Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Jun 15: After one-and-a-half years of service as police commissioner in Mangaluru city, Chandra Sekhar has now been transferred to Bengaluru as inspector genral of police (IGP) of the criminal investigation department (CID) and economic offences. He had taken charge as police commissioner of Mangaluru on January 3, 2016.
Chandra Sekhar is a 1998-batch IPS officer hailing from Nellore, Andhra Pradesh. He began his IPS career as ASP of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, and later served as SP of Bilaspur and Mandi districts of the same states. He came to Karnataka on deputation in 2009, and served as SP of internal security division for three months, after which he was posted as deputy commissioner of police, East Bengaluru division from 2009 to 2012. He was 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.
Before taking up IPS, he completed his BTech in aerospace engineering from IIT Kharagpur and worked for Infosys between 1995-'96.
An upright officer who dealt strictly with anti-social elements, Chandra Sekhar, during his tenure, took special efforts to make the police department people-friendly and more responsive to grievances. His weekly phone-in programme especially has become popular with the general public.
The outgoing police commissioner spoke to daijiworld.com editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike in an exclusive interview on Daijiworld 24x7 channel's Public Challenge programme.
Q: Everything has been going fine for nearly one-and-a-half years. People have appreciated you as a loyal officer who brought in a lot of changes. Now you have been transferred to Bengaluru. Was this is a routine transfer or done on your request?
A: I had requested for transfer for some personal reasons. My family is in Bengaluru, hence I asked for a transfer and the government accepted it.
Q: You had good team here in Mangaluru especially with DCPs Sanjeeva Patil and Shantaraju, and together you had been able to give a people-friendly atmosphere. But now suddenly you and DCP Sanjeeva Patil are leaving this team because of transfer. Do you think it will take sometime for the new team to get set here?
A: I don’t think so. Yes, we had very good team. We had good understanding between us. Right from the top till the constable level, everything was a team work. Many constables have done a great job. Inspectors, ACPs have done a fantastic job. In my opinion, individually we can only enhance at the most five percent, sometimes more or less, the efficiency of the system. The effectiveness of an officer is judged by streamlining the systems. People come and go but the systems will remain strong. We have a strong system, so it will function well.
Q: After one and years of service in Mangaluru, are you happy with the extent to which the police stations have become people-friendly?
A: Yes, I am happy. The behavior in our police stations is, by and large, good. People come to the police station mainly for complaints. At that time, the attitude of the police, especially of the first policeman who handles the complaint, is very important. First, he should console the complainant. Only then can he move to other steps of the procedure. I feel my staff are doing quite a good job. They have lived up to the expectations. In Mangaluru 35% of constables are outsides, that is, from other districts. They do not know Tulu language. Out of 380 such constables, we have trained around 122 constables in Tulu language and it has had an impact. Also, we have trained around 62 constables in Beary language. The training programmes were conducted with the help of University College, the Tulu academy and the Beary academy. Apart from that, we have provided water, chairs and other basic amenities in police stations for complainants, using special funds of Rs 1 lac for each police station from the government.
Q: You implemented the police phone-in programme which is the first of its kind in this region. What was the inspiration behind this and how successful has it been?
A: Last year I attended a phone-in programme conducted by a print media. I thought it was very useful. I understood so many public problems during the course of the programme. It was an eye-opener for me. I thought I could get to know the basic problems of the common man, how to connect with the common man. After starting the phone-in with police, people started responding very well. We came to know the genuine problems of the people. Our officers also decided that once they heard the issues, by next phone-in the issues should be attended to. We could see visible changes due to this programme. It was a positive interaction and we could show that we are doing something. Investigations in murder and robbery cases are all limited to a particular victim. But the benefit of phone-in programme is that we can reach out to the entire public. So I think because of this, our police department has earned a good image.
Apart from building a good image of the police, I have understood a lot of problems. Before coming here, my main idea was law and order and crime. After coming here, I understood that 90% of the problems of the common man is with traffic. I understood that and it was an eye-opener. After that I started working on traffic. It had a good impact too. Now other departments have also started following this programe. It is a good programme to connect to the people. It is now part of the system and it will continue.
Q: Recently you started a WhatsApp group called 'Kudla Traffic' to get information from public on traffic violations. How is the response so far?
A: It acts like a deterrent. When there is a system is in place, then people will try to avoid doing wrong. When people come to know someone is clicking pictures and uploading into the system then they will not try to violate the rules. It has a psychological effect. The Kudla Traffic has had a good impact on traffic violations.
Q: The police force in the city has received new cars and improved its standards. We are really proud of this system and definitely the impact would be good. But what about its productivity? Has it increased?
A: I thank the government, the home minister and the DGP for giving us 25 well-equipped vehicles because we were asking for it. Wherever we deployed it, we could see slight reduction in crimes and other illegal activities. Our behavior, the way we dress, and to add to that, if the vehicle is also good, it will all evince respect. The people are judging us. It will have an extra effect on our force. All the vehicles are connected with the control room and we know where the vehicle is, and who all are in it. If any call comes to the control room we can send our vehicle and officers nearest to the particular area. So that way, it improves our response time also.
Q: In Mangaluru, now a new trend has started where, when a person is arrested for criminal activity, based on his community people come out to support and defend him. His community stands behind him as a protector. Do you think this is a challenge to the police department?
A: I don't say any community supports criminals. But in every community, there are some interested elements. They are people who support criminals in the name of caste and religion. There will be a small number of such people in every community. They even endorse the criminal activities of the people who are associated with them.
