Jammu and Kashmir police chief SP Vaid was abruptly removed late on Thursday and shunted off as the state's transport commissioner amid serious differences with the governor and a controversy over the release of terrorists in exchange for kidnapped people.
Dilbagh Singh, the Director General of Prisons, will replace him for now, until a new Director General of Police or DGP is appointed. The state government has sought exemption from the Supreme Court's order that says no acting DGP should be appointed. The government's lawyer said the state cannot remain without a DGP for long due to serious law and order issues in the state, so it has appointed an acting DGP and sent the panel to the Union Public Service Commission or UPSC for appointing a regular DGP.
The Supreme Court will take up the state's plea on Monday.
Mr Vaid, who had earlier dismissed NDTV's report on his imminent exit as "speculation" in tweets, posted his reaction this morning, thanking god and wishing his successor.
I’m thankful to God that he gave me the opportunity to serve my people and my country. I’m grateful to @JmuKmrPolice, security agencies, and people of J&K for their support and their faith in me. My best wishes to the new DGP.- Shesh Paul Vaid (@spvaid) September 7, 2018
Mr Vaid's rift with the new governor Satya Pal Malik widened after he was stripped of crucial administrative powers, including the sanctioning of operational funds, and his junior Munir Khan was allocated some of his functions. Mr Vaid had registered his protest with the governor as well as the central home ministry. But central officials said there were reports of corruption and malpractices at the police headquarters, and the state vigilance department is examining embezzlement allegations.
More recently, the centre blamed him for the kidnapping fiasco, in which a terrorist's father was freed in exchange for the kidnapped family members of policemen last week.
On Tuesday evening, state intelligence chief Abdul Gani Mir was also replaced by Dr B Srinivas.
Three policemen and eight relatives of policemen, kidnapped by terrorists in south Kashmir, were set free hours after the police quietly released around a dozen family members of terrorists, including the father of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Riaz Naikoo.
Home Ministry sources said the release of terrorists had dispirited and upset the rank and file of the Jammu and Kashmir police. It was also said that the top officers of the department misjudged the impact of the decision.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under Governor's Rule since the ruling BJP ended its alliance with the People's Democratic Party of Mehbooba Mufti in June. Satyapal Malik was appointed Governor last month, replacing NN Vohra.
Sources close to Mr Vaid said the BJP was upset with him for his stand on the Kathua rape and murder case, in which an 8-year-old girl was raped, tortured and killed in an attempt to drive a Muslim nomadic tribe out of Jammu's Kathua. Top BJP state minsters attended rallies in support of the accused.
The centre, sources said, wanted the changes in place before the local body polls in the state.
In an earlier tweet, Mr Vaid had said transfers were "routine" and a "prerogative" of the government.
.@JmuKmrPolice has been fighting a proxy war for decades which requires a lot of courage & determination of the men & officers of JKP. Speculative articles which undermine their morale should be avoided. @ndtv as regards to transfer, it's routine matter & prerogative of the govt.- Shesh Paul Vaid (@spvaid) September 4, 2018
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah criticised the centre's move in his tweets.
There was no hurry to replace @spvaid. He should have been changed only when a permanent arrangement had been worked out. @JmuKmrPolice has enough problems without having to deal with confusion of leadership.- Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) September 6, 2018
The official order late last night said Dilbagh Singh would be the Director General of Police apart from holding charge as Director General, Prisons.