When you took over as the Commissioner of Ambala-Panchkula, what were the problem areas for you? What were the issues you took up as priorities?
One major problem both Panchkula and Ambala are suffering from is narcotics. Our new generation is indulging in consumption of drugs thereby spoiling their lives. To get the youth on the right track was the first task that I undertook. We feel that if the supply line is disrupted, a thousand lives can be saved. We want that the supply line to be cut first. We don’t focus on cracking small cases related to one or two grams of contraband. I have directed my staff to nab the suppliers those who supply contraband in huge quantities to people. When those suppliers won’t be there, the availability will automatically be affected. We are on with it and to a lot of extent, we have been successful in keeping a check on it. Second priority was to curb minor disputes at the preliminary level. We have been ensuring that preventive steps are taken before any small issue snowballs into a bigger crime. Another issue which I took up on priority was to put the entire commissionerate under surveillance. In this bid, we are engaged in a special drive and installing CCTV cameras.
How helpful has the installation of CCTV cameras been?
Cameras help in tracking criminals. Sometimes, there are certain incidents where people narrate what happened with them. With the help of CCTVs we also get to know whether their narration is true or not, and sometimes it turns out to be false as well. Once a person is out of his house, he comes under the surveillance of the camera. Even the Kalka dacoity and murder that we solved, was with the help of a CCTV camera. Simultaneously, these cameras also help in maintaining traffic control and regulation. With the help of Municipal Corporation, hotels, residents welfare associations, hospitals and other private agencies, we have installed nearly 1,000 CCTVs in Panchkula. NHAI is installing cameras on National Highways.
How is staff crunch impacting policing?
Staff crunch is a serious problem in the entire Haryana police. There has been no recruitment for the last eight to 10 years. On the other hand, every year 5 to 6 per cent of the force, on an average, retires. Despite less staff we have been trying to give our best. But due to this, there is lot of pressure and stress on our staff. Instead of the normal 8 hours, they are putting up 24 hours which takes a toll on the productivity of a person even though the government has given a little relief by allowing a weekly off to every policemen. But the fact is that we have to manage within the resources available to us. If you see, the sanctioned strength is fixed on 800 while the population of the city has increased manifold. If we see the Commissionerate, 1,900 policemen are managing a population of nearly 30 lakh people.
The presence of police on the streets is less in Panchkula, especially when one compares it with Chandigarh. What is being done about this?
Residents compare every issue with Chandigarh but they fail to notice the resources. What I have got to know is Chandigarh police has a strength of about 40,000 while our effective staff is just 500. In the traffic wing itself, they have 1,500 staff. Chandigarh has 200 vehicles and we have been managing our best with just 35. We compare everything with Chandigarh but not the resources. But still, to a lot of extent, we have controlled crime and traffic as well. Whatever is reported, we track it immediately.
Have you given any special directions to ensure that there is police presence on the streets?
Yes indeed. Special directions are given to police to man the streets. I also keep a tab on them personally and even asked the DCPs also to ensure that cops are doing their duty. I have clearly told them…sadak pe jiska dominance rahega wahi survive karega (Whoever dominates on the road will survive). If police dominance is less on the roads, the criminals will move in.
Police department has often given recommendations to HUDA or MC on requirements needed at the accident prone sites. But those are often overlooked.
Yes, infact even in the new sectors that are coming up, we have requested the government that one police official should be there in the committee when the planning is done. If a police official is not there, how will they know what is the requirement of traffic lights, how the crossings have to be made and where you have to make turns as the department has to see where jawans have to be deployed. We have even asked NHAI, HUDA and MC that when any such designing is done, a police official should also be consulted.
Panchkula is surrounded by the borders of Himachal, Punjab and UT which prove to be an easy escape route for criminals. What is being done about this?
Yes, for that we ensure that these border areas are sealed. Proper nakas are laid at every border and our force is deployed. So that whenever a crime takes place, the exit areas are completely sealed. Also, since we have CCTV cameras at the borders installed as well so that helps in tracking the movement of criminals.
Recently, Health Minister had given a statement that the Commissionerate system in not effective in Ambala Panchkula and it is of no use. What do you have to say about it?
You may ask this question to him. I can’t comment on it.