We are a group of retired civil servants from the All India and Central Services who, having spent long years in the service of the Constitution of India, have come together to express ourselves on issues of governance and public policy that have a bearing on constitutional principles, conduct and ethics. Since June 2017, when we first came together, we have spoken out on several occasions when we felt that constitutional values were under threat and that it was incumbent on us to voice our concerns publicly. As a group we have no affiliations with any political party nor do we subscribe to any ideology other than the values enshrined in the Constitution.
It is a measure of the rapid erosion of constitutional values that we, as a group, have felt a compelling need to speak out as many as nine times in the last eighteen months. The pace of erosion has been frightening and with each slip we seem to sink further into a lawless abyss.
The mob violence in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh (U.P), on 3 December 2018, instigated and engineered with malicious intent, which led to the cold blooded murder of a police officer brave enough to step forward single-handedly to pacify the mob, marks the most dangerous turn yet in the direction taken by the politics of hate in recent times. It shows that in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, fundamental principles of governance, of constitutional ethics and of humane social conduct stand perverted. The Chief Minister of the state acts as a high priest of the agenda of bigotry and majoritarian supremacy – an agenda which now seems to take precedence over everything else.
Why is this incident such a frightening indicator of the complete collapse of constitutional values? This is not the first instance of a situation intentionally created to foment communal tension. The history of U.P. is replete with such instances. This is not the first time that a policeman has been killed by a frenzied mob. This is also not the first time that the politics of cow protection has been used as a means of isolating and cornering the Muslim community and deepening the social divide.
All this we have seen before but, so far, we had the confidence that whenever a political party actually forms a Government it keeps its partisan political agenda at bay and begins to exercise power with a sense of responsibility so as to gain wider political acceptability. The Bulandshahr episode, which follows a succession of events aimed at isolating and intimidating Muslim communities in U.P., shows that, under Yogi Adityanath, that confidence is misplaced and that hooliganism and thuggery have been mainstreamed into governance not just to intimidate minorities but to teach a lesson to anyone, including police personnel and others in the administration, who dare to be evenhanded in their approach to minority communities.
While it may be premature to come to conclusions about the murder of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh before the investigations are over, there is no doubt that there was nothing spontaneous about the violence that led to his killing, nor is there any doubt as to who the political elements were that aided and abetted the violence. This was a deliberate attempt to display majoritarian muscle and send a message to the Muslim communities living in the region that they have to live in fear, accept their subordinate status and conform to the cultural diktats of the majority community.
Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh’s reputation of being independent and even-handed and his refusal to act in haste on the complaint of illegal cow slaughter that allegedly took place under his watch, was obviously seen as defiance of the majoritarian will. The local BJP and Sangh Parivar elements had already complained about his anti-Hindu conduct and sought his transfer. He was an impediment to their communal plans and had to go. Much as the Chief Minister may try to mislead by calling it an accident, this was murder with intent. It was murder most foul.
As horrifying as the brazen, daylight murder of a courageous police officer is the response of the administration to the event. The Chief Minister refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the incident and its communal intent, condemn the perpetrators of violence or direct the police to take action against them but instead asks them to focus attention on those responsible for illegal cow slaughter. The police authorities themselves draw an equivalence between the killing of a police officer and the illegal slaughter of cows and claim that unless both crimes are investigated together it will not be possible to come to any conclusions about the violence of the mob and the murder of a colleague.
Ample video graphed evidence exists to show that those engaged in violence and their leaders, as well as those who egged them on, are allowed to roam scot-free while, at the same time, alleged cow killers, against whom not a shred of evidence exists, are taken into custody, just because they are Muslims. Three of the main accused in the mob violence leading to the death of the police officer flaunt their affiliations to the Sangh Parivar and one of them openly declares that the slain police officer was corrupt, friendly with Muslims and anti-Hindu, implying thereby that he deserved his fate.
World over, in any civilized society, the killing of a policeman is a more serious offence than any other crime, because it represents an assault on the very basis of that civilisation. It brooks no tolerance and even the most fractious of social and political groups come together to ensure that the perpetrators of such a crime are given exemplary punishment so that no one ever dares to attack the authority of law. In U.P. on the other hand we are witness to the entire administration, presided over by a Chief Minister who flaunts his bigotry as his badge of identity, preparing the ground not for bringing the perpetrators to book but for protecting them as defenders of faith and culture. This is the Rule of Lawlessness.
Our colleagues in service, in the Police and the Civil Administration appear, with honourable exceptions, to have capitulated readily to this perverted political order. They seem to have forgotten that their primary allegiance is to the Constitution and the Rule of Law, and that their constitutional status provides them an armour of such extraordinary strength that, had they taken steps to check the growing menace of the Hindutva brigade, they could certainly have prevented the outbreak of violence. Instead they not only allowed these hooligans to grow in confidence and gather political strength, they helped them gain impunity in their lawless actions. .Even now if they – the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police, the Home Secretary, the District Magistrate and the district police authorities – stand together to uncover the insidious political agenda, identify its masterminds and bring the hooligans involved in the violence to book, they stand a chance to redeem their pledge to the Constitution and live up to the expectations that citizens have of the higher civil services.
Our Prime Minister, who is so voluble in his election campaigns and who never tires of telling us of how the Constitution of India is the only holy book he worships, maintains stony silence even as he sees a Chief Minister handpicked by him treat that same Constitution with sheer contempt. It is evident that, for the Sangh Parivar, constitutional morality is of no value and is necessarily subordinate to the ideals of majoritarian supremacy.
