SENIOR IPS officer Basant Kumar Rath on Sunday announced his resignation on social media, saying he wished to join electoral politics in Jammu and Kashmir.
A controversial police officer, who has several admirers in Kashmir Valley, posted his resignation letter on social media. “I wish to resign from the Indian Police Service in order to be able to participate in electoral politics.
Please consider this letter as my request for resignation/voluntary retirement and process it accordingly,” Rath said in a letter written to J&K Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta.
Rath forwarded copy of the June 25 resignation letter to J&K DGP Dilbagh Singh and Commandant General Home Guards and Civil Defence and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) Hemant Kumar Lohia. Rath is currently posted in Home Guards and Civil Defence.
Although Rath made public his decision, Lohia told The Indian Express that he is yet to receive the resignation letter. “I too have seen it (Rath’s resignation letter) on social media but I have not officially received any
letter,” he said.
While Rath said he wanted to join electoral politics, in the past he had shown aversion for political leaders. In a tweet posted some hours before he posted his resignation letter, he said: “If I ever join a political party, it WILL be BJP. If I ever contest an election, it WILL be from Kashmir. If I ever join politics, it WILL be before March 6, 2024″.
In his columns and tweets in the past, the IPS officer of 2000 batch had many times shown his dislike for the BJP’s “communal politics”.
In July 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had initiated an inquiry against Rath and suspended him for “repeated instances of gross misconduct and misbehaviour that have been brought to the notice of the government”.
It also asked Rath not to “leave the headquarters without permission of DGP”.
Though popular in the Valley, especially the youth – he distributed free books for competitive exams – Rath is disliked by many in the administration. His opinion pieces and his Kashmir-centric poetry, which included a poem on the 1990 Gawkadal incident, in which 50 people were killed when paramilitary personnel opened fire on a protest, also did not go well with many officials both at the Centre and in J&K.
In July 2020, Rath was involved in a spat with DGP Dilbagh Singh. He filed a complaint with a police station in Jammu against DGP Singh, saying that he “fears for his life, liberty and bald head”.
The 50-year-old Rath has served in J&K in several capacities, including IGP Traffic, a stint that earned him bouquets and brickbats. While his admirers appreciated him for streamlining and disciplining traffic and bringing the mighty and powerful to book, his critics questioned his style of work, which included hurling abuses at violators, breaking their earphones and even slapping.
He even took on his seniors in the department. “My dear senior who thinks I am all gas on Facebook and Twitter and no guts. Please ask your PSOs to drive their bikes without wearing helmets. I’ll ruin their day. And yours. I don’t think I love you,” he had posted on social media when he was IGP Traffic.
Hailing from Odisha, Rath did his Master’s in Sociology from the Jawaharlal Nehru University before joining the IPS. In 2018, he was promoted as IGP.