In the year that he has been its chief editor, Yashwant Vhatkar has taken the Maharashtra Police magazine, Dakshata, from a publication once ridiculed for being compiled by clerical staff to a professionally edited monthly comprising engrossing stories of crime investigations. Vhatkar, currently an Additional Inspector General of Police posted at the state police headquarters in Colaba, took over as chief editor of Dakshata in August 2016.
The 43-year-old magazine underwent a design change earlier this year and its annual Ganesh Chaturthi special edition was launched by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in August.
“A lot of changes have been made to the magazine in the past one year. The focus has been on bringing the good work done by the police to light,” said Vhatkar.
Vhatkar opened up opportunities for experts from outside the police force to contribute to the magazine. “Previously, it was a typical crime magazine. Now, we are getting a lot of journalists and experts from various fields also to write for the magazine,” he said.
He added, “We have written about Force One, the State Reserve Police Force, the traffic police and the railway police. We want to show that we have great infrastructure here.”
The idea, he said, is to write about work that the police are doing in every part of the state. He referred to a story about the police in Beed district starting a programme to actively help families of serving military personnel with their day-to-day problems.
Vhatkar writes the magazine’s editorials apart from a monthly feature on spirituality. He has also enlisted elite investigators from across the state to write first-hand accounts of investigating sensitive and sensational crimes.
Retired senior police inspector Ramesh Mahale, who probed the 26/11 terror attacks case, is among those who contribute engrossing stories of criminal investigations.
Quality of content has been among Vhatkar’s chief priorities while selecting articles for the publication.
“The magazine has greatly improved since Vhatkar became its editor. He has a literary bent of mind and personally selects, reads and edits articles. Before him, that was done by the clerical staff,” said Rohidas Dusar, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police who writes a popular monthly feature chronicling the history of the city and state police apart from milestones in the history of the police department.
Before his term as the editor, Vhatkar headed the crime branch team that investigated the gangrape of a photojournalist in the Shakti Mills compound in Mahalaxmi in 2013.
The team was awarded the police’s best detection that year and Vhatkar was himself subsequently awarded the President’s Police Medal in January this year.
“When I took over as editor, the entire point was to show that the magazine is as much for the people as it is for the police. The magazine should help improve relations between the police and public,” he says.