He will probably be remembered as the longest serving police chief of Haryana. He will also be remembered as the one who survived this long despite a hugely disappointing innings.
The tenure of 1974-batch, Haryana-cadre IPS officer Ranjiv Singh Dalal (60), who retires on Wednesday after remaining the director general of police (DGP) for six years, was full of histrionics, pomp and show. What it lacked fair and square was focused policing.
Dalal, who hails from chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s home district Rohtak, was recalled by the CM in 2006 from a central assignment with plans to make him the state police chief once then DGP Kanwar Nirmal Singh retired. Dalal was then posted with the Border Security Force (BSF). He owed his appointment as Haryana DGP to his proximity to Hooda.
The chief minister, insiders say, was cut up with the DGPs functioning in the later part of his (Dalal’s) term, but he (CM) never showed him the door.
Aversion to files
Dalal, known for his aversion to files, was rarely seen in his office at the police headquarters in Panchkula. The officer, who is a skillful horse rider and loves playing the teacher, however, was found wanting in keeping his officers on the ball and the ranks disciplined.
“The message always flows from the top. Dalal would keep shuttling between Madhuban, Gurgaon and Faridabad, would rarely sit in the office, was slothful on file disposal and never showed any tenacity to control the force. In fact, many a time his actions would convey an impression of his ineptitude. He thrived on plain rhetoric… something he developed a penchant for since his days as an instructor at the IAS officers’ training academy in Mussoorie (Uttarakhand),” said a senior IPS officer who has closely watched Dalal’s functioning.
He would organise events on the country’s struggle for Independence and the 1857 mutiny, take time off to honour astrologers, go on horse riding sprees at Bhondsi but would look very superficial when attending to his basic job —policing. His contemporaries say that focus on police work was simply missing. “The façade with which he came was gone,” said an officer.
While Dalal stood guard as the supposed sentinel of the state, Haryana saw a spurt in lawlessness and crime. His handling of agitations by Jats - for reservation (2010-12) and the Mirchpur issue (2011) – and allowing former Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLA Balbir Bali, a murder accused, to remain holed up in his native Mokhra village for several days in 2011 left much to be desired. The Sarita rape-suicide case (2008) and Rohtak’s Apna Ghar sexual abuse case (2012) – both involving cops - was also a blemish on his track record.
“One may not be able to completely stop the crime. But the fact that incidents of rape were occurring regularly was very alarming. This means there was no fear of the law in the state. In fact, there was no deterrent. The police force is in a state of inertia and indifference due to lack of good leadership. There is gross indiscipline all over,” commented an officer.
The DGP also failed to come to the rescue of one of his district police chiefs who was booked on the charges of murder after the superintendent of police’s (SP) personal security officer opened fire in self-defence during the Jat reservation agitation in Hisar. His silence on the issue, IPS officers say, has dismayed young officers, who now do not want to stick their neck out in crisis situations.
While both Dalal and former CID chief PV Rathee, also a Hooda loyalist, developed their clique of officers and would get their share of say in transfers and postings of officers, it was the department which suffered. “The choice of officers posted on important cutting-edge posts left much to be desired. At times it looked as if both were competing with each other. Personal loyalties and not the interest of the state became of paramount importance,” said an inspector general (IG)-rank officer.
Dalal also toyed with some silly proposals. After successfully pushing for the creation of police commissionerates in Gurgaon and Faridabad, the DGP floated a proposal to create a police commissionerate at Rohtak and Rewari, which are primarily rural areas. Since the Haryana Police Act, 2007, provided for the establishment of a commissionerate for major urban areas only, the proposals were shot down by the home department.
Another big indiscretion Dalal committed during his tenure was to back one of his favourite officers to endorse his stand on the purchase of outdoor surveillance equipment for commissionerates of Gurgaon and Faridabad. Dalal put in black and white his support for the purchase, even though the matter was being probed by the information technology department for serious irregularities.
Even as Dalal continued to blow his trumpet trying to impress one and all with his oratory and mannerisms, his actions never spoke louder than his words. Once he told a public gathering that he would like to send collar pins to his men for being truthful or otherwise. He surely never did so.
My emphasis is on truthfulness. Poora sach to Yudhishtir hi bol sakta tha (Only Yudhishtir can speak the whole truth). But still there is a lot of room for improvement as far as our force is concerned
(On free and fair registration of FIRs, 2007)
SPs do not take action against errant DSPs and SHOs. The SHOs take no notice of misdeeds of investigating officers (IOs). How many times have you all written to me recommending action against the errant cops?
(At a meeting of district SPs and range IGs in June 2008)
I can provide vehicles, funds but not guts: (At the same meeting)
I would love to be a journalist in my next birth. So that I can also quiz people they way you guys grill me (To a journalist recently)