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Missing in action

The Delhi Police disowned one of its ace officers, Rajbir Singh, who brought so much of glory to the force. One fails to understand why he was not given a ceremonial farewell, writes Pankaj Vohra.

columns Updated: Apr 02, 2008 18:37 IST
Pankaj Vohra

The killing of encounter specialist Rajbir Singh last week allegedly by a property consultant and the way the Delhi Police disowned the officer, who was central to its fight against terrorism, has raised questions. The media also failed to focus on the crime and has highlighted the alleged nexus among the police, builders and land mafia and the underworld even though the investigations are yet to be concluded.

It is true that Rajbir was a controversial officer and many did not endorse his methods. but no probe has proved that he killed his victims in cold blood. Only doubts were raised. Since the victims were criminals, terrorists or agent provocateurs working at the behest of the ISI, the criticisms levelled against him came from human rights activists and those campaigning for changes in the criminal justice system.

But his killing and the manner in which it was executed should be probed thoroughly. Rajbir had made many enemies during his stint with the Delhi Police and also won gallantry medals and two out-of-turn promotions. He was a dare-devil officer and an ace investigator, gave his 100 per cent and was never afraid to risk his life. He cracked the Parliament attack case in less than two days and recently returned to the crime branch to solve many pending cases.

There were many in his own department who were envious of him. Several times the news of his planned operations was leaked to the media even before Rajbir, who at one time was a key figure in the operations cell, could make his first move. These leaks meant that either the operations were abandoned or postponed. An attempt to implicate him in land-grab cases was also made. However, a CBI inquiry failed to substantiate any of the charges. The gossip was that the probe was a set-up by another officer and a section of the media was used to tarnish Rajbir’s image. Other baseless stories like reporters getting gifts to carry out an anti-Rajbir campaign also did the rounds. Rajbir was marginalised and was transferred to the FRRO and later to the traffic department. Unhappy, he often complained how he was not being used to his full potential by his superiors. In fact, around this time many had started distancing themselves from him.

On one occasion, Rajbir walked into the Hindustan Times office and wept like a child. He said that the media was free to target him but it was unfair to paint him as a killer. Saying that he never had any ulterior motive, he added that his actions were only motivated by his love for the country. He had already got two promotions and several medals and there was no reason that he would act irresponsibly. He added that because of this wrong portrayal his son was being taunted by his school friends. Though he had little time for his family, this incident proved that he was a concerned father.

In short, he was an officer who had saved the Delhi Police from major embarrassments when lapses took place. But suddenly he was left to fend for himself. Many of his superiors, who claimed success for Rajbir’s actions, never defended him. In fact, some members of his own task force thought that they could replace him in the future. The CBI must find out whether the conspirators behind Rajbir’s killing included members of the department along with the usual suspects.

There are some IPS officers who even owed their life to Rajbir. The grapevine has it that a well-connected accused had given a supari to eliminate an officer probing a case involving him. Rajbir got to know about this, tracked down the criminal and later eliminated him. This is how Rajbir demonstrated his unflinching loyalty to his colleagues.

His widow Narvada and son Rohit feel that there are several dimensions to the killing that need to be probed and Bhardwaj was only the frontman. They wanted the case to be transferred to the CBI not because they lacked faith in the Haryana Police but because they feel that its investigations will be limited and they don’t have the wherewithal to get to the bottom of the killing. Their feelings need to be respected.

But what is most appalling is the role of the Delhi police. It has disowned an officer who brought so much of glory to the force. One fails to understand why Rajbir was not given a ceremonial farewell. He was a gallantry medal winner and an asset to the force. A Delhi Police officer is on duty 24x7 and to, therefore, conclude that he was at Bhardwaj’s office in his personal capacity is premature. He may have been pursuing a case and was killed in the process. It is indeed a shame that no senior IPS officer attended the funeral and there was no official statement from the Delhi Police placing on record his contributions. Rajbir was killed through deceit and conspiracy and who knows this better than his own fraternity. It was a clear case of pre-meditated murder. There is more to this than meets the eye. But it is sad to see that everyone seems to have deserted him. Between us.