Localites of Nagaland campaign against the wrongful removal of Rupin Sharma as the District General of Police. Photo: Tanvi Kapila.

In what is seen as a politically-motivated decision, the director general of police (DGP) Rupin Sharma of the North East Indian state of Nagaland has been removed on the grounds of his “inexperience”.

Sharma, sometimes known as the “people’s DGP”, was appointed in November of last year. Since then he has been credited with bringing about reforms within the police force as well as at state level.

Pito Swu, founder of Naga Mirror and a social activist, told Asia Times that Sharma’s dismissal is largely due to his intolerance of corruption and his closing down of ‘backdoor appointments’.

A signature Campaign was launched to protest the removal of Rupin Sharma as the DGP. Photo: Tanvi Kapila

The state has long grappled with the issue of police officers being appointed without following standard procedures. This has led to organizations such as Against Corruption And Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) filing a public interest petition in the Kohima bench of the Gauhati High Court last year.

Swu, who has campaigned constantly against the removal of Rupin Sharma and is spearheading the public campaign, said: “The people within the force and the state have been happy to see the changes that have been brought about even if he [Rupin Sharma] is not a native of the state.”

Rumors of a possible change of DGP have been going around since March. Chief minister Neiphiu Rio, deputy Chief Minister K. Patton and the state chief secretary have written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh stating that Sharma is not competent enough to be the DGP of Nagaland and doesn’t fulfill the 30-years’ experience requirement normally needed to hold the position.

Presently, Renchamo P. Kikon has been asked to take charge and Sharma has been put on compulsory leave.

Reacting to this, the Nagaland Public Rights Awareness and Action Forum (NPRAAF) released a press note stating, “The state government’s action is an insult to the honest police officer, who refused to bow down to mantris (ministers) and babus (bureaucrats) for corruption. Such unethical action will demoralize the state police force and an honest public servant.”

NPRAAF questioned the move in a memorandum submitted to the Governor of the state on June 22. They expressed disappointment over the “forced replacement” by an officer, who it said, was “much junior to him in service.”

NPRAAF sought the Governor’s intervention in the matter to ensure that the government acts constitutionally. The memorandum stated: “The action of the State Government is against the IPS (Regulation of Seniority) Rules, 1988 and against the wishes of the people of Nagaland who openly demanded his retention.”

It was also pointed out that if Sharma was not “qualified”  since he has not served 30 years, this is still being violated in the case of his temporary replacement. Sharma, who has 26 years of service, was appointed as a stop-gap measure. However, the replacement acting DGP has six years’ less experience. Furthermore, T. John Longkumer, who is tipped to become the new police chief for the state, has only 28 years of experience.

The NPRAAF also expressed anguish over Sharma being accused of ‘orchestrating’ the protest in his support and his being threatened with disciplinary action.

Swu said that these are simply government tactics calculated to divert the attention of the people from the main issue. “The campaign started with like-minded people coming together on social media. We are not even in touch with him, except when we want clarifications regarding the rules and regulations of the appointment.” He further added that if Sharma is not restored to the position then they might approach the courts.

“This is simply a game. Some people are trying to convert the issue into one of religion and tribalism. But this is not about that. It is about right against wrong. People of Nagaland want him because he is great, irrespective of where he comes from.”.

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