Violence against women will not be tolerated, says Noida commissioner Alok Singh
Modern policing calls for swift and unified action that does not brook either delayed operations or a divided command. Coming out of the limiting Senior Superintendent of Police system as per Section 4 of the Police Act, 1861 that curtails the authority of the police, Gautam Budh Nagar district finally got the commissionerate system, with the police getting magisterial powers, on January 14, 2020. The system gives more manpower and budget to the police department and also lets them take key decisions in tackling complex law and order situations. The top cop who has been assigned the job of seeing the transition of the district police force into the commissionerate system is 1995 batch IPS officer Alok Singh. He has previously commanded the police force in 11 districts of Uttar Pradesh. Singh, who turned 53 Friday, was awarded the President’s Medal for Gallantry in 2002, for busting the naxalite network in Sonbhadra district. In an exclusive interview to HT, the first police commissioner of Gautam Budh Nagar spoke to Sanjeev K Jha and Vinod Rajput on his priorities and plans of action to make Noida free of crime and get rid of traffic blues.
Many people are apprehensive to approach the police in case of emergencies. The common notion, especially in Noida, that caters to thousands of entrepreneurs from India and abroad, is “why to involve the police?” How do you plan to tackle and bridge this trust deficit?
Alok Singh: Interpersonal skills develop over a period of time. To expect that a sub-inspector or a station house officer will suddenly be completely adept at interpersonal skills is not fair. For that, they need training, both in-house and interactive. We have decided to conduct a continual series of soft skill programmes for our personnel to make them one of the most ambidextrous police officers in the nation. The biggest advantage of the commissionerate system is that it makes policing more people-centric and the people get better responses from officers at police stations. Noida police will soon be among the best police commissionerates in India. I am not going to tolerate any violence against women, traffic chaos or cyber fraud in the district at any cost. Even for police personnel, my message is crystal clear: perform or perish.
Traffic congestion is a daily ordeal for motorists on Noida and Greater Noida roads. How would you address the issue of traffic under the new system?
The deputy commissioner of police will dedicatedly look into traffic-related issues and find solutions with discipline and technology-based mechanism. The UP government has recently added 400 traffic constables to improve traffic management in order to offer a smooth ride to motorists. Apart from this, we held a meeting with Noida authority’s chief executive officer Ritu Maheshwari, wherein we discussed many issues, including traffic. The integrated traffic management system is successfully operational on Noida Expressway. Now, there is a plan to put Noida under electronic surveillance in the next few months to further improve traffic management. There is also a plan to put at least 203 square kilometres under real-time surveillance. Same is true for Greater Noida. As of now, we are focusing on the Delhi-Noida Link road and the Delhi-Noida-Direct (DND) flyway to improve traffic conditions on these roads. Also, there is limited scope to create new stretches or roads in this district. Besides, Noida also needs a lot of discipline as far as driving is concerned. Some CCTV cameras have been installed at some major junctions to lookout for those violating traffic. We will be adding another 1,000 cameras at public places and roads in the coming three months. I am sure that for the modernisation of the police here, there will be no crunch of funds.
The most common issue locals face is cybercrime. Does the police force have adequate and technical staff to nab cyber fraudsters?
Internet crime or financial offences by use of the internet in various modes, be it online or offline, are increasing. There is lack of awareness and many do not know how to use the internet effectively. This being said, a lot of education is required to be decimated amongst people on how to use the internet safely. Presently, we have one cybercrime station, but soon we will have a significant number of cyber-trained officers. DCP Nitin Tiwari, who is himself a computer science engineer, is already working to make policemen apt in tackling cybercrimes. Also, IIT Kanpur, our knowledge partner, is providing us skills and solutions to tackle these crimes, which will definitely yield better results.
What measures are being adopted by the GB Nagar Police to stop crimes against women and children? Is there a rise in cybercrimes against women in the city?
Our charter is that women feel safe anywhere in the city at any hour, whether they are at home, at the office, on the way to the office, or at any restaurant. We have identified routes which are frequented by ladies or young girls. Special patrolling is being ensured along those routes. Roads and streets which lead to offices where women work, or paying guest accommodations where women from different cities come and live, apart from girls’ schools and colleges, have been identified and special patrolling around these areas is being ensured.
The conviction rate in crime cases in the district is very low. Do you have any mechanism to improve it?
We are planning to establish an independent review committee that will monitor the cases and the trials, as the police alone cannot be held fully accountable for poor conviction rates. The conviction rates can be improved by correcting the process of investigation and filing charge-sheets. Besides this, cases need to be segregated and the target decided accordingly.
In most cases, witnesses turn hostile in courts. This weakens the case and tilts it in favour of the defence. Refresher sessions for police and prosecutors are already underway to improve conviction. Also, it is up to the public prosecutors and the police to ensure that the cases do not fizzle out due to procedural lapses and lack of coordination between them. A concerted effort has to be made to remove infirmities in cases presented in courts.
We will also derive a mechanism for verifying the authenticity of sureties submitted along with bail applications. Stock sureties will also be checked, insisting that those giving sureties on behalf of the accused should submit statutory proofs of their identity at the time of filing bail applications and be accessible for investigating officers to examine the veracity of their credentials. The police and prosecutors are all interlinked in the criminal justice system and thus they need to be effective in their areas. To avoid delay in conviction, we definitely need to file charge-sheets with solid evidence and the prosecutors should take up the trial with seriousness.
According to an estimate, there are at least four to five cheating or fraud cases reported daily in the realty sector. How would you tackle crime related to real estate? Is there any plan to form an economic offences wing on the lines of Delhi to expedite action in realty crime cases?
There has to be a dedicated team of experts that need to deal with crimes related to the real estate sector. The decision on establishing an economic offences wing to tackle cheating or fraud in real estate in this region will be taken by the Uttar Pradesh government soon as this issue is being deliberated. However, a team which was earlier working on such cases will continue to function.
Work on the Noida International Greenfield airport at Jewar along the Noida Expressway is about to begin and it will throw more challenges to police in terms of better policing. How would you tackle this new challenge?
We will create a separate zone for the airport region on the lines of Delhi. We will be having a dedicated DCP to look after crime in the Jewar area, where the airport is scheduled to be developed. This dedicated zone will start operations as and when work on this project begins. Once work for the airport begins on ground, we will increase police personnel there and a DCP will look after policing in the airport region for better response in need.
Encroachment on government land and flood plains in Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway is a big problem. How would you ensure no more land is grabbed and how can encroached-upon land be freed?
We are ready to coordinate with the Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway authorities on the issue of encroachment. We will provide police force as and when required to free up government land.