UP DGP: Be soft with the common man, aggressive with criminals
LUCKNOW: The last three weeks since the 1983-batch IPS officer OP Singh joined as the DGP of UP have been eventful. Soon after he assumed charge on January 23, Singh had to ensure the peaceful release of 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 UP investors’ summit from February 21 that the state is safe as an investment destination.
In an interview to HT, he spoke on the spate of police encounters of late and the challenge of presenting the ‘friendly face’ of police before investors.
On the issue of fake encounters, he says, “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.”
Singh is pleased that Padmaavat’s release on January 25 went without incident unlike other states. “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,” he added. Singh has also introduced the concept of an SP for each district to tend exclusively to traders’ problems, ‘cop of the week’, and talked of ‘improving police image, improved response time and service delivery’ too. A meeting of school students and principals with police is also on the cards.
LUCKNOW: It’s been just three weeks since 1983-batch IPS officer OP Singh joined as the DGP of Uttar Pradesh, but it’s been an eventful three weeks.
Soon after he assumed charge on January 23, Singh had to ensure the peaceful release of film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial period drama ‘Padmaavat’ that had angered Rajput groups.
A day later, communal clashes broke out in Kasganj resulting in the death of a young man during Tiranga Yatra on Republic Day.
Now, Singh faces another big challenge -- convincing investors and entrepreneurs attending the UP investors’ summit from February 21 that Uttar Pradesh is safe as an investment destination.
In an interview , he spoke to on the spate of police encounters of late and the challenge of presenting the ‘friendly face’ of the police before investors. Excerpts:
Do you feel the pressure of controlling crime ahead of the investors’ summit. Is that the reason for the triggerhappy policing of late?
You cannot time such operations depending on your objectives. Police operations had started even before I took over. My predecessor had prepared a list of wanted criminals. Our plan was clear – arrest criminals who are at large. What can we do if criminals start targeting the police?
Is it that simple? The number of encounters are raising a question mark on their authenticity.
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 somehow that seems to carry a negative connotation. Please note that 37 criminals out of the 39 carried a reward on them. From March 20 to January 31, we carried out 1,142 operations in which 2,744 criminals have been arrested and 1,853 had a reward on them.
But police encounters have angered human rights groups.
In all the police operations carried out since March last year, 265 criminals have been 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 the 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 one year. Under the Gangster Act, we have seized the property of criminals in 169 cases. Property worth Rs 146 crore has been seized which again shows our intent. We will respond if we get notices. There has not been any fake encounter and hence there isn’t anything to hide. We have learnt that some people are claiming that policemen were carrying out encounters to get out-of-turn promotions. That policy was scrapped three years ago.
Do you concede it has been an action packed three weeks for you? Dacoits struck as you took over?
Dacoits were 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 states like Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan 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.
Then Kasganj happened on Republic Day.
That was the bad part. However, we swung into action immediately. RAF and PAC were deployed and peace committee meetings were organised by getting people from both the 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.
What was your message to the police struggling on the law and order front?
I told them I mean business. The message was simple –perform or perish.
How would you change the general negative perception about the police in the state?
We are going all out against the 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 have also decided to have a ‘policeman of the month’ at each police station where performers will be honoured and their photographs will be displayed. The system of online FIRs is being strengthened further.
The UP Board examinations are on and the police are also dealing with the copying mafia?
Yes. That is a part of social policing. We have identified vulnerable examination centres. In Jaunpur, we busted a gang that was publishing fake answer sheets, we arrested some education department officials in Hardoi and acted against copying mafia in Ballia.
Isn’t it too much to deploy the elite wing of police like the special task force (STF) on examination duty?
STF has not been deployed. It is doing backroom work trying to break the network of copying mafia. STF is not arresting people. It is doing electronic surveillance, intercepting messages, identifying vulnerable places where the copying has happened in the past and passing on the information to the local police. Only in a few cases, they are conducting operations with the local police.
Is all this tailormade to tell the investors that UP is changing?
It’s not just about police. The message is that UP is safe now. Security has to be maintained, people have to be made accountable and the process has to be transparent and effective. This is all intended to create an atmosphere where not only investors but the common man also feels safe and secure and free to do any kind of business.
We want our men to have good communication skills. That is why I have picked some 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. This is a new experiment... The PM is coming and many other dignitaries will be there. We would like to present ourselves as a modern police force and showcase our achievements.
OP SINGH, Uttar Pradesh DGP
In the last UP investors’ summit that took place in Delhi, most of the potential investors said law and order was a deterrent to investments in Uttar Pradesh. What has changed now?
We are getting good response from the industry. We are getting a positive feedback from officers and stakeholders. UP is a great place where they can invest.
Are policemen being trained for investors’ summit?
We want our men to have good communication skills. That is why I have picked some 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. This is a new experiment. 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 also creating an effective traffic system for the summit. The Prime Minister is coming and many other dignitaries will be there. We would like to present ourselves as a good, modern police force and showcase our achievements. During the summit, we will hold a session on industrial security to showcase that UP is much ahead and a different state altogether.
After a long time UP has got a DGP whose retirement isn’t due anytime soon. Is there pressure on you to deliver?
UP always provides great challenge in various forms. I am trying to deal with these challenges. One has to take up challenges. This is what life teaches us.
There has been a lot of controversy over the proposed withdrawal of 20,000 cases against public representatives (politicians) since chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced it in the last assembly session. There are also reports that the government is also considering withdrawing the Muzaffarnagar riots cases. What is your view on this?
I would not like to comment on it.
▪ OP Singh
▪ DGP OP Singh says UP is a great place where people can invest.