Choppers and apps: It wasn't all about AAP

Choppers and apps: It wasn't all about AAP

Despite a stubborn opposition by the Delhi government, Delhi Police Commissioner Bhim Sain Bassi feels the past 12 months have been the most satisfying in his 31-month tenure.

He says the force’s digital initiatives have led to a paradigm shift resulting in total elimination of citizen’s harassment – his topmost priority when took up the top job.

“The journey which began in August 2013 gathered full steam in 2015. The out of box solutions devised – both common sense based and rooted in technology – have reduced hiccups in police-public interface,” says Bassi.

Two of the mobile and web applications, ‘Delhi Traffic Police’ and ‘Lost Report’, also went on to receive national e-Governance awards last week. 

Competing with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s image as an anti-corruption crusader, police say they are equally committed to curb corruption, with systems devised to let people complain against corruption or harassment by police.

In 2015, the Vigilance unit registered 39 cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act against 77 police officials. This is in addition to 14 such cases registered by the districts and the Crime Branch against 15 police officials. Apart from that, 490 personnel were placed under suspension.

A study by the Centre for Media Studies confirms the claim by police. It has reported that 80 per cent of respondents surveyed in 2013 had experienced corruption on the part of police.

During the survey conducted in 2015 the number fell to 34 per cent, a 57.5 percent decrease in corruption levels.

However, the Indian Penal Code crimes registered in Delhi has increased from 80,184 in 2013, to 1,55,654 in 2014 and 1,82,644 in 2015, as against 54,287 cases registered during former Commissioner Neeraj Kumar’s tenure in 2012.

Bassi defends the figures. He says he does not have any hesitation in asserting that it is because of truthful registration now being firmly rooted in the culture and psyche of the force. “Reluctance on the part of police officers to register crime, which was a commonplace experience, is now history,” Bassi adds.

If police are to be believed, complaints of non-registration of FIR have shown a substantial decline. The force also insists on taking note of how they have succeeding in solving a major portion of the cases.  

A total of 49,903 IPC cases, including 6,328 heinous cases, were solved in 2015 as compared to 43,431 IPC cases, including 5,784 heinous cases, in 2014. “This increase exhibits that many more criminals have been brought to book,” says Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deepak Mishra.

Those arrested include 101 desperate criminals, 50 of whom carried rewards ranging from Rs 50,000 to 5 lakh for their arrest.

As his tenure began just months after the December 16 gang-rape, Bassi also gave high priority to crime against women, saying that it is a “blot on our society”. Such cases are monitored on a regular basis. Police say approximately 70 per cent of such cases are worked out within the first fortnight.

Among the web and mobile phone applications, ‘Himmat’ launched in February 2015 ensures timely support to women in distress. Community policing-based initiatives ‘Nirbheek’, ‘Shishtachar’ and ‘Ab Nahin Hai Darna’ also deserve special mention.

While such modes are available to seek help in case of sexual harassment, an urgent need was felt to create a specialised forum for victims in schools and colleges.

“Under Operation Nirbheek, police officials now conduct interaction sessions with girl students. Complaint boxes have been installed and students are encouraged to report abuse or harassment,” says Madhur Verma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North).

Women constables visit schools every week to collect complaints from the students, if any.

Such measures are in addition to the upgrade of the police control room (PCR), which now simultaneously forward calls received to the nearest PCR van and the concerned police station.

Traffic chopper
For the first time in the history of Delhi Police, a helicopter was also used by the traffic unit to monitor crowd movement during idol immersion of Goddess Durga in October 2015.

The helicopter hired from Pawan Hans and the PCR upgrade were part of modernisation measures. In July 2014, Bassi had written a letter to Union Home Ministry for permission to hire helicopters for air patrols.  In October, the helicopter conducted sorties to spot congestion points, which were conveyed to traffic officers on the ground.

Feedback indicates that traffic flows were better managed than previous years. Feasibility of hiring helicopters for regular use is being explored.

Traffic management has also been a challenge. “But owing to a number of steps taken by police, the capital has witnessed a consistent reduction in fatal accidents in the last three years,” says Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander.

Police have identified 137 accident-prone zones and remedial measures have been taken in coordination with the road owning agencies. In 2015, a total of 1,496 fatal accidents took place in which 1,532 persons lost their lives as against 1,575 fatal accidents and 1,616 deaths in 2014.

A mobile app ‘Traffic Sentinel’, launched in December 2015, now empowers people to report traffic violations by taking photographs and videos. Police also have access to over 1.60 lakh CCTV cameras installed in the city.

Looking ahead, the force is working to regulate the use of drones. Currently, there are restrictions on height to which the drones can be flown and locations where they can be used.

The drones were first used during the 2014 Trilokpuri riots and had helped in detaining potential troublemakers.

Earlier this month, Bassi’s team was also named in the Limca Book of Records for making the largest recovery of cash in India. Over Rs 22 crore were recovered from a driver who fled with his company’s cash van in November 2015. The driver was tracked in less than 10 hours.

In the final days of his tenure, Bassi would be hoping to wrap up the Sunanda Pushkar murder case, which has been dragging since January 2014. Delhi Police have reports from AIIMS and FBI which says that the wife of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor died due to poisoning.