Pics: Umesh Marpalli
Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi
Udupi, Mar 19: SP Annamalai officially took charge as SP of Udupi district on January 1. Known to be an upright, no-nonsense officer, he was responsible for the transformation of Karkala police station into a model police station when he was the ASP there. On November 29, 2014, he was given the additional charge of Kundapur.
He hails from Coimbatore and was born to J R Kuppeswamy and K Parameshwari. He has done BE and Mechanical Engineering (2007 batch) from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore. He did his MBA from IIM Lucknow, (2010 batch, specialization in marketing and strategy). He is an IPS officer of the 2011 batch. His first posting was as ASP of Karkala in September 2013.
In an exclusive interview to daijiworld, SP Annamalai speaks on various issues like communal sensitiveness in Gangolli, problem of drug abuse, Naxals and much more.
Has there been any development since the recent communal clashes in Gangolli? Why aren't the people behind Gangolli fire case arrested despite the CCTV clip?
SP: We found a handkerchief there as proof and arrested a suspect. Right now, he is out on bail. There was only one person in the video clip, but we did not get any information about the rest.
Do you think the situation in Gangolli has improved since the incident?
SP: Yes, it has. But it is true that Gangolli must and should change its attitude. Past is past. The incident happened only because there was a miscommunication between the public and the police. The public respects strict officers as far as I know and there is no doubt that people always respect non-corrupt officers. After a long time has passed, people realize the facts and the subsequent strict actions of a police officer. Right now, Gangolli has got a new sub-inspector and a new DySP.
Gangolli is free from 'matka' activities already. I have personally monitored this area. We have dealt with almost 50 matka issues in the last two months. We will investigate those who are engaged in this activities soon. Last time, we had sent them to Ballari jail.
Regarding communal clashes in Gangolli, we will use all powers and if next time the incident repeats, we will go for curfew for 10 days in the district, such as Udupi has never seen. Gangolli has more than 100 years of history in communal issues. It takes time to find a solution. Both Hindus and Muslims should respect the police. In order to do this, the police should be proactive.
The officers have already started work on building a good rapport by organizing volleyball and football matches. If it continues in the same way, communal violence will not be repeated here. Already, youth have come under control. First, we earn respect and then build confidence among the public by putting extra effort.
People say that drug abuse is rampant in Manipal. Is that true?
SP: Well, to the best of my knowledge, there are cases of drugs, ganja, and issues like parties, but not gambling. We have taken a very strict measures. There are two types of control measures we have taken. One is through police, and another is through keen investigation by meeting the vice-chancellor and pro-chancellor of Manipal University. We are putting pressure on both sides to control drug abuse cases. We have conducted raids at night and more than 2 kg of ganja has been seized. Now, it is partially controlled, but it is an ongoing process. Drug abuse should be controlled on a daily basis.
Manipal University is extending full cooperation to our work. I have met Ramdas Pai personally and urged his support. Regarding bars and restaurants, there is nothing new as such. We are implementing license rules strictly.
What measures have you taken to create awareness among the common people about lodging complaint? The general allegation is that police officials expect some amount from the public to complete a task.
SP: We have controlled such acts because now if people come to know that any case is not filed in the station, they simply approach the SP. If I get to know that such cases are happening here, I don’t let go of it. If the police official realizes his mistake once, he will not repeat it. Udupi cannot be compared with Uttara Kannada.
People in Udupi are diligent. In my experience, if the matter is not solved at the SP level, they go to IG, and then go to Lokayukta. Hence, the highest number of Lokayukta cases have been recorded in Mangaluru and Udupi. The highest number of cases are seen in Udupi and people are more educated than those in Uttara Kannada. Right now, there is no such situation in Udupi where police delay complaints for money.
What action have you taken against two-wheeler riders who do not wear helmets?
