Haryana DGP Manoj Yadava believes the lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic was a challenging phase for the force. A 1988-batch IPS officer, Yadava reveals how they convinced the police to perform their duties during lockdown when everybody was being told to remain at home to stay safe. In a conversation, Yadava also tells Sukhbir Siwach the challenges being faced by the police after the lockdown phase.
Do you think the crime will increase after lockdown?
Yes, already we are getting evidence that a number of people, who are unemployed or whose businesses have closed down, are now taking to crime to pay their bills. In the month of June, after initiation of the Unlock 1.0, there was an increase in the number of murders, attempt to murder, fighting and attacks on public servants. We are making all efforts to check spurt in the crime. Because of financial difficulties, people are on a short fuse.
What are the challenges before the police now?
The lockdown has brought lot of economic hardships (to all ) whether it’s a middle-class family, a shopkeeper or a person with low income.
We get a lot of complaints related to business disputes where the aggrieved persons want to lodge criminal complains to recover their money. Handling such complaints is an issue because in some cases the person concerned may not be deliberately cheating. Further, the liberal parole policy is continuing. As per the data, criminals who were released on parole (during lockdown) were found involved in 15 serious cases in Haryana.
Secondly, the infection is still spreading. Catching criminals is the basic job of the police. But catching criminals in these times exposes the policemen to risk. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t arrest them. Further, after the lockdown, people have started reaching police stations and offices of the SPs to lodge complaints. So, we issued a detailed protocol for the staff on how to remain safe while handling such complaints. We have more than 300 police stations in Haryana. Creating the required infrastructure for covid-related precautions including hands free sanitisers and adequate supply of masks to them is a challenge. Now, the responsibility to enforce the orders related to mandatory wearing of masks is also on the police. Nearly 75 per cent of mask challans are being done by the police. Traditionally, it was the job of the health and municipal authorities, not of police.
How many from the state police got infected by coronavirus?
We have a 40,000-strong force in the state and 109 personnel have been infected so far. Of them, 78 have recovered. The number is limited despite the fact that we are on the frontline performing our duty apart from being stationed at Covid hospitals. For the first six weeks (during lockdown), we provided two oranges to each police personnel every day as immunity booster. We had one causality — an ailing Sub-Inspector who was getting himself treated at a hospital where he got infected. We had some scary moments too. For example, a woman SI came in contact with her brother who is in Delhi Police and had tested positive. She came in the contact with 24 constables and officials of Samalkha police station (Panipat) and we had to quarantine the whole police station.
As frontline warriors, how did the policemen perform their duty during lockdown?
Main challenge was to convince them that it is possible to perform their duty and stay safe. We had to educate the officers at all levels to convince the lower ranks about the precautions. We told them that this challenge is bigger than a war, and a unique opportunity to perform their duty and serve the public. The next challenge was to provide them with required protective equipment — gloves, masks and sanitizers. PPE kits were required only when they were deployed inside the (hospital) wards when members of Tablighi Jamat were arrested.
In which areas of the state the organised crime has increased?
Fortunately, Haryana doesn’t have organised crime, like that of Mumbai underworld. But we do see a better networking of criminal gangs. Like the inter-state Lawrence Bishnoi gang, which spans across Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. They have members in different cities and created a network where Haryana criminals carry out shootings in Punjab. We can see signs of emergence of an organised gang culture. This was initially happening in Gurgaon. Few years back, there was notorious D-gang in Gurgaon, which used to extort money from businessmen, builders and financers during real estate boom (2004 to 2009). Similarly, Kaushal gang had emerged here. Kaushal, a notorious criminal, was operating from Dubai, where he had gone on a fake passport. We were able to arrest him and neutralised his gang.
We have taken crucial steps to curb such activities. Two years back, Haryana had set up Special Task Force to keep a watch on the terrorists and on the organised crime. Secondly, the state Assembly has passed the Haryana Control of Organised Crime Act (HCOCA) last year for special legal provisions to handle such criminals.
What’s the emerging crime?
There is emerging threat of cyber-crime. Every day, lots of people are deprived of their hard earned savings by fraudsters who somehow obtain bank details. Recently, they have started cheating in the name of Covid relief. This is the biggest challenge before the police right now. We have set up a state level cyber-crime police station at Panchkula. Recently, Haryana government sanctioned six more cyber police stations.
Punjab recently decided to recruit domain experts in information and digital technology in the police force. Do you have any such plans?
At the moment, we don’t have any such plans. But we are studying it. If we see some promise in it, we will definitely adopt it. Currently, we have partnership with an IT firm for tech support if wee need it. Further, we hired some highly qualified people during recent recruitments. We will develop them as professionals