Jammu and Kashmir's Inspector General of Police (IGP), Traffic, Basant Rath has been in news ever since the Odisha born IPS officer was posted in the state. Clad in a black shirt and trousers, almost all the time when on the job, Rath can be seen on the streets of Jammu and Srinagar mostly for his self-styled way of functioning and no-nonsense attitude.
But, the IGP is now being reported as being abusive and manhandling people as could be seen in a viral video. The video, which was shot sometime back at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, shows Basant in an argument with a pedestrian who the IGP slaps repeatedly in presence of the onlookers.
The state's politicians and several social media users have now come forward and reported Rath's behaviour to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, J&K Governor NN Vohra and Director General of Police Sheesh Paul Vaid.
J&K National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu posted the video along with a tweet, which said, "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 fanboys and fangirls now? Didn't I tell you it was a matter of time? Didn't @usman_majid1 rightly seek his psych eval? How sad.."
A Twitter user, Adnan Wani, said, "When you have police officers who abuse citizens, you erode public confidence in law enforcement. @jandkgovernor @spvaid sir is it like Police officer is allowed to do whatever he want to do. Can law be applied to this police officer for slapping & using such words in public?"
Radio jockey Nasir posted on Facebook saying that a police officer of IG rank is setting a bad precedent in front of the public by resorting to violent behavior while dealing with the general public.
Responding to the criticism, Rath wrote on his Facebook profile, "Friends, there is no question of me doing something that would make me lose the kind of affection I've got in J and K. This is the biggest achievement of my life. Life, not career.That 40 seconds video was a part of a 25 odd minutes long conversation in that fateful afternoon. The guy posed to be a medical student from Delhi spending his vacation in Srinagar."
"He asked me a lot of questions that were political in nature. I trusted him as a friend. And my answers were honest and politically incorrect. Ten odd minutes into our conversation, I realised that a couple of his friends were recording our conversation. When I asked them to stop it and delete the videos, they created a scene. That triggered the scuffle."
"The incident is more than two months old. I'll regret my choice to engage with the guy that afternoon for a pretty long time," he added.
Rath was earlier in news for reportedly slapping and verbally abusing a Radio Kashmir employee who was not wearing a helmet while riding a two wheeler. The employee also lodged a complaint against the officer saying that on his directions, the traffic police thrashed him.
However, Rath stood by his action saying that indiscipline cannot be tolerated.
There is also a section of people across the state who admire Rath and thank him for streamlining the traffic management in the state.
Rath was also responsible for the removal of illegal encroachments across Srinagar, which earlier led to recurrent jams in the city. He also became popular among the masses after imposing challan on a J&K Police and security forces vehicle.
Here is the viral video: