Despite becoming a chartered accountant early in his career, former Deputy Commissioner of Police Ranjan Sharma (Crime Branch, Nagpur) chose to struggle to become an IPS officer because of the reverence and pride associated with the profession. The IPS officer who hails from a remote village in Jamui district of Bihar, has overcome many odds since his childhood to become such a formidable and inspirational success story. During his stint in Nagpur as the DCP, Sharma also held an additional charge of Additional Commissioner of Police, Nagpur Police. He has now been transferred as the SP of Ahmednagar. Before getting relocated, Ranjan Sharma, in a candid chat with Nation Next spoke exclusively about his life journey, Nagpur Police and crime graph of the city.
You tasted success early in your career when you became a chartered accountant. Then, why did you further struggle to join civil services?
Bihar has a ‘Samantwadi’ culture, which means that even if you are affluent, you won’t enjoy the kind of prestige and recognition in the society a civil servant (especially an IAS or an IPS) enjoys. Civil servants have always inspired us. So, any doctor, MBA, lawyer, etc., in Bihar definitely tries for civil services examinations. And if they aren’t selected, they have their other profession as a backup. Besides being a CA, I was already an inspector in the income tax department. So simultaneously, I tried for civil services examinations because by that time, we were financially stable due to my job at the income tax department.
In Nagpur, you were entrusted with many responsibilities like additional CP, DCP Crime and DCP HQ. How do you deal with such multitasking?
We were trained for such multiple responsibilities at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad, where we would do our physical training, attend our classes, participate in cultural programmes and even got involved in outdoor activities like rock climbing, etc. There was a time when I even held six charges simultaneously. It usually happens with me. Earlier, when I was in Malegaon, I held four charges.
As you are often given so many responsibilities, your seniors seem to be having a lot of trust and faith in you. How has your rapport been with the Commissioners of Police you’ve worked with?
I’ve had a very good rapport with the CPs I’ve been reporting to. I usually tell my juniors that if they are working with anyone – whether a superior or a subordinate – it’s very important to understand their psychology for smooth working. We can’t change or question our superior’s orders; we can give them our opinions, but ultimately we have to follow the orders. I have been fortunate to share a good rapport with both my seniors and juniors.
Sometime back, former Nagpur DCP Abhinash Kumar was embroiled in a controversy after his tussle with a female press photographer Monica Chaturvedi. A media delegation even met the then CP – SP Yadav – demanding his transfer. As the in-charge of media cell, you heavily interacted with Nagpur media. What’s your take on it?
I feel people should be straightforward and honest. At times, we can’t reveal all the details but it certainly doesn’t mean that we aren’t speaking the truth. Trust is built gradually. In Abhinash Kumar and Monica Chaturvedi’s unfortunate episode, there are different perceptions. Abhinash has a good reputation of being a tough and a straightforward officer. Talking about the incident, we (police department) were of the view that when all the journalists were clicking pictures from a distance, Monica too should have abided by the same rule. There wasn’t any need for her to click pictures from the restricted area. The police was trying to pacify the crowd at the event since morning because if some untoward incident had taken place (with Monica), the police would have been blamed for it. A similar clarification had been passed on to journalists’ organisations about the same. This incident also took place because Monica wasn’t wearing any id card. And, our interaction with females is comparatively lesser so their identification is slightly difficult for us. So, Abhinash mistook her for somebody else.
How important is formal academic background for cops? How has your knowledge of CA helped you in policing?
In civil services, we are expected to be a generalist and not a specialist. We should be able to understand the public, general circulars and orders of the government. In this context, formal academic background is not that important for civil servants. If I have a specialised degree, it’s definitely an add-on. For e.g., some colleagues of mine can’t understand financial complications like budget, etc. For me, it’s extremely easy to understand the financial aspect of my work, as I’m a CA. It helps me in general communication and maintaining public relations too. If a chartered accountant comes to me, I’ll develop a bond with him and can discuss everything freely with him.
CM Devendra Fadnavis had publically appreciated former Nagpur CP SP Yadav for bringing down the crime rate significantly. As the former DCP crime, you deserve kudos for the same. What policies and actions triggered decline in the crime graph in the city?
Firstly, zero tolerance for crime triggered this positive change. Secondly, we have a tool to control crime – MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999). If some gang is illegally operating and the law permits, we use MCOCA after which for at least six to seven months, they’ll be behind the bars. If an individual is committing crime in which MCOCA act can’t be applied, we use MBDA. Due to Yadav sir’s guidance and experience, we used MBDA (38 times) and MCOCA (18 times) for various crime offenders in Nagpur.
There’s also a perception among people that crime graphs are just on papers. What do you say to them?
CM Devendra Fadnavis is also of the view that statistics can mislead, which is true. But, you won’t find a single reference of Nagpur as ‘Crime Capital’ post January 2016. The perception has changed.
It’s very easy to face criticism as a police officer. But, not many appreciate police officers for their good deeds. How important is public acknowledgement for boosting the police’s morale?
Appreciation works like a tonic for us. We get refreshed and energised. Public acknowledgement is a motivation for us. Having said that, we should be criticised for our bad work too.
There’s a lot of hue and cry among city businessmen that they are being targeted in economic offences cases. As you have handled such cases, how do you respond to this?
If we talk about the dabba trading case, there are several people who are into illegal dabba trading, which is like running a parallel stock exchange. The government loses income and service taxes due to this illegal trading which further leads to fluctuations in the stock market. Small investors and poor people are getting affected due to this trading. Essential commodities are also being dealt with, which leads to fluctuations in their price. For e.g. if pulses are available for Rs 20/kg, I’m getting it for Rs 30/kg. The SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) had sent us guidelines through the Ministry of Finance (from the Central government) to conduct raids if we came across any such discrepancies. This is how in a single day, 11 places were raided.
Ravi Agrawal (prime accused in Dabba Trading case) alleged that DCP Deepali Masirkar was way too high handed at that point of time. The case was taken away from her and given to you. There’s a public perception that whatever Agrawal said might be true. What do you have to say on this?
Deepali was trying to get the responsibility of some zone since three to four months. She requested Yadav sir to allot her a zone because she wanted to work in field. So, it was decided that Abhinash Kumar would head Zone V. Sanjay Latkar was also transferred and allotted Zone III, and Zone II was allotted to Shailesh Balkawde. So, Deepali was allotted Zone I as per her request. Later on, allegations and counter allegations started arising.
Deepali was not removed from the Dabba Trading case although she was transferred to Zone I. Even when she was posted in Zone I, she would still take care of reviews and various other things. She was also made the in-charge of the review of SIT (Special Investigation Team) on a daily basis. She would give her feedback to CP sir, Joint CP sir and me.
Ravi Agrawal mentioned Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ name too. There were rumours that there was some kind of political pressure. Was there any pressure?
As far as I know, there was no political pressure because it was a highly sensitive case. This case is under media and police’s scrutiny. If Ravi Agrawal is alleging something, he has to prove it. He is affluent and has a battery of lawyers to prove his innocence in the court.
It is said that Ravi Agrawal was close to the earlier police set up and his ‘L7 Group’ was virtually taking care of traffic barricades, etc. Is there any truth in this?
I might be associated with anybody who’s coming to me in a good faith. Similarly, earlier everything was done in a good faith. Later on, when it was found that he was involved in various offences, we got disassociated with him.