Amidst the investigation and trial into the 2008 Ahmedabad blast concluding with the court sentencing 38 convicts to the death penalty, and as the police department faces some serious scrutiny over corruption allegations against its own, the countdown for the successor of the Gujarat Director General of Police has picked up momentum. Incumbent DGP Ashish Bhatia, who was appointed the Gujarat DGP on July 31, 2020, after his predecessor Shivanand Jha retired, is set to retire on May 31. His tenure will have lasted one year and seven months. And highly-placed sources tell Vibes of India, that Bhatia will not get an extension.
He is likely to be replaced by the current Ahmedabad Police Commissioner and 1987 batch IPS officer Sanjay Srivastava. Both seniority and rank are in favour of Srivastava taking over the reins of the Gujarat police.
Bhatia, an IPS officer of the 1985 batch, is a native of Haryana and has served various crucial posts in the Gujarat Police machinery in the past 20 years. He received a police medal in 2001 and the President’s Police Medal in 2011.
Srivastava, who is known to be diligent and often maintains a low profile, is slated to retire on March 30, 2023. If he is appointed as the DGP of Gujarat, he will hold the position for around a year.
After serving Gujarat for over two decades, Bhatia calls it home. When Vibes of India contacted him, he said “ I have been in Gujarat since 1986 and I plan to stay in Gandhinagar post-retirement. This is home.”
Read: I am from Haryana but my home is Gujarat: DGP Ashish Bhatia
Vibes of India’s exhausting reportage has enabled us to compile a list of some of the big guns who are the top contenders before the UPSC selection committee which will decide the next DGP in the state.
Sanjay Srivastava, a 1987 batch IPS officer, is currently the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner. In August 2020, he took the charge from Ashish Bhatia who was elevated to the post of Gujarat DGP. Srivastava’s earlier stints include top posts in CID-Crime, Railways and the State Crime Records Bureau.
An IPS officer of the 1988 batch from the Gujarat cadre, 58-year-old Karwal is currently the Director-General of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). He has served as the DIG, Planning and Modernization, Gandhinagar. He was also the Inspector General (Training), CRPF, Inspector General (Personnel) CRPF, and ADG (Personnel), CRPF, before joining the Academy as the Director.
Vivek Srivastava, a 1989-batch IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, is currently the Inspector General in the Special Protection Group (SPG) — which provides security to the prime minister, former prime ministers and their families. He has been on the Central deputation for his earlier postings also. He was the head of the Patna unit of the Intelligence Bureau when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Bihar capital Patna was attacked by a splinter group of a banned terror outfit.
Vikas Sahay is an IPS officer of 1989 batch. He has held numerous important positions in the Police Department such as Joint CP Range-IG in Surat in 2008, he was also IG, Security in 2009, and IG, CID & Intelligence Bureau, in 2010.
TS Bisht is a 1985-IPS officer of Gujarat cadre. He is currently the DGP of CID (Crime and Railways).
Ifs and Buts
With the recent upheaval in the Gujarat state government administration enforced by former chief minister Vijay Rupani’s sudden stepping down and the upcoming assembly elections, sources say that the appointment of the DGP will be extremely nuanced. Now, given the hotting up circumstances, a mere “non-corrupt” image may not be the top criteria for the contending IPS officers to cross the finish mark.
Additionally, TS Bisht retires in June and is unlikely to be in the running upfront. It is also highly unlikely for IPS officers on central deputation to be appointed as the State DGP. To remedy this perhaps, it is being speculated that a transfer of some senior IPS officers is round the corner.