On September 22, the day Bihar’s Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey took voluntary retirement from the service, a two minutes and 19 seconds music video about him was released. In the video, singer Deepak Thakur, a Big Boss-12 contestant, described him as “Bihar’s Robinhood” and “Janata ka hero”. With the panegyric lyrics in the background, Mr. Pandey is seen as a super cop in tough gait.
The release of the video was not coincidental. It was launched at a time when Mr. Pandey was planning to enter politics. With Bihar going to the polls next month, Mr. Pandey, who met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday at the Janata Dal (United) party office in Patna, is likely to contest on the JD(U) ticket.
The 59-year-old 1987 batch IPS officer, with over 7,00,000 followers on his Facebook account, has always been an officer hogging headlines, for right or wrong reasons. His love for devotional songs, his rustic mannerisms and theatrical delivery of statements, always appearing with a tikka on his forehead, all attracted local media attention.
In his 34 years of career, Mr. Pandey had been the Superintendent of Police of several districts and donned higher posts in different zones and at the State headquarters. His career, however, was not devoid of controversies.
In 2012, after a 12-year-old girl was abducted from Muzaffarpur, the girl’s father accused 11 persons, including Mr. Pandey, who was then Inspector General of Tirhut zone in which Muzaffarpur district falls. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is currently investigating the case.
Sushant Singh case
Of late, he was featured by national media for the statements he made on the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
The late actor was from Patna and on the complaint of his father K.K. Singh, a case was registered against his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and five others at the Rajiv Nagar police station in Bihar’s capital. A team of four police officers was sent to Mumbai to probe the case and later, a young IPS officer Vinay Tiwari, too, reached there, only to be quarantined by municipal officials in Mumbai. Mr. Pandey slammed the Mumbai police for not cooperating with the Bihar police in the case. He even made a controversial statement about Ms. Chakraborty, saying she had no aukat (stature) to make any comment on Chief Minister Kumar.
Later, leaders of Maharashtra’s ruling party Shiv Sena slammed Mr. Pandey for his comments, which set the course for a verbal dual between the two State governments. The Supreme Court settled the spat by ordering the CBI to investigate the case. Mr. Pandey lost no time in terming the Supreme Court’s decision as Bihar’s victory. A day after his retirement, he said that whatever he had said about Sushant Singh Rajput’s case was upheld by the top court.
Asked whether he would be joining politics, Mr. Pandey shot back, asking if it was a crime “for a poor farmer’s son who has had 34 years of unblemished career” in police services to contest elections. “Given an opportunity, I’d plunge into politics but only to serve the people,” he said.
He also said in a video that he had an offer to join either a corporate house with a ₹2 crore annual package or hold a constitutional post for another three years.
Mr. Pandey also heaped praise on Chief Minister Kumar who, he said, had given complete freedom to the Police Department to tackle crime and maintain peace and communal harmony in the State. Interestingly, Mr. Kumar, in March 2019, had asked Mr. Pandey at a public function to focus more on policing than giving statements to the media.
This is not the first time Mr. Pandey has taken voluntary retirement from service. In 2009, he had opted for VRS to contest the Lok Sabha poll but when failed to get a ticket, he controversially rejoined the police service after nine months.
Some senior officials had admitted in private that Mr. Pandey’s reinstatement was against service rules but with the backing of the government, the issue died down.
Mr. Pandey was back in action and on January 31, 2019, he was appointed the DGP. He was to retire on February 28, 2021. Now, having voluntarily retired from service, the top cop seems to be aiming higher.