In an interview with PatnaBeats, senior Uttar Pradesh IPS officer Amitabh Thakur who hails from Muzaffarpur, Bihar, after being reinstated from suspension for almost 10 months talks about his early life, dream of becoming an IAS, about his passion to cleanse the system and how the youth of Bihar can contribute towards making a better Bihar.
Many Congratulations on being reinstated as a DGP! How does it feel?
To start of, I was wrongly suspended mainly for political reasons in the first place & secondly when the ninety days period as prescribed by law was over, despite the Government of India & Central administrative Tribunal (CAT) repeatedly directing State government, I wasn’t being reinstated to hold my current position. Now that I have been reinstated, I feel this is a victory of justice, truth and righteousness in many ways.
It is indeed tough what you have been through. PatnaBeats again congratulates on being reinstated. We would like to know more about your early life and your connection with Bihar.
I belong to a place called Sursand in Sitamarhi. My father shifted to Bokaro, which was at that time, a part of Unified Bihar which now is a part of Jharkand, where he used to work with the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). I did my schooling from Central school Bokaro after which I did my B.Tech from IIT Kanpur in Mechanical Engineering from 1985 to 1989.
When did you first conceive the idea of becoming an IPS? How did this journey start?
All along I had thought of becoming an officer. In fact, right from childhood I thought of being an IAS officer. I had never thought of or envisaged becoming an IPS officer. From a very young age, the idea of becoming an IAS officer excited me but later on, since my rank placed me in IPS category, I joined the Indian Police services.
Bihar is your home state and even then you opted for UP cadre? why is that?
Back then in our times we could get either our home cadre or it had to be through a rooster system. I had also opted for my home cadre, but my rank was a li’l low to make the cut for Bihar, so I got UP cadre.
With more than 30 transfers in your 24 years career, what is the best thing you like about your job? What drives you every morning?
Despite of many hardships that I have faced as an IPS officer I still like to consider it to be one of the best jobs. It is one of those services where you can directly serve the people and also serve justice instantly. There are cases which gets dragged & take years in the court of law to be settled, which actually can be decided instantly by a police officer if he is doing his job honestly and diligently without any fear & biases. There’s a lot that can be done as a police officer and I think that is the most important thing which attracts me towards being in Police services.
Is there a particular incident you would you like to share which drives you towards being in this service?
One particular incident or moment which I can never forget is the one related with Siwan from where a strongman, Ex-MP, Mr. Shahabuddin belongs to. A boy was kidnapped from Lar which came under the jurisdiction of a police station(Lar) in Deveria. I was the SP of Deveria back then. We recover the boy from one of the relative & henchman of Mr. Shahabuddin in Siwan. We took him back from Siwan to Deveria all along the border to the place from where the child belonged. We were given a huge response and there were people on both sides of the road. They garlanded us and were very joyous. This is something I can never forget.
I am told that the Jasrana incident particularly motivated you to indulge in social service rather than being only a regular police officer. What would you like to say about it?
Jasrana incident definitely taught me a lot of things . Earlier I was a little hesitant when the issues related to powerful people like ministers and chief Ministers came through, but after the Jasrana Incident everything changed for me. I stopped thinking about the opposition and their powers completely. After what I faced in the Jasrana incident, the chief minister got angry with me and he got me transferred. But whatever happened I was happy with that as it changed me forever.
What suggestions would you like to give to the new officers/aspirants?
For the candidates who have already been selected, I would like to say from my experience that it’s a fantastic job and if you do your job properly you would be rewarded immensely by the services. But at the same time I would also advise them not to go for short cuts, as short cuts do look attractive but they are not. You have to later pay for them. For the young boys who are trying to get into the services I would like to say that, they should make their best effort because definitely even today it is the best job. But in case they fail, they should not take failure to their heart and start solitarily seeking for truth, because I have many friends who have failed to get into the IAS/IPS services but are big names in their own respective fields today.
Tell us something about National RTI forum. How did the idea to felicitate RTI activists came up?
I got involved with RTI because I came to understand that RTI is powerful and it will be helpful for the common man & later on when we came to know that RTI activists are being hurt, tortured, threatened and some of them are even getting murdered. We conceived the idea of National RTI forum, where we thought we will come to the support of these people and give them courage and conviction so that they can continue their struggle in a fearless manner.
