Gurgaon Police is now more visible and clearly making its mark across the City at ground level. Multiple initiatives are in progress, many led personally by the new (6 months old) Commissioner Alok Mittal, no stranger to Gurgaon (having worked here earlier). There has been a positive reach out to village ‘sarpanches’, women, senior citizens, RWAs and offices (esp. IT/BPO). The Police want to assure them all, as well as solicit their involvement, for making the City a safer place. Brave and honest policemen and citizens have been promptly recognized and honoured in public. A lid has been kept on any major organized crime. Most wanted gangsters and gangs have been rounded up; many illicit weapons have been seized. Traffic Police is in action across the City, and participating in multiple drives – regularly checking drunk driving and over-speeding. They have been actively helped by some dedicated and committed Road Safety Officers. Over the last many months, multiple measures have been taken for the security of women – a dedicated Helpline, women police, Women PCRs, a Women’s Cell in each Police District (East, West, South), women help-desks at a few Metro stations and ease in filing of FIRs. Special Cells have been set up at all the 3 Police Districts – for Cyber Crime, Economic Offences and Senior Citizens.
In an exclusive discussion with Friday Gurgaon, the Police Commissioner says that improvement is an ongoing process, and many more steps are in the offing, to make policing more effective in the City. He also speaks about future plans, and the challenges faced by the Police.
“Crime control is the first and foremost target. We want to reduce ‘street crime’ – like snatchings and carjackings - by detection, close monitoring and by increasing the ‘nakas’ and manpower on the streets”, says Mittal. The Police will also focus on managing traffic in a better manner, and for this purpose the Traffic department has just been given an additional 100 constables. “I am willing to commit even more resources, once we deploy this batch effectively, as traffic management is a major challenge in the City.
The focus areas in Traffic are: to control drunk driving, red light jumping and wrong parking, and to discipline auto drivers. The Traffic department also takes regular help from civil society to resolve traffic issues. “We have a team of Road Safety Officers who are so experienced now that they even act as transport and traffic experts. They not only bring issues to us, but study, analyse (even video-record), then offer excellent, practical solutions and finally even help in managing the problems,” he says. “We have ensured that many auto drivers now function in a ‘proper’ manner, but this initiative needs more time as their number is huge”, he says. The Police are insisting on the drivers wearing uniforms, and displaying the registration number, the route, the owner’s name, the mobile number and the Helpline number.
Mittal says that the Gurgaon Police have specially worked towards helping the weaker and vulnerable sections of society – including senior citizens, women and children. The Department has created a Senior Citizens’ cell in every police station, which is manned by a Sub-Inspector. A Senior Citizen Apex Committee has also been created, which comprises of respected members of society. “When a problem related to Senior Citizens is registered, the police officials as well as the Apex Committee members get involved. They listen to both parties and offers counseling/solutions”, he says. The increased focus on women has been there for months now. Two companies of Women’s Rapid Action Force have recently been posted on MG Road, to instill more confidence in women to move out of their homes freely. “The various measures have improved the situation to a great extent. We have also developed a mechanism whereby all crimes against women are handled by a nodal woman police official of the rank of ACP. The goal is to ensure that the entire system gets to work together once a complaint of molestation or assault or rape has been lodged”, he says. It is also ensured that a woman victim does not have to come to the police station more than once - all the formalities of registering a complaint, statements, medical examination, legal counsel (through a dedicated lady advocate) and any other requirement are handled at one time. The City now has three Cells – one in each Police District - to handle crimes against women.
When asked about what plans the Department has for major traffic bottlenecks like Hero Honda Chowk and the Toll Plaza, the Commissioner opines that these issues involve multiple stakeholders and decisions are needed to be taken at the highest levels in the government. “As far as the Toll Plaza is concerned the core problem is that commuters have to spend too much time in crossing it. There is need to reduce this time - and it can be done with the help of technology or by setting up of a new Toll Plaza at a place where it is easier and more convenient for every stakeholder”, he says. “The Hero Honda Chowk issue needs to be resolved at the earliest by NHAI and the State agencies, as it causes a lot of trouble to the commuters. To ensure smooth movement of vehicles many traffic constables always have to be posted there - but this is not a real or viable solution”, he says. To work out traffic-related and other infrastructure problems the Department has been holding meetings with other agencies regularly. “We have listed the traffic issues Agency-wise, and also set up a meeting. This will help us to solve the problems holistically”, says Mittal.
