Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Feb 26: Mangaluru city police commissioner S Murugan took charge of his office on the first day of this year. Known to be an upright officer, he has served in a number of capacities in his career spanning 18 years. He was earlier the SP of Udupi district too and has also served as DIG of CID in Bengaluru.
In an interview for Public Challenge programme on Daijiworld 24x7, S Murugan speaks to daijiworld editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike on various issues, including communal tensions, underworld activiies, drug mafia, steps to make police more people friendly and much more. Here is an excerpt:
Earlier you were in Puttur for sometime so you might have some ideas regarding Dakshina Kannada district. How did you feel when you first took charge as police commissioner of Mangaluru? Was it a familiar place? Or was it all new to you?
Murugan: The image of a young man comes to my mind when you ask me this question. Fifteen years ago, he had to leave home for the first time and go to a new place for work. On the one hand there was fear of travelling to a far-off place and taking up new responsibilities, and on the other hand, there was hope of achiveing something big in life and doing good work. That youth travelled by train. When he got up in the morning he saw a beautiful place, filled with greenery, river, sea, the industrious people and their beautiful language. That view is still lives in my mind''s eye. It still remains in my heart.
Mangaluru is a familiar place for me. I know the people of this region very well. It is an extraordinary privilege to be in the midst of wonderful people. I consider it my good fortune and feel extremly at home.
You completed your IPS in 1997. It is not easy to clear IPS or IAS exam, so you must have been brilliant as a student. Who is your inspiration - Family, friends or any police officer?
Murugan: I can never accept that I am brilliant. To clear the IPS or IAS exam you require lot of efforts and you should read a lot, research and have the ability to present the subject in your own way. You need not be brilliant for this but if you put in all your efforts it is quite easy to pass.
From so many years Mangaluru is being haunted by the underworld. Our previous IGPs, SPs, and police commissioners have worked on this issue. But the last commissioner R Hitendra tried to keep steadfast control over underworld activities. You have a challenge right now. Is it not possible to solve this problem once and for all?
Murugan: Definitely it is possible to solve this problem. Crime normal. But at the same time we are talking about organised crimes. To keep an eye on this or to take control over these crimes we have to make speacial arrangements for this. We also need to take various steps in this regard, like keeping vigil and gathering intelligence. We take these things very seriously. I have already spoken to the police officials on this. I would like to say that Mangaluru police department is going to take very strict action against organized crimes and criminals involved in such crimes.
Drugs mafia is still alive in Mangaluru, and maybe we cannot stop it. But just like the underworld, the actual kingpins of the mafia are not visible to public eye. Has anything particular on this issue come to your attention, and if so, what action plan have you prepared to tackle it?
Murugan: This is not just the problem of the police and the administration of Mangaluru. This is a problem of the whole society. We need to collectively find an answer for this. Why I am saying this is because the people who are getting affected the most are our boys and girls, the students. This is going to affect the society in future also. Even this is an organised offence. This is the problem of the whole world. It is not just related to the Mangaluru region but nationally and internationally. We have to take action very systematically. We are studying the cases of the past, and those who have been caught and the ways in which contraband susbtances are coming into Mangaluru from other regions. We will take very serious action in the coming days.
Recently a murder took place in Kinnigoli where it was said that drug mafia was involved. A few persons were also arrested. Was it a drug-related issue?
Murugan: Our officers have already clarified about this issue to the media. Of late, it has become a norm for rumours also to become part of facts in some cases in Mangaluru. Kinnigoli case was about personal differences between people and had nothing to do with drugs. Nevertheless, drug mafia is day by day increasing in Mangaluru and we should keep an eye on it. Narcotic crime is a very serious issue and we will take action as soon as possible.
When you assumed office as police commissioner on January 1, 2015 you hinted at forming Industrial Security Force. Is it going to happen?
Murugan: It is not about forming Industrial Security Force in Mangaluru alone. It is about the whole state, the Industrial Security Force is essential for the entire state. Three battalions have already been formed at the state level, and they have already started working in Bengaluru.
The coastal region needs Industrial Security Force because of the large number of industries like MRPL and SEZ housed in this region. In this context forming of battalions in various places in Karnataka was already planned and now step have been taken to form the battalions very soon, including in Mangaluru.
Making police stations people-friendly is an issue that is dogging not just Mangaluru but the entire country. Without a doubt, there are good police and bad police. Are there any plans for implementing people-friendly police system in Mangaluru under your leadership?
