It was 1986-87. Average number of trucks crossing Sayayadraja through the GT Road used to be 15-20 every minute. It was a small town in Varanasi district (Now Chandauli) near the Uttar Pradesh-Bihar border. Be it Summer, winter or rains, those living near the GT Road were used to be woken up early in the morning with noisily wheezing heavy vehicles. But all of a sudden one fine morning the noise was missing. When I woke amid an unknown silence, I peeped out of the window only to see an endless queue of still trucks. The road had choked with three or four parallel queues of trucks facing towards the Bihar border and a large number of unknown faces roaming around in anxiety. Those were initial days of my journalistic inclination and the desire to know the reason immediately pulled me out on the road. There I learnt that the Sales tax department staff posted at the Naubatpur border check-post has struck the work. The strike was not only there at the check-post, but work had been stalled in all the sales tax offices of the state, and officials of the department were threatening to go on state-wide strike.
When I inquired into the whole episode, I came to know that an Assistant Superintendent of Police late last night stopped a truck and boarded it as a cleaner, reached the Sales Tax check-post with all required papers to get clearance for the truck he was boarding. However, it all went wrong when the tax staff demanded the bribe, 'entry fee' as it was termed, they used to customarily collect from every truck. The ASP-turned-cleaner first refused, then agreed to pay a nominal amount but the Sales Tax staff got entangled. This attracted the attention of two immediate incharge Sales Tax Officers posted there. They joined in only to threaten the cleaner. Then the ASP appeared in his real self and immediately took the two Sales Tax Officers in custody. The recently posted ASP was an Indian Police Services official Arun Kumar.
It was unprecedented. This was the first time in the state that two Sales Tax Officers were caught red-handed in connection with taking bribe as ‘entry fee’. Thousands of trucks passed through this check-post every day and it was anybody’s guess that lakhs of rupees were collected daily at this point alone.
Insiders explained that the booty was distributed in a chain system reaching the top of the department. This was the reason behind the clear departmental support for the striking employees. The striking Sales Tax employees were demanding release of their colleagues, security at Naubatpur check-post and Transfer of ASP Arun Kumar. The state government was ready to accept first two demands but it dared not come openly in support of the corrupt officials and transfer the recently deputed ASP. Then came the pressure tactics. Politicians, senior officials, influential people from the reason and who not tried to convince the young officer that such things were part of the system and he should not bother too much. Even some news items were planted in local media outlets that the raid was made at the behest of coal mafia of Bihar as Kumar was a native of that state. Then attempts were made to identify his caste...
That was Arun Kumar's first regular appointment after completing the training as in Indian Police Service. Even after three decades, people of Chandauli district remember him with love and respect as during his stay there he successfully stopped bribery in his own police department, illegal Tahbazari collections in the area, illegal plying of buses and smashed the chord of organized cow-smuggler gangs.
During that period, he also talked about the Karmanasaha corridor to check Naxalite infiltrations and prevent gangsters and other criminals from entering Uttar Pradesh after committing a crime in Bihar. Another incident of that very period explains his commitment to values. Around Diwali, he caught an unauthorized bus plying under protection of an influential syndicate. One of the most powerful cabinet Minister of the state called in to release the vehicle. But Kumar's answer was: "Sir, I was not taught Holi-Diwali. My responsibility is to protect the law and order. You are part of the government, yet asking to do what I cannot. You, please, change the law, I am here to follow that.'
His next appointment as the Superintendent of Police was at Gorakhpur infested with Mafia wars. When a well-wisher journalist expressed concern and said that he should be soft, he replied, 'I did not join the police services to be a coward. I could have chosen to become an IAS, but being IPS is my choice. Do not worry, nothing will happen.' Kumar is an M.Tech. in Computer Science from IIT, Roorkee. He could have been drawing annual package worth crores like many of his class-fellows. Obviously, he did not choose the police service for money and comfort. Gorakhpur remained calm during his tenure. His control over the law and order situation during his appointment in Kanpur was that when most cities in the country were under curfew during Ram Mandir-Babri conflict, Kanpur was among the last cities where the curfew was imposed, that too when Kumar's convoy was attacked with bombs and the senior officials decided that it was time.
As the police chief of Ghazipur district, his efforts to salvage the prestige of police services and contain the criminals are still remembered. Smuggling of opium and its dangerous by-products was almost halted and criminals forgot wielding arms in public. Situations changed and the policemen who dared not see the Mafia eye-ball to eye-ball chased them out of the district and carried out attachment of property as per the orders of the court. He was touted as a terror for the criminals when Mulayam Singh Yadav swore in as the Chief Minister of the state and the first transfer order he signed was for Arun Kumar. High-handed economic offenders got him transferred from Kanpur during President’s rule.
When Mayavati became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh she posted Mr. Kumar at Ghaziabad. However, her henchmen couldn’t face him for more than 100 days. Under the pressure from liquor mafia, he was transferred and suspended. At this juncture, then Defence Minister Mulayam Singh accepted that he had erred in identifying Arun Kumar and publically equated him with patriots as great Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh. When Kalyan Singh became the Chief Minister he gave him the responsibility of Lucknow but due to the bloodshed of caste mafia and organized gangs, he was soon removed from the district and given the responsibility of the newly created Special Task Force. In this appointment, the encounter of the Mafia Shri Prakash Shukla was one of his mentionable achievements. Even Mayawati on her return to power accepted her mistake and deputed him as Deputy Inspector General of Lucknow. However, in a few months Kumar woke up to realities and went to Centre on deputation.
His achievements in the districts and the state may be understood that during Arun Kumar’s tenure mafia leaders like Munna Bajrangi, Brajesh Singh, Mukhtar Ansari or DP Yadav either stayed away from crime or left the UP. When the Muzaffarnagar riots took place during the Akhilesh Yadav regime, Arun Kumar was the Additional Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh (Law and Order). He was once again roads for several days to stop the riots. However, when investigations implicated highly placed politicians he had to face pressures and he ultimately proceeded on vacation and then again he opted for central deputation.
While On Central deputation, he has served the CBI, CRPF, and the BSF. Close sources assert that while in CBI he was close to unravelling the Telagi stamp-paper scam when all of a sudden he was shifted to some other cases. He faced similar situations while investigating shady defence deals and disproportionate property cases relating to several high-ups of UP. As special investigator he worked on complicated cases like the Nithari killings case and the much-talked about Arushi Talwar murder case. Amid media trials, legal monitoring as well as political and administrative pressures, he resolutely upheld the facts leading to truth and justice. He faced vitriolic criticism but always ensured that no innocent should get punished.
In fact, in all these years he has become synonymous with deft administration, integrity and honesty. Perhaps that's why, on some of his works have inspired two films. These films are 'Sehar' and 'Talwar'. Arshad Warsi played role of Arun Kumar in Sehar and Irfan Khan in Talwar.
The journey of a tough, honest and heart-winning yet publicity-shy 1985-batch IPS officer that began as ASP Moghulsarai continues to move on amid all the pressures and odds. IPS Arun Kumar has given his best in every appointment. Recently, in fact on September 30, he has taken over the post of Director General of Railway Protection Force. This force is responsible for protection of railway networks, railways and passengers all over the country. The strength of the security force is approximately 73,000. Kumar's first priority is security. Let’s hope that the country continue to benefit from his outstanding services. Best wishes!
# This article is originally written in Hindi by Jai Prakash Pandey and translated in English by Senior Journalist Shrikant Asthana