At a time when the Opposition, and even some leaders of ruling alliance partner RJD, are crying hoarse over the purported nosedive in law and order situation in Bihar, Patna district’s police chief ran a surprise inspection on Friday night to check the alertness levels.
The result: Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Manu Maharaj ‘stole’ a jeep from a key police station and drove around for a while, with the police driver in the backseat sleeping through most of it. If this was Bollywood, it would be a comedy at the expense of the police, but given the import it was a tragedy for the city police. As for the SSP, he was “dismayed”.
Around 11.30 pm, SSP Maharaj left his residence near Patna Zoo on a motorbike and reached Kotwali police station along Bailey Road at Dak Bungalow Chowk, the heart of the state capital. Although he had covered his face with a handkerchief and was wearing dark glasses, there was no need: there was no sentry at the police station main gate. Maharaj entered, without being noticed, parked his bike and ran a check on the parked police jeeps. There were five.
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The SSP found a Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) driver sleeping on the rear seat of a vehicle. The driver, according to police records, had informed the station in-charge that the vehicle was not working. Maharaj tried with the key to his bike and started the vehicle. He sounded the horn, got no response— either from the sleeping driver or from any policeman posted inside the station — and drove off.
He drove through Patna roads for more than three hours. The SAP driver, Bharat Rai, woke up midway through it, the SSP said. “I returned home, called up the Kotwali station in-charge and asked him whether the police station had all five jeeps stationed. He said yes. I asked him to check again. He called back saying one jeep was missing,” Maharaj told The Indian Express.
The SSP, known for his surprise inspection rounds, said such checks are an important part of policing. “I would do it at intervals to jolt the force out of complacency. We cannot tolerate such lethargy. This will be a lesson,” he said.
Pointing out that all police vehicles are GPS-enabled and have a wireless set, Maharaj said, “I was dismayed: I drove on Patna roads for more than three hours, and yet there was no response from the police station.”
Kotwali police station in-charge Rameshhas Kumar been asked for an explanation. SAP driver Bharat Rai has been dismissed.