Senior IPS officer Alok Kumar Verma took over as the Delhi Police commissioner from BM Bassi on Tuesday. Verma will head the 80,000-strong Delhi Police which is responsible for maintaining law and order in a megapolis of more than 17 million.
Reports say that Verma is no Bassi when it comes to talking to journalists, at least not yet. His first address to the force over wireless was cautious and devoid of flourish: He said ensuring security for senior citizens, women and weaker sections of society would remain his priority areas and he expects the force to focus not only on grievous offences but also on petty crimes. Yawn! Tell us something new, chief.
It is wishful thinking, but what Verma should have said is this: “My main job will be to restore the confidence of the people in the force”. In effect: “I will undo the damage done by Bassi”.
This is the least he could have done after the way the force mishandled the case involving Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar.
Kumar was arrested on February 12 on charges of criminal conspiracy and sedition for allegedly raising anti-national slogans on campus during an event to mark the anniversary of the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
On Monday, the force got a hammering from the Delhi High Court. Ridiculing the police force, the bench asked whether it knew what sedition actually meant.
Not done with that, it also raised questions over the police investigation into Kumar’s involvement in the raising of alleged “anti-national” slogans in JNU, asking why they “waited for footage” from Zee TV instead of taking action on February 9 when the alleged incident occurred.
“Why was the FIR not filed that day itself? What were your men doing?” the court asked.
Bassi, in his farewell message, noted that his force did not “have strife with anyone”.
“We reach out to everyone. If someone thinks that Delhi police wants to confront, then they can stop thinking that way,” he added.
But sadly, his actions proved otherwise.
Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail please is coming up today. The Delhi Police must now pause and think: Its reputation is in tatters. It is being ridiculed inside courts and outside it.
For a start, it must realise that changing its petty behaviour gets precedence over cracking down on petty crime.
The views expressed by the author are personal. The author tweets at @kumkumdasgupta