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K P S Gill as Assam governor

Tarun Gogoi reluctant to have
K P S Gill as Assam governor

April 25, 2003 13:20 IST

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has strongly opposed the idea of former Punjab DGP K P S Gill replacing Lt Gen (retd) S K Sinha as governor of Assam.

While Sinha's transfer to J&K has almost been finalised, the Union home ministry has apparently shortlisted two names -- recently retired army chief Gen S Padmanabhan and Gill -- as Sinha's replacement.

Gogoi, who has had a frosty relationship with Sinha since the Congress came to power in May 2001, does not mind Padmanabhan, but has strong reservations about Gill.

"I have clearly told the Centre that Gill's appointment would not be advisable, more so because he has already served in the state as a police officer for a considerable period of time," Gogoi told reporters in Guwahati.

He revealed that Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's office had broached the subject about Gill's appointment.

Gill, who is from the joint Assam-Meghalaya cadre of the Indian Police Service, was a controversial figure during his stint in Assam as the Inspector General of Police in the early 1980s, when the anti-foreigners agitation was at its peak.

Gill's no-nonsense style of functioning, which earned him the sobriquet 'supercop' in Punjab, made him unpopular among influential sections of the population.

Gogoi's stand is consistent with that of many chief ministers in the region who feel that persons with army or police background should not be sent to the sensitive region as governors.

Ironically, Gill is part of the Union home ministry-constituted Northeast Study Group, which had only a fortnight ago  recommended an immediate end to the practice of sending former security personnel as governors to the northeastern states.

"It sends out wrong signals," said the group, which comprises former Arunchal Pradesh chief secretary S K Agnihotri, former Dimapur-based 3 Corp commander Lt Gen S K Pillai, former Assam additional chief secretary K Saigal and others.

At present, five of the seven northeastern states have former security personnel as governors.

They are: Gen S K Sinha in Assam,  Lt Gen K M Seth in Tripura, former IB chief Shyamal Datta in Nagaland, ex-RAW chief Arvind Dave in Arunachal Pradesh and former Delhi police chief Ved Prakash Marwah in Manipur.

Vinayak Ganapathy in Guwahati