Twenty years ago, when a young IPS officer marched straight out of the National Police Academy, the weighing scale read 68 kilograms. The difference today is a negligible 5 kilograms, with the extra weight not around the waist but from his biceps. Except for a few strands of grey hair, this slim sleuth of the `97 IPS batch, defies the ‘Then & Now’ contrast most photographs portray. No magic mantra for the high metabolic rate. “I just eat sensibly and work out regularly”, reveals Sumit Sharan. Easier said than done in a police job that entails “meals at irregular hours and gallons of tea while on bandobust duty.” The slim build and the regimental discipline probably runs in the genes. Sumit’s father A.K.Sharan, a 1965 batch IPS officer retired as the first Director General of Police of the new State of Uttarakhand. And his mother Usha Saran ensured that what was tasty wasn’t necessarily sinful.
Roughing it out in the hostel due to his father’s routine transfers, Sumit became quite independent minded right from his early years at the Delhi Public School. So when most of his collegemates at Hansraj College, where he pursued an Economics Hons course and later a Masters in the subject at the Delhi School of Economics, either went abroad or took up lucrative corporate assignments, he was among four students who wrote the Civil Services Examination. All of them made the cut, with Sumit acing it with his third strike.
A maiden posting as the Additional Superintendent of Police – Srivilliputhur threw the young officer straight into action with the massive Kumbhabishekham. Putting an end to caste clashes and gang wars and detaining dreaded rowdies under the Goondas Act was his priority as the Superintendent of Police in Tuticorin. A short stint as the Assistant Inspector General at the State Police Headquarters was a prelude to his eventful seven year innings on deputation with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). As the Deputy Inspector General of the biggest Anti Corruption Branch in Delhi, Sumit investigated a Land Scam in the Delhi Development Authority & Municipal Corporation. It was jocularly referred to as the Chole Bature scam as the kingpin had begun his career selling the delicacy. When the Common Wealth Games (CWG) Scam came under the CBI scanner, Sumit was the nodal officer. There were a slew of sensational trap cases, notably one revolving around Engineering Colleges and the All India Institute of Technical Education (AICTE).
On his repatriation to the Tamil Nadu cadre, Sumit held dual charge as the Deputy Inspector General and Commissioner of Police of Tirunelveli at the height of the Kudankulam agitation against the nuclear power plant. “I worked to allay the fears of the local people and soon enough the first plant went critical.” Agitations, it appears, followed him in his career. As the Deputy Inspector General of Villupuram, the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) workers were up in arms. “We ensured that power generation did not stop at all with sufficient security deployment.”
History was made when the first transgender Prithika Yashini was given the appointment order by Sumit, during his tenure as the Commissioner of Police of Salem. “The young Sub Inspector is now a star in the department.”
In his present role as the Inspector General of Police of the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), Sumit, under the guidance of Additional Director General of Police Seema Agrawal, has been proactively rolling out a slew of citizen friendly initiatives. “The common man need not take a day off to trudge to the police station for routine requests.” Online facilities for Lost Document Reporting, Verification of Second Hand Vehicles and Lodging First Information Reports (FIRs) are now just a few clicks away. “The FIR used to be a big mystery earlier. It is now system generated. With our View FIR icon, we have made it transparent now.” Sumit’s ability to “connect seemingly disparate pieces of information and insights to arrive at a cohesive picture” as his IPS batchmate Saurabh Tripathy wrote in his linkedin recommendation, was honed at the CBI and is being put to use at the SCRB.
Don’t misread his serious visage. Sumit can be a lot of fun when he opens up with friends as I recently discovered at a birthday dinner hosted by my close friends Joshua Madan and Susan. The wit of his lawyer wife Rima Sharan, daughter of S.D.Khare, a Chief Commissioner of Customs, who used to practise in Delhi and is now a Legal Advisor of an IT company, may have rubbed off on him. With their school going children – Shivesh and Ambika, the Sharans enjoy eating out – but in moderation. Whatever calories are occasionally wolfed down must be burned the next day with a five kilometre run at the cricket club. How else do you think the belt buckle has frozen in time?
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, TV Political Commentator, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor of NDTV 24×7)