Friday, March 12, 2010

Anand Shankar : A Cop in a class of his own

A cop in a class of his own

Giridhar Jha : Mail Today Delhi Edition

BIHAR’S top cops are often accused of not being gentlemenly while discharging their duty. More often than not, they are known for enjoying the privileges of office without being people-friendly. But Anand Shankar, who retired as the director- general of police recently, was an exception.

On the last day of his service on February 28, Shankar went quietly to his office in his official uniform to hand over charge to his successor Neelmani. Once the formalities were over, Shankar went immediately into the ante-room of his chamber. When he returned after a few minutes, all the police officials present on the occasion were surprised to see him in civilian clothes.

“ I am a civilian now,” he said as if relieved of a great burden. His former colleagues in the department wanted him to keep wearing the police uniform until he returned home in keeping with the tradition. But the outgoing DGP politely turned down their request.

Shankar, who was involved in a controversy for sporting a tilak ( vermillion mark) on his forehead during his seven- monthlong tenure, also broke another tradition on the day. He refused to take the official vehicle home on his return.

As per Bihar police’s tradition, all the top officials of the force push the car of the outgoing DGP while giving him a send- off.

But Shankar had his son waiting for him outside his office in his personal vehicle. The former DGP got into his own car and exited quickly out of the Bihar police headquarters. Shankar also returned all the police personnel provided to him by the force.

Bihar police had never seen such a quick metamorphosis of a top cop into an ordinary citizen.

His conduct should set an example before those ex- officials who find it difficult to get over the fact that they are no longer in the prestigious Indian Police Service ( IPS). Many of Shankar’s predecessors had even kept their staff, engaging them in household chores, long after their retirement. Others have lobbied hard with successive governments to get cushy assignments to retain their job benefits.

But Shankar apparently wants none of this. Asked about his future plans, he said that he would devote the rest of his life in worshipping the Almighty.

His last- day conduct, however, was not all that unexpected.

Even while he was in service, he was known for doing things least expected of the most powerful cop in the state. He would often travel incognito in the general bogies of trains to visit different parts of Bihar and get a feedback from the common man on the performance of his department.

He also had the forthrightness to give state policemen a piece of his mind.

Immediately after taking over, he asked cops to desist from hankering after ill- gotten money and run their homes “ on salary alone”. There have been many high- profile predecessors of Shankar but he was the first DGP to exhort policemen to improve their image in the public eye through people- friendly conduct. And he did not do it merely with words. He truly believed that a policeman’s primary responsibility is to serve society selflessly without fear or favour.

Bihar certainly needs more policemen like him.