With regard to Crime, in the past six months a number of gangsters, car lifters, chain snatchers and other bad characters have been rounded up by the Police and sent behind bars. “Compared to last year we have registered 25 per cent more cases under the Arms Act (as the hardened criminals carry many illicit arms)”, he asserts. Gurgaon Police has also reactivated some special Crime units that focus on prevention and detection of crime, and strengthened the Cyber Cell - which is now not only tracking Cyber Crime but also assisting all Crime units in their investigations. To ensure that criminals who have been caught and sent to jail are prevented from taking to crime once they get bail, the Department has set up a unit to track and monitor criminals within and outside the jail. “There are youth who sometimes act brazenly. We want to send them a message that taking the law in their hands can have serious consequences”, says the Commissioner. Due to the increasing number of economic offences, Gurgaon Police have also created two new Economic Offences wings – and now have one for each District. “This will help in the detection and prevention of economic crimes”, he says. Despite the changes, the Police Commissioner admits that getting a conviction can still be a major challenge for the Department. However, in case an FIR has some shortcomings, the lacunae can also be rectified later, and this is being done on priority, he says. The ‘high-profile’ Ruchi Bhuttan case is coming to a close, with probably the last hearing on the 21st of this month. Hopefully, justice will finally prevail.
To connect with the local youth - particularly from the villages of Gurgaon – some of whom have got involved in criminal activities, the Department has launched a drive to connect with village leaders and elders. “We have called a meeting of Sarpanches from across Gurgaon District, where we are going to tell them to be more involved in making their City and District secure. We will network with citizens at the village and block level to make policing more effective”, he says. In the City, the Department has made it mandatory for the RWAs to register tenants, domestic help and support staff with the Police. This has been done to keep a watch on the large number of people who come from outside to work as maids, drivers, vendors or factory/office staff. There is a large floating population in Gurgaon. “We have been able to get a large amount of information by carrying out this exercise. This will be a continuing process and Registration and Verification (R & V) cells have been opened in every Police Station”, he says. On the issue of Bangladeshi nationals in the City, the Police Commissioner says that a close watch is being kept, and a special cell has also been established for this purpose. However, since most of such ‘illegal’ migrants seem to have ‘valid’ documents from certain districts in West Bengal it becomes difficult for the Police to take action against them. People without proper papers are being caught regularly, and action has been taken against them, he says.
The serious problem of ‘people drinking in public’ and the consequent ruckus they create, has also come under the focus of the City Police. Compared to last year, when only 140 cases where registered from January to August, the Police this year has registered 1647 cases under the Excise Act (mainly for ‘drinking in public’). Mittal says that considering the seriousness of the issue the Department, in conjunction with the District Administration, has also decided that activities of pubs and bars will be monitored regularly. “We have set up and directed a Joint Inspection Team (alongwith other State agencies) to conduct surprise checks on pubs and bars regularly. It was due to this exercise that strict action has been taken against some defaulting pubs and bars recently”, he says. All pubs have now been asked to close by midnight.
Parking, which is a major problem across the City, has been troubling the Gurgaon Police as well. The Chief says that it is a long-term problem with no immediate effective solutions. The ‘old’ City does not have space, but the Department is trying to ensure that haphazard parking on the roads is stopped. “The citizens in this City need to be aware about basic traffic rules, and follow them in letter and spirit. This will greatly help in improving the traffic situation and parking problems will also be reduced”, he says. Referring to Sohna Road, which is emerging as another commercial hub in the City, Mittal says, “We have the important roads in mind. On MG Road a police station was set up for crime prevention as well as to ensure a first level of support to citizens”, says Mittal. “Sohna Road is on our radar”.
The Department also plans to go hi-tech, on the lines of the Delhi Police; in one such initiative it has partnered with MCG Gurgaon to bring the Sadar Bazar area under CCTV surveillance. “This is a pilot project, and if it is successful then we will bring more areas of the City under CCTV”, he says. By the 25th a detailed proposal would be ready. Gurgaon Police is also sending a proposal to the State government, recommending that the City be placed under the Mega-City Policing plan that has been mooted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The goal of Gurgaon Police is to continue to work in a transparent and accessible manner, so that the public feels the trust, and joins the Police in making this City more safe, secure and livable.
The Gurgaon Police would like to be vigilant about any potential industrial unrest. Mittal says that their primary concern is to ensure that a secure environment prevails in the industrial belt, which is necessary for the smooth functioning of industry. The Police are working closely with the Labour department and industry, and regularly monitoring the situation.
A Public Helpline – 9999999953 – has been established in the Office of the Police Commissioner, whereby any citizen can get information on the status of his/her complaints and/or FIRs.