The transfer of IPS officer D Roopa, who exposed the irregularities and malpractices in the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison, has spelt more trouble for the Siddaramaiah government, which is yet to recover from the communal flare-up in the coastal region.
No sooner than Roopa’s transfer was effected, there was nationwide outrage, with the social media erupting, and the opposition parties accusing the government for “punishing” an honest officer.
Roopa’s transfer is also said to rock the Parliament tomorrow, with Karnataka BJP MPs resolving to raise the matter in the Lok Sabha. The party, which has been crying hoarse over the government’s “inefficiency” in handling the violence in Dakshina Kannada, has found additional ammunition in the prisons controversy, to target the Congress government in the State.
Both the BJP and the JD(S) condemned the government strongly, and demanded a judicial enquiry into the matter.
On Monday morning, while Karnataka MLAs were busy lining up to cast their votes for the Presidential elections in Vidhana Soudha, the government issued orders, effecting the transfer of five IPS officers, including DIG (Prisons) Roopa and DGP (Prisons) H N Sathyanarayana Rao.
While Roa, who is on the verge of retirement, has not been given any posting; Roopa, a 2000 batch officer, has been posted as DIG and Commissioner for Traffic and Road safety. Aside from levelling charges against her superior Rao and exposing the VIP culture in the prison, Roopa had also levelled corruption charges against Chief Superintendent of Police (Prisons) Krishna Kumar.
While both Roa and Roopa were transferred, no action was taken against Kumar, giving rise to speculations, and severe criticisms, especially when it came to light that the latter had launched a signature campaign in favour of himself in the prison.
The government on its part downplayed the entire transfer episode earlier in the day. When his reaction was sought, a defiant Siddaramaiah had said that he was not answerable to the media, and that Roopa’s transfer was an administrative matter.
However, following continued brickbats all through the morning, the government tried to salvage the situation by getting into damage control mode. By afternoon, the government shunted out Kumar, without assigning him a posting. R Anitha had been deputed to take his charge.
The Chief Minister’s Office also issued a clarification on Roopa’s transfer through the Department of Information and Public Relations.The government claimed that it had ordered a high level enquiry by retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar to unearth facts, after Roopa submitted her report.
“However, the public conduct after the DIG’s first report and the institution of the enquiry, has not been in the spirit of officers abiding by service rules and protocol. Despite the enquiry being in process, both Roa and Roopa went to the media to discuss the issue, in serious violation of the service rules. Following this both officers were issued show cause notices. Despite this, both officers visited the Central Prison, leading to disturbance in the jail premises. The transfers were effected in order to maintain the sanctity of the enquiry process and to ensure that evidence based truth emerges. Once the enquiry report is submitted, strict action will be taken against the guilty,” the statement read.
Condemning Roopa’s transfer, BJP State president B S Yeddyurappa said that the government’s stand showed that only the corrupt and dishonest would be rewarded. “Apart from exposing the VVIP treatment being given to AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala and convict in the multi-crore stamp paper racket Abdul Karim Telgi, Roopa has also brought to fore the supply of drugs and narcotic substances in the prison. But even before the enquiry is completed, Roopa has been transferred in an attempt to whitewash the entire murky episode. Under the Congress regime, dedicated and honest officers either end up being deputed to central services or committing suicide,” he said.
BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje said that Roopa’s transfer would demoralise the entire bureaucracy. “The government does not tolerate honest officers as it is corrupt. The probe by a former IAS officer is a mockery. The BJP will continue to demand a high level of enquiry and ensure that the guilty are punished. Many sincere officers like Anupama Shenoy, C Shikha and V Rashmi have been humiliated, insulted and transferred. Roopa is the latest victim,” she said.
She also added that upright officers like D K Ravi, Anurag Tiwari and M K Ganapathi, had sacrificed their lives, fighting corruption. Also, as long as Siddaramaiah kept retired IPS officer Kempaiah as his advisor, honest officers would continue to pay a price.
JD(S) State president H D Kumaraswamy, who last week had alleged that Roopa too was prone to corruption, however changed his tone after the government transferred her out of the Prisons department.
“I had anticipated this transfer. The transfer has been effected at the time of the enquiry. The government does not want to set things right in the Prisons department - it just wants to close the entire chapter. The government has indiscriminately transferred around 35 prisoners from the Central jail. Nobody has a clue as to where they are. The government is trying to protect the corrupt,” he said, demanding a judicial enquiry.