Less than a fortnight before he demits office and 13 tumultuous months after having headed the largest metropolitan police force in the country, Neeraj Kumar, the 19th Commissioner of the Delhi Police, says he is a satisfied police officer — not to mention a wiser man — with no regrets. Excerpts from an interview.
Your critics — you have many of them — say your tenure was punctuated more by failure than success. Do you agree?
That is the perception a group with vested interests has subtly and cleverly been able to spin, and sell, over the duration of my tenure. Throughout my posting, it wasn’t the force in its entirety which was targeted but me in person. This smear campaign was spearheaded, bank-rolled, systematically organised and executed by some people who came to grief due to me during my tenure in the CBI. I have evidence against them and will reveal details about the entire scandal post-retirement.
But your tenure saw some of the ghastliest instances of sexual crime — the December 16 and the Gandhi Nagar gang rapes — and sensational murders like those of Ponty Chadha and Deepak Bhardwaj. Crime figures soared.
Controlling crime figures is the easiest thing to do. Figures and statistics are just numbers and not always a correct and complete reflection of the crime situation per se. As far as the cases you mentioned are concerned, the accused were nabbed within days — in 72 hours in the December 16 gang rape. Chargesheets based on concrete facts and fit enough to stand judicial scrutiny were prepared and filed almost immediately. I personally prepared chargesheets for these and no major case to have been reported during my tenure remains unsolved -- unlike my predecessors’.
What about the lack of efficiency and evidence with which the spot-fixing case was handled? You’d promised more arrests — especially of players — which never came.
When it comes to police work, what seems promising at first doesn’t always materialise. This, however, is not to accept even for a minute that investigations were shoddy. We even went to the extent of conducting lie-detector tests on several players -- they came out negative -- to build up our case. The only reason why we didn’t let the news leak was because we did not want to tarnish their reputations. In any case, spot-fixing was an eye-opener. I will personally submit a report to the government on the case since there are many things that we have learnt that need to be known to the state about the Indian Premier League.
What differentiates your tenure from that of your predecessors?
My main emphasis was on upgrading professional skills within the force, strengthening the crime records office, the dossier system and other systemic changes to make it more efficient in its functioning. I educated specialised departments like the special cell and the crime branch about the menace of gun-running, helped strengthen community policing initiatives. I am proud of the Martyrs Fund I helped create. The families of personnel dying on duty will be given R20 lakh as compensation while those who die while in service but not in the line of duty will get R10lakh.
What’s on your mind what with just 12 more days of your tenure to go?
Tying up some loose ends. I plan to get the foundation of our new headquarters laid at Parliament Street, sign the recommendation rolls of 15,000 personnel for promotion and file chargesheets in the match-fixing case of Hansie Cronje ill-fame and the spot-fixing scandal.
What’s in store 12 days later?
Well, I’ll probably be finishing some paper work for several days post-retirement. This will mainly concern signing the recommendation rolls. Then, the trip to my expecting daughter in London and a book on my experience which I’d love to write the screenplay for and turn into a film. I’ve always woken up a policeman as far as I can recall. Waking up a retired cop is going to take getting used to.