Police should work for the khaas aadmi and aam aadmi alike

It is time that the police put an end to rattling off crime figures and data, and seriously get down to solving even petty crimes. A crime, whether major or petty, is indeed a crime. It is the duty of the police to apprehend criminals and make the society a safe place for everyone

opinion Updated: Dec 20, 2017 23:38 IST
Police,aam aadmi,Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi Police personnel outside Delhi’s Khan Market (Representative Photo)(HT)

There is a perception that the police is not for the common man. While it is wrong to generalise, the blame squarely lies on the police for cultivating such an image.

On September 20, Igor Polikha, the Ukraine ambassador in India, was obliging a youth with a selfie near the Red Fort when the youth snatched the ambassador’s mobile phone and fled. Polikha lodged a complaint with the police, who immediately swung into action. On the basis of inputs given by the ambassador, a sketch of the criminal was made and it was circulated in the area; over a 100 men were questioned. Two days later, the mobile phone was recovered.

In November 2015, Peter, an alumni of Delhi’s St Stephen’s College, lost his mobile phone while travelling on the Delhi Metro. Efforts to lodge an FIR proved futile until one of his classmates, an IAS officer, spoke to a colleague in the Delhi Police. While registering the case, the SHO made it clear that the mobile would not be traced.

According to the ministry of home affairs, 36,217 cases of mobile thefts were reported in Delhi during 2016, and 10,497 cases were reported till February. Of these, the Delhi Police has claimed credit for recovering 72! It is estimated that seven mobile phones are stolen every hour in the national capital.

On February 7, Noble laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s house was burgled in the wee hours when Satyarthi was away. An FIR was lodged the same morning, the Delhi Police swung into action and in five days arrested the criminals and recovered the stolen items, which included a replica of the Nobel Prize.

On October 12, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s car was stolen from outside the Delhi Secretariat. Two days later, the stolen car was recovered from Mohan Nagar in Ghaziabad.

Data shows that 38,644 vehicle thefts were reported in 2016. The figure till June this year is 17,949. However, the number of recoveries of stolen vehicles is dismal. On an average four of the 100 stolen vehicles are recovered.

There are many instances where the police have succeeded in apprehending criminals when top politicians or bureaucrats are the affected parties. Sadly this efficiency is missing when the aam aadmi, the common man, is the petitioner. The police reluctantly get active in such cases if the media highlights the case.

This lackadaisical attitude dents the image of the police and brands it as corrupt, especially because in many cases complaints are not taken seriously until palms are greased.

These are examples of how technology is not optimally used to track criminals and prevent crimes. While the police trace criminals through the mobiles they use, the same effort is not put in to trace mobile phones that are stolen. If the stolen mobile phone is kept on surveillance for some time, it can be recovered and the thief can be nabbed. Of course criminals these days devise means to evade such measures, but, a determined effort can solve such cases. The public perception is that the police is hand in glove with criminals and hence they do not act on such cases.

The crime rate is bound to dip when criminals are apprehended and put behind the bars. It is time that the police put an end to rattling off crime figures and data, and seriously get down to solving even petty crimes. When stolen items are recovered and restored to the victims, the goodwill it creates will go a long way in improving the image of the police among the public.

A crime, whether major or petty, is indeed a crime. It is the duty of the police to apprehend criminals and make society a safe place for everyone—safe for the khaas aadmi and the aam aadmi.

MP Nathanael is Inspector General of Police (Retd), CRPF

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Dec 20, 2017 14:14 IST