Intelligence: A dried up source
Electronic surveillance and myriad technological are important for generating ground-level intelligence. But, they can, by no means, substitute a thriving network of human intelligence. Jatin Anand and Karn Pratap Singh report. Delhi police story | The force in numbersdelhi Updated: Sep 15, 2011 01:08 IST
Electronic surveillance and myriad technological are important for generating ground-level intelligence. But, they can, by no means, substitute a thriving network of human intelligence.
"A good system of intelligence gathering combines both electronic surveillance and human intelligence in equal measure. What good is a CCTV grab of a suspicious person if he/she can’t be identified or traced?" asked a senior police officer.
According to him, almost the entire strength of 600-plus officers of Delhi Police’s Special Cell used to be famous for such a network almost three years ago.
Back then, most intelligence inputs used to emanate from an officer's sources at transit points like railway stations and interstate bus terminals and even from small shopkeepers of crowded market areas.
"But now, Special Cell officers, by virtue of not being as ‘social' as they were earlier, aren't that effective. Three years ago, owners of PCOs and STD booths used to be on the top of our priority list as sources. But that network shrunk in sync with the magnitude of our operations," admitted a senior cop.However, police commissioner BK Gupta claimed that since more than a year now, the Special Cell's activities have been directed towards catching terrorists. Earlier, the intelligence network catered mainly to interstate criminals and drug dealers.
An interstate criminal, Gupta said, was likely to serve as an asset for terrorists in several ways. "He may provide logistical or financial support to terror modules," he explained.
Three years after the beginning of its decline since the Batla House Encounter in September 2008, gathering ground-level intelligence has been effectively replaced by a revamped beat patrolling system to counter petty street crime. The police have also begun the 'Eyes and Ears' Scheme—in which residents of an area are encouraged to share intelligence with the police— and added hundreds of PCR vans to their stable.
However, there are only 20,000 feet on the ground to maintain law and order in a city with a population upwards of 1.67 crore. The myriad other duties lower-rung police personnel are supposed to perform translates into less manpower and means extended duty hours for the already overworked personnel.