Pics: Joshwa D'Souza
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Mar 16: Engineer-turned-IPS officer M Chandra Sekhar took over as police commissioner of Mangaluru city on January 3 this year. A man who appears to weigh his words before speaking, Chandra Sekhar is an upright officer whose tech savvy approach to policing has been welcomed by all and sundry. Hailing from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, Chandra Sekhar is a 1998-batch IPS officer, who began his career as ASP of Shimla. Before joining IPS, he completed his BTech in aerospace engineering from IIT Kharagpur and worked for Infosys between 1995-1996. After being deputed to Karnataka in 2009, he served as SP of internal security division for three months, and as deputy commissioner of police, East Bengaluru division from 2009 to 2012, before being absorbed into the Karnataka cadre in 2013. Between 2012 and 2014, he served as DIG of Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services, and before being posted to Mangaluru, he was joint commissioner (crime) of Bengaluru city. He was recently awarded the President's Medal for Meritorious Service.
In an exclusive interview to daijiworld editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike in 'Public Challenge' programme on Daijiworld 24x7, Chandra Sekhar answered questions on a variety of subjects, from developing people-friendly police stations, dealing with immoral rowdyism, communal issues, to underworld threats, drug menace in Mangaluru and much more.
Switch from aerospace engineering to IPS
I come from a family of agriculturists. My ancestors and my father were agriculturists. My father later changed his profession and became a construction contractor. Since childhood I had dreamt of becoming a police officer. I cleared JEE mains when I was in college and got admission to aerospace engineering. People from all the parts of the country used to study along with me and in the process I developed interest towards technology and the same interest took me to Infosys. I got a very good exposure and after one-and-a-half years I felt that I must pursue my dream. Then I quit the job and wrote the IPS exam and obtained 47th rank in my first attempt. Then due to unavailability of vacancy in my state I was sent to Himachal Pradesh due to random roster system.
Impression of Mangaluru
I had heard that Mangaluru has highly cultured people, that it is a well educated society, and also an evolved society where people of ethical values reside, and I found it all true after coming here.
On people-friendly police stations: "Public involvement of utmost importance"
What we need to realize first is that police are from among the people. It may be that a fear of the police may have been ingrained in the people from ages because of the colonial rule. Of course, there should be fear of the police, but only among the anti-social elements and not the common people. 98 percent of the people are good.
The first thing the police should do is to understand who is good and who is bad. They should see that the good are protected and the bad are punished, and this should be followed scrupulously. It should be done by example. The good people must have faith in the police that they will be protected if some bad person does harm to them. Only then we will get information. Public-friendly policing and involvement of public in policing is of utmost importance now. Without the cooperation of the public, police cannot function effectively. The best example in this regard is the introduction of traffic warden system in the city which is functioning very well. Right now we have 12 traffic wardens and by the end of the year we aim to increase it to 40.
One more significant problem I came to know about is the railway crossing at Mahakalipadpu where people complained there was a rush of vehicles from both the sides at once as soon as the railway gate opened. As it is easy for locals to understand the depth of the issue and find the solution, I asked them to make a suggestion, as I myself was clueless. They suggested placing a barricade, while I asked them to have a person monitor the situation during the peak hours. And it has been working brilliantly. This is the best example of how even the biggest problem can be solved if the public cooperate.
From two months there has been a reduction in the number of complaints against the cops in the police stations of the city. We are in the process to make them people-friendly. We cannot expect a sudden change.
Even when it comes to communal issues, we feel that if and only if people give credible information and have faith in the police that they will be fair, we will be able to maintain peace and order. Even the police should show credibility and accept their faults. Being humans, mistakes are bound to happen. Trust begets trust. We must trust people and only then they will trust us. That is how I look at people-friendly policing.
Transfer of circle inspector Pramod: "Police cannot protest"
Police is a disciplined force. We are not supposed to protest. There are ways to express our displeasure and there is no scope for protest in a disciplined force. Regarding this particular incident, an inquiry has been already done and the report has already come to me. Appropriate action will be taken based on the report, and I will discharge my duty without any fear or favour.
On double murder and illegal activities in jail
It is true that a double murder took place inside the jail in November 2015, but a lot of improvement has taken place in the jail administration here. The jail department is separate but we are interacting with the jail authorities and holding regular meetings to improve the condition of the jail. We had also raided the jail in January and recovered some phones and other items. Overall, I feel there is a lot of improvement but a lot more needs to be done, which is being discussed with the jail authorities on a regular basis. We are exchanging a lot of information too. They have also handed over people smuggling ganja inside the jail in three to four cases. We are ensuring that we have a better atmosphere in jail, as it is a correctional place. The basic intention behind sending someone to jail is that when he comes out, he is a better person. We believe in correctional justice and not punitive justice. It will take time, and we have to work within constrains like space, and find solutions.
Curbing drug abuse among youth - Five-fold strategy
We have a plan to deal with the drug menace and we are working on it. The main objective of the plan is more interaction with the students, in order to ensure a connect between the students and our police officers. Our inspectora and ACPs are visiting the schools to ensure better connection with the students. By this, we can also get information about where ganja is being supplied, like petty shops, or from where it is coming. Our first priority are the students.
The second step is identifying big retailers of ganja. We have been rounding them up and already booked about 12 cases and certainly this menace has decresed. The next thing we do is trace the source of the ganja. As per primary investigation we have found that a some of the drugs coming into the district are from Kerala. In two cases we have also arrested the kingpins, and we will identify more kingpins and arrest them.
