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‘WE’VE TO ENHANCE QUALITY OF OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT’

‘WE’VE TO ENHANCE QUALITY OF OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT’
31 Dec 2019

 The best thing about Dr. Sudhanshu Sarangi, the Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack, is that he is very clear about his priorities. He knows what he wants and plans accordingly. A 1990-batch IPS officer in the rank of additional director general of police, he seems determined to make the police force more people-friendly and respond to emergency calls in a much more efficient manner. Dynamic and with a wise head on his shoulders, Dr. Sarangi has extensive experience in the force. He was superintendent of police (SP), Malkangiri, Sundargarh, Berhampur, Balasore and Keonjhar and also served as IG, Operations, CMD, Odisha Police Housing Corporation. He also served in the cabinet secretariat on deputation to the Government of India. A former British Chevening Scholar and a trained psychologist, he did his postgraduation and PhD in psychology from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. He has five research publications in peer-reviewed academic journals. A recipient of Governor’s police medal, Indian Police medal for meritorious service and President’s police medal for distinguished service, he is also a qualified para-trooper.  In   an exclusive interview, Dr. Sarangi spoke to Ashutosh Mishra of India First on a wide spectrum of issues, including his plans for ratcheting up people’s confidence in the Police Commissionerate

Bhubaneswar is a city in transition. It is expanding fast and also changing in socio-cultural terms. From being a conservative middle class city it seems to be moving towards a metropolitan culture with its concomitant evils. Has all this led to a change in the city’s crime scene?

Change in crime pattern is a global phenomenon. There has been a rise in cybercrimes and white-collar crimes with inter-state ramifications. But the challenge of detecting unknown crimes is big because of floating population. New measures will be required to deal with this.

Big cities generally offer people a lot of anonymity. Could that be a contributing factor to increase in crime?

When you have floating population in large cities, you have to increase surveillance, particularly CCTV surveillance. A person from one part of a city may be unknown in another part of it. Increasing CCTV coverage is a priority.

There is a perception that crime rate has gone up. Is that really the case?

The truth is crime rate is going down around the world. But certain types of crimes, for example  crimes  against  women, which  earlier used to get suppressed are now getting highlighted. People are also becoming more aware of their rights and protesting against their violation. But if you take murder as a form of crime indicative of criminality, then the rate of homicide is declining around the world. People generally are becoming peaceful. But new types of crimes are also appearing. Besides the reporting of crime in media, especially social media, is creating an illusion about its rapid increase.

What about crime against women and the preventive steps being taken in this regard?

First we must understand that society has seen tremendous progress as far rights of women are concerned. Be it education, health or even their representation in the structures of power, women are now much better placed with a lot of positive development. Women are better off today than they were ever in the past. But still when they come into public space there are issues of adjustment with society.  We have started a programme of inducting women volunteers—working women, say from the IT sector, and students---for a better understanding of problems like harassment that they face. We need to systematically interface with them through these volunteers to be able to better respond to their needs. Besides the initiative would send a message to miscreants that they can no longer take advantage of the unwillingness of many women to approach police stations with complaints of harassment. This initiative will further strengthen our public outreach programme. 

What about organised crime?

Drugs are a major area that we are focussing on. Then there are white-collar crimes, telephone banking frauds, etc. We now have a drug task force working under an additional commissioner of police. Every day we are doing something or other on this front. We also want a special unit headed by a joint commissioner of police to look into organised crime. Such specialized units exist in cities like Mumbai and Delhi. The fact is that police stations have many responsibilities and they will find it hard to attend to cases of organised crime which require a lot of time to deal with and have inter-state ramifications. Besides, organised crime involves money which can corrupt police stations.

Cybercrimes pose a new challenge for the police. Are we sufficiently equipped to deal with such crimes?

We need a cyber police station in Bhubaneswar. It is of paramount importance. This will definitely improve our response to such crimes.

There is growing concern about the safety of senior citizens. What is being done in this regard?

I am not very convinced about this segmentation of population. I want overall improvement in the security scenario. When overall security is good, everyone is protected. Our emergency response system should be extremely good and we are working on this. We will like to have a unified control room for Cuttack and Bhubaneswar with at least 100 PCR vans. We have to ensure that our emergency response is quick. This is my focus. As far as the needs of different segments of population are concerned, we have a continuing outreach programme to understand and addresses them.

What do you think of the 5Ts enunciated by the Chief Minister as a concept in terms of how successful it has been?

See, 5T is a mission with the primary objective of effecting transformational changes. It is a challenge. We are identifying sectors for this. Mo Sarkar has helped police improve its interface with people. Now 95 percent of people visiting police stations are returning with good experience. They are reporting good behaviour by our men. Many other initiatives are also being planned. We are also thinking of having e-police stations for certain categories of offences.

What about police-public interface programmes? Are they continuing and how encouraging is the response? 

It’s a good initiative. During the ‘Ask Your CP’ programme  I took around 300 questions. It was watched by more than three lakh people on Facebook and Twitter. It is a new way of reaching out to people. We will continue to use social media to increase our outreach.

Has there been a positive change in the image of police?

I would like to think so. Around 95 percent people are saying that they are getting good response in police stations. The biggest achievement is that our efforts are being appreciated. Cine stars, politicians and sportspersons, they are all coming forward to help us which is a good sign. The problem is mainstream media which at times carries stories without taking our version. They should also reflect our viewpoint.

Of late the focus has been on the implementation of traffic rules in tune with the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act 2019. What problems have police been encountering in this regard in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack?

We now have a system where we don’t argue with  people. Instead we issue challans for violation. People can pay online or at the counter. There is increased emphasis on the use of CCTVs and automatic number recognition.

The Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Police Commissionerate came into existence over a decade ago. Has it clicked?

Yes it has. Police are now right at the centre of things in these two cities. Public order has improved substantially in Cuttack during mass celebrations like Durga puja. There is no more chaos. Police enforcement has improved visibly. But resource-related issues are there. We need to invest in human resources.

Quite often we come cross reports of political interference in police work. Is that really a problem?

That is not a major issue. The real challenge is resources and creating public trust.

Policemen work under trying circumstances. It must be very stressful. Isn’t coping with stress a challenge? 

Stress is also related to accountability. Our department has a high visibility, it is under constant media glare. That puts a lot of pressure. Sometimes it also leads to errors.  The pressure from print and electronic media is intense.

Don’t you think there is a need to make social media accountable?

Cases of abuse have to be dealt with under the law. Equally important is teaching people social media manners. Otherwise it will be misused.

Finally, do you have any message to convey to the public?

Improving law enforcement is the missing link of India’s growth story. If we want to achieve double-digit growth like China, we have to enhance the quality of our law enforcement. This is something we have to take very seriously.

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