Never before in recent history has the politics of hate, division and exclusion been so dominant and the poisonous ideology which informs it penetrated so deep into the body politic. Never before has hate been directed with such calculated intent against minority communities, hate which is nursed, aided and abetted by those in power. Violence has been given social and political sanction and perpetrators of violence have been treated with kid gloves while victims have been punished and harassed.
This is a critical moment and we cannot take it lying down anymore. We call upon all citizens to unite in a crusade against the politics of hate and division – a politics which aims to destroy the fundamental principles on which our Republic is founded. We ask all citizens to whom constitutional values matter to join us in reasserting our sovereignty as citizens to:
- Demand the resignation of the Chief Minister for his failure to abide by the Constitution to which he has sworn his allegiance. We know that this can happen, if together, we build a groundswell of public opinion by which we hold him accountable for his conduct and compel him to resign.
- Remind the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police, the Home Secretary, and all other members of the higher civil services concerned, of their constitutional duty to fearlessly implement the Rule of Law rather than the perverse dictates of their political masters.
- Request the High Court at Allahabad to take suo motu cognizance of this incident and order a judicial enquiry supervised by them to uncover the true facts, expose the political collusion, fix responsibility and recommend action.
- Work towards a citizen-led national campaign against the politics of hate and violence – in particular, the structural violence directed against Muslims, Adivasis, Dalits and women – violence which finds sustenance in the structures of political power.
- Salute Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh for his bravery in standing up for constitutional values and refusing to yield to political pressure even at the cost of his life and for setting an example to his children and the younger generation that values matter more than career success. We also acknowledge and applaud the dignity with which his family has faced this crisis and their quiet resolve to uphold the principles for which Subodh Kumar Singh sacrificed his life. His martyrdom will not be in vain.
1. S.P. Ambrose IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
2. J.L. Bajaj IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Administrative Reforms and Decentralisation Commission, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
3. N. Bala Baskar IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (Finance), Ministry of External Affairs, GoI
4. Vappala IPS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI Balachandran
5. Gopalan Balagopal IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
6. Chandrashekhar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Coal, GoI Balakrishnan
7. Meeran C Borwankar IPS (Retd.) Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
8. Ravi Budhiraja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI
9. Sundar Burra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
10. Kalyani Chaudhuri IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
11. Anna Dani IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
12. Surjit K. Das IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand
13. Vibha Puri Das IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
14. P.R. Dasgupta IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
15. Nareshwar Dayal IFS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
16. Pradeep K. Deb IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
17. Nitin Desai IES (Retd.) Former Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI
18. Keshav Desiraju IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
19. M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
20. Sushil Dubey IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Sweden
21. K.P. Fabian IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Italy
22. Prabhu Ghate IAS (Retd.) Former Addl. Director General, Department of Tourism, GoI
23. Arif Ghauri IRS (Retd.) Former Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI
24. Gourisankar Ghosh IAS (Retd.) Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, GoI
25. Hirak Ghosh IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
26. Tuktuk Ghosh IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping & Tourism, GoI
27. Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
28. Ravi Vira Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
29. Deepa Hari IRS (Resigned)
30. Vivek Harinarain IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Tamil Nadu
31. Sajjad Hassan IAS (Retd.) Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur
32. Dr. M.A. Ibrahimi IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary (rank), Govt. of Bihar
33. Kamal Jaswal IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
34. Jagdish Joshi IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Maharashtra
35. Najeeb Jung IAS (Retd.) Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi
36. K. John Koshy IAS (Retd.) Former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal
37. Ajai Kumar Indian Forest Former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, GoI Service (Retd.)
38. Arun Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, GoI
39. Brijesh Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
40. Harsh Mander IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
41. Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
42. Shivshankar Menon IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser
43. Sonalini IFS GoI Mirchandani (Resigned)
44. Sunil Mitra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
45. Noor Mohammad IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India
46. Deb Mukharji IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
47. Shiv Shankar IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Mukherjee Kingdom
48. Pranab S. IAS (Retd.) Former Director, Institute of Port Management, Mukhopadhyay GoI
49. Nagalswamy IA&AS Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu (Retd.) & Kerala
50. Amitabha Pande IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
51. Niranjan Pant IA&AS Former Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General of (Retd.) India
52. Alok Perti IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI
53. T.R. Raghunandan IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI
54. N.K. Raghupathy IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI
55. J.P. Rai IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, National Skills Development Agency, GoI
56. V.P. Raja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
57. C. Babu Rajeev IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI
58. M.Y. Rao IAS (Retd.)
59. Julio Ribeiro IPS (Retd.) Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania
60. Aruna Roy IAS (Resigned)
61. Manabendra N. Roy IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
62. Deepak Sanan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
63. Shyam Saran IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former Chairman, National Security Advisory Board
64. N.C. Saxena IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
65. Ardhendu Sen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
66. Aftab Seth IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Japan
67. Ashok Kumar IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia Sharma
68. Navrekha Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia
69. Pravesh Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
70. Raju Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
71. Rashmi Shukla IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Sharma Madhya Pradesh
72. K. Ashok Vardhan IAS (Retd.) Former Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime Shetty University, GoI
73. Rajdip Singh IPS (Retd.) Former Special Director General, Border Security Force, GoI
74. Sujatha Singh IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary, GoI
75. Tirlochan Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI
76. Jawhar Sircar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & former CEO, Prasar Bharati
77. Narendra Sisodia IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
78. Thanksy Thekkekera IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Minorities Development, Govt. of Maharashtra
79. P.S.S. Thomas IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
80. Geetha Thoopal IRAS (Retd.) Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
81. Hindal Tyabji IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
82. Ramani Venkatesan IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra
83. Arvind Verma IPS (Resigned)