Murugan: Police system difffers from one place to another, and reflects the society it is born in. If the society is good then you get people-friendly police. If the society is filled with lot of troubles, crime and other things, police need to be strict. Unlike in Army or Navy where they go and work outside their place of residence, the police have to work in the same place day after day. Moreover, the police system is the force of the State. It is a department which reflects the power and strength of the state. Therefore, whenever there is conflict between the society and the state, people think that the police are against them. This is not actually true, because police are there for the people, police work for the people. We have to show to the people how we work, and also understand what public expects from the police.
Public perception is extremely important for police efficiency. In this regard, I have already held discussions with my officers and we decided to use Facebook and Twitter to inform the public about the work police are doing. In our blog, apart from information about crimes, news of police activities will also be published to show that we are people-friendly. Police cannot solve all the problems of the people. It might be their personal problems and so on. Police can listen and try to solve them, but cannot end them. We have been conducting mohalla committee meets and public outreach programmes in several places, and soon information about the same will be uploaded through Facebook and blog.
We have also sent a proposal to the government regarding solutions to traffic problems in Mangaluru. We are trying to find solutions to traffic issues with cooperation and help from the public.
But a poor person goes to a police station, so how he is treated by the inspector or constable is important. The poor do not have access to Facebook and other facilities. So do you propose to create a good atmosphere for common people in police stations?
Murugan: Ideally, police should be going to the people rather than people approaching the police. The outreach programmes I told you about is a first step towards this. In Bengaluru, under the present state government, there is a facility to register FIR in various centres without having to go to the police station. This is just on trial basis and it might come to Mangaluru also. Police need to repeatedly assure the people that they are for them. Interaction between public and police will close the gap between them. Police should also go around and meet people rather than sitting in the police station all the time.
When you took over as the police commissioner of Mangaluru it was not a good time as there was a lot of communal violence happening here. When I asked Ramanath Rai about the sudden transfer of former police commissioner R Hitendra, he had replied that Mangaluru needed a person who could do more than Hitendra did. How did u accept this challenge? Also do you have any plans afoot to curb communal violence in this region?
Murugan: There are two parts to your question. Hitendra is my senior officer, an honest, efficient and among the good officers in the state. Tranfers are common in the police department. In some matters, people might feel we are doing our duties well, and sometimes they may not. In my point of view, R Hitendra and other officers before him have done a very good job. He has laid a foundation, and I have to build a strong wall on it. I cannot say that I will be the commissioner here forever. There will be better officers than me in Mangaluru. Every officer tries his best and I will continue the work that Hitendra had done.
Regarding the second part of your question, there are communal conflicts and problems in Mangaluru city and Dakshina Kannada district. I have not created the communal problem here. When I have not created the communal problem here, I am not the person to end the problem. What I am trying to say is this. If I tell you that I am better than you, that my clothes are better than yours, that everything I say is right, whatever I do, act or think is right, you will think I am mad. You will have a bad opinion about me and you won''t want to talke to me. If I continue to behave in the same way, you will try to stop me. This is the problem in Mangaluru.
I am asking you the same question that you asked me. People have to think about it, about why people of Mangaluru allowed this problem to grow.
When we arrest people involved in communal clashes and put them in jail, people praise us. But the root cause of the conflict, and what led anyone to think of himself as better than the rest, that''s what we need to think about. It is not something I can tackle, it is a problem existing in your (Mangaluru) society.
At the same time, we are trying to understand this issue. Without confining ourselves only to the crimes and the culprits, it necessary to understand that it is related to the feelings of the people. To understand, I have asked my officers to hold interactive public meetings with people from all communities, and consider them holistically as a society. I have asked the officers to meet the leaders of all communities too and discusses their issues. The message that we want to convey to each and every community is that, as police we do not belong to any caste or community. As a person I may belong to particular religion, but as a police officer, I am not a Hindu or Christian or Muslim, and we are there for every single person.
In most of the communal clashes, it is the politicians who put pressure on police. How do you tackle such a situation?
Murugan: It is we who elected the politicians. Blaming politicians for every problem is wrong according to me, because in many of the cases, I have learnt a lot from politicians. A politician who does not know the problems of his constituency may not be elected for the second time. Particularly in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, politicians are hard working. This region has seen closely-fought elections every time. We can say that the coastal region has the least corruption in the state.
In many cases, when something happens, people perceive things in an emotional way. In such situations, we can take the right decision only when we are detached from the problem and view it from a distance, without getting affected by the small issues. In such a scenario, it is highly important that we consider the opinions of the politicians as well as the public which helps us in taking the right decision. End of the day, we have to be honest in the eyes of the law. Sometimes police and politicians get different information. Let us respect it, let us take the opinion of everybody with mutual respect. But finally let us take the decision which is well reasonable and very detached. There is no question of emotion, bias or partisanship. If we work this way without bothering about what people think, we can do a good job.
