Both people & system have to change: Odia IPS officer & J&K’s ‘Singham’ Basant Rath

Bhubaneswar: Known for his straight forward and aggressive style in making people obey traffic rules, Odisha-born IPS officer Basant Rath brought some sweeping changes while he was posted as the Inspector General (IG) of Police (Traffic) of Jammu & Kashmir. Allegedly following a tiff with the newly elected Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu, he has now been transferred and attached to the office of Commandant General, Home Guards/Civil Defence/SDR.

During his visit to Odisha, OTV caught up with him to know more about his personal and professional life. Here are the excerpts –

Q. The job of a traffic cop in Jammu & Kashmir is tough. How could you make such a daunting task possible?

A. This is no big deal as we have a job to do and I love the place more than anything else. I am grateful that I got a chance to work in J&K. I don’t see anything unusual in what I have done. The common man wants the system to deliver, irrespective of the place, timing, party in power and the officials in charge. If you work hard and people see you on the field working, they will definitely respect you. This is no rocket science.

Q. While others could not manage it, how was such a drastic change in traffic management possible in such a short span?

A. The only message that I wanted to deliver as IG Traffic was I wanted people with a lot of money, political power and expensive cars to think twice before breaking a traffic rule. This is my biggest achievement.

Q. What do you want to change – people or system?

A. I want to change both. I have a low opinion about the way India’s bureaucracy has worked and about people not taking others’ safety into account while driving. The system has to change and the people have to take their lives seriously.

Q. If you get an opportunity to work in Odisha, will you work here?

A. I am not leaving Jammu & Kashmir as it is my destiny and I will stay there for a pretty long time. Whatever I am today, it is because of Odisha. I have seen people, be it in Bhubaneswar or my village, going out of their way to make me what I am today.

Q. Is it important to make people aware of the rules or penalise them to make them learn the hard way?

A. No, fine is not important. I just want people to realise that it is their safety and their life. If kids don’t wear helmets while riding motorcycle and people use mobile phones while driving – it is a nasty thing to do. If something happens to these kids, parents are the worst sufferers. We have to take into account this aspect of life.