As part of their anti-drug campaign, the Narcotics Department of the Madhya Pradesh Police published a calendar last week, featuring prominent members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The calendar had on display RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and BJP president Amit Shah, among others.
This unprecedented move on the part of the Madhya Pradesh Police drew flak from all quarters, including the Congress, and sparked a debate over the ‘saffronisation’ of the police force.
Proof of ‘Saffronisation’ of the Police
The Additional Director General of the MP Police (narcotics wing), Varun Kapoor, initiated the launch of a new calendar, as part of the anti-drug campaign, using the tag ‘drug-free society.’
Kapoor also organised several workshops and awareness camps in schools and colleges in Bhopal to promote his cause.
Each page of the calendar has an RSS or BJP leader’s photograph with the respective leader’s message against drug addiction. Copies of the calendar were distributed across government offices nationally.
When contacted, the Director General of MP Police said, “I haven’t seen the calendar yet. The matter will be looked into soon.”
Reacting to this move, Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi told The Quint over the telephone:
It is shocking that police officials are doing the work of political parties. The calendar makes it evident that even the police forces have been ‘saffronised.’
‘RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat is a Mahapurush’
When criticised, the ADG said:
Mohan Bhagwat is not a terrorist. He is a mahapurush and a great thinker. Bhagwat was included in the calendar for his qualities, just like the others.
Commenting on the issue, retired DGP Dandan Dubey, who served from 2012 to 2014 in Madhya Pradesh, said:
During my entire career, I have not heard about any pro-government publication. As per my knowledge, these things did not happen under the previous government. Publishing a calendar to create awareness is a good initiative but featuring political figures in an official police calendar is not a good idea.
‘An Autonomous Body Shouldn’t Publish Such Material’
Yet another retired IPS officer, former DGP Dinesh Jugran, who served from 2001 to 2005, shared a similar view. He told The Quint over the phone, “I’m not well aware of this new calendar; so, I can’t really comment. But one thing I can say is that the police force being an autonomous institution should avoid publishing such material.”
When contacted, the Madhya Pradesh government’s official spokesperson, Narottam Mishra, was evasive.
I’m not well aware of the matter, so, I can only comment after a couple of hours.Narottam Mishra, spokesperson, Madhya Pradesh government
However, despite several attempts to reach him after, Mishra did not respond.
Local social activist Ajay Dubey said, “Public money is being wasted just to appease BJP leaders. This is wrong.”
(The writer is a Bhopal-based freelance journalist. He can be reached @MallickKakvi.)
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