A man of few words, Ashish Bhatia, is a softspoken gentleman who is known to shoulder his responsibilities with professionalism, dignity, grit and sensitivity. When Vibes of India (VoI) met him at his office in Gandhinagar, the 58-year-old DGP opened up a page from his life, beyond the police services. Ashish Bhatia is the Director-General of Police of Gujarat and leads over 1.20 lac police personnel.
“I was born in Punjab but grew up in Chandigarh. I pursued my engineering from Punjab Engineering College and then worked in a firm in Pinjore, UP. It was only then that my father, Satyapal Bhatia, —who was also into civil services—inspired my elder brother Sanjay and me to pursue civil services,” said Bhatia, who worked at the Mumbai Central Railways for a year before clearing his Indian Police Services(IPS) examinations in 1984.
He has uncovered countless cases of organized crime in India and when asked to recollect two of his toughest cases so far, he recalled the Ahmedabad 2008 serial bomb blasts and how he unraveled the international conspiracy in 19 days flat. The charge sheet named 78 people. “That was one important case of my career and the other is the Lattha Kand—Gujarat’s spurious alcohol case, 2009 that resulted in the death of 136 people. This case was investigated under my supervision and some of the culprits are still imprisoned.”
He has served at various positions in the Gujarat Police machinery in the past 20 years. He received a Meritorious Services police medal in 2001 and the President’s Police Medal in 2011.
We all know that Gujaratis do not fare outstandingly in the UPSC examinations. Of course, things are gradually changing but we are still far away from UP and Bihar.
While youngsters in states such as UP and Bihar actively prepare and aspire to be in the civil services; the same is not the case for Gujaratis. Referring to this, Bhatia says, “Business Gujarati logo ke blood main hain, aur mind main bhi!”
“The ratio of Gujaratis taking up civil services has increased over the years. But even when they get into government services; they would want to run a business side-by-side or leave the services to start a business.”
After serving Gujarat for over two decades, he plans to stay in Gujarat post retirement.“ I have been in Gujarat since 1986 and I plan to stay in Gandhinagar post-retirement. This is home.” Obviously, Gujarat loves him and would love to have him around even after his retirement.
Gujarat police force has worked relentlessly during the pandemic, as Covid warriors do you think they should be paid better? “It has been a high-pressure job and over 140 policemen have lost their lives. In these unprecedented pandemic times, the government has handsomely compensated us and also announced a Rs 25 lakh compensation for all those brave souls in Khakhi who lost their lives to Covid.”.
“Nonetheless, we are trying to upgrade medical facilities for our police force. We want to be very well prepared for the prospective third wave,” he told us.