This was one call of duty that the top brass of Punjab Police failed miserably to meet with. Senior police officers were running for cover on Tuesday after they were caught red-handed by Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for not reaching their respective offices on time.
Majority of the officers arriving late at office were shocked to see Badal,who stationed himself on a chair at the entry porch of the high-security Punjab Police headquarters in Chandigarh's upscale Sector 9.
Badal, who is also the state's home minister, reached the police headquarters Tuesday morning at 9.10 am for his surprise check. Out of the 50 senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers who have their offices in the building, a majority were found missing.
"Sukhbir Singh Badal conducted a surprise check at the Punjab Police headquarters on Tuesday morning during the course of which a majority of senior police officers were found missing from duty," Badal's media adviser Jangveer Singh told IANS.
"Immediately after alighting from his vehicle, the Deputy CM directed officials accompanying him to seize the entry register as well as close all the entry points to the building," he said.
As per the entry register, only Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence Hardeep Dhillon was in the building.
"However during a check subsequently, it was found that six officers had come on time to the office. Around 50 senior police officers have their offices in the police secretariat here," he said.
Badal remained at the entry of the building for nearly two hours as officers sheepishly walked in only to face questions for being late, and even reprimands from him.
As officers trickled into the police headquarters one by one, they were questioned by Badal who asked them: "Were you attending a party last night? Were you playing golf? Why are you late?"
"The first officer to come to office after the Deputy CM reached the headquarters was Deputy Inspector General of Police Khubi Ram who reported on duty at 9.16 am.
"Following this a number of officers including ADGP Traffic R P Singh (9.23 am), IGP Counter Intelligence Gaurav Yadav (9.25 am), AIG Dilbagh Singh (9.26 am), IG Provisioning Praveen Sinha (9.28 am), AIG Ashish Chaudhary (9.40 am), AIG K.B. Singh (9.51 am), SP Ranvir Singh (9.58 am), AIG Swarn Singh (10 am), AIG Baljot Rathore (10 am), ADGP C.S.R. Redddy (10.05 am) and IG I.V.C. Tejinder Pal Singh (10.15 am) reported to duty," a spokesman said here.
Three senior officers, Inspector Generals of Police (IGP) Arpit Shukla and Balbir Bawa and AIG Inderbir Singh, who tried to play smart by entering the police headquarter building from the rear entrance, which is used by police staff, were summoned by Badal.
These officers were asked to leave the building from the rear entrance and return from the front entrance, and then given a dressing down by Badal for this action. "This is unbecoming of senior police officers," Badal told the errant officers.
Punjab Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini, who too was not present in the building when Badal came, was conducting an official meeting with representatives of the Nurmahal sect at his residence when the surprise check took place. He later joined Badal at the building's entry point.
ADGP Law and Order Dinkar Gupta also arrived shortly, the spokesman said.
All officers arriving late were asked to wait in a room on the ground floor. Later, Badal addressed them and told them that "such lackadaisical attitude about office timings was unacceptable". He also warned them that strict disciplinary action would be taken against anyone found arriving late to office in future.
Badal also directed the DGP to seek an explanation from all those who arrived late to office.
Taking a serious note of the fact that some senior police officers did not report to work even till 11 a.m., Badal directed the home secretary to conduct an inquiry within 48 hours to ascertain why these police officers had played truant despite not taking leave from office.
Senior officers who failed to report to work included DGP Human Resource Development S.K. Sharma, ADGP Policy and Rules Mohammad Mustafa, IG Traffic R.P.S. Brar, IG Community Policing Anita Punj, IG Information Technology K.J.S. Pannu, IG Modernisation Shashi Prabha, DIG Ananya Gautam and DIG Nilabh Kishore, besides six SPs and AIGs.
Badal had, last month, gone to a police station in adjoining Mohali town in a private vehicle and found police officials missing there too. He had suspended four police officials.