Why the Appointment of a New DGP in Bihar Leaves a Father in Pain
Newly-appointed Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey had made headlines in connection with the Navaruna case some years back.
“Gupteshwar Pandey has been appointed as the Bihar director general of police (DGP). The moment I got this information, I felt as if I got an electric shock. What hope would people like me have for justice?”
This is the account of an elderly father hailing from Muzaffarpur, who is hoping for justice to be served to this day.
His statement was made in reference to the new DGP who has been appointed in the Nitish Kumar-ruled state just before the general elections.
Gupteshwar Pandey, who has been at the helm of affairs in the Bihar police since 31 January, had made headlines in connection with the Navaruna case, as the investigation of the case fell under him.
The abduction and murder case of 68-year-old Atulya Chakravarty's daughter Navaruna remains unsolved even after six years.
What Was the Navaruna Case?
The incident is from Bihar's Muzaffarpur. On the intervening night of 18-19 September 2012, a twelve-year-old named Navaruna was abducted from her house. The grill of the window in her room was cut so as to abduct her. More than two months after the abduction, on 26 November 2012, her bones were purportedly found in a drain next to her house. The incident made a lasting impact among the people of Bihar.
Among the officials who were investigating the case was Gupteshwar Pandey, who was Muzaffarpur IGP at the time.
The investigation of the case was handled first by the local police, then the CID and in February 2014, the CBI was given charge on the directions of the Supreme Court.
Gupteshwar Pandey Falls Under the Purview of the CBI Investigation
In November 2018, the CBI requested the Supreme Court to extend the time for the investigation into the Navaruna case. The apex court, on the CBI’s application, has given six more months for the probe.
The application, on the basis of which the CBI had asked for more time, makes mention of the investigation of some officers connected to the case. Among those officers is Gupteshwar Pandey.
The CBI's plea was that they needed more time so that they could expand the purview of the investigation to include the beaurucrat-mafia nexus. Accepting this, the Supreme Court had given one last chance to solve the case.
According to Navaruna's father Atulya, who suffers from a heart ailment and blood pressure, the entire incident involved the handiwork of a big network, which included the racket of police officials, municipal authorities, the land mafia and even politicians. An easy target of the nexus between the land mafia and police officials in Muzaffarpur was his daughter Navaruna, he alleges.
"Navaruna's killing took place in connection with a dispute over the purchase and sale of a property on Muzaffarpur's Jawahar road, which was under the scanner of the land mafia. Her killing was carried out by two syndicates. The first one carried out the abduction and the second one threw the bones in a drain near the house so that we can be falsely implicated in an honour killing case. The police had earlier tried to portray it as a case of elopement," Atulya says.
Atulya asserts that they did not trust the police investigation since the very beginning.
“After 45 days, the forensic team had reached the spot. The then district police chief Rajesh Kumar reached 33 days later, and Gupteshwar Pandey had arrived to meet the family 40 days later.”Atulya Chakravarty
At the time, the state was under the NDA with Nitish Kumar at the helm of affairs.
Quint Hindi reached out to Gupteshwar Pandey for a comment on the entire matter, but there has been no response from him.
Pandey's Return to Service After Retirement Shocked Everyone
Gupteshwar Pandey was in the news even in 2009 – the reason was his retirement by taking VRS and then his return to service nine months later.
In administrative departments, this is understood as a 'rarest of the rare' case. According to a media report, Pandey wanted to contest elections from Bihar's Baxar and he also got the assurance of a ticket from the BJP. However, things didn't turn out as expected and he eventually put an application for his return to service.
Under the BJP-JD(U) administration, he was reappointed. In this connection, Quint Hindi spoke to the then Bihar Home Secretary and former IAS officer (Bihar cadre 1979) Afzal Amanullah. He said:
“Gupteshwar Pandey wanted to contest elections. He requested for VRS, which the government accepted. A notification was issued in this regard and he was removed from duty. However, I don’t have information regarding the rules, on the basis of which, he was brought back to service. Because one can’t return to service after you’ve left the post and the government has issued a notification.”Afzal Amanullah
Quint Hindi has got access to a file noting in connection with the VRS of Gupteshwar in 2009 that has the signature of Afzal Amanullah:
By the time Gupteshwar Pandey was reinstated into service, a new home secretary had been appointed in place of Amanullah.
How Did He Get the Responsibility?
Gupteshwar Pandey is a 1987-batch IPS officer from the Bihar cadre, whose paternal house is in the Baxar district of the state. Before this, he was holding the posts of DG training and DG police academy.
This time, the appointment of a new DGP in Bihar has been made under new provisions. As per the Supreme Court guidelines, the Bihar government gave a list having the names of 12 police officials occupying the DG post to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
Keeping the SC's guidelines in mind, the Commission selected three names from those 12. The Bihar government had to select one name from these three for the DGP's post.
Moreover, whoever becomes the DGP in the state will be occupying the post for two years. That's why it was necessary that the official who was being appointed had at least two years of service left in his tenure.
So it’s in this context that the BJP-Nitish government has given the responsibility of DGP in the state to an officer who has been under the purview of a CBI investigation.
(This story was originally published on Quint Hindi and has been translated by Kabir Upmanyu.)
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