Ribeiro disappoints us: When good men do nothing

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Julio Ribeiro’s refusal to probe the corruption allegations against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh underscores the truth of this adage

Ravi Shanker Kapoor |

Julio Ribeiro

US Consul General in Mumbai, Peter Haas, welcomes former police officer Julio Ribeiro at the US National Day Celebrations organized by the US Consulate of Mumbai at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, on August 26, 2011 (Picture courtesy: https://commons.wikimedia.org)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. This is a famous quote attributed to Edmund Burke. The refusal of former top cop Julio Ribeiro to probe the corruption allegations against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh underscores the truth of this adage.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who is almost holding the ruling coalition in the state, had suggested Ribeiro’s name for the probe, but he is not willing. “I would not like to touch this kind of murky situation,” Ribeiro told NDTV in an interview. “I would not touch this with a barge-pole… This is a very tricky situation and I do not know where all this is going to lead to. It is better for the politicians to settle it themselves.”

You are wrong, Mr. Ribeiro. Politicians can’t settle this; they can only create murky situations, which they have done in this case. As we wrote earlier, “Even by the pathetic standards of Indian politics, the recent developments are shocking. A tainted police officer, inducted into the force after 16 years in suspension and given an important responsibility, is accused of placing a vehicle outside the residence of the country’s biggest industrialist, Mukesh Ambani; the owner of the vehicle dies in mysterious circumstances; his widow blaming the officer Sachin Waze for “murder”; the police commissioner is removed and given a less importance charge; the sidelined commissioner writes a letter to the Chief Minister, alleging that Home Minister Deshmukh was running an extortion racket with the help of Waze; the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis demanding Deshmukh’s resignation; murky intra-alliance politicking—this is surely an unedifying spectacle” (https://www.thehinduchronicle.com/2021/03/param-bir-letter-against-anil-deshmukh-stirs-maharashtra-politics/).

Evidently, Pawar has considerable faith in Ribeiro’s competence and integrity. He said, “Julio Riberio’s credibility is such that no one can interfere or influence his investigation.”

But the 92-year-old, who is still active in public life, refused to take up the responsibility. With his vast experience—heading the Mumbai police in the mid-1980s and then serving in Punjab and Gujarat—and credibility, he could have not carried out a good investigation but also helped the political class clean up the mess.

Unfortunately, he decided to indulge in lamentation. “If now IPS officers are suspected of extortion and we should all hang our heads in shame,” he said.

You should have told us, Mr. Ribeiro, what we should do after hanging our heads in shame. Lamentation is a poor substitute for action.

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