My message for police is simple: Perform or perish
LUCKNOW: The last three weeks since the 1983-batch IPS officer OP Singh joined as the DGP of Uttar Pradesh have been eventful.
Soon after he assumed charge on January 23 —a gap of 23 days after his appointment was announced — Singh had to ensure the peaceful release Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat. A day after its release, communal clashes broke out in Kasganj, resulting in the death of a man during a Tiranga Yatra on Republic Day.
Now, Singh faces another challenge of convincing industrialists and entrepreneurs attending the Uttar Pradesh investors’ summit from February 21 that the state is safe as an investment destination.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, he spoke on the spate of police encounters of late and the challenge of presenting the ‘friendly face’ of police before investors. Excerpts: I will give you the figures and you decide. At least 39 criminals have been neutralised in police action since March 20 last year. You call them encounters but that seems to carry a negative connotation. Please note that 37 criminals out of 39 carried a reward on them. From March 20 to January 31, we carried out 1,142 operations in which 2,744 criminals were arrested and 1,853 had reward on them. In all police operations carried out since March last year, 265 criminals were injured. In these operations, 247 policemen were also injured. I have lost four brave policemen during encounters. I know there are some who call the encounters fake. Let them come to us. We have records with us. I have told police to be soft with the common man but aggressive with criminals. For the first time, 167 criminals have been booked under the National Security Act in a year. Under the Gangster Act, we have seized the property of criminals in 169 cases. Property worth ₹146 crore has been seized, which shows our intent. We will respond if we get notices. There has not been any fake encounter and there isn’t anything to hide. We have learnt that some people are claiming policemen were carrying out encounters to get out-of-turn promotions. That policy stands scrapped for the last three years. Dacoits had been striking when I took over. There were incidents on January 18 and 22. I took over on January 23. There were problems in Mathura too. So, yes, I started with a slight handicap. But the good thing was we successfully supervised Padmaavat’s release on January 25 and our efforts were widely appreciated. Many people felt that in comparison to other states, we did a splendid job. We were able to persuade people not to take law into their hands. Karni Sena protested in a peaceful manner by distributing flowers, urging cinema hall owners not to put up the movie. That was the bad part. However, we swung into action immediately. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) were deployed and peace committee meetings organised by getting people from both sides to hear the voice of reason. Within a day, normalcy was restored in Kasganj. Since then, the journey has been more professional as I began touring the state to galvanise my men. I told them I mean business. The message was simple — perform or perish. That’s what I have said, from Lucknow to Kanpur and Meerut. We are going all out against land mafia. Members of the anti-romeo squad have undergone behavioural training. We have reduced response time of ‘Dial 100’ from 23 minutes to 14 minutes and 53 seconds. So, we are trying to improve service. We also decided to have a ‘policeman of the month’ at each station, where performers will be honoured and their photographs displayed. The system of online FIRS is being strengthened further. That is a part of social policing. We have identified vulnerable exam centres. In Jaunpur, we busted a gang publishing fake answer sheets, we arrested some education department officials in Hardoi, and acted against copying mafia in Ballia. We want our men to have good communication skills. That is why I have picked people who are presentable and give a good picture of our policing. There will be some kind of model deployment. Instead of quantitative, we are going in for qualitative deployment. I will not divulge full details as it is related to security but my emphasis is broadly on smart and communicative policing for the summit. We are choosing personnel from all over the state, not only from Lucknow. We are creating an effective traffic system. We would like to present ourselves as a modern police force and showcase our achievements.