Our biggest challenge is traffic, will see improvements soon, says Gurugram police commissioner
Almost two years into the job, Gurugram’s Commissioner of Police Sandeep Khirwar is keenly aware of how complex and diverse the city is, and its challenges. Even though keeping Gurugram safe is a tall order, Khirwar is determined to beat the odds.Updated: Jun 04, 2018 14:12 IST
Almost two years into the job, Gurugram’s Commissioner of Police Sandeep Khirwar is keenly aware of how complex and diverse the city is, and its challenges. Hindustan Times caught up with him and found out that even though keeping Gurugram safe is a tall order, Khirwar is determined to beat the odds.
Excerpts from the interview:
What does it mean to police a city like Gurugram where diverse groups, from expats and the elite to villagers and migrant labourers , co-exist?
Yes, Gurugram has a diverse [resident] population and so far, the police force is mainly from the hinterland. There have been communication issues which need to be addressed, though we are trying to upgrade the [police’s] communication skills. We have freshened up our foreign registration office so that the user experience is enhanced. We are reaching out to software professionals. We pay visits to industrial areas regularly. We take ideas from them to know what should be done to ensure their safety and security. A good forum has been set up under Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) and lot of ideas are coming from there.
As the one responsible for law and order in Gurugram, what are the challenges you face in this city?
The biggest challenge is on the traffic management front because the vehicular movement in the city is much higher, as there is a national highway passing through the city and there is interstate traffic moving here. Traffic to Gurugram or Delhi is huge and the vehicular population has just exploded. But of late, significant strides have been made in infrastructure.
We have a lot of working population, including women who work odd hours. There have been one or two odd incidents which got a lot of publicity and they create an impact on the psyche of women. Women’s safety is a front we need to work upon.
Do you have a solution for city’s traffic?
Gurugram’s traffic is an issue which has to be handled on multiple levels. As far as infrastructure is concerned, underpasses and construction of roads are in full swing. Secondly, we have significantly enhanced the number of traffic cops on the roads. We have set up three challan units in the district and 125 e-challan machines have been handed out to traffic officials. We are upgrading technological tools and also working towards their skill development. We are working with GMDA for traffic signals. We will see improvements on the road soon.
It’s said that you are safe in Gurugram so long as you are in a condo. Would you agree that the law and order situation has a lot to do with the state of public infrastructure in the city?
Obviously, the gated communities have their own security apparatus. I would like to emphasise that Gurugram is a safe city and people should not create panic. At times, odd incidents do take place, but we are responding to the issues and should have calibrated response. We are working in tandem with the civic authorities. A city bus service is coming up soon, which will ensure better and safe transport for women. The CCTV project with GMDA will also be implemented soon. The perception of safety will change.
Police records show that carjacking and vehicle theft are the most common crimes in the city. Why has the police struggled to catch these criminals?
Our responses are fairly quick and we do get success in most of these cases. Yes, some of these criminals do become repeat offenders and sometimes, first-timers are also involved, but we are successful in bringing justice and have a reasonable success rate.
There are criminal gangs which are active not only in Gurugram but also in adjoining parts of Delhi and other districts. Some of them commit crimes, flee and return. We need to have a good response to this.
Mewat sends a regular supply of criminals to the city and Delhi, according to records. Do you have an action plan to fight this?
I will not confine it to Mewat. Criminals come from adjoining areas and adjoining districts, but many are from the city itself. We do have nakabandi and picketing from time to time. We have been sending parties to Mewat and we do meet with resistance there, but our teams have been brave and have seen success on most occasions.
What kind of coordination do you have with Delhi Police?
We work in close coordination with each other. To curb activities of organised criminals and prevent smuggling of illicit weapons and narcotics, the interstate crime coordination committee meeting of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi took place in the city. Also, we decided to set up Inter-State Crime Information Secretariat to create a common database and real-time sharing of information to prevent and detect crimes.
How has the policing and crime situation in Gurugram changed since you took over?
We have increased police presence on the road. We have taken action against organised crime, such as gambling and prostitution. Action has been taken against people who violate the Arms Act. Traffic management has improved and we have been able to increase our capacity. Four more police stations will be set up soon. Already, a cyber crime police station has been set up and passport verification was made paperless.
Recently, there was some communal tension over the issue of offering namaz.
We have been able to handle the issue successfully despite some people trying to create problems. We have reached out to all stakeholders. We are committed to the maintenance of law and order, committed to ensuring constitutional right and dignity for every individual. To do so, we have all the tools and we will take legal measures where required. If anyone has a view, we will respond. No one will be allowed to take law in his hand.
Are the crimes against women a mindset problem or law and order issue?
My earnest effort is to make each woman and children feel safe. This is a complex issue and there are mindset issues as well as social issues, and this is not my area of work alone. On the law and order front, we have set up two women police stations and a third one will be operational soon. Also, special teams are formed to deal with child victims at each police station and our officers are reaching out to corporates and industries sectors where women work. We are spreading awareness and reaching out to them that they can reach out to us in case of emergencies. Our helpline number for crimes against women is 1091 and we are responding to calls. To augment night visibility in the city, we will soon have 1,425 personnel joining the department, which will significantly improve police presence on roads and thereby enhance the perception of women safety.
Juvenile crime has been on the rise. At what level do you intervene?
We need to respond to this. New legislation and amendments to juvenile justice act have been made. Every police station will have juvenile crime officers. We have counsellors who work in close coordination with us so that every child who has committed the crime gets an intervention. Trauma has to be healed and we need to work on it.
What new initiatives can we expect this year?
I am working towards increasing our cyber investigations capacity. We need better technology and more cops on the ground.