SP: We cannot take any action against two-wheeler riders without helmets. The government should pass an order making helmets compulsory all over the state. We do not have the power to make helmets compulsory. These rules are strictly implemented in a few states. We can control people who break traffic rules and those who drive vehicles without a license. Helmet rule is strictly followed in places like Mangaluru, Hubli, Dharwad, Bengaluru, and Mysuru, but not so in other districts.
There is no provision for direct promotion from DySP to SP. Was Gangolli incident one of the major reasons for promoting you as SP here?
SP: I have no idea about this. The government considered my work while promoting me, so I would like to respect the order. Gangolli incident was a small issue.
But Gangolli is a communally sensitive area, so was the issue a small one? The people had questioned the entire police system. How do you justify the police action?
SP: Whatever action had been taken was by the former SP. I would not like to comment on this matter. I can only explain the actions I have taken.
What about the four Naxals of Karkala taluk, who were found during ANF combing. Why were they not arrested? Do you think the people of Karkala are supporting Naxal activities?
SP: Yes it is true that during the ANF combing, four Naxals were spotted there, but we have not seen them; the public informed us. The four members came to collect food from the villagers and soon after the public information we rushed to the place but failed to make any arrest.
If you compare with the records of 2012-13, Naxal menace has decreased in the year of 2014-15. The Kasturirangan report and other issues are creating rumours among the people of Karkala. We will work with good coordination on this and in the next two years the Naxal menace will be under complete control. The Karnataka government has done a good job in this regard. Maximum Naxals come from Kerala state and collect some amount from here, that’s it. They cannot stay here for long.
Udupi people have complaints against sex workers. What would you like to say about this?
SP: According to Human Trafficking Prevention Act, it is very clear that a sex worker is considered a victim. We have the right to take action against pimps and commission agents instead of lodging a case against her (sex worker). Many of them hail from poor backgrounds. There is no organized prostitution found in Udupi city. Such a woman does not care for complaint and raid, so this stands as a big challenge before us. We have organized awareness camps in association with some NGOs.
What is status of the case of two missing girls of Spoorthidhama?
SP: We have traced one of the girls. The problem with Spoorthidama is security and we have told them to tighten the security as much as possible by raising the height of the compound wall and install more security equipment. If you look at the data, every day three or four missing cases are filed.
What steps are you taking against gutka and illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco?
SP: Section 5 of COTPA prohibits display of packets of gutka and tobacco products. If the rules is violated, police will seize the product. Our drive to make Udupi free from gutka and tobacco products will be complete by the end of March. Recently we seized cigarettes worth Rs 16,000 from a salesperson. Our main objective is to see that law is followed.
What measures have you have taken against loud horns in buses?
SP: I have discussed the issue with RTA officer Arun Kumar Singh. We will go step by step in the matter of violation of rules. Public should give us one year before judging our works.
What would you like to say about fans of your work in Udupi district?
SP: I would not call them fans, but people like public servants who really work for the society’s wellbeing. I have never before seen 24-30 newspapers in one place. Media is very active and keeps a close watch on the work done by government officials. Fan is a wrong word; it is just kindness shown by the people. They are promoting our work in various ways, so we will also give them respect. It would help to improve our efficiency.
There are rumours of your imminent transfer from Udupi due to political pressure. Is that true?
SP: Yes, I am very eager to go to Bengaluru and am waiting for the order because I would not like to stick in one place. There is no political pressure on me. But yes, I am going as per my wish. My idea is to move from Udupi. The government has approved an order, so we respect that order, and I’m here for sometime. Whenever they sanction the transfer order, I will go. I am happy with whatever I have done. Here, politicians are more supportive. There is need to convince them on some issues. No one is good or bad in politics; we have to realize this with actual facts.
What are your plans for Udupi?
SP: Well, my first priority is to ‘make Udupi a model police city’ like Karkala. That means developing good rapport with the public, safeguarding women, and make it free from corruption. Right now we have accomplished only about 30 percent to 40 percent of what we have planned. It will take at least one year. By December we will reach our goal of making Udupi a model of honest and sincere police officers. When people feel confident that the police department is treating everyone equally, that will be our real success, until then we will work hard.