IPS officer returns his police medal over Khuda Bakhsh library demolition, the matter goes viral
A TNB exclusive interview of the IPS Officer Amitabh Kumar Das, over the demolition of Khuda Baksh Library case. Das has been a whistle blower in earlier alleged corruption cases against the Bihar CM Nitish Kumar
IPS OFFICER AMITABH KUMAR DAS
The row over the KhudaBakhsh Library takes a new turn as Amitabh Kumar Das, an IPS Officer of 1994 batch returns his police medal he received for his distinguished services, to the Nitish Kumar Government.
In an appeal to the President of India, Mr.RamnathKovind on 12th April, Das uses harsh words against the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and offers to return his Police Medal that he had received for his distinguished services to the nation, as a protest against the demolition of the heritage site in the city of Patna, Capital of the State of Bihar.
Das address the CM of Bihar as “Nalayaqmukhyamantri” (useless Chief Minister) who according to him has submitted to the pressures of the “corrupt contractors” and “tender mafia” of Bihar and ordered to demolish a part of historical heritage building the KhudaBakhsh Library.
He says in the appeal written in Hindi, “KhudaBakhsh Library is an example of the legacy of the whole humanity and is symbolic of India’s secularism and ‘Ganga-Jamnitehzeeb’. The whole Bihar is proud of the library”. He further adds that he is a book lover and the news of the demolition of the parts of library has given him grievous heart-break; he has rendered his services to the nation as an IPS officer for years. He is thus returning the police medal against the decision of the CM to demolish the library.
Two days prior to the letter to the President, Das, in another appeal to the nation, on his letter head as the Chairman of the Bihar ViplaviParishad, a council for Equality, Liberty and Fraternity as he claims, he informs that his council will fight this demotion tooth-and-nail, in a peaceful manner till the time, the bulldozing orders “from the tender mafia “is not taken back. He has named this movement against the demolition in a slogan - “HarShakhsKhudaBakhsh” (Every Soul (is) KhudaBakhsh).
In an exclusive interview to The National Bulletin (TNB) Amitabh Kumar Das speaks with Rana Siddiqui Zaman
Here are excerpts from the interview done over the telephone on 13thApril.
Why did you return the medal to the President of India? You could possibly adopt a different method of protest
I have already said what I had to in my letter to the honourable President that I am returning my police medal for my distinguished services to lodge a protest against the demolition of the heritage book mansion house. I am heart-broken. I love books and I can’t see this site being bulldozed in such an insensitive manner. My returning the medal will put pressure on the government.
It is as much a brave step, as it sad that one has to return the award to register a protest. But do you actually think returning the award or the medals help pressurise the government the way you want it be pressurised?
Yes, yes, why not? I am a student of history I know after the JalianwalaBagh massacre, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore returned his Knighthood and created a stir in the world. Recently also, against the communal approach of the Modi government, many writers and scholars have returned their awards and titles that the government had bestowed upon them. This is to tell the government how sad your good workers have been.
When Gurudev returned the award, people and government were different, at that point in time they were sensitive enough unlike what we see today. For instance in the recent past, many writers and others joined the ‘Award Vapsi’ campaign against the anti-minority approach of the government but it didn’t bring much results. What do you have to say about this?
I know this government is insensitive. But I am trying to bring awareness among the people about what’s the issue and what should be done about it. I feel what I have achieved so far is, turning a local issue into an international one by returning my medal to the government. So far, those who didn’t know KhudaBakhsh Library for their own reasons, now are searching Google to know why an IPS officer has returned his medal and about our precious heritage site. I feel that’s a very big achievement.
I am even encouraging and appealing people to follow suit.
What’s going to be your next step?
We will not stop here. This is just the first step. I have decided that via my council, BiharViplaviParishad which stands for Equality, Liberty and Fraternity, we will move the Patna High Court. I have spoken to many lawyers and we are filing a PIL against the demolition orders. When the honourable court will put a stay on the order, we will automatically win this war.
Filing this PIL already, do you actually believe that it is only the corrupt contractors and the tender mafia under whose pressure the KhudaBaksh Library is going to be demolished? Don’t you suspect that it is an indication of mitigating everything that belongs remotely to minority especially the Muslims? Allegedly, the name KhudaBakhsh has a problem for them. There is no Khuda over there but it is just about books, also it is as much as the Curzon Reading Room which has about 21000 Oriental manuscripts and 2.5 lakh printed books, out of which 14000 are extremely valuable manuscripts in Arabic, Pashto, Kashmiri and adjacent to it is Urdu Government Library where Muslims come and study and be successful. Since 2014, we are seeing anti-Minority stance of the Modi government?
