What pushed an intellectual, idealistic and humane police officer to death?

Death of TN IPS officer sparks off WhatsApp wars involving an influential former DGP
news Controversy Friday, February 19, 2016 - 14:56

Five months after a Tamil Nadu police officer, DSP Vishnupriya, was found dead in her official residence, the state was in for a rude shock with an IPS officer now being found dead at the Police Officers’ Mess in Chennai on Thursday at 10AM. While the police suspect that N Harish, a 2009-batch TN-cadre IPS officer, killed himself, the nature of his death is being investigated.

Several media reports suggest that Harish was depressed in recent months and that might have led to his death, but the reasons for his depression remain unknown, and there is much speculation in the media as to why he took the tragic step. 

Thirty-two-year old Harish was posted as an assistant commissioner at the State Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-corruption in Chennai.  Soon after the news of his sudden death broke, accusations and counter-accusations have been flying thick and fast in WhatsApp groups created by police officers. And at the centre of the controversial WhatsApp messages, which soon started spreading among journalists too, is K Ramanujam, a former DGP who is now a special advisor to the TN government.

Just hours after his death, a message, which claimed to be from one of Harish’s batch-mate, was posted in several WhatsApp groups. It remains unknown as to who drafted that message.

In the anonymous message, the officer who claimed to belong to the Tamil Nadu cadre, accused former DGP Ramanujam of “torturing” Harish by denying him his promotion.

 “You senior officers did not protect him or support him or rehabilitate him, that's FINE! Now to please CM Amma, do not make a demon out of a dead man by framing him as a womanizer or a maniac or a drunkard,” the message said.

The message also pointed fingers at senior police officers for pushing him over the edge by making him “beg” for his promotion, “He had personal issues which required help and support from senior IPS officers. On the contrary he was given 'slow poison' by TN Khaki force. Erstwhile DGP Ramanujam tortured him to the core with every passing day and multiple inquiries.”

The message, quite obviously, did not go down too well with the former DGP.  In a reply to the message Ramanujam also put out a statement on WhatsApp groups stating that he had nothing personal against Harish, and that his promotion was held back due to other reasons.

Grieving his death, Ramanujam said, “Harish was not able to get promotion because he did not pass the test in Tamil language,” adding that “I was in fact sympathetic to Harish. When he was going through some trouble, I did make a senior IPS officer of the cadre hailing from Karnataka to speak to Harish, who is also from the same State.” 

“It is maligning the memory of Harish to say that he begged me for his promotion. Such a statement assumes that the promotions are granted at the whim of the DGP and junior officers have to beg for legitimate dues,” he said in his response.

The sudden demise of Harish, however, has left many of his batch-mates in a state of deep shock.

 Iada Martin Marbaniang, SP, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Bengaluru said that he was shattered and saddened to hear the news. “He was a man of many interests and a good police officer,” said Marbaniang, recalling their training period together, “He was idealistic and had a very clear view of the services. He was an intellectual person who used to frequently take part in debates, cultural programmes and dances”.

“He was a shy and intelligent person, and he was a good human being,” said Bhushan Borase, SP, CID, Bengaluru.

 “He was a voracious reader and had a well rounded, outgoing personality. I used to borrow books from him,” added Marbaniang.

What pushed an intellectual, idealistic and humane police officer to death? The jury is still out.

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