Rakesh Balwal, a 2012 batch IPS officer from the AGMUT cadre. He is known for heading the National Investigation Agency (NIA) team that probed the Pulwama terror attack case in 2019.
Rakesh Balwal was born on Tuesday, 2 October 1979 (age 44 years; as of 2023) in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir. His zodiac sign is Libra. He pursued a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering at the Government College of Engineering & Technology, Jammu and Kashmir. He always wanted to become a civil servant, but he opted for mechanical engineering after finishing his schooling. Following his graduation, he became a senior section engineer at Indian Railways. During his time there, he sensed a lack of direct contribution to society, which led him to start preparing for the civil service in 2009. He held a full-time job from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at a railway workshop and used to do exam preparation from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. In an interview, he mentioned that one month before the UPSC Mains exam, he increased his daily study hours by 10 to 12 hours. He appeared for the Civil Service Exam thrice. In his third attempt in 2011, he secured a rank of 282.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
There is not much information about his parents and siblings.
Wife & Children
There is not much information about his marital status.
On 24 December 2012, he completed his police training at LBSNAA, Hyderabad, and became an IPS officer. He was allotted the Manipur Cadre. In 2017, he held the position of Senior Superintendent of Police in Churachandpur. He has also worked in the Thobal and Imphal regions. In 2019, he played a major role in investigating the Pulwama terror attack, where 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives, by leading a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team. At the beginning of the case, there were limited clues, but when he took charge, Balwal proposed examining the mobile phone seized from the suicide bomber which revealed several photos that contributed to solving the case. He also worked jointly with the American intelligence agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to examine the role of Jaish-e-Mohammed in the Pulwama attack. In August 2020, the NIA presented a 13,500-page chargesheet before a special court in Jammu and Kashmir under his leadership. In the chargesheet, Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and 18 others were charged in relation to the attack. Rakesh was transferred to the position of SSP Srinagar on 16 December 2021 for a term of three years.
He was among the list of 27 police officers who were transferred by the Home Department.
When he joined, there were a lot of terror activities occurring in the city. These included targeted attacks on minority members and police officers. He aimed to improve the law and order of the city. He committed to reducing the number of terrorists in the city. In an interview, a colleague of Balwal discussed his contribution to the city and said,
He was brought to Srinagar when the law and order situation had deteriorated in the district and there were targeted killings of non-local residents. He started operating with teams to identify vulnerable populations and his work yielded positive results with no targeted killings [in Srinagar] since he took over in December 2021.”
During his term in Srinagar, militancy reduced considerably as a result of which Muharram was celebrated on the streets after thirty years and many people participated in the 2023 Independence Day celebration. Also, various International events like the G-20 Tourism Working Group Meeting were held in the city. In an interview, Balwal talked about Muharram celebrations and said,
It was a collective decision by the administration and law enforcement agencies to allow our Shia brethren to conduct the procession. We had it in a calm and peaceful way from beginning to end which is a great omen that things are changing for the better and the dividends of peace are clearly visible now.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified his early transfer to Manipur from the AGMUT cadre in September 2023 to handle the violence in the state. His transfer decision was made three months after Home Minister Amit Shah organized a meeting with all political parties in June to talk about the situation in Manipur.
- 2021: ‘Union Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation’ for solving the Pulwama case in 2019
- 2021: Chief of Army Staff Commendation
- 2021: A disc from the Director-General of CRPF
- In an interview, he revealed that he wrote an essay about the ‘creation of small states and its consequent administrative, economic and developmental Implications’ in the UPSC Mains 2011 and earned a score of 113 out of 200 for that essay.
- In an interview, he mentioned that he was the first and only IPS officer from his district.
- According to him, he found motivation to prepare for the civil services by reading You Can Win: A Step-by-Step Tool for Top Achievers by Shiv Khera.
- In an interview, he mentioned that he was an average student during his school days and received 60 to 70 per cent marks in college. He also stated that he didn’t attend highly renowned colleges and did not have convent-accented English.