High-ranking bureaucrats and top police brass have expressed concern over the sudden spurt in attacks on their colleagues and the abusive language that politicians, particularly from the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, use against them. A week ago, Lok Sabha member from Aurangabad Chandrakant Khaire (Shiv Sena) was at the receiving end for threatening a tehsildar who was about to demolish a temple in accordance with a court order. A case was registered against Khaire after revenue officials from Marathwada threatened to go on an indefinite agitation. In another case, Aurangabad municipal commissioner Prakash Mahajan was humiliated by a politician in presence of a several senior officials. A high-ranking police official too was recently abused at by a senior politician at a review meeting in Ahmednagar. Such is the crisis that six months ago, a senior bureaucrat had to approach chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to request transfer after politicians made it difficult for him to work. The CM moved him out immediately. Senior bureaucrats have expressed displeasure at the failure of the IAS association, which is headed by the chief secretary, to take note of the attacks on the officials, particularly in rural parts of the state. A former DGP said that Fadnavis must rein in BJP and Shiv Sena leaders and halt the public humiliation of bureaucrats and police officials. Over a decade ago, similar cases of senior IAS and IPS officials being harassed had come to the fore. That time, the then CM Vilasrao Deshmukh had taken note of the issues and stepped in to help the aggrieved bureaucrats.
No mending ways
A month ago, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had expressed shock and surprise over having to resolve routine disputes on Lok Shahi Day, which is held to redress grievances of the aam admi. Fadnavis had warned that stern action will be taken against officials concerned if routine disputes are brought before him. However, despite the warning, the CM recently found that there was no end to these routine disputes reaching him. Besides CM, the Lok Shahi day is attended by the chief secretary, director general of police and more than a dozen high-ranking bureaucrats. Started more than a decade ago, Lok Shahi Day ensures on-the-spot disposal of grievances. At the last Lok Shahi Day, Fadnavis was stunned to find that a farmer from Nagpur, the CM’s home town, was not given a power connection for a prolonged period despite the complainant having had visited the local office of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company. A visibly embarrassed Fadnavis asked the power utility bureaucrats to provide the farmer power connection within two months. Fadnavis assured the farmer that he will visit his house to verify if a power connection had been given to him. In another case, yet another embarrassment was awaiting the CM when it was known that the MIDC had failed to allot a plot to an entrepreneur for a good long time. The CM intervened and directed MIDC officials to allot a plot as soon as possible. A former chief secretary said that before the next Lok Shahi Day, the CM must fix responsibility of delay on erring officials.
Finally some relief?
A brief circular issued by inspector general of police Ashutosh Dumre has exposed the state of affairs in the department. The issues mentioned in the circular have been part of closed-door discussions until now and have made it to the public domain only now. Dumre has asked all police commissioners and district superintendents to hold regular Janata Darbars to address the grievances of the lower rung of constabulary. To address the issues of constables and lower-rung officials, and then ensure action against senior officials will be a big challenge for the newly appointed DGP Praveen Dixit as he will be acting against his own colleagues. The lower rung of constabulary, in a series of representations to the DGP and district level heads, have complained about how they are made to do all kinds of work—from escorting the children of IPS officers to school to taking their wives to beauty parlours. They have complained that they are treated like personal servants.