Step four, which is the most important and challenging for us, but which can also give long-term solution, is to hit at the money accumulated by drug dealers and kingpins. As per the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, we can target the illegally acquired property. This is an Act which has given wide powers to the police, wherein the police can investigate the sources of income of not only the drug peddler but also his relatives and close associates. Normally in criminal cases, we need proof beyond reasonable doubt to chargsheet someone, but here the amount of proof that is required is very small. We only need reasons to believe that a particular person has property beyond his income. We can then freeze his account and the case goes to a competent authority in Chennai. There it is his job to prove that it is his legally acquired income, it is not our job to prove it is illegal. So the burden of proof is on the accused. We had used this in north India where I worked and we had a great amount of success. It is much easier than investigating a murder case.
The last step of the solution is the rehabilitaion of the drug addicts and also making their parents mentally strong to accept and support their child. We are working with some NGOs in this matter.
This is the five-fold strategy we have to deal with drug menace, out of which the first two we have already started working on. I feel the financial investigation is going to be the major game-changer.
Terror suspect's arrest by NIA - Intelligence failure of DK police?
No, there was no intelligence failure. It was NIA's case which had all-India dimension and they were investigating it from a few months. We helped them in arresting Najmul Huda from Permude. At the end we played an important role in locating him and helping the NIA in arresting him.
Underworld threats - "Bannanje Raja's arrest a major achievement"
The extradition of Bannanje Raja is a great breakthrough, a great achievement, a milestone in the history of Karnataka police. It has given to confidence to Karnataka police that we can nab any person from any part of the world over a period of time.
After Bannaje Raja's arrest threat calls have reduced. The important thing is to bring the underworld elements to India from where they are. The notable fact is that they have local supporters in the country they stay. We have been identifying them and monitoring their activities from many days. It is a two-prong stratergy - First is to control the local supporters. We will certainly put them behind the bars on one or the other day.
"Won't allow immoral rowdyism"
There is law for everyone in this country. If you have any problem you can approach the police or the court. Just because you do not like what someone is doing you cannot take ten people with you and assault that person. If everyone does this then there will be lawlessness in the country. Immoral policing will not and shall not be allowed, whoever the person involved is. If anyone has any issue let them come to the police station. We will take care of any illegal thing that is taking place. We will not tolerate if anyone takes law into their hands, and we will not think twice before acting against them. We will make sure we use all the available powers in the law to act against immoral rowdyism. We sent a strong message on the eve of the Valentine's Day that these things will not be tolerated.
"No political pressure"
Whatever may be the political backup (to an accused), we have a Constitution and we have a set of rules. In this case we will not spare any chance to act against them. Fortunately, I have never come across any political pressure.
If you don't like something you have every right to dislike it and protest against it peacefully, and I will stand by your right to do so. I may not agree with you, but I will certainly stand by your right to protest peacefully. But if someone says they will protest by beating women or creating trouble, that will not be tolerated and we will use all our powers to stop it.
Technology in policing: "Need to address Mangaluru expatriates also"
In the first stage we have trained the police personnel to use technology in investigation. Now I am closely monitoring the city police app and monitoring action taken against complaints.
To be honest, I accept the fact that I have not done much in this regard. Before launching any new app or software we have to make sure it is working as per the requirement. We do not want to launch something just for namesake. The blog we have is working well and we are thinking of using Facebook and Twitter more efficiently also. First I want to ensure that whatever we have at hand is working correctly, and then go to the next step.
Mangaluru has a large expatriate population and they cannot come to police stations here for every little thing. So we should use technology to understand their problems and communicate with them. They may be staying in Gulf or any other country, but finally they are also from Mangaluru and we have to address their concerns as well. So technology has to be introduced. But whatever we do, we should do it 100 percent.
Improvement in cyber cell
Right now we are in the process of training our men to face any challenge in this regard. Now every inspector of the city has fair knowledge on how to get the necessary information like url and carry on the investigation. The problem that we face is in obtaining the IP address of the offender. Every time we ask the nodal person for the IP address, we get the answer that the person using the IP address is 'beyond our jurisdiction', and hence we have to go through MLAT (mutual legal assistance treaty) which is a multi-lateral agreement between countries, but that is a lengthy process and will take months together. But we have reached a level where we know what questions to ask and what information to gather.
On shortage of police personnel
There will always be a shortage. It is in the mind. If there is a shortage then we have to make use of the people who are ready to help us. Our request is with the government and the government is looking into increasing the number of police stations. We have now got south traffic police station and Kankanady police station as well. We have proposed to have two more police stations, as more personnel will be appointed along with the police stations.
But we cannot keep saying we have shortage whenever we face failure. We have to use technology, we have to use people for gathering information. If we have intelligence-based policing, we can deliver results. We have some problems, but we have to work on them and make things better.
Message to youngsters: "Being a cop brings immense satisfaction"
I have always felt that the civil services, and especially IPS, is god's gift. It is like being a doctor. You can really make a difference in the lives of people who are suffering. You can do real social work and it no doubt it brings you a lot of recognition too. Of course you will have pressure from people and media. But at the end of the day it will give you a lot of satisfaction. I have never regretted coming into the police force. There are ups and downs, but it gives you immense amount of satisfaction which no amount of money can equal.
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