Restoring peace first of many key tasks for new Delhi police chief
Restoring peace after the Capital’s worst communal riots since 1984 and arresting those responsible; ensuring Delhi is cleared of protests in non-designated spaces; and controlling street crime -- these are some of the principal tasks that face special commissioner SN Shrivastava when he takes additional charge as the Delhi’s police chief on Sunday.
Since Tuesday night, when the 1985-batch AGMUT cadre officer was repatriated to Delhi Police and asked to “join immediately”, Shrivastava has been stationed in the north-east district’s DCP (deputy commissioner of police) office. The clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the region claimed 42 lives.
Several senior Delhi Police officers, who did not wish to be named, said that Shrivastava could be busy dealing with the aftermath of the riots for several weeks. “His job has only begun. Bringing the region back to normalcy must be his focus for a while. Once the situation is normal, his work will start. The government, media and the people will want answers,” a senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, said.
Many in Delhi Police believe that Shrivastava’s experience of dealing with protesters in Jammu & Kashmir will come in handy. He was the additional director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (J&K zone), and handled protests across the valley in the aftermath of the Hizbul Mujahideen operative Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter by security forces.
On Friday, after the government issued the orders giving Shrivastava the additional charge of Delhi Police commissioner, his former colleague SP Vaid, wrote on Twitter: “My best wishes to newly appointed Special CP Shri SN Shrivastava. Please deal with iron hand the rioters as we went after stone pelters & criminals in Kashmir valley post – Burhan. God is with you.” Vaid was then the director general of J&K Police.
Shrivastava’s last stint with Delhi Police was as special commissioner in the Special Cell between 2012-14. While he headed the unit, it arrested 37 alleged terrorists and was credited with breaking the network of the Indian Mujahideen.
A mid-level Special Cell officer, who did not wish to be named, said: “Our former boss returning back to Delhi Police as the chief will add more teeth to the force. The special cell did not allow any criminals during his tenure. The top gangster Neeraj Bawania was jailed; his rival Nitu Dabodia was killed in a police encounter. They were both vying to become Delhi’s top gangster then. He must focus on street crime and get rid of the criminals who carry guns.”
Shrivastava, a B.Tech from IIT, Kharagpur, also served as Delhi’s traffic police between 2008 and 2010, when the unit was led by a Joint CP-rank officer.
“He has a good knowledge of the city and has worked in all departments. He is one of the few officers whom I am seen typing or writing. Other simply give a dictation to their stenographers or personal assistants,” another Joint CP-rank officer said.
Several police officers who served under him in the past said that even as a young DCP during the mid-1990s, Shrivastava went after organised crime and terror modules. In 1998, as DCP of then south-west district, he arrested 4 Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists and neutralised its deputy chief commander Ali Mohammed Dar in Kashmir in a joint operation.
Less than 24 hours before he takes over as chief, Shrivastava and his men are patrolling the streets of north-east Delhi. One officer, who has worked with him in the past said in response to the government’s Friday order appointing him as the chief, “One thing is for sure. Now, no man will be able to point a gun at a cop in broad daylight.”
The officer was referring to the video of a man -- later identified as Shahrukh -- pointing a pistol as a policeman and then firing multiple rounds at rival protesters in north-east Delhi on Monday.