Yes. But that’s another aspect. The tender mafia and corrupt contractors are a part of the pressure tactics applied on the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The second aspect is SanghPariwar pressure on the CM. He is just a puppet in the hands of the tadipaar (fugitive) Home Minister Amit Shah. The *Ranga-Billa pair as I address them now, Mr.Modi and Mr. Shah, since 2014, have tried to mitigate anything that has a Muslim reference or name to it. They changed the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj because it had Allah in its name; they changed Mughal Sarai Station to DeenDayalUpadhyayNagar Station. People even made joke on a new Mughlaiparantha to be changed to PanditDeenDayalUpadhyayParantha. What a joke is going on in the country. This is an awful approach. So I wrote in PIL.
Do you feel scared that you have taken a brave step by challenging the government up-front? Don’t you think it can backfire on you?
If I were afraid, I wouldn’t have challenged them. I have already lost my job in 2018. The government retired me prematurely saying it was in the “public interest”. I am already fighting a case against the government.
So you have axed your feet again?
Yes. I am never scared of anyone. (laughs).
Do you face any threats from the people you oppose?
Yes. I have been given four body guards by the Patna High Court to save me because the duo (Modi-Shah) can go to any extent. They operate like Italian Mafia and Mexican Drug Mafia. Don’t we know what happened to Justice Loya, journalist GauriLankesh, NarendraDabholkar, GovindPansare, Sanjiv Bhatt is going to be languishing in jail for 30 years while Pragya Thakur is in Parliament! In UP a mafia don like Raja Bhaiyya is roaming freely and Dr.Kafeel was sent to jail for doing humanitarian work.
tell us about the council you represent?
I formed Bihar ViplaviParishad in 2020 against the government’s CAA, NRC and NPR moves. It is a Leftist-minded organisation. We work within legal framework and not like naxals. We have branches in many districts. I have given a slogan to the case of KhudaBakhsh I am fighting “HarShakhsKhudaBakhsh. Meaning every person is a KhudaBakhsh. We fight against capitalism, communalism and Hindu-Muslim divide. We are basically fighting against anything wrong that the ruling regime is doing to divide people.
Please tell us something about your education and personal life.
I was born and brought up in Darbhanga, Bihar. I come from a middle class family. My father was a government servant and mother homemaker. I studied for services without any coaching and passed in the very first attempt. I went to New Delhi for the first time to attend my viva-voce and was chosen for Bihar Cadre in 1994 as an IPS officer. For almost 24 years I served as Superintendent of Police in many districts of Bihar. Then I commanded many BMP (Bihar Military Police) battalions. I was in CID, Bihar Commission, and Civil Defence etc. My list is big.
The letter to the President of India by IPS Officer Amitabh Kumar Das returning his medal
The interesting part is that I was Bihar Railway’s Superintendent of Police when Nitish Kumar was Railway Minister in 2004. We met and our clash began. I had 11 districts under my charge including Nitish Kumar’s Nalanda district.
He was accused of giving tenders of railways related work to tender mafia. I was the whistle blower. So Nitish Kumar put me on his hit list. When he came to power in 2005, he made various departments play against me and blocked my promotions. I fought legally, the case went up to the Supreme Court and I won the case in 2017. All my promotions were given back to me as arrears. This government was compelled to give me an IG Rank. But I was made to retire in 2018 prematurely stating “public interest” as a reason! I was made to retire stating my stay in the service is “detrimental to the public interest”. There are no charges against me. Now, I am fighting my case in CAT (Central Administrative Tribunal) to get an explanation on what the government means by “public interest”.
The CM of Bihar Mr.Nitish Kumar is silent on the matter. Is breaking a legacy important for a political gain?
The Director of KhudaBakhsh Library Dr ShayestaBedar is saying that in the name of development “some sacrifices” have to be made. What do you have to say about it?
I also feel surprised and shocked at her statement. She also said “how can a scholar like Nitish Kumar do it?” (laughs). She should have resigned over the demolition orders instead of saying this.
Now after returning the medal, you think people will follow suit?
I hope so. After I returned the medal publicly, the news has gone viral across the world. This is the power of social media. I am getting calls from all over the world and people are trying to know why I did this and what is the case of KhudaBakhsh Library. This will become a global movement I feel.
* The Ranga-Billa pair (infamously referred to a criminal pair of Kulbir and Jasbir Singh who kidnapped Geeta and Sanjay Shahy and murdered them in 1978). The term was first used for Modi-Shah duo by Booker winner author Arundhati Roy publicly last year who was fighting against them CAA, NPR, NRC and ShaheenBagh protests).
TNB will seek answers from the CM and Ms.Bedar over the matter.