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‘Popular Cop’s’ Transfer Sparks Anger Online

SRINAGAR — Social media users in Kashmir expressed their anger against the transfer of IGP Traffic Basant Kumar Rath and blamed Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) Junaid Mattu for government’s decision to remove the highly popular IPS officer.

Rath, who is credited with streamlining the traffic system in Jammu and Kashmir in less than one year of being appointed as IGP Traffic, was shunted out Tuesday. 

The government’s decision came just four days after a Twitter spat between the IPS officer of 2000 batch and SMC mayor Junaid Mattu, leading to an outcry that he used his clout with the governor’s administration to have him removed.

A Twitter user ran an online poll asking people to vote in favour of the person they support in this spat. 

“They say, elected leader is more powerful than IAS/IPS. Let Kashmiris vote. Given a chance, who would they vote for?” Amit Tyagi, a frequent traveller to Kashmir, wrote in his post along with the poll.

Many users voted in favour of Rath.

Another user, naqeeyousuf1408, praised the IPS officer saying, “Maintaining law and order in J&K with respect to traffic problems a person single handedly overcame that , Now transferred #BasantRath #respect #we need officers like you.” 

Majidmalik40 tweeted that there was no space for Rath in “this #corrupted country”.

One Mohsin Ahmed said, “Dear officer, Basant Rath @KangriCarrier, we salute you for being an honest and dedicated officer. Love you always and you’ll always stay in our heart and our blessings are always with you.We are going to miss you sir.” 

Twitter user Shakeel Hamid said, “Cabbage unfolded his layers. #BasantRath #JunaidMattu.” 

The tiff between the the SMC mayor and Rath began with the IPS officer hitting out at him for saying that wetlands in the city were not of much use if the city did not have proper infrastructure for expansion.

“What will you do in wetlands? Watch birds? There is a dearth of space and we need infrastructure for the city’s growth. We are a poor state and have to create employment avenues,” Mattu said in his maiden press conference soon after being elected mayor.

Without naming the mayor, Rath had responded on Twitter, “Wetlands are precious and a vital part of our ecosystem. Only a cabbage will think otherwise.” 

In another apparently related tweet, the IPS officer said, “Land grabbers don’t make good policy makers. With or without a Twitter account.” 

 A day later, the SMC mayor had tweeted about the traffic situation in the city.

“Have received numerous complaints about traffic mismanagement issues in the city. I have spoken to the SP Traffic (Urban) and sought a review of current traffic diversions and plans. The SMC has been directed to help with decongestion of alternate routes for some relief,” he said.

Rath was quick to respond, saying traffic management was not the mayor’s domain.

“Not your domain. Traffic diversion at Jehangir Chowk is a compulsion. The vendors have created a mess on Amira Kadal – HSHS – Maharaja Bazar – LD Hospital stretch. SMC needs to clear the mess,” he replied to Mattu. 

Known for his penchant for the unusual, the IPS officer would not wear his uniform while on duty and would spend most of the time on roads to monitor the traffic management done by his staff.

He invoked provisions of various laws and traffic rules to clear the pavements in Jammu and Srinagar cities, drawing protests from affected people but the general public was appreciative of his measures 

His transfer was a shock that most of his fans were expecting sooner than later as they believed that he was the odd man out in the system which they alleged was corrupt and in inertia.

Rath was replaced by 1997 batch IPS officer Alok Kumar and attached with the office of Commandant General of Home Guards.

‘Change’ Visible, First Casualty Is Honest Cop: NC To Mattu  

National Conference on Wednesday hit out at Srinagar Mayor and former party spokesman Junaid Mattu for what it said using his new found affection for the BJP and its general secretary Ram Madhav to transfer an “honest Police officer Basant Rath.”

In a statement issued from party headquarters Nawa e Subah, YNC Provincial President and former Mayor Salman Ali Sagar said that the much talked “Change” is visible and its first casualty happens to be an honest Police officer known for his effective and innovative work.

“The much hyped bravado about bringing change to the city turned out to be sheer trumpery and hogwash,” he said.

Salman said that the clamorous assertions of Mattu turned out to be damp squib and reflective of the antipathy he has for upright and honest officers.

“Just to satisfy his ego, the new Mayor is behaving in a jumped-up way. He has at the very onset of this stint revealed what sort of ‘change’ he anticipates. I worry if he continues with the same disposition, it will prove detrimental to our institutions and the officials who are working in trying and challenging circumstances,” he said.

He said that the abrupt transfer of IG Traffic Rath after a tiff on social media with incumbent mayor has worried all the sane voices of state.

“The hasty transfer of an officer who was known for his no orthodox ways about dealing with the traffic mess in the state has drawn wide spread disgust from youth and other right thinking people here,” he said.

He said that recently Junaid Mattu had shown disdain for sustainable development by making an unwarranted comment on our ecologically fragile wetlands.

 “United Nations has come up with Sustainable development goals which lay much emphasis on how important wetlands are and how crucial they are in sustaining our ecological system. There are some countries in Europe who have a full fledged Ministry of Wetlands. But here we have a mayor who wants to trample this delicate ecology by building concrete structures on our wetlands,” he said.

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