RAHUL Sharma was an Indian Police Service officer of the Gujarat cadre, belonging to the 1992 batch, who sought voluntary retirement on November 20, 2014. His request was finally accepted on February 28, 2015.
Thus, today Rahul is an ex-IPS officer. At the time of his retirement, he was DIG (armed unit) at Rajkot, Gujarat. Almost all his batchmates are in the rank of Inspector General. In contrast, Rahul was only a DIG, and hence a superseded officer. In addition, as per newspaper reports, he had two departmental inquiries pending against him at the time of retirement, in addition to an adverse remark in his Annual Confidential Report (ACR).
In short, technically and officially, a failed officer—not promoted, not posted on some so-called important assignment, being departmentally probed, having adverse remarks and so on.
Yet Rahul is the man I would have always liked to be. Again, Rahul is among the IPS officers for whom I have the highest regard. To put it frankly, Rahul is among my role models, knowing fully well that I can never be like him.
The question naturally is why, do I consider Rahul my favourite, relegating to the background so many of the super-achievers, those who are occupying the highest posts of extreme public importance, those who have or had bright careers and those who are officially considered super-successful in the job?
The answer is plain and simple. To me, Rahul personifies truth and valour; he personifies simplicity and honesty and he also personifies humility and good nature. And these definitely are qualities that make a person truly human and are undoubtedly above all kinds of material advances and worldly advantages.
Another question that naturally arises is, how can I say so, what authority do I have to characterise and explain a person who lives some thousand miles from my place of residence and with whom I have had very few interactions?
It has been repeatedly said that when the 2002 Gujarat riots broke out on February 28, Sharma, who was the Superintendent of Police in Bhavnagar district, became widely known as one of the few district police chiefs to have “responded vigorously” to control the violence
The answer again is small but truly powerful: my inner voice, an innate feeling. And I know for sure that nothing in this mundane and inconsistent world is more powerful and consistent than a person’s inner voice.
It is true that I know Rahul personally and I know him well. We were batch mates in the IPS. We were together for around one-and-a-half years in the National Police Academy at Hyderabad. We became reasonably close there because of added facts like belonging to the same state, Bihar, and being alumni of the same engineering college, IIT Kanpur, where he was two years senior to me, though we did not know each other in the college. Even later, in service, we used to talk to each other only once in a while.
But I must say, my opinion is not based on personal contact or some personal liking or disliking or some kind of irrational thinking but is definitely based on fact.
To begin with, right from the Academy days, we could see Rahul as an extremely transparent, truthful, innately honest, sincere, reliable and sober person. He was equally well-mannered and decent not with some kind of plasticity but with an earthiness and genuineness, which made his personality surface very naturally, effervescently and soothingly.
He was plains peaking and always to the point. There was not an iota of ruffling arrogance in him, of whatever little achievements many of us visibly showed during my interactions.
Thankfully, he continued to retain these qualities all through his police service and this must have been the reason for his playing his role as a true IPS officer so successfully, in all periods of acute crisis, without being partisan to one and all. What most newspaper stories unanimously say is that Rahul played a crucial role in policing operations during the 2002 Gujarat riots. It has been repeatedly said that when the 2002 Gujarat riots broke out on February 28, Sharma, who was the Superintendent of Police (SP) in Bhavnagar district, became widely known as one of the few district police chiefs to have “responded vigorously” to control the violence.
Among his heroic feats was the way he strongly handled the mob of about 10,000 people who tried to set fire to a madrassa on the outskirts of Bhavnagar, a residential Muslim school sheltering 400 students. Ex-Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani, mentioned this brave act in the Parliament.
Again, as per various documents, in his new role as Deputy Commissioner in Ahmedabad, Rahul did a fantastic job while investigating the Gulbarga Society and Naroda Patiya cases. He personally worked to get the mobile phone call data records (CDR) of many key players in these riots, which he allegedly handed over to a senior police officer, to be lost in the process, but which he retraced from his computer and submitted before many inquiry commissions. This is today widely acknowledged as the key evidence resulting in the conviction of many political leaders and police officers, including Maya Kodnani, Jaideep Patel, Babu Bajrangi, and so on.
Rahul personifies truth and valour; he personifies simplicity and honesty and he also personifies humility and good nature. And these definitely are qualities that make a person truly human and are undoubtedly above all kinds of material advances and worldly advantages
IT is many years since Rahul’s well-known exploits happened and much has changed but the man Rahul has not changed—the same shyness, the same humility, the same decency, the same effervescence and the same loyalty to truth and duty. Apparently, he has suffered a lot during the process but unlike many others, he does not carry any hard feelings and still retains his disarming smile which makes him very different from the rest of us.
That is why, whenever I see Rahul or talk to him or hear about him, I am always filled with a rare sense of joy and respect. Pride as well because I am Rahul’s batch mate, because I am from the same institute that Rahul belongs to. I must say Rahul is not the only one of his kind. I personally know of another officer who resembles Rahul in many of his traits and characteristics, Devesh Chaturvedi, an IAS officer in UP, who incidentally is again from IIT Kanpur, with whom I had an opportunity to share an official relationship some 15 years ago when I was SP of the district where he was the District Magistrate. Thankfully again, Devesh retains his original character in the same manner as Rahul, which comes forth so naturally through his smile and his openness.
Hence, Rahul is not alone in his circle, but this circle is definitely not large. Since Rahul is no longer an IPS officer and will now probably work as an advocate, hence I thought it my duty to bring forth these facts and to pay tribute to this man, who truly deserves to be respected, making him and everyone else understand that promotions and ACRs are for ordinary mortals and not for people like Rahul Sharma, who stand much above these routine evaluations.
Thanks, Rahul, for being what all of us should have been but most of us fail to be because of one or more weakness or because of self-imposed limitations.
Amitabh Thakur, an IPS officer from UP, is also working for transparency in governance.
The views expressed are personal.