On his way to New Delhi on a central deputation with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sadanand Date, a 1990-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, relinquished charge of the office of Crime Branch chief on Monday. Date was Additional Commissioner of Police (Central region) during the attacks of November 2008 where he sustained serious injuries after being hit by shrapnel from a grenade thrown by Ajmal Amir Kasab and Abu Ismail during a skirmish at the Cama and Albless Hospital. He was later transferred as chief of Force One, the fighting force formed in light of the attacks. Date speaks of working with the Mumbai Police force with Gautam S Mengle
How has your experience as the Crime Branch chief been?
Crime Branch is a unique set up with a lot of depth and range. Working in Crime Branch was a very enriching experience.
Can you talk about a few anecdotes or instances?
There were quite a few instances. For example, the detection of the rape and murder of the software engineer from Andhra Pradesh was the result of sheer legwork and sustained interrogation. We were interrogating the accused and simultaneously tracing his movements, and ultimately reached the point where he broke down after being confronted with a record of his movements. The trial of Ravi Panjabi also witnessed a lot of twists and turns, and sustained ‘pairavi’ and ensuring presentation of evidence before the court helped. Similarly, in the Morani case, there were a lot of expectations of quick results. We were able to arrest everyone involved, right from the people who conducted a recce to those who actually did the firing. I think the credit for this goes equally to Crime Branch and zonal deputy commissioners of police. The Crime Branch has something special in it, and each time we faced a difficult situation, officers and men have come out with excellent break-throughs. Crime Branch is basically about team work, about encouraging people and ensuring that they do not get demoralised. There were several things involved, like providing resources for intelligence gathering and backing up our personnel whenever they were going about their work in a bold fashion.
What is the current status of organised crime or the underworld as we know it in Mumbai?
Organised crime is under control, but it would be incorrect to say that it has completely disappeared. Mumbai Police and Crime Branch have kept a close and intensive watch on various activities and I am sure organised crime will continue to be in check.
What were the targets that you set for the Crime Branch after you took over and how far have they been achieved?
In consultation with the Commissioner of Police and my colleagues in the Crime Branch, we had identified certain key areas. A few of them were detection of all sensational and sensitive cases, keeping tight control over organised crime, focusing on drives against drugs, fake Indian currency notes, recovery of illicit firearms and other anti social activities and improving detection and conviction of crimes in the city. I think the Mumbai Police and Crime Branch has put up a decent performance on these and other key areas that we had identified.
You have served in various postings in Mumbai for a long time now. Can you share some policing memories?
I worked in Mumbai Police in three different stints and under nine different Police Commissioners. There were a series of violent crimes committed in Mumbai around Diwali of 1998, arrest of Bal Thakarey in 2000, intense bandobast around Lalbaugcha Raja in 2008/9, the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks, the last procession and funeral bandobast after demise of Shri Balasaheb Thakare in 2012. There are many more moments which come to my mind as well like transferring Ajmal Kasab to Pune. I consider myself lucky that I got an opportunity to work in many different positions in the city police.
What is the one thing you will miss about the Mumbai police personnel? Share with us something that we don’t know of the constabulary.
Police constables in Mumbai Police have time and again shown exemplary initiative and leadership. I remember an incident in 1998 when a truck suddenly got stuck on the route of the then deputy prime minister’s convoy. It was laden with heavy metals and we hardly had any time to check it. In a matter of seconds, a traffic police Head Constable on the spot came to me and explained how this situation could be handled by taking the Dy PM and his convoy from right side of the road to the wrong side and thereby completely bypassing the lane where the truck was stuck. I have seen time and again our Detection Staff and Crime Branch staff display initiative and courage.
Why ask for a central deputation?
I did my first deputation with the Central Bureau of Investigation and came back in June 2006. I have been thinking about a second deputation since 2010, but one after other, I kept on getting challenging assignments. Now, I think this is the right time to do a deputation and gain different exposure. As an All India Service officer, I think central deputations bring a set of different challenges and opportunities.