Twitter spat between former IGP Traffic Basant Rath and recently elected, and supposedly BJP-backed, Srinagar Municipal Corporation Mayor Junaid Mattoo has created a wedge between the netizens of J&K.
While Basant Rath had earned an equal number of fans and critics during his tenure, his recent controversy may have earned him some more fans.
A fan of former Pakistani cricketer Javed Miandad, Rath was transferred on Tuesday and attached to the office of Commandant General of Home Guards, Civil Defence and State Disaster Response Force.
Rath’s transfer came within days after his verbal spat with Srinagar’s BJP-backed new mayor Junaid Azim Mattu, who had tweeted that he received “numerous complaints about traffic mismanagement in the city”, and to that Rath had replied that traffic was not his domain.
A day earlier when Mattu had made the controversial remarks that Srinagar’s wetlands were not needed, Rath had responded on Twitter by remarking that wetlands were “precious and a vital part of our ecosystem”. “Only a cabbage will think otherwise”.
The public spat between Rath and Mattu on November 7 and 8 and the “cabbage” reference, less than a week before Rath’s transfer, had left the social media users divided with most of them writing in support for Rath, a rarity in the region where the police enjoy limited public sympathy.
Rath joined as IGP, Traffic, in February this year. Videos of his unorthodox and controversial ways as he roamed streets in civvies frequently featured on social media.
Shesh Paul Vaid, the former state police chief, had hoped Rath would not get transferred. “He may follow unorthodox ways, but his honesty and dynamism is appreciable and commendable,” Vaid said.