An Ode to Bassi by an Ordinary Citizen

Shri B.S.Bassi recently retired as Police Commissioner of Delhi.He had his last innings in Delhi from August, 2013 to February, 2016. He did not have an easy time since May, 2015 when AAP Government headed by Shri Arvind Kejriwal took over reins of the National Capital Territory of Delhi due to the Union Government and the Delhi Government pulling in different directions.

The last one month of Shri Bassi’s tenure was particularly tumultuous due to events arising from the celebration of the anniversary of Afzal Guru’s hanging organised in JNU Campus. There has been some criticism of Shri Bassi’s handling of the situation including the arrest of JNUSU President Kanhaiya. In my view, however, though there may have been some lapses by the police before and after the arrest, the arrest itself cannot be faulted in view of the intensity of the public outrage caused by the posters displayed and the unquestionably anti-national slogans raised by the participants in the event organised by JNUSU whose President is Knahaiya.The Union Home Minister was livid, there was uproar in Parliament and outrage on the streets of Delhi and other parts of the country. Not arresting Kanhaiya in these circumstances, especially when some of his other colleagues went missing, would have been unthinkable. In any case, Kanhaiya being the President of the union that organised the event and active participant in the same, was and is squarely answerable.

There were apparently two lapses by the police men before and immediately after the arrest of Kanhaiya. One: the men in plain clothes watching the event did not apparently report the event immediately at least with due seriousness and failed to identify the men raising anti-national slogans and (2) the escorts of Kanhaiya while being produced in the court failed to give him due protection. These were failures at the lower level and have been duly taken up, the latter failure even at the Supreme Court level.

Shri Bassi invited some ridicule from some learned jurists and others about his remark to journalists, in the context of the refusal to surrender by the
absconding student suspects, that they should join the police investigation and prove their innocence. The critics held that Shri Bassi was departing from the established position that the accused are innocent till proved guilty. While I am a very ordinary person with little claim to any learning, I dare say that the critics are taking a literal view of the matter.While the prosecution has to prove the guilt of the accused, the defendant has an equal opportunity to prove his innocence. Both sides vie in the court to show each other as being in the wrong. If the prosecution wins, the accused is proved guilty but if the defendant wins, he is innocent. Thus the onus is shared. In any case, Shri Bassi’s remark did not in any way, detract from the established position that the accused is innocent till proved guilty. He only staed that they have to join the investigation and prove their innocence and till then they( are accused ) and face arrest. Shri Bassi’s remark has also to be seen in the context of the fact that the accused were absconding.

The Chief Minister of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal had made a statement that Shri Bassi should not be allowed to retire honorably. The statement is regrettable. It was none of Shri Bassi’s fault that the law and the Constitution made him answerable to the Union Home Ministry and not the Delhi Govt.The CM had nothing to show that the Commissioner did any thing that did not conform to law and deviated from his duties which in any case is for the Union Ministry to judge and pronounce. In any case, the statement, coming from a man who called the country’s most popular and dynamic leader,Shri Nrendra Modi, a coward and a psychopath (accusations deservedly dealt with the contempt they deserve and ignored by Shri Modi) need not be taken seriously by any one. Shri Kejriwal who boasts about having won about 95% of the seats in Delhi assembly forgets that Shri Modi won 100% of Parliamentary seats in Delhi with Kejriwal’s party getting 0.

In my humble view, the citizens of Delhi have to be thankful to Shri Basssi for his work as Police Commissioner, for the innovative improvements in the working of the force introduced by him and keeping Delhi safe from forces of terror.

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