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In Pune,policing on the back foot

Efforts on to improve police-public ties: Addl CP.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune |
October 28, 2013 2:44:41 am

While top cops in Pune are struggling to crack the murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar and have drawn public ire,low-rung police personnel — inspectors,sub-inspectors,assistant police inspectors and constables — have in the past few months hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The main grouse of citizens is the ‘insensitivity’ shown towards their complaints or cops’ ‘crass arrogance’ while discharging their duties.

Whether in police stations or chowkies under Pune police commissionerate or Pune rural police,PIs,PSIs and constables are increasingly finding themselves at the wrong end of the public stick. While top cops say police force “constantly remains” sensitive to public complaints,retired cops say personnel should be sensitised to respond to public complaints quickly and handle pressure.

In the recent most-talked about case,senior PI Rajendra Patil,head constable R H Bhendbhar and a police writer of Talegaon Dabhade police station were suspended for ignoring the complaint of a girl who later committed suicide. The suspension came after a morcha by local residents and a Talegaon bandh. Home Minister R R Patil had to intervene in the matter. “The complaint should not have been ignored at any cost. This was a serious lapse on the part of the police,” said Additional Rural SP Vijay Magar on Sunday.

API Roopali Bobade of Yamunanagar police chowkie was transferred to Nigdi police station after women residents complained that she was behaving rudely with them and not taking their complaints seriously. A morcha was organised by local women,protesting against her “behaviour”. It was led by Shiv Sena leader Sulbha Ubale and NCP leader Bharati Chavan. “The API behaved arrogantly towards citizens who went to the chowkie to lodge complaints,” said Ubale.

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Bobade,however,rubbished the charges. “There was pressure on me to not register complaints against supporters of political parties. Also,there has been too much political interference…and injustice has been done to me as I was transferred from the chowkie,” she said.

The case of Baramati PSI Deepali Shinde also raised eyebrows in Pune. Earlier this month,Shinde was suspended after she was allegedly caught taking a bribe of Rs 10,000 after a complaint was lodged by local councillor Sunil Pote. PSI Shinde later lodged a complaint at the local police station,alleging Pote and his men tried to set her afire as she was probing a complaint against the councillor’s son. Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe has sought a CID inquiry in the case.

Last month,a morcha was taken out by Pimpri-Chinchwad journalists against senior Bhosari PI Chandrakant Bhosale after he allegedly used angry words against photojournalists. Though an inquiry was launched,Bhosale expressed regret,ending the tiff with the scribes.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau had in August filed a chargesheet against PI Maya Bankar of Shivajinagar police station and her writer head constable Rajendra Raut for allegedly accepting Rs 5,000 as bribe.

The Bombay High Court on Thursday barred an API from Chakan police station from taking up complaints filed by women.

Constables,too,are not behind. Last week,a constable in Bhosari threatened a woman,an employee of an industrial unit,that he would lodge theft cases against her and her colleagues. This was after she went to lodge a complaint about her debit card theft. It was only after the woman approached DCP Shahaji Umap that her complaint was taken up.

A few months ago,two women constables attacked each other in Hinjewadi police station after an argument. They were let off after a warning.

Additional SP (rural) Vijay Magar said after the Talegaon incident,they have sent out a “strong” message to cops. “Through a circular,we have told personnel at all 31 police stations not to ignore complaints,especially by women. We have told them that we will send dummy complainant to check how they deal with complaints,” he said. Magar said if found guilty,strong disciplinary action would be initiated against errant cops. In Chakan case,he said they would await the copy of the HC order before commenting.

Magar said,”Police personnel should know that they are responsible government officers and should therefore behave responsibly.”

Retired ACP Pradeep Patil said people are reacting strongly if complaints are not registered or taken up. “There is an awakening of sorts among the masses. The police should gear up to quickly respond to complaints or face action,” Patil said.

Additional Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Singhal said sensitisation of police force is a constant process and efforts are always made to improve police-public relations. He denied that police personnel were misbehaving due to work load. “If the police have not responded to any complaint,it could be due to resource problem…,” he said,adding that senior officers regularly review the happenings at police station or chowkie levels.

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