New BSF DG Pankaj Singh Takes Father’s Legacy Forward

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New BSF DG Pankaj Singh

In taking over as Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF), senior IPS officer Pankaj Singh has also taken the baton that his father once had and followed in his footsteps. With this an interesting chapter has been added to the heroic history of the world’s largest force that guards our borders.It is the first time ever that father and son, both have commanded a police force.

Belonging to the Rajasthan cadre, Pankaj Singh is the son of none other than the very famous IPS officer Prakash Singh, who after leading the Uttar Pradesh Police, went on to head the BSF before calling it a day.

Twenty-seven years ago, his father Prakash Singh also led the BSF that Pankaj Singh will now head. The former, a Padma Shri recipient, is still remembered for his vociferous advocacy in favour of police reforms.

Pankaj Singh, a 1988 batch IPS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, took over as Director General, BSF, on August 30, 2021. His predecessor Rakesh Asthana, an IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, is now Commissioner, Delhi Police. The government had not nominated anyone to the top post after Asthana stepped down on July 27. In the interim, Director General of ITBP SS Deswal was given additional responsibility of the BSF.

Fifty-eight year old Pankaj Singh has served as IG, Jaipur and done a term with the CBI. Investigating closely several corruption cases, Pankaj Singh also brought to book several high-profile men, including ministers and policemen, while probing the infamous J&K sex scandal. He was then DIG, CBI. He also played a significant role in the J&K arms racket case in which licenses were issued without verification, in return for illegal gratification. It was alleged that arms dealers and mafia bosses in cahoots with government officials had distributed these arms licenses.

Pankaj Singh retires in December 2022. But he will continue to lead the force till such time as there are further orders from the government.

Sanjay Arora , ITBP Chief : 

IPS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre Sanjay Arora has been appointed Director General, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). He currently holds the position of Special DG, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Sanjay Arora replaces SS Deswal who retired last month on 31st August as ITBP chief.

Who is Prakash Singh?

As Director General of Police (DGP) in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s largest state, between 1991 and 1993, 85-year-old Prakash Singh was born in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, on January 10, 1936. A 1959 batch IPS officer, his first posting was as SSP, Kanpur. He occupied several positions while with the UP Police, including as DGP. Subsequently, he was appointed IG, BSF although for a short tenure between June 1993 and January 1994. He also led the Assam Police.

Prakash Singh is still remembered for his memorable activism in favour of structural reforms in the police. Post retirement in 1996, he filed a PIL in the Supreme Court while working in the space of advocacy. Ten years later, the court gave a historical judgement on the PIL as part of which it became mandatory for both central and state governments to put in place a policy on appointments and transfers right from the police station level all the way up to the DGP. The PIL, thus, became a turning point in the journey of police reforms.

That said, even 15 years after the judgement the Indian state has not quite implemented the reforms programme that would free the police and bureaucracy of political and other pressures and make them accountable to the people at large.

Retired IPS officer Prakash Singh has authored several books even as he continues to be associated with government-instituted investigation ,  commissions and committees. He is also chairman of the Indian Police Foundation.