Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid ‘rich’ tribute to our forces and said that more than 35000 of them have laid their life for the security of our people. Yes, we agree that men and women in uniform work under tireless conditions and despite provocation remain committed to the rule of law. There have been many upright officers both in the police and in our armed forces on whom this nation can be genuinely proud off. They are thoughtful and absolutely incorruptible. It is people like them who give us hope. I know Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, a highly intellectual chief of Indian forces unceremoniously removed by the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee as he raised issues concerning our armed forces and national security and disagreed with the then defence minister George Fernandez. There is Admiral L Ramdas who has been speaking against nuclearisation as well as communalization and continuously stand with people’s cause. We have a great police officer, former DGP of the Punjab Police Julio Ribero who brought peace in Punjab. There is Sanjeev Bhat who is facing persecution in Gujarat and being targeted for the crime he might not have committed and for such crime many ‘valiant’ police officers might go to jail if properly investigated. We have R Praveen Kumar, who has revolutionized the SC ST hostels in Telangana today and students from these segments are emerging highly successful from these hotels. He is a thinking officer who has broken glass ceiling about the ‘merit’ and shown all of us that government can do miracles if our officers are given free hand and day to day interferences in their work is not done by the political parties particularly those from the ruling party.

Among many such upright officers, was Mr S R Darapuri who is a proud Ambedkarite and retired as Inspector General Police from Uttar Pradesh police though his home state is Punjab, he made Uttar Pradesh his home as he worked here all through his life. During his tenure, he has been very vocal towards the rights of the marginalized and worked to protect their rights. Most of the governments including those of the Bahujan parties actually did not listened to him much and could never use his brilliance and ideas for the benefits of the community.

After the retirement from the government services, S R Darapuri dedicated his life for the public cause particularly those of the Dalit, Adivasi and minorities. He has been very vocal on the forest rights issues and active in the Sonbhadra region where he contested unsuccessfully for the Lok Sabha. Darapuri has been a regular among the human rights activists who have been speaking on various issues concerning the human rights such as abrogation of article 370 and other cases of violence on Dalits in particular. He was part of many fact finding teams in and out of Uttar Pradesh related to communal violence as well as caste based atrocities committed on Dalits.

Darapuri was put under house arrest since December 18th according to his own admission on a Facebook post. A report in the Times of India quotes his son that police had made him house arrest on December 18th but formally arrested him on December 20th. It was clear that Darapuri had called for a political but a non-violent protest against CAA but his family was not aware of his arrest as they thought it is just a preventive house arrest and once the things will be over, he would be released. It is nearly 10 days now and we don’t know when will he be released. It look the police will file ‘various’ cases of ‘inciting’ violence against him. A man who served in the police for such a long period and always stood as a very polite and humane face of the police force today is wrongly facing charges of inciting violence. S R Darapuri is a Buddhist Ambedkarite and a true follower of Dr Ambedkar’s mission. I have written many times that Dr Ambedkar is the biggest non-violent revolutionary in India after Buddha and Darapuri and many like him actually follow the path of Dr Ambedkar which is for spreading peace and strengthening fraternity. How  canAmbedkarite Buddhist ever spread violence ?

We have known Mr Darapuri as an Amberdkarite for a long period. After his retirement, he has been active in politics and was raising the issues of public concern particularly those related to Dalits and Adivasis. Is raising people’s issue a crime? What is his crime except that he participates in political meeting and criticize the government. The other day prime minister was saying that why can’t protest be non-violent but the fact is most of the protest have been nonviolent and a responsible senior like Mr Darapuri can’t ever be violent. He was never violent even when he had the power, then how can and why should he become violent at this ripe age of 76 years when he is not well and need medical assistance. His wife too is not well and need medical attention most of the time.

We hope that National Human Rights Commission and other bodies will take note of  arbitrary arrests in Uttar Pradesh and will act fast to get innocent people, activists released. It is people like Darapuri who can be the best bet for a peaceful protest and building bridges between different communities. He has been an active member of Ambedkar MahaSabha in Lucknow but it look that senior members and his colleagues who are now supporting the government, are quiet. I am sure they too know it well that, political differences apart, Darapuri cannot be a person for inciting violence or engaged in any kind of conspiracy. We hope fabricated charges against him will be stuck down in the court of law and he would be honorably released. It is deeply disturbing that he has to face all this just because he stood with people’s right to protest and spoke against an act democratically. After-all, as prime minister saidpeaceful democratic protests are our fundamental rights and should be respected.

There is a message for all that police personnel or administrative people are part of society. Understood that they have a responsibility towards the government but they have to protect people also and honor the constitution. As I wrote, there are many upright officers who stand with people and who will definitely be serving people after their retirement as Darapuri and many others are doing. I hope they will understand that while following the diktats of the government, there still is a lot of space to protect people and humanize the police force. It will not be possible unless the forces represent our social and cultural diversity. It is where the secular parties failed as they failed to bring diversity of religion and communities in the police force and hence for those who look India with one nation one religious idea, this become easier to manipulate an idea into we verses them. We still hope good sense will prevail and all the innocent people will be released and cases will be filed against all those who were engaged in damaging public and individual properties including those in the police force. A huge democracy like ours can’t have a police force act like a political militia but we need an absolutely professional police force which protect people and act impartially according to rule of law. We hope the highest court of the land will also act on this and give detailed guideline or a Supreme Court monitored SIT or special judicial investigation by a sitting or retired Supreme Court judge who inquire into all that has happened in Uttar Pradesh and whether the police actions in the state were extraordinarily harsh or not ?

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat


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