But one thing I would like to say is that the silence of good people is more harmful to this world than the violence of bad people. I feel 99 percent of the people are good, but when they ignore or show indifference to wrongdoing, it is worse than the act of a bad person. If a person is doing something wrong, the good people should try to stop him, or if that is not possible, at least tell him he has done wrong by word of mouth. If that is also not possible. Also, he should not associate with the wrongdoer. Otherwise, there will be chaos in society, only because of silence of the good people. This has repeatedly happened in history. Good and bad people are in every community. Bad people should be kept aside by the community. Ultimately, whatever the conditions, truth will always prevail. A few people are there in all communities who support criminals and we will take care of them. It is our duty to take care of them.
Q: In your term a few cases got lot of attention, such as Vinayak Baliga murder, defamation of Kateel temple on Facebook, Karthik Raj murder and recently the arrest of Ahmed Qureshi. Among all these, which case was the most challenging?
A: Each case was different and each had its own challenges. I have always liked challenges. It should not happen, but if there is a challenge, it gives us an occasion to rise up to it. Our capability comes up. So all the cases are equally important to me. The Axis Bank heist case was also difficult, but I should say Baliga murder case was most challenging. There was some public perception that the culprits would get away. I do not know why they had this perception. But we worked hard, we took sometime but we proved them wrong and I feel that the public faith in the police has increased after the solving of the Baliga case. We had the confidence of facing the public and say yes, we will solve it, give us some time.
In Karthik Raj case some people gave us deadlines. But we do not work on deadlines. If we solve cases based on deadlined there is possibilities that an innocent may get punished. So deadlines do not allow us to work in a professional manner. Even if one innocent is punished it shakes the faith of the entire population of the system. I am very strict in this matter. I never felt pressurised and I told my team to take their our own time to investigate and arrest the right person. By God's grace we had the finest officers working here. The credit should go to them for all the achievements. We have confidence to solve any case.
I rate the Baliga case as being very important, as after solving it, the people's trust in the police has increased.
Q: Is Mangaluru police ready for social media revolution or its challenges? There are two dimensions to this - First, our police department's involvement in social media like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsAap etc, and second, crime happening through social media.
A: You have asked a very important question. We have understood the need for having a proactive presence on social media. We should be able to spread our message through social media. So we are active on WhatsAap, have our own active pages in Facebook and Twitter too. We have been successful and it is an average success. Secondly, we have dedicated and trained officers for investigation into social media crimes. But there is a problem. Sometimes we face systemic difficulties in investigating cyber crimes. Sometimes the servers of these social media are outside the country and getting a particular IP address, where the message has originated from, is an issue and the procedure takes a long time. But in spite of this, we have solved cases. In complicated cases we know whom to approach. But we have the basics to handle such cases.
Q: What is the response of the people to the social media initiatives of the police?
A: It is quite good. We have a Twitter account, but we are more active on Facebook. Many people send complaints on Facebook. They send messages and pictures of traffic violations on WhatsAap group. There is good interaction, but there is a lot to be done.
Q: Nowadays we can see candidates from Karnataka getting ranks and good results in UPSC exams. Are youths today attracted to IPS as a career option? As an IPS officer what is your opinion?
A: Policing is a very interesting and exciting job, and you get so much of satisfaction. When you solve people's problems, the amount of satisfaction it gives is immense. Yes, I have seen that nowadays many are passing UPSC exams. It is a nice phenomena. It is very heartening to see many youngsters coming into the police force from Karnataka. I wish them all the best.
Q: Do you have any regrets about your tenure in Mangaluru?
A: Yes. I have have two regrets. First, there is necessity of land for the city's armed reserve police line, but I have not been successful in getting it. Secondly, pertaining to traffic, my people have worked very hard, but I feel much more could be done. Maybe I could not cooperate well with the (city) corporation. We have been trying but somewhere this is a gap. There are many places where we could have done a better job. Of course, coordination is better now and we keep meeting once a month, but something more needs to be done. We have done better with regard to national highways and in 2016, there has been reduction of 16 percent in the number of deaths on national highways. We were able to coordinate better with hospitals also.
Q: Profession-wise, what was the your happiest moment during your service in Mangaluru?
A: Solving every case and rewarding every person who is working with me always brought me happiness. But the happiest moment was when we got six CM Medals and two President's Medals. We understood that the state government has recognized the kind of good work our people were doing. Six medals for a unit like Mangaluru is quiet high, so it was the happiest moment for me.
Q: What message would you like to give our viewers, especially youngsters and the people of the city?
A: Mangaluru is a great city. It has great culture. The people of the city are cultured, educated, and forward-looking. They do business in all parts of the world. They have a certain level, and it should go up further. For that again I come back to what I said earlier, that good people should not be silent when they see something wrong happening. They should not see the religion and caste of the criminal. If possible they should stop him, if not, at least tell him he is wrong, and if that also does not work, write about it in social media. If you can't do any of these, at least avoid associating with him just because of he is of your community or caste. Once people start doing this, there is nothing that can stop Mangaluru.
Mangaluru is one of the finest cities and I truly enjoyed every moment of my service here. I don’t have any regrets working in Mangaluru and I am going Bengaluru purely because of personal reasons. Mangaluru has been an absolute heaven to work in, I can say. I enjoyed working here. Of course, there were challenges. If there is no challenge then why should we be here at all.
People of Mangaluru should think on what I have said (about speaking up against wrongdoers), it is very important. Every person should imbibe it. If they think in this way there is no doubt that Mangaluru will become the finest city in the world to live in.
Watch full interview