Basant Rath is a social activist and a retired 2000-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the AGMUT cadre. He has frequently made headlines over his spat with senior IPS officer Dilbagh Singh. He once again came to the limelight in August 2023, after he was voluntarily retired by the Union government following two years of suspension.
Basant Kumar Rath was born on Saturday, 17 June 1972 (age 51 years; as of 2023) in Uttarsahi village, Puri district, Odisha, India. His zodiac sign is Gemini. Government of Jammu & Kashmir Rath did his schooling in Odisha following which he went to Bhubaneswar, where he completed his graduation in psychology at the Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar (BJB) Autonomous College. Thereafter, he shifted to New Delhi, where Rath enrolled at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to pursue a master’s degree in sociology. In an interview, Rath said that he was born into a very poor family that did not have enough money to feed the members. He talked about it and said,
I come from a village and we were dirt poor. My mother used to starve, pretending that she fasted for religious reasons. I saw a library for the first time when I was 16, that too from outside.”
After completing his formal education, Rath appeared for the UPSC civil services examination and managed to clear it. Thereafter, he reported at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA) in Hyderabad, Telangana, where he underwent a police training module.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Weight (approx.): 65 kg
Hair Colour: Bald
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Family & Caste
He belongs to a Utkala Brahmin family in Odisha.
Parents & Siblings
His father, Hrushikesh Kumar Rath, was a priest and a farmer. His mother’s name is Ramamani Rath (deceased). He has an elder brother.
Wife & Children
He resides at House number 29, D, Police Lines, Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.
On 4 September 2000, Basant Kumar Rath completed his training at the SVPNPA and was allotted the AGMUT cadre.
In 2001, he was posted to the Poonch district in Kashmir as an under-training IPS officer. In 2006, he was sent to Ramban in Jammu. Subsequently, he received promotions and held important appointments at places like Srinagar. In July 2017, he was posted to the Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban range as a Deputy Inspector General (DIG).
In February 2018, he was promoted to the rank of Inspector General of Police (IGP) and was posted to Srinagar in the traffic police department. Serving as the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Rath garnered both praise and criticism for his actions.
The disapproval primarily stemmed from higher-ranking police officers and government officials due to his unorthodox approach as a law enforcement officer. Rath would frequently stand alongside on-duty traffic police officers on the streets, issuing traffic violation citations to those breaking the rules. His use of social media also drew censure from authorities due to its informal nature. On the other hand, Rath earned admiration from the Srinagar residents for his willingness to enforce penalties on government employees, including those in the military and police. He is also accredited for implementing policies that led to improvements in traffic control within the city, particularly in the vicinity of Lal Chowk.
In November 2018, Rath was posted to the Home Guards and Civil Defence Department. According to several sources, he was shunted by the government following his spat with the then Mayor of Srinagar. Rath was suspended in July 2020 on the charges of indulging in misconduct and misbehaviour. His suspension was extended by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for six months on 31 July 2023. In August 2023, following an official notification from the President of India, Rath was retired prematurely by the government. This retirement stripped him of the benefits of the Voluntary Retirement Service (VRS) and came with only three months’ worth of salary and allowances, which were provided in advance.
A Career Marred With Controversies
In August 2017, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) wrote a letter to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asking her to take disciplinary action against Basant Rath for violating All India Service Rules. According to sources, Rath was under Intelligence Bureau’s scanner after he wrote 12 articles, two for The Indian Express, and ten for The Wire. The articles were considered to be seditious by the IB as they were “dangerously critical of the government policy” and “brazenly violated the IPS service conduct rules.” The Quint
After Dilbagh Singh was appointed as the Director General of the Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2018, Rath and Singh confronted each other many times. In June 2020, after getting suspended, Basant Rath filed a complaint against Singh at the Gandhi Nagar Police Station in Jammu over fear for his “life.”
Thereafter, Basant posted a tweet in which he accused Dilbagh of wrongfully acquiring 50 canals (six acres) of land in Sarore, Jammu. Dilbagh responded to his allegations by asking Rath to present proof of his claims. The tweet read,
Hi, Dilbag Singh. Can I call you Dilloo? Are you the one who owns 50 canals (six acres) of land in Sarore near the dental college?”
Following his suspension, Rath wrote numerous articles against high-ranking government officials, including DGP Singh, as a result of which Singh and five others moved to the court and succeeded in having a restraining order issued against Basant that debarred him from writing any articles against the six individuals. On 25 June 2023, Basant Rath uploaded a photo of his resignation letter on Twitter, which he reportedly sent to the government; however, the government denied receiving any letter from him. In the letter, Rath wrote that he wished to resign from the service to participate in electoral politics. The Print
In August 2023, after the MHA declared him unfit and removed him from the service, Rath took to Twitter and claimed that DGP Dilbagh Singh revoked his security detail with the intent of harming Rath. He also wrote an email to the police saying that if anything happened to him, Dilbagh Singh should be held accountable.
- He has earned the name Singham of J&K in his hometown for his acts as IGP Traffic.
- Following his suspension, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt expressed his desire to make a Bollywood film based on Basant Rath’s life.
- Basant is also involved in social activism. After completing his training at SVPNPA, he launched a project called Book Baba, aimed at supporting underprivileged students who have ambitions of passing government or IIT-JEE exams. He provided these students with books and additional learning resources. In an interview, Basant talked about the initiative and said,
My book distribution initiative started in Poonch in 2001 when I was doing my probation. It was unsystematic and disorganized, to begin with. It became structured and organized in 2006 in Ramban. I started using social media to reach out to the deserving students in J&K and Ladakh in 2016 when I was looking after Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban.”
The people affectionately refer to Basant as “Book Baba” due to his initiative.
- In August 2023, after he was retired prematurely by the Indian government, Rath applied to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, his application to join the BJP was rejected due to his record as an IPS officer. Talking about it, a senior BJP leader said,
Anyone can join as a member of the BJP using an online facility. It is the party leadership which finally takes a call on whether the individual is inducted or given any responsibility in the party. In BJP, there is no place for indiscipline. He (Rath) has been given premature retirement because of indiscipline.”
- In his leisure time, he likes to write poetry.
- His favourite quote is “My mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know…”
- His favourite colour is black.
- In an interview, he revealed that he was in a one-sided love with a girl while studying at the BJB Autonomous College. OTV – YouTube
- His autobiography Son of a Brahmin will be published in 2024.
- In March 2023, the J&K administration issued a domicile to Rath.