Punjab: ADGP (Border) appointment new chapter in tug-of-war between CMO, DGP Arora

New appointee Harpreet Sidhu to report to the CMO as well in his capacity as anti-drug STF chief; officers in half of state’s districts to report to him first

punjab Updated: Jul 02, 2017 09:47 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab government,Punjab Congress,Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh
ADGP Harpreet Sidhu (Right) and DGP Suresh Arora(HT Photos)

With the chief minister’s office (CMO) appointing anti-drug special task force in-charge Harpreet Sidhu as ADGP (Border) too on Friday, the corridors of power in Punjab are abuzz that a parallel power centre has been established in the director general of police (DGP) office.

As ADGP (Border), Sidhu will report to DGP Suresh Arora, but as the STF chief, he will report directly, only to the chief minister’s office.

The divide will run across the ranks of the police force as well with officers from the Border Range and the Bathinda Range directed to report to Sidhu. The two ranges cover half of the 22 districts.

Friday’s transfers have also reignited the debate over a tug-of-war between the CMO and the DGP office. It is widely known in police circles that Sidhu and Arora do not enjoy a cordial relationship.

Those in the Arora camp claim that other transfers also carry the stamp of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, an indication that DGP was not to be given a ‘free hand’.

Arora, known to be a soft-spoken and non-controversial officer, has not been able to cope with the increasing political pressure of the CMO that still considers him as ‘Akaliayan Da DGP’ (an appointee of the previous SAD-BJP regime).

The SAD-BJP government appointed him to the top post on October 25, 1982, replacing Sumedh Singh Saini. Before the assembly poll, the IPS had decided to opt for a Central deputation. After the Congress gained power, he withdrew his application for deputation and the new CM offered him to continue.

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In April too, the government transferred two ADGPs Hardeep Dhillon and Gaurav Yadav — both Arora’s choices — holding the charge of law and order and administration, respectively. Rohit Chaudhary and IPS Sahota — both known to be from the anti-DGP group in the headquarters — were posted on these key posts.

“In the new government, Arora has tried to be professional, but he has failed to gain the confidence of a lobby, who are always complaining to the CM against him. All complaints are made on the pretext that the Congressmen are not happy with the DGP,” said a senior officer in the CMO.

Within the department as well, Arora has countless foes. The DGP, barring his biggest sympathisers in form of Dinkar Gupta, DGP Intelligence, has many opponents who are not able to fathom ‘How and why SAD appointee Arora continues to run the show in the Amarinder government as well’.

These officers can be heard questioning Arora’s style of functioning and interestingly, all are known to be in favour with the CMO.

Sources said Arora had objected to sending Amritsar Rural SSP J Elenchezian on forced leave. In his place, the government appointed Congress-backed Punjab Police Service (PPS) Parampal Singh as the SSP, despite Arora’s reservations.

“Arora Saheb is a great professional, but he is not able to assert himself before the CMO as he is due to retire on September 30, 2018. He wants to complete his term without any controversy. The distrust between him and the CMO is increasing. This is the reason for Sidhu’s appointment as ADGP (Border), a rare move in Punjab Police,” said a DGP rank officer.

Arora was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

First Published: Jul 02, 2017 09:47 IST