New Delhi: In a viral Twitter thread on the Christmas day, a retired IPS officer put out screenshots of his conversations with people who had greeted him on the festival. The ex-officer, M. Nageswara Rao, who briefly headed the Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s apex investigation agency, responded to several of those greetings with a standard message: “I am not a Christian, and I presume neither are you. Then why this?”
My Christmas conversation-1:Ads code goes here
— M. Nageswara Rao IPS (@MNageswarRaoIPS) December 25, 2020
The tweet was hardly out of Rao’s newly-found avatar, particularly on social media. According to his Twitter bio, Rao’s vision is a “Civilisational India” and his mission is “Equal rights for Hindus”.
Speaking to ThePrint, Rao said if Indians don’t exchange greetings among each other on Pakistan’s Independence Day, why must Hindus exchange greetings among each other on non-Hindu festivals? “Show me cases of non-Hindus wishing each other on Hindu festivals, I’ll go and garland them,” he said.
A bid to awaken ‘intellectually lazy Hindus’
Rao’s reluctance in receiving greetings on Christmas stems out of an assertion that both Christianity and Islam are “expansionist” religions out there to poach Hindus.
In an article on ‘love jihad’ published in Swarajya last month, the former IPS officer wrote: “Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Islam are doctrinally ordained as world conquering expansionist creeds. Which means they have to continuously increase their demography with which comes the geography too. Both religions poach from others through well-oiled multinational conversion machinery.”
A 1986-batch IPS officer of Odisha cadre, who retired in August this year, Rao often ends up evoking condemnation for his views on Twitter, including from his former colleagues in the IPS.
In July this year, days before his retirement, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police and Union Home Minister Amit Shah against him for using derogatory language and comments towards Muslims, and several retired IPS officers denounced his statement on “Abrahamisation of Hindu Civilisation”, saying it was made to “appease political masters”.
“I simply ignore them. They are mostly uprooted Hindus, who don’t know any better,” he told ThePrint. Rao uses the phrase “uprooted Hindus” somewhat frequently to describe those who he thinks are “Hindus just in name” and are “intellectually lazy” to explore their cultural and religious identities more deeply.
Asked if according to him Hinduism should just be an identity marker for Hindus or an active part of their identity as citizens, Rao said, “It is Hinduism (including Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism) that is the identity marker of India. You remove it, India will not be India but just any other Christian or Muslim country.”
While Rao said he has no plans to venture into electoral politics, he added that his mission is to be a Hindu activist or an advocate of Hindus — a task he calls “political activism”. “There is a difference between politics and political activism. I definitely intend to do the latter,” said Rao, who is planning to write a book soon.
Newly found ‘activism’
Asked if his views regarding subjugation of Hindus, and the idea that Hinduism is essentially the only identity marker of India, ever came in the way of his work as an IPS officer, Rao said, “For me, my work and my views have been completely separate. There has been no case in my career where I have discriminated against anyone,” he said. “As a police officer, I only went as per evidence.”
Rao said he does not believe in any myths such as “hate crimes”, which he calls a “creation of anti-Hindus” and an “invention of the West”.
He added that he never expressed these views when he was a serving IPS officer. “It is only post my retirement when I am a free man am I doing so.” The first tweet for which he received brickbats from his former IPS colleagues, however, was made seven days before he was to retire, leading to talks of his political ambitions after retirement.
His former colleagues in the CBI, where he had a brief stint as the chief, also argue that his vociferousness about Hindu issues is newly found.
“He never showed any such signs before,” a former IPS colleague of Rao in the Centre said on condition of anonymity. “It is only recently that he has suddenly been on an anti-Muslim and anti-Christian rampage of sorts… He has always been controversial, but this is new, and seems opportunistic.”
Rao, however, said while he has continued to hold these views, he only let them out after he retired.
“My evolution as a Hindu has happened through my reading over the years. I read a lot. The problem with the bureaucracy (which he argues has a Left-liberal bent) is that over the years, the intelligent people who enter the civil services don’t read anything but files… I never did that,” he said.
He called his views a part of his “evolution” because he started off being in a radical student movement in his college days, he said. “(Jailed activist) Varavara Rao was my professor, and I was in the revolutionary Students’ Union at the time,” he said.
Rao, a chemistry postgraduate from Osmania University in Hyderabad and researcher at IIT Madras, does not hold a particularly high regard for the Constitution either, which every All India Service officer swears by.
He told ThePrint that he believes that the Constitution is one that legally subjugates Hindus. “This Constitution was not created by the people of India. The Constituent Assembly at the time represented only 15 per cent Indians. So the starting lines of the preamble — ‘We, the people of India’ — is just wrong,” he argued.
In August this year, he wrote a piece in which he called the Constitution “Nehru’s ‘Slave’ Constitution”.
While his religious activism on Twitter may be relatively new, and one for which he receives brickbats and mass support alike, Rao’s career has been fraught with controversies, allegations of corruption, and a sudden ouster from the CBI — his most prominent, if brief, posting as a police officer.
It was in 2016 that Rao was brought to the CBI as a joint director, before which he was serving as the ADG Railways in Odisha. He is also the only IPS officer to have headed the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA). He also served as inspector general in the CRPF during the 2008 Kandhamal riots, and reportedly played a key role in defusing the tension. Rao also supervised the chit fund scams and the Saradha scam in Odisha and West Bengal, respectively.
Yet, despite his assignments investigating scams and financial irregularities, Rao has been accused of several of them himself.
Rao has been accused of financial irregularities as the chief of fire service directorate in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, scuttling and influencing investigations within the CBI, and misappropriation of funds while in office. There have been allegations of his wife’s involvement in a shell company as well.
He was also accused of taking decisions during his stint as interim CBI chief without following due procedure despite explicit Supreme Court orders to not take any policy decision — for which he was held in contempt. Then chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi termed Rao’s actions a “brazen” and “blatant” disregard for the apex court’s “majesty” and “dignity”.
While Rao remained tight-lipped about his surprise ouster from the CBI months after he replaced Verma, he said the allegations against him were frivolous. “They conjured up allegations of financial irregularities on the basis of my own returns filed to the government. They surfaced out of nowhere when I went to CBI,” he argued.