A senior post held by an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer at the home ministry lost its powers to oversee central police organisations last week, a move that IPS officers insist is a setback to their efforts to give police officers a key role in the security establishment.
The home ministry has pruned the divisions that will report to internal security secretary Ashok Prasad.
Last week’s circular made it clear that Prasad would not handle central police organisations any more though he will still handle the Northeast, J&K and the two internal security divisions.
The development came days after a union territory cadre IPS officer, Satyendra Garg, was appointed to track the Northeast at the home ministry.
IPS officers were elated with the decision to appoint one of their own to the post that so far has been the preserve of the Indian Administrative Services.
IPS officers insist that the November 6 change in portfolio was not a one-off decision but a continuing effort to nibble away at their powers within the security establishment.
As the senior-most police officer at the home ministry, some IPS officers treat the special secretary’s powers as a barometer of how the service was treated in the government.
The last time the internal security secretary wielded significant influence in the security establishment was in 2010-11 when Uttar Pradesh cadre retired IPS officer UK Bansal held charge.
In 2013, the government kept this post vacant for nearly a year and then appointed Prakash Mishra — now CRPF chief — with a much-truncated charge.
A senior police officer stressed that the changes in powers also violated the presidential orders that allocate subjects under the charge of each department.
Drawing a parallel with the finance ministry, the officer asked if the finance ministry could shuffle the subjects between, say the department of revenue and expenditure.
“This is the kind of model that we need on this side of the North Block too... Where each secretary has a pre-defined area of responsibility and accountability,” he said.
The department of internal security was created in the 1990s to focus on security challenges emanating from terrorism but was hardly ever given autonomy to discharge even routine work.