The appointment of the new DGP of Punjab is awaiting approval from the Gandhi family’s poster-boy Rahul Gandhi. Although Rahul Gandhi has no constitutional power to decide on important matters for the state of Punjab, the list of possible candidates has been sent to him for final approval. The appointment has been further delayed due to a lack of consensus among different groups of the Congress party and caste factors.
The newly-elected Chief Minister of Punjab has favoured a 1988 batch officer Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, but his appointment may disrupt the caste equations, as Sahota belongs to the Scheduled Caste community. The principal secretary to the CM, IAS HussalLal also belongs to the Dalit Sikh community. As a part of their political appeasement policy, Congress has been focusing on balancing the caste equation, which is probably the reason why they haven’t landed on a consensus about who will be the next Police chief of Punjab.
According to the sources, different pressure groups were contesting for officers but no final decision had been reached till the filing of this report yet.
Other possible names among the ‘shortlisted’ candidates by the Congress high commands are 1986-batch IPS officer Sidharth Chattopadhyaya, 1987-batch officer VK Bhawra, and 1988-batch officer Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota. All these officers have more than six months of service left which make them eligible for the post.
The Supreme Court back in 2018 had laid down the procedure to appoint the DGP of a state. The state government would send names of the probable officers to UPSC three months before the retirement of the DGP as per reports. In Punjab’s case, the final decision is to be taken by Rahul Gandhi, who notably has no experience in this field and would mostly appoint someone whom Congress High Command can control.
Law and order situation in Punjab
For generations, Punjab has been suffering from a worrisome drug abuse problem. According to surveys and reports, a major reason why it is increasingly becoming a hotbed for both drug peddlers and drug abusers is credited to its border sharing with Pakistan. Pakistan’s border with Punjab has provided an easy entry route for drugs worth billions of rupees to enter India. The involvement of the local people in the drug trade is another issue, as otherwise, it would have been impossible for the drug problem to be so widespread in the state of Punjab.
The appointment of the DGP and a police force is of utmost importance as it would help in maintaining the law and order in Punjab. The next Police chief should not be appointed based on caste, but rather through a transparent merit-based process.