutely amazing. An officer who was supposed to be protecting the citizens of Rohtak was concentrating on protecting himself.” Shrikant Jadhav was subsequently placed under suspension.
Anita Yadav, IAS, Deputy Commissioner Jhajjar
The committee referred to role of Anita Yadav, IAS, Deputy Commissioner Jhajjar stating “she was the most non-performing Deputy Commissioner that the Committee met.” The report states “Jhajjar had the worst equation between the Deputy Commissioner and the police officers.” The SP Sumit Kumar told the committee that the conduct of the Deputy Commissioner was unfortunate and she remained confined to her residence cum camp office. “It was the ADC who accompanied him to all the places where violence occurred and gave orders to open fire whenever required”, Sumit Kumar stated. He also, before the committee, stated that the Army and CAPF requested the police administration to provide them JCB machines to clear the road blockades. However, the Deputy Commissioner merely wrote letters to the PWD (B&R), Irrigation Department or Marketing Board to provide them. She did not follow up her letters with the result that the civil administration could not provide the JCB machines to the Army and CAPF.
The report states “the Committee is of the view that Anita Yadav‟s conduct left much to be desired. It is a fact that Anita Yadav did not step out of her residence cum camp office from February 19 to 21, 2016. As a matter of fact, she seems to have abdicated her responsibility by appointing the ADC cum ADM as the overall incharge of law and order, vide her order dated 18 February, 2016. On 20 February, 2016, Sir Chotu Ram Dharamshala was attacked and set ablaze by rioters belonging to the non-Jat communities. The IG Police, SP and the ADC rushed to the dharamshala and rescued 18 persons trapped inside its premises, averting a major tragedy. It is surprising that the Deputy Commissioner did not even then deem it necessary to visit the Dharamshala.”
Despite several other incidents of fire to buildings and getting information, about the gravity of the situation over telephone, from ADC Anita Yadav even then remained confined to her residence and did not visit the location.
Report states “she not only failed to provide leadership, her role was in fact very negative. The police, the judiciary and the Army – all of them had problems in working with her.”
The Committee has no hesitation in recording that she is unfit to hold charge of a district, the report states.
Chander Shekhar Khare, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, Hisar:
“One thing which struck the Committee about the officer was his unabashed casteist bias. There are officers who have this bias but are able to disguise it but Chander Shekhar wears that on his sleeves,” the report states.
In his written statement to the Committee, the Deputy Commissioner has stated that “to keep the police force and officers motivated to act without prejudice in case of inter-caste conflicts can become problematic at times.” The report states ‘the statement reflects his own dilemma. The Committee has no hesitation in recording it, with a sense of pain though, that a section of the people could not have got protection under his leadership. Casteist bias in non-gazzeted ranks is reprehensible but such a bias in an All India Service officer should be inexcusable. The Government may like to take appropriate action against him of a kind which would have sobering effect on him.”
Rajiv Ratan, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, Sonepat
The performance of the Deputy Commissioner was unsatisfactory during the riots. Devinder Singh, IAS, Principal Secretary deputed by the State Government to maintain law and order in the district has mentioned in his report submitted to the Committee that the state Police/Army/CAPF could have been stationed/deployed in advance by the district administration at the water head works or National Highway/GT Road, keeping in view the history of such incidents in Sonepat. Force was available but was not optimally utilised. The district administration allowed the National Highway to be blocked at multiple locations. At Larsouli, they engaged the agitators after considerable loss of time during which period the commuters faced enormous inconvenience due to disruption of traffic on the National Highway.
The report observes ‘the committee learnt with a feeling of dismay the casual attitude shown by the Deputy Commissioner to the advice or warnings he got from the Central Government through the Principal Resident Commissioner, Government of Haryana, Delhi. Anand Mohan Sharan, IAS, while appearing before the committee on March 29,2016, specifically mentioned that he had received a telephone call from the Cabinet Secretary, Government of India, conveying that there were intelligence inputs that the agitators were planning to disrupt the water supply to Delhi by damaging the water canal, and that the same should not be allowed to happen. The Cabinet Secretary desired that the Resident Commissioner should speak to the District Magistrate, Sonepat and direct him to ensure uninterrupted water supply to Delhi. However, when Anand Mohan Sharan rang up the District Magistrate and conveyed him the directions of the Cabinet Secretary, the DC’s response was very irresponsible and he did not appreciate the gravity of the situation. The agitators damaged the canal and it took some time to repair it. The incident caused much embarrassment to the state government and inconvenience to the residents of Delhi.
The Deputy Commissioner did not go to Gohana, where large scale arson and violence had taken place, and deposed before the Committee that he could not reach there because of road block and the apprehension of violence in Sonepat City. The explanation does not appear very convincing. At Gohana, the SDM/DSP had played a very dubious role and had not bothered to engage the rioters. It was therefore necessary for him to visit the place.
Abhishek Garg, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Sonepat
A young officer, he has also to share the blame for failure to control acts of violence on National Highway No. 1 and prevent damage to public and private property in the district, especially in Gohana. He also could not anticipate and prevent the disruption of water supply to Delhi. Army had therefore to be called into restore the water supply. He did not visit Gohana either, where rioters had a free run and there was large scale damage to public and private property. He would do well to be bolder and more aggressive in dealing with lawless elements in future.
Nikhil Gajraj, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, Kaithal
Nikhil Gajraj did not move out of Kaithal to areas where the rioters indulged in large scale violence, arson and looting, especially in Kalayat and Pundri. In a small district like Kaithal, it is expected of the district officer to lead from front, particularly in situations where the life and property of citizens is being targeted.
The committee noted that general perception about the effectiveness of administration in handling the riots was that the police and district administration failed to take preventive and proactive measures to nip the problem in the bud. Police failed to take effective action against the miscreants and rioters from the very beginning.
Krishan Murari, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Kaithal:
Krishan Murari’s response to the situations in Kalayat and Pundri was quite inadequate. The rioters indulged in acts of vandalism at Padma Mall in his presence. The SP failed to take any action against them. In fact, as he himself admitted, he placed his peak cap before the rioters, almost begging them to leave. His conduct was disgraceful and unbecoming of a police officer. He failed to enforce curfew orders in a small place like Kaithal despite having sufficient force at his command.
Krishan Chand, Fire Officer, Sonepat:
The victims complained to the Committee that Krishan Chand was unresponsive and even misbehaved with them. They cited instances where property/shops continued to burn for several days after the rioting on 21 February. The fire brigade officials did not bother to visit the locations in spite of repeated requests.
Sajjan Kumar, Fire Officer, Meham
Another glaring example, of official apathy, mentioned in the report cites Fire Officer, Meham. The Fire Officer Sajjan Kumar did not rise to the occasion. There were numerous complaints against him that he did not respond to the distress calls. The Library in Shiksha Bharti School kept burning for three days, but the fire tender never turned up.
The report also refers to the police officials and constabulary who “dragged their feet from law and order duty by various ways” and thereby showed “their cowardice nature and a proof that they are not fit for police force.”
The report does not refer to rape but stated “on 22 February, agitators set ablaze several vehicles parked near the Sukhdev Dhaba, Murthal and harassed the stranded commuters. They also reportedly misbeheaved with some women.”
The report also talks about caste bias in civil and police officers resulting in inaction with the rioters, connivance with the vandals and absence from duty or desertion.
For detailed report, please click