The transfer of a senior Rajasthan police official has created a buzz in the state with sources alleging he paid the price for denying the organisers of the Jaipur Literature Festival permission to host the event at the Diggi Palace.
Jaipur South deputy commissioner of police Ravi Dutt Gaur was transferred to Bharatpur last Friday, days after JLF organisers were alleged to have complained to the chief minister against the denial of permission over traffic and security concerns, the sources added.
The JLF is Asia’s largest literary festival, and is scheduled to open in the city on January 21.
The prestigious event has traditionally been hosted at the sprawling Diggi Palace in the heart of the city, where top authors, socialites and journalists gather from across the world at high-profile sessions.
HT tried to speak to state home minister Gulab Chand Kataria and Rajasthan director general of police Manoj Bhatt but couldn’t get a response. Repeated calls to Gaur went unanswered as well.
But a top police official told HT that the transfer was unusual as a single order was issued instead of the customary batch of directives.
Shorupa Dutta, a representative of JLF producer Teamwork Arts, sought permission for the event on November 30 last year.
The DCP’s office sought a report from the Ashok Nagar police station, under whose jurisdiction the venue was.
The local station house officer and the Ashok Nagar assistant commissioner of police wrote back to say that the Diggi Palace wasn’t a suitable venue.
The DCP’s office e-mailed Dutta on January 1, turning down the request on the basis of the report. HT is in possession of this document.
The email said the venue sees a daily footfall of around 35,000 visitors during the JLF but only has a capacity of 3,000. A shortage of parking spaces also creates regular traffic snarls on Jaipur’s arterial Tonk road, creating trouble for the thousands of people in the densely populated neighbourhood.
Two days later, the DCP’s office suspended a constable for sending the wrong email to the organisers and issued another letter, asking them to consider alternative venues.
“There was some communication gap and the issue had been settled on January 3 when the organizers met Jaipur Police officials. They were told the email was a cut-and-paste of the ACP’s report, but still they went and complained to the CMO,” said an official, requesting anonymity.
Permission for the festival was eventually granted, a senior official confirmed.
Teamwork Arts managing director and festival producer Sanjoy K Roy said he was unaware of the development in Jaipur. Sanjeev Gupta, an activist, has also said he will file a public interest litigation in the Rajasthan high court on Monday to request a change of JLF venue, citing security reasons.