During the Jat mayhem in Haryana in February, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and DGP “fell short” of what could be expected of them, some officers at local level “deserted” duties and some did not act due to “caste bias”, according to a committee set up by the state government to inquire into the riots.
The Prakash Singh Committee also made strong observations against former Chief Ministers, saying they had “eroded the authority of certain institutions” with a view to concentrate powers in their own office and as a result “the office of the Chief Secretary does not command the power or enjoy the prestige it does in most other states.”
The panel, in its 451-page report on violence during the Jat quota stir, said the “administrative paralysis” had gripped the state and the “highest functionaries in the government failed to show the kind of guidance, direction and control that is expected in a crisis of such proportions”.
“The two officers who matter the most in the state, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and the Director General of Police, fell short of what could be expected of them in such a situation,” noted the committee headed by Singh, a retired IPS officer who had headed police forces of Uttar Pradesh and Assam besides the Border Security Force (BSF).
The committee, which has indicted 90 police and administrative officers for their “failure to act”, said “The Home Department was a washout, the Director General of Police failed to lead from the front, and the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) could not produce even one page of directions he may have issued to Deputy Commissioners and senior police officials in Sonepat during the Jat stir that rocked the state for a week in February.”
It said, “The Home Department did not issue any directions on the handling of the crisis, while the then DGP Yash Pal Singhal did not visit any of the affected areas, and also did not permit the next highest ranked officer to do so.”
The report, which significantly came at a time when Jats have threatened to launch their agitation afresh from June 5, said, “The Home Department also plays a somewhat subsidiary role in matters relating to law and order. These distortions need to be corrected to prevent a repeat of similar paralysis in the future.”
Describing the situation as “a horrific picture”, it said, “What was lacking was the will to act, the determination to prevent riotous mobs from assembling in the first instance and then dealing with them effectively while they were committing acts of violence, arson, loot or vandalism.”
The report, submitted to the High Court here yesterday, said, “Officers at the district level, barring a few honourable exceptions, just did not rise to the occasion. They were either unequal to the daunting situation they faced or they could not mobilise the full strength of the officers and men under their command, some of whom went missing or deserted their duties.”
It said the officers displayed cowardice, or hesitated to take strong action for fear that they would not be supported by the government, or deliberately avoided doing so because they had “a caste bias” which translated on the ground into “inaction against the rioters, connivance with the vandals, absence from duty/desertion, abetment of the hooligans”.