Caught between his political bosses and his duty as the police chief over the Balaghat episode, director general of police Rishi Kumar Shukla is wary of commenting anything on the matter. The police force is looking at him as it feels the action taken against 10 cops is harsh. Facing a major challenge barely three months after assuming office, Shukla asserts the force never shied away from taking strict action against any erring police personnel. Excerpts of interview:
A RSS pracharak allegedly victimised by policemen in Balaghat is now hospitalised, but he is an accused as per an FIR lodged against him. Also, the policemen named in FIR are yet to be arrested. What is your take?
Any FIR lodged is investigated. Police are looking into this.
What is your opinion on police excesses? There are more than 10,000 complaints lodged against policemen as per the National Crime Record Bureau’s 2015 report.
We take strict action on receiving such complaints. In the past one year or so, about 200 police personnel were dismissed from service against about 1,200 departmental enquiries initiated. I want to emphasise that dismissal from service is not a light punishment but a harsh one. But these actions don’t make headlines.
Our efforts are to identify, isolate and punish the erring police personnel. In cases of action by Lokayukta, we mandatorily give a sanction for prosecution within three-month time. We are trying to strengthen the internal vigilance system as part of our anti-corruption measures. I am of firm belief that a prompt action has impact (on functioning of police force). It is we who received and acknowledged these complaints. NCRB figures are based on our data.
Don’t you think there is something wrong with policing? Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of rapes in the country. Crime against children too is alarming.
Unlike several other states, Madhya Pradesh police believes in reporting crimes. And this is not happening because I am here. This has been happening for years. A large number of complaints suggest that we don’t stop people from lodging their complaints against police personnel. But there should be a holistic view in analysing the numbers. There were reports that Madhya Pradesh was on the top (in rape cases) but nobody reported that the state, in fact, was at the 5th place in the country when it comes to violent crimes, which matter and affect the society.
Unfortunately, in our society, we don’t have any conflict resolving mechanism other than seeking police’s intervention. People want police in all kinds of conflict, even in matters which hardly require our intervention.
But if crimes are reported diligently why is the crime graph not coming down?
Madhya Pradesh comes fifth among the states in population. The number of crimes committed is in direct proportion to the population rise in the past 10 years. At the same time, we should perceive law and order situation by judging the scenario. Unlike several other places, people feel safe here. In rape cases, about 98% of the accused were people known to the victims.
After Balaghat incident, home minister Bhoopendra Singh said the police stations should know about who’s who of social organizations including the RSS. Have you issued instructions in this regard?
We are going on two different paths. You are focusing on Balaghat episode only and I want to speak on other matters. I think we have talked enough for the day.
What about modernisation of the police force?
We are going to launch a citizen app and a portal which will ensure that many small things are done online and in a hassle-free manner. Also, we want to expedite the verification process for issuing passports. Traffic police personnel will have cameras on helmet to record violations of traffic rules.