New Delhi: Three months in office and Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar is already turning some heat on. In less than 24-hours of the incident, the Delhi Police cracked the recent Rs 5 crore bank van heist.
In the past, agitations and processions held by Ramdev, Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal had left a sour taste of police high-handedness. Under Neeraj Kumar, the same agitations and processions were held during the last three months, but they went off without any notice. Even the passion generated during the Akbarbadi Masjid was kept unusually under the radar.
Neeraj Kumar, a 1976 batch officer, believes in catching the terrorist before he strikes. In an exclusive interview to Firstpost, he told us that he wants to overrun the city with CCTV cameras. He has already proposed over 1000 public places, including 490 most sensitive public places, to be installed with CCTV cameras. In fact, he says, there should be a citywide surveillance system, which should pick up a person through cameras at least three-four times in a distance of 10-kilometres. And to top it all, the Delhi Police will hire video analysts, the likes of Dr Cal Lightman of the fictional American television series Lie to Me, to assist in investigations, reaching the truth through applied psychology by interpreting facial expressions, body language of criminals captured through CCTV cameras.
Neeraj Kumar is aware of the tags that Delhi is attached with – like ‘rape capital’, for one. But he says statistics don’t support this perception and it is not so much of a law and order problem. He thinks that the problem lies with socio-cultural roots of Delhi and neighbouring areas. Delhi’s milieu is different from the milieu that exists in the North-east or other parts of the country. Here (in Delhi), he explains, the attitude towards women is different. In the end, he feels that the Delhi police’s 'good' performance will shed all the tags. He always believes that if the police stick to the basics, things will be fine. Everything else, he says ‘is refinement’.
Excerpts from the interview
On new initiatives
In three months, the focus is back on core policing. We are building the criminal database. This was neglected in the past. In the recent crimes, we have noticed that 'habitual' offenders are lapsing into crime, time and again. “We are not able to keep them under check due to lack of a database,” he says. The police are now feeding fingerprints of these criminals into a database. “We will now be able to trace entire past of a criminal with a click on their fingerprints.”
Who is the best – CBI or the Delhi Police
“With all due respect to the CBI where I served for nine years and where I had the good fortune to work on important cases, the Delhi Police is far superior to the CBI in certain areas. There is no police force in the country other than the Delhi Police, which is the best in areas of counter-terror work. The Special Cell of the Delhi Police is well equipped with battle ready comfits and it is the best in building up intelligence and bringing terrorists to book. We work very close with Central Intelligence agencies and even they have great respects for us.”
Is VIP security taking a toll on day-to-day policing?
“It’s a fact of life that a large number of VIPs stay in Delhi. It is also a fact that VIPs need to be protected. It is not a good signal for a country if a VIP gets hurt. Most of the VIPs are on the hit list of the terror groups. We have to provide them the security. Yes, it’s a big drain on our manpower. But this is something that we have to do and the government has provided us resources to meet the VIP security needs.”
On image of Delhi as 'Crime Capital' 'Rape Capital’ and 'Force flooded with pot-bellied cops'
“Statistics don’t support that Delhi is the crime capital or rape capital and we are definitely not the 'pot-bellied' force. There are people who are as fit as they should be. But people do have negative perceptions and there is a need to change those perceptions and those perceptions can be changed only if we deliver and if we crack important cases, like the bank heist, at regular intervals. Now people have no option but to have good word for us. Eventually, it is not pot-bellied, which would count, what would count is our performance and how we deliver.”
On media reports that policemen are not sympathetic to rape victims
“This is unfair evaluation of the Delhi Police. It is far from what the reality is. Our women officers investigate rape cases. We have rape intervention centres. My first meeting as the Delhi Police Commissioner was with leading NGOs, who are dealing with this issue. I am already reviewing the progress we have made in this regard. And I intend to have another meeting with these NGOs again.”
On whether Delhi is safe for women
“I would like to ask the citizens of Delhi how many women safely return home every night. There are thousands of women who are working until late in the evening. There are thousands of them who go out to socialise or to go the restaurants, pubs, etc. We have come across several of them who go out alone and drive back alone from these pubs and they go back safely. But one odd incident that happens is blown out of proportion that Delhi is unsafe for women.
“I do believe that It is more socio-cultural problem than a law and order one. By socio-cultural I mean that the milieu here is different from the milieu in the North-east or other parts of the country. Here (in Delhi), attitude towards the woman is different. So any outsider woman, who comes to live in Delhi, finds herself to be odd person out. That is the fact but that is not the reflection on overall policing of the city or our attitude towards women’s safety and security.”