‘What can’t a man in uniform do’ is a common refrain when West Bengal cadre IPS officer Nazrul Islam is in question.
He is many things rolled into one: a committed officer given to upholding the rule of law as a policemen, an itinerant activist who will use all powers at his command to travel the path of justice and if it includes making powerful political enemies on the way, well be it so. Currently officer-on-special duty (coordination), West Bengal, Islam is known for his upright and somewhat maverick approach to establish the rule of law — in more ways than one.
Even though he joined the Indian Police Service (IPS), his own poor family background compelled Islam to realise the merits of education early. His continued association with literature resulted in his novel ‘Bakul’ bagging the Ananda Puraskar with a cash award of Rs 100,000. That led to a series of schools, colleges and technical institutions in his Basantapur village under a trustee board named Basantapur Educational Society (BES). With support from philanthropists who donated land came along a high school, a degree college, teachers training college, polytechnic, a vocational training institute and an engineering college.
But his role as a writer took a different hue in 2005 when his no-holds-barred article in the annual journal of the pro-CPI(M) Non-Gazetted Police Employees Association’s ‘Mangal Path’ he named corrupt ministers and advised the Left Front government not to use police for furthering party interests. It got him into the bad books of the state government. The CPI (M) was miffed but the government refused to take action, least more misdeeds come stumbling out of the closets. So the only way out, posting and more posting. By then, Islam was past caring. He seized beacon lighted government cars, first from the then home secretary’s residence to be followed by a similar intrusion into chief Minister Jyoti Basu’s official residence.
His differences with the Left Front brought him into close contact with Mamata Bannerjee, then Union railway minister. Mamata in turn appointed him director of safety, Railway Board. He was transferred to the state Waqf Board, a favourite haunt of retired police officers, a post whose current incumbent has the label of being under ‘compulsory waiting’, an assignment without a specific work. Islam told Governance Watch,
“Political leaders corrupt the police.’’ Elucidating, Islam quotes the Sachar Committee report, which says that 9 per cent of Muslims in Gujarat have 5 per cent of jobs while 24 per cent Muslims in Bengal have only 1.5 per cent! “This can’t be called good governance,’’ he asserts. What is good governance then? According to him, it means providing guarantee of good food, quality education, good health services for all and proper implementation of laws.