With RTI act and whistleblower protection act in operation. How do we ensure Govt. Servants interacting without hesitation and intimidation from seniors about wrong doing in his/her department?
The whistle blower act is not implemented by many states and that I think is a disturbing feature. Many states have not initiated the implementation of the act. The notifications have not been done. The states where the notifications have been done, are working smoothly & has definitely given a strong option to the people who want to unearth the scams against their departments and seniors.
I think all of us must demand the Whistle blower act in states where it has not been implemented yet. It should be implemented immediately because it is a very strong tool and definitely will help the people who want to clean the system.
What changes do you see in bureaucracy today compared to the days when you joined? Is there a change? Do you see the change as good or bad?
To me it seems that bureaucracy has changed for bad. Many IAS or IPS officers are getting suited to different political linkages only for their own personal goals and many a times they are not concerned about their duties and are only concerned about their own postings.
In January 2011, you filed an FIR against Facebook and some of its users, for offensive comments against Mahatma Gandhi in a Facebook group called “I hate Gandhi”. How important do you see Gandhian Values are in today’s world?
To me whatever Mahatma Gandhi said at that time remains extremely relevant today particularly because that are things which no one can & no one could dispute because they are proven facts . That’s why they still remain extremely relevant in today’s world.
Do you think the urge to like /comment or respond to any post in social media has eroded our quality of accommodating dissent?
I personally think that social media has done a good thing. This is my personal opinion, you have a choice to delete a comment or post or even restricting someone from posting on your wall. You can give certain feedback messages as well. Even there are people who are quite intolerant to other people’s viewpoint but in totality social media gives us lot of opportunity to stay social and express ourselves which was lacking earlier.
Indeed it is there, but with urgency, with which we generally respond, sometimes there’s a lack of logical reasoning and articulation based on facts?
I do agree with you that many a times, the first response we give or the immediate response we give is incorrect and when the facts come out then it is found that what was previously circulated was incorrect. Even Though it is true, I would again repeat that many times our immediate/first response is not correct or are intolerant but its good that at least there is a space where we can express ourselves. Sooner or later the truth emerges.
You have penned two books and in “The fresh Brew, Chronicles of business & freedom” you have written about journey of entrepreneurship of 25 IIM Alumni. What would you like to say to the budding Entrepreneurs?
I personally feel that being an entrepreneur is one of the most challenging jobs. I also believe that anybody who has faith in himself can do very well. The real thing is to have faith in yourself and go for entrepreneurship. Success will definitely follow you.
How important do you think the government programmes like “Make in India” & “StartUp India” will be in nurturing entrepreneurship?
I am not aware of the exact policies being made through these programmes as of now. But definitely there is a need for such policies where people are given opportunities and support for entrepreneurship because entrepreneurship is the need of the hour.
The foreword in that book was written by APJ Abdul Kalam sir. How would you like to define APJ Abdul Kalam sir?
The foreword by Kalam sir was definitely one of the best things we could get for that book. Till date I think he is one of the few people who remained committed to his goals and never deviated from his path, whatever he wanted to do for the larger interest of the society. I think it is indeed a very rare & inspiring quality.
I don’t think that I am a good poet But yes I still write poetry on and off. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar is my favourite poet.
Coming back to your roots, what do you have to say about the development and social improvement of Bihar? How can the youth of Bihar contribute towards it?
Bihar certainly has become better & the youth can contribute towards a better bihar by firstly being part of the development programmes that are taking place and secondly by being responsible and accountable for things happening around them by alerting and going to the authorities for the discrepancies happening around them and raising their voice against it.
Did you motivate Tanya & Aditya (daughter & son) to pursue law or was it a self motivated career choice by them?
Both of them chose law from their own perspective and from their own choice but yes, they consulted me and my wife, Nutan for guidance and certainly both of us agreed with their choice
How important role your Wife, Madam Nutan Thakur, play in your life?
Whatever I could do in social services or otherwise that is only possible because of my wife’s contribution and support. The path I chose was not an easy one and possibly like any other husband, I could not have done it without my wife’s support that easily.
Any particular message to the readers of Patna Beats?
Firstly I would thank you for becoming a very good platform for coming up with good ideas and for having conscious point regarding the perspectives of mind. Through you I would like to say to the people of Bihar that they shall follow their heart and shall try to make a better Bihar.