Dattatray Padsalgikar who took charge as Mumbai’s new police commissioner on Sunday said that terror, women’s issues, cyber and economic offences were on top of his priority list.
The 1982-batch IPS officer, a former Special Director with the Intelligence Bureau in Delhi, is the 40th police commissioner.
Soon after taking over on Sunday afternoon, Padsalgikar who was with the Intelligence Bureau for close to 17 years, expressed his concern regarding the rising number of cases of youngsters from the city getting radicalised by the online propaganda of the global terror outfit – the Islamic State or IS. He told the media during an interaction that this issue could be handled more aptly by peers and family members rather than the police.
“The police is here to identify such youth, but there should be a pressure to hold them back from the family, peer groups and teachers and steps have to be taken before it is too late,” he said. “The local police stations will keep an eye on such activities and will provide all the assistance whenever there is demand made by the the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) or any Central agencies,” he added.
On the role of the local police in dealing with issues of radicalisation, Padsalgikar said, “We will also look at bettering our Anti Terror Cells (ATCs) set up at every police stations to gather more intelligence on such issues.”
Wanting to bridge the divide between junior and senior officers — reflected in the Vakola fratricide of 2015 — Padsalgikar said that the junior rung is the first point of contact between the police and citizens.
“Senior police officers have a limited role to play. The real work is done by the officers on the ground and these officers are in touch with the citizens and our role is to monitor them,” he said.
The new police chief does not view the transfer of major cases such as the Sheena Bora murder case or the probe against gangster, Chotta Rajan who was recently deported from Indonesia to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as ‘prominent’ cases that ‘dented’ the image of the Mumbai Police.
“According to me these are not prominent case and since CBI is a more specialised agency dealing with investigation panning across various states, they are in the better position to probe them,” he said.
Padsalgikar will continue with the reforms and initiatives launched by his predecessors including the Mumbai Police making his debut on the social media with two handles on Twitter.
“I think social networking is the most effective and a fast tool of communication with the public. It will serve as an effective interface with the local public,” he said. After a brief interaction with the media, the officer tweeted on the Mumbai Police official handle, “Have taken charge as the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai. Wish to work with you, for you, to the best of my ability”.
While last year saw incidents of fratricide in the force, moral policing and cases of police high-handedness, Padsalgikar said any excesses by the men in Khaki would not be tolerated, provided the complaints are not motivated.