Perform or perish: UP DGP says his message for police is simple
In an interview to Hindustan Times, UP DGP talks about spate of police encounters in the state of late and the challenge of presenting the ‘friendly face’ of police before investors’s summit.india Updated: Feb 15, 2018 07:30 IST
The last three weeks since the 1983-batch IPS officer OP Singh joined as the DGP of Uttar Pradesh have been eventful.
Soon after he assumed charge on January 23 —a gap of 23 days after his appointment was announced — Singh had to ensure the peaceful release Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat. A day after its release, communal clashes broke out in Kasganj, resulting in the death of a man during a Tiranga Yatra on Republic Day.
Now, Singh faces another challenge of convincing industrialists and entrepreneurs attending the Uttar Pradesh investors’ summit from February 21 that the state is safe as an investment destination.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, he spoke on the spate of police encounters of late and the challenge of presenting the ‘friendly face’ of police before investors. Excerpts:
Q: Do you feel the pressure of controlling crime ahead of the summit? Is that the reason for the trigger-happy policing of late?
A: You cannot time such operations depending on your objectives. Police operations had started even before I took over. My predecessor had prepared a list of wanted criminals. Our plan was clear — arrest criminals who are at large. What can we do if criminals start targeting the police?
Q: Is it that simple? Large scale encounters are raising a question mark on its authenticity.
A: I will give you the figures and you decide. At least 39 criminals have been neutralised in police action since March 20 last year. You call them encounters but that seems to carry a negative connotation. Please note that 37 criminals out of 39 carried a reward on them. From March 20 to January 31, we carried out 1,142 operations in which 2,744 criminals were arrested and 1,853 had reward on them.
Q: But police encounters have angered human rights groups.
A: In all police operations carried out since March last year, 265 criminals were injured. In these operations, 247 policemen were also injured. I have lost four brave policemen during encounters. I know there are some who call the encounters fake. Let them come to us. We have records with us. I have told police to be soft with the common man but aggressive with criminals. For the first time, 167 criminals have been booked under the National Security Act in a year. Under the Gangster Act, we have seized the property of criminals in 169 cases. Property worth ₹146 crore has been seized, which shows our intent. We will respond if we get notices. There has not been any fake encounter and there isn’t anything to hide. We have learnt that some people are claiming policemen were carrying out encounters to get out-of-turn promotions. That policy stands scrapped for the last three years.
Q: Do you agree it has been an action packed three weeks?
Dacoits had been striking when I took over. There were incidents on January 18 and 22. I took over on January 23. There were problems in Mathura too. So, yes, I started with a slight handicap. But the good thing was we successfully supervised Padmaavat’s release on January 25 and our efforts were widely appreciated. Many people felt that in comparison to other states, we did a splendid job. We were able to persuade people not to take law into their hands. Karni Sena protested in a peaceful manner by distributing flowers, urging cinema hall owners not to put up the movie.
Q: Then Kasganj happened on Republic Day.
That was the bad part. However, we swung into action immediately. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) were deployed and peace committee meetings organised by getting people from both sides to hear the voice of reason. Within a day, normalcy was restored in Kasganj. Since then, the journey has been more professional as I began touring the state to galvanise my men.
Q: As you have been travelling across the state, what was your message to the police struggling on the law and order front?
I told them I mean business. The message was simple — perform or perish. That’s what I have said, from Lucknow to Kanpur and Meerut.
Q: How would you change the general negative perception about the police?
We are going all out against land mafia. Members of the anti-Romeo squad have undergone behavioural training. We have reduced response time of ‘Dial 100’ from 23 minutes to 14 minutes and 53 seconds. So, we are trying to improve service.
We also decided to have a ‘policeman of the month’ at each station, where performers will be honoured and their photographs displayed. The system of online FIRs is being strengthened further.
Q: UP Board examinations are on and police are also dealing with the copying mafia
That is a part of social policing. We have identified vulnerable exam centres. In Jaunpur, we busted a gang publishing fake answer sheets, we arrested some education department officials in Hardoi, and acted against copying mafia in Ballia.
Q: Are policemen being trained for investors’ summit?
We want our men to have good communication skills. That is why I have picked people who are presentable and give a good picture of our policing. There will be some kind of model deployment. Instead of quantitative, we are going in for qualitative deployment. I will not divulge full details as it is related to security but my emphasis is broadly on smart and communicative policing for the summit. We are choosing personnel from all over the state, not only from Lucknow. We are creating an effective traffic system. We would like to present ourselves as a modern police force and showcase our achievements.