The year was 2010, and a case of kidnapping landed at Delhi Police officer Rajender Singh’s desk — one that took him to Gujarat, from where a minor was apprehended for the crime. “I didn’t want him to waste his life behind bars, and remain a criminal so I helped him with his studies, played cricket with him, taught him how to drive… When he got bail, he got a job, and called me. I felt happy because I knew I made a difference,” said the 60-year-old ACP, a day after he retired as ACP Dwarka.
In his 34-year-long service, ACP Singh has worked on plenty of high-profile cases — from the December 2012 gangrape and murder case to arresting “superchor” Bunty to the Ponty Chadha murder case in 2012. Days before he retired, ACP Singh was a part of the team that nabbed Delhi Police sub-inspector Puneet Grewal who was accused of molesting four women and a minor.
Singh, who joined the force in 1986 as a sub-inspector after graduating from Delhi University, in fact, never wanted to take up the profession. “In the ’80s, I was preparing for the UPSC exams and wanted to be a civil servant, not a police officer. I was waiting for results and joined the Delhi Police just like that. Now I am glad I did… my goal has always been to catch the criminal as quickly as possible…,” he said.
In the last three decades, not only did he rise through the ranks, Singh has also seen the changing nature of policing. “Technology has changed policing but we follow the old rule book of carrying out investigations,” he said.
Singh’s tough demeanor and his cases also made it to the screen — twice. In Dibakar Banerjee’s celebrated film Oye Lucky Lucky Oye! on the life of “super chor” Devinder Singh aka Bunty, actor Anuraag Arora played the indefatigable cop chasing Abhay Deol’s character — a role inspired by Singh, who worked the case. “There were 20 teams looking for Bunty… I still remember the recovery of cash, jewellery, furniture, expensive goods — worth Rs 5 crore,” recalled Singh.
In 2019, Rajesh Tailang played Singh in Richie Mehta’s Netflix series Delhi Crime, based on the 2012 gangrape and murder case. Singh said, “I met Tailang a few times and told him about the investigation and the challenges. I think he picked up the character fast and did well… We are friends now.”
Talking about the 2012 case, Singh recalled how the then-DCP (south) Chhaya Sharma called him and other police personnel to the hospital where the woman was admitted late at night. “She formed teams and we set out to find the bus and the accused. It was not a tough case but the pressure was immense. The government, courts, media and public — all wanted quick results… There was no scope for an error or delay from our side,” he said.
In March this year, Singh found himself handling a new challenge. A nationwide lockdown was announced due to Covid, and movement of migrant workers began. “I was worried for migrant workers so my team and I went around providing food and dry ration to them. In my area, senior citizens needed help getting to hospitals so I set up a free van service. Pregnant women too needed help…,” he said.
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