Alok is new IGP Traffic
The government on Tuesday transferred outspoken Inspector General of Police (IGP), Traffic, Basant Kumar Rath after his tiff with newly elected Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu, who was backed by BJP and its ally Peoples Conference.
An order issued by Home Department read, “Basant Kumar Rath, IGP Traffic J&K is transferred and attached in the office of Commandant General, Home Guards/Civil Defence/SDRF till further orders.”
As per the order, Alok Kumar IGP Security J&K has replaced Rath.
Rath’s tenure comes after his last week’s verbal duel with Mattu on Twitter.
Terming Mattu as a “cabbage” after his comments on Srinagar’s wetlands, Rath went on to counter him on traffic de-congestion of Srinagar by asking him not to breach his mandate.
Rumours were rife on social media since yesterday about Rath’s removal as IGP Traffic after his tiff with Mattu.
The netizens across social media platforms castigated the government for shunting out a “people-friendly” and “pro-Valley” police officer.
Aazad Ahmad a netizen wrote on Facebook, “Congratulations to all the traffic law violators and corrupt officials particularly Junaid Mattu.”
Nadia Nyma another netizen wrote, “Salute to such an officer.”
Rath had found support from former J&K police chief, Shesh Paul Vaid.
“Social media agog with rumours of transfer of Basant Rath IGP Traffic; I hope it isn’t true. He may follow unorthodox ways, but his honesty and dynamism is appreciable & commendable,” Vaid had tweeted.
Vaid's tweet was seen as an indication of the simmering tension in the system.
Rath, who called himself fan of former Pakistan cricketer captain Javed Miandad, had last week hit out at the Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli for his comments to a fan asking him to leave the country if he didn't like the Indian players.
“Dear Virat Kohli, I love Javed Miandad. You please keep your cricket patriotism to yourself. And to your advertisement contracts,” he tweeted.
Rath, the 2000-batch Indian Police Service officer from Orissa, has his Twitter handle “Kangri Carrier”. It is named after the famous Kashmiri earthen fire pot the Kangri.
Rath has been one of the most known faces of the Jammu and Kashmir police on social media platforms.
In July this year, a video of Rath slapping a common man near Press Enclave Srinagar had gone viral leading to an outrage on social media with the incumbent SMC Mayor then tweeting, “A power drunk IPS officer slapping a poor young man repeatedly outside Press Enclave in Srinagar, just because he objected to being abused. Where are the fan boys and fan girls now? Didn't I tell you, it was a matter of time?”
Rath has been known for his black coloured attire roaming with and without personal security in and around Srinagar city sometimes on a bicycle, a site uncommon for even the junior level police officers in the Valley owing to the security situation.
Commanding followers and fans on Facebook and Twitter, he was seen moving on the roads in Sopore and sipping tea, a rare sight in the Valley.
Unlike Jammu, Rath’s interventions did not trigger a major change in Kashmir – possibly because of non-availability of road space and political will.
Rath had faced a legal challenge after he dismantled an attic of a hotel in Jahangir chowk this year.
His videos of seizing the car of a political leader from Jammu and sending him back in his own vehicle along with travelling in local minibuses and playing the traditional Kashmiri musical instruments have been all over the internet.
Rath had witnessed protests last month when he had allegedly slapped a photo-journalist in Jammu. However, the issue was resolved after Rath mended fences.