iNTERVIEW ABDUR REHMAN, MUMBAI IPS OFFICER
Abdur Rehman, a Mumbai IPS officer who resigned hours after the Rajya Sabha passed the CAB on Wednesday, tells Mirror why he quit and what he plans to do next
Abdur Rehman, an IPS officer posted as inspector general of police (IGP) in Mumbai, quit his post on Wednesday, hours after the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha. Rehman, who was appointed as Special Inspector General (State Human Rights Commission), Mumbai, in March, wrote in a post on social media, “This Bill is against the religious pluralism of India. I request all justice loving people to oppose the bill in a democratic manner. It runs against the very basic feature of the Constitution.”
Born to a family of farmers from west Champaran in Bihar, he completed his Std 12 from Science College, Patna, before shifting to Kanpur and graduating from IIT Kanpur in 1995 with a BTech in civil engineering. He then appeared for the Indian Police Service examination and was in the Maharashtra cadre, 1997 batch. He was in police service for more than 22 years and worked in many cities in Maharashtra, including Yavatmal, Dhule and Chandrapur.
Mirror spoke to Rehman on Thursday about the reason why he resigned, whether he has faced discrimination on the job, and about his plans for the future. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
What caused you to resign?
For the past four to five days I have been disturbed. It’s my conviction – and that of many others – that this bill is discriminatory and against basic features of the Constitution. It discriminates against people based on religion and it should be protested. If the bill is implemented, it will harm the religious pluralism of the country and reduce tolerance, which is a basic feature of this nation.
What disturbed you the most about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill?
We can accept that yes, people are persecuted in Bangladesh and Pakistan and if they come here, they should be mainstreamed. They should be given refugee status and then citizenship. NRC can also be accepted an exercise to identify your real citizens. But CAB and NRC together is another thing altogether. Do you know what the fallout will be? All non-Muslim refugees who are not in the NRC will be given citizenship, while Muslims who are not in the NRC will be prosecuted. Whom are you prosecuting? The people of your own country, who have been living here for hundreds if not thousands of years? Just because they don’t have a set of papers, you are going to prosecute them and put them in detention centres?
Was your opposition to CAB the only reason why you resigned?
Look, whenever a person does something big, it is not the result of something that happened in one day, one week or one month. There is a cumulative effect. But [the passage of] CAB was the most painful part, after which I could not stop myself [from resigning]. But many other things had been accumulating inside me in for years and I thought I should let them all out now. Also, our fellow countrymen, from all communities, should be made aware of the issue and how it affects us all.
There are allegations that you resigned because he government did not accept your application under the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS)?
VRS is an entirely different matter. I indeed applied for VRS on August 1. There is a 90-day notice period but before that the government declined my request on technical grounds. I have challenged that in Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). This order is illegal because there is no charge sheet or any departmental inquiry against me, and I should be granted VRS. The matter is pending in the CAT, and could take six months, a year, or even two years to resolve. So I could have remained in the service for another two years, isn’t it? There was there was no reason for me to resign other that how disturbed I was by this bill. Also, if VRS is granted then you are eligible for provident fund pension, so any person with sense would never let these benefits go. By resigning, I am going to lose everything.
It is being said that there are departmental inquiries against you.
No. There is no charge sheet against me, no show-cause notice against me.
What is your plan of action?
My first my plan of action is to oppose this bill. It will affect people from the lower classes especially and they should oppose it democratically. I will also do the same. To those who are challenging the bill in the Supreme Court, I will try to provide help and guide them in any way I can.
Do you think the government is targeting a specific community?
Yes as you are aware, triple talaq, [the revocation of] Article 370, NRC and now CAB are all targeted at Muslims. There are also other issues, such as lynching.
Did you experience discrimination during your service?
I don’t want to go into detail about this. There is a belief that in India there is no discrimination during recruitment and selection [for the police service]. Just look at me; I am from a poor, ordinary farming background but have reached the IPS level. I am grateful for that but it’s also a fact that there is discrimination in the job. Others in the service have perceived discrimination and I so have I. But I will not elaborate on when, why and where.
Do you think discrimination against Muslims has increased since the BJP came into power?
I will not say that or blame the government. It’s in the system; it’s everywhere. There is discrimination in the system, whether it’s gender discrimination, religious discrimination or some other kind. But surely there is discrimination.
Have you raised your voice against discrimination in your job?
If you perceive discrimination in the services, some forums can give you relief.
What do you want to do for society, now and in the future?
There are few issues that are common to everyone, such as a lack of education. Our average literacy rate is 73 per cent but it is lower among Muslims, Dalits, and poor and tribal people. So I will work to educate those who need it most. There is a lot of superstition in the country, so the second thing would be to instil a scientific temper in the people. Third, I would like to inculcate empathy for humanity. Humanity should be the basis of any action and of our day-to-day relationships.