Uttar pradesh

U.P. Assembly polls | BJP is highly inclusive, offers best political climate for police to work, says Asim Arun

File photo of Asim Arun.

File photo of Asim Arun.

 

On January 8, Uttar Pradesh 1994-batch IPS officer and Commissioner of Police, Kanpur, Asim Arun sprung a surprise when he announced he had applied for voluntary retirement and plunged into politics with the BJP. Arun (51), who previously served as the chief of the UP Anti-Terrorist Squad and 112 emergency services, is contesting election from his native Kannauj.

Excerpts from an interview in Kannauj:

Why did your quit at the peak of your career right before elections?

Until December 31 (2021), a career in politics was nowhere on the horizon. My career in police was moving pretty well. But sometimes as per divine conspiracy, others imagine things about you which are beyond your horizon. And that is what happened. On January 1, I was given a suggestion by the BJP top leadership to consider making Kannauj, mym atrabhoomi, also myk armabhoomi. I gave it a detailed thought and discussed it with my family. Of course, I had some doubts. The most important doubt was that my father (Former UP DGP Arun Ram) lived as per some ideals and I have also tried to follow them; integrity, courtesy, inclusiveness and doing things in a perfectionist manner. I discussed all this on CM Yogiji on January 8. And the kind of leader he is, he cleared all my doubts. He said we are considering you not because of any other reason but for your image of integrity, so you don’t have to change. ‘You have to be the way you are.’

Do you feel there should be a cooling period before an officer jumps into the political field? There are questions of neutrality that will be asked about their tenure in service.

That question has come up before me now. For example, if you leave your job and join a private sector job, then I think there is a cooling period of six months or so. Should the same corollary be implemented on political career is a complex question. But my reply will be my own conduct. If mistakes and prejudice emerge out of my service period, then this will be correct (cooling period). And there should be a law [for preventing officers from jumping into politics without a cooling period]. But if during my service, there was no such thing, then maybe such a question would not arise. As of now there is no law which prevents me from doing this. And ethically and morally if I prove to be right, then there might be no need for such a law if I am the average.

What made you choose the BJP and not the other parties?

BJP chose me. I did not choose BJP. It was not that I was looking for a career in politics and was weighing my options. BJP offered me a career and I would not have gone with any other party. Reason behind it I mentioned my four principles , integrity, courtesy, inclusiveness and perfectionism . These are things I find only in BJP. My core principles which I inculcated from my parents and carried in my police life continue in my political life as well. Of course the canvas is much bigger now in comparison to the police department. Had any other party given me this offer, I would not have accepted it because I don’t want to do anything by compromising my core principles.

So do you agree with certain principles of the BJP like Hindutva which is criticized for not being inclusive? Would you acclimatize with that?

The BJP is organizationally inclusive. Secondly, my idea of secularism, let me define it… I feel that if 100 families live in a place, and 95 families are from one religion or identity and the other five from another, how do these 95 deal with the five. That is my idea of inclusiveness. If they feel uncomfortable or insecure. If there are 95 Muslims and 5 Hindus or vice-versa, we don’t have to fight but set examples for one another. A Hindu dominated area, which could be a workplace or even a WhatsApp group, should set an example for the minority. And in a Muslim majority place, whoever the minority is should be made comfortable. It could even be a linguistic minority. My idea of inclusiveness is very pointed.

So you feel there is no conflict between your ideals of being a ‘secular’ and neutral person as a cop and the BJP’s Hindutva policy?

No. There is no contradiction because BJP is a highly inclusive party. If we consider Hindu castes, they have tried to include all castes. There are also attempts to blur caste identities.

When you quit your police job, you referred to B. R Ambedkar and brought up your Dalit background for the first time. Do you accept your identity as a Dalit leader of the BJP which has been projecting you as its Jatav face?

I want to be a leader who has empathy towards everyone, has administrative acumen and is able to deliver results. I should have lots of empathy for all deprived sections not just Dalits. And I should work for them. Which means yes, I will work for the Dalit community but in an inclusive and expansive manner.

Is there any difference in the way the police operated under the present BJP government in comparison to previous SP and BSP governments?

I can tell you for sure as a police officer who worked for almost last five years that police has not seen a better work environment, politically speaking. Not one reference would come to an officer to let off a criminal or go slow in the investigation or anything like that.

This happened earlier?

Yes, it used to happen earlier. And that is why law and order was bad. People thought they can get away with crime. In this government this did not happen. It doesn’t mean that crime didn’t happen. But police responded to the crime. Police also committed many mistakes. But wherever the police erred, they were also punished. The state has moved towards rule of law. Earlier there was a rule of an individual and there was a monarchical approach that the CM sitting on the seat he knows ‘I am the law’. The local level MLA thought ‘I am the law’. Now we have the rule of law approach from top to bottom.

But this government is accused of going beyond the rule of law. ‘Encounter’ killings cannot be a policy, many people say this. Also, the entire politics about using bulldozers to destroying properties of opponents, accused or suspects, do you agree with this policy?

Let’s go back and ask how many bullets were badmaash (criminals) firing at police and were police responding to it? The right to private defense is the same for a citizen and a policeman. If anyone fires at you, you have a right to respond with deadly force. That’s exactly what the police has been doing now. There are so many cases in which the badmash fired at police who retaliated with firing. In many such cases, the badmash were killed, around 4-5% of the cases, while in many they were not. The police has been strengthened morally and ethically that when force is being used against you, you should not be afraid to use force as per law. These police encounters have a lot of safeguards, from the kind of post-mortems to magisterial inquiry, and then the state human rights commission and the national human rights commission and judicial inquiry. As far as I know none of this negative thing has come up in all the inquiries of these encounters.

But the state is probing its own actions. So, there is a fair amount of chance that the police will get a clean chit.

The incident involves the police, the executive. Then there is the other pillar of judicial inquiry apart from the human rights commissions. Those in the judicial pillar are not under the influence of the government or the police.

Do you have any backup plan if you lose your election and the BJP fails to come to power?

After 28 years of police service, this is a new job. Police life had failures too, not just success. There will be similar ups and downs here too. And they will be major. If police had ripples in a pond, here they are like tides of the ocean. I’m prepared for it. The only thing is, will it be a haar-jeet (defeat to victory) or jeet-haar (victory to defeat).

Have you ever faced any discrimination for being born into a Dalit identity?

It is a complex question. Dalit identity has changed a lot and is still changing, When my father was in college, DAV Kanpur, there used to be caste-wise mess. It is impossible to even imagine this today. When I was in college, DU… my name is interesting, it creates a confusion about religion and doesn’t give away much about caste. So people would ask me, what comes after Asim Arun? Arun ke baad kya? Pura naam batao. Like Srivastava, Sharma. I would tell them I am from a Scheduled Caste. People were taken aback how confidently I spoke about it. Because the SC identity was something that should be hidden. I don’t boast but I don’t hide it either. While in service, I got important work in all governments. But the SP and BSP governments discriminated against some castes. Some capable officers did not get their due. The BJP undid this. Under BJP, no caste or minority is backlisted. If we talk about the police, then at all levels, all doors are open to everyone. A person’s name may be cut due to work and reputation but not because of caste and religion.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 2:35:53 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/uttar-pradesh-assembly-elections-interview-with-former-kanpur-commissioner-asim-arun/article38418975.ece