In cases related to communal clashes, if you put people of one party inside the jail, their party members start to protest. They blame the government and the police for taking wrong decisions. This creates much confusion among the public. What steps do you take in such situations?
Murugan: In this matter my message to the people is that police are meant for the public, they are what you have need. If you wish the police department to provide better security then you should believe in the police system and keep trust, and you should get involved in it in a positive manner. Public has the right to question the police about every action. But taking law into one''s own hands and blocking the road with ''Rasta Roko'' or protesting in front of the police station - all these become a bigger problem to the public at large than to the police.
It will further break the society. We need to realize that if this continues, it will further shatter the society which is already broken. Political leaders also have to think about this. The more anti-police protests are held and the more police are publicly criticized for taking even the rights decisions, the more it will widen the gap between the police and the people. As responsible citizens, everyone, including the media, NGOs, and politicians has a responsibility to close this gap. If we do this, our problems will lessen.
We come across a lot of cyber crimes happening especially through Facebook and WhatsApp. Is there any kind of data regarding this? How many of the cases have been solved?
Murugan: When I was deputy inspector general (DIG) of police in our state Crime Investigation Department (CID) for two years, I came across several cyber crime cases. About this I would like to say a couple of things:
At night we lock our doors before sleeping, and when we have to travel to another place, we inform our neighbours to keep an eye on our house. We take such precautions in our daily lives. In the same manner, we have to take precautions in the cyber world too. When we do not take precautions, we become victims. It is as simple as that. In one case, a lady was cheated out of Rs 11 lac through phishing. The amusing part is that she was cheated out of this money nine times in different ways. I asked the lady how she got hoodwinked nine times. We need to ask this question. We cannot believe everything that comes through the computer - in fact we should not believe it. This is a basic precaution people need to take.
As far as I know, there has been no conviction in cyber crimes in our state so far. In India the conviction rate in cyber crimes is very less, and so also in other countries. This is because of lack of evidence in such crimes. Secondly, all the information collected has to be studied well by the police, investigator, prosecutor and the judge, and that is a different matter altogether, as they have to keep themselves abreast of the latest developments in cyber world.
Recently, a complaint was filed about a picture that went viral in WhatsApp, wherein an image of a bride was claimed as being that of U T Khadar''s daughter''s ''marriage''. Do you have any kind of information about the status of the case?
Murugan: No, I do not have any information on this. But this kind of thing can happen to anyone. Social media has pervaded our lives to such an extent that boys and girls cannot live without it. They are addicted to it. So we have to be extremely careful. There is nothing more to say about it.
15. After the Delhi rape case of 2012, a lot of cases have come up in media. But at the same time, some are misusing the law to file false cases. When a rape case is filed, police arrest the accused and put him in jail without any investigation, and he loses respect after media splashes his image, no matter if the case is true or false. How can the police department help the right people in such cases?
Murugan: In every society, we have to give women and children the respect they deserve. When women and children feel that they are living in a safe and secure environment, that society can be termed as a good society.
Coming to rape cases, there is a lot of attention on the issue, and this attention is important. Nirbhaya incident should never happen again in this country. Sometimes there are false cases. We have to be extremely careful and I cannot say anything more than this. It is definitely not possible for anybody to convert a lie into truth. If we support a lie, we will ourselves get trapped. We will take each case on its merit and we will also ensure that innocents are not affected.
Public often allege that police are involved in illegal activities, and they get commission from these things. What is your say on this?
Murugan: There are black sheep in police too. We try our best to keep them under control. Whenever such things happen, I can promise merciless action. As much as possible, we are keeping watch on such activities and continue to do so, and we will take all necessary action to ensure that such things do not happen.
Are you happy about the media activities in this particular district?
Murugan: It is too early to ask this question but I will still say that regarding police, people say that it is a necessary evil. We need media in the sense that it required to convey information to the people. But just as in police, there may be bad elements in media too, and we have to be just careful.
Did you always want to become an IPS officer or did you have other plans in mind?
Murugan: Clearing the IPS exam was an extremely lucky accident in my life. One of my friends was writing the exam and just to give him company, I also wrote the exam. And today I am sitting in front of you and my friend is an engineer is USA. All I can say is that I have completed 18 years as a police officer and it has been a wonderful journey and I feel extremely satisfied. I feel happy that we have been able to provide justice to poor people in our own little way. And that has been inspiration for me throughout my career.
What is your message to aspiring IPS or IAS students?
Murugan: Let it be your aim in life. Study hard and be sincere, and you will be successful. You need well planned preparation and a systematic approach. In my opinion you should give 50% to the preparations and 50% to your planning. This is the key to success. If you stick to plan you will definitely win.
Watch Full Interview
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