Punjab Police chief Anil Kaushik has asked director general of police (prisons) Shashi Kant to surrender his official vehicles - a development signalling an unprecedented face-off between the top brass of the force.
Kant on Saturday had lashed out at the state police for lacking the will to check narcotic smuggling. The DGP (prisons), who claimed on February 14 that he was "receiving threats from the drug mafia", described the police headquarters' communiqué as a fallout of the issue of drug menace inside prisons he publicly raised.
In the one-line letter from the headquarters signed on behalf of "DGP (transport)" and dated February 16, Kant has been asked to surrender his Toyota Innova, Maruti Gypsy (on escort duty) and motorcycle.
Punjab DGP Anil Kaushik is de facto head of all wings of the police, including transport, held by ADGP-rank officers.
"I will not give up," Kant said on Tuesday after receiving the letter. "I will take my fight to its logical end with the support of the people of this state."
He said all previous chiefs of the prisons department had been using police vehicles. "I am no exception," he said, alleging that he was being targeted "at the behest of influential higher-ups" because he had spoken against the "nexus of criminals" and use of cellphones inside various jails.
ADGP (provisioning) Siddharth Chattopadyaya, when contacted, said Kaushik was the right person to talk on the matter. When pressed, he, however, said he would not comment on the issue on phone.
At a function at Kapurthala central jail on Saturday, Kant said senior police officers were aware of elements offering "patronage" to drug-smugglers. In Patiala on February 14, he said he would soon expose the nexus between "drug-traders and influential people".