First to respond, last to leave

On November 17, the day when the Chadha brothers died in a gunfight, the police control room came under fire for taking things casually and not making sincere attempts to investigate the call it received from a Chattarpur farmhouse.

PCR van officers visited the farmhouse and returned without suspecting a thing. Liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother Hardeep Chadha were subsequently killed at the gate of that farmhouse.

According to reports, had the PCR van officers and Mehrauli police station personnel responded properly to the call made to them about a scuffle and firing just before the two brothers were killed, the incident could have been avoided. The first call was received at 11.50 am.

But senior police officers say the call was properly attended to, and there was no negligence on the part of police.

“An innocuous call was made to the police control room about a fight. A PCR van went there and checked the farmhouse.

The officers verified with the people there and found nothing illegal going on,” says special commissioner of police Deepak Mishra.

“They cross-checked with passersby and neighbours, and reported back the matter. They also informed the local police and called the number from which the call was made. It was found switched off,” says Mishra.

He questions the need for police to barge into a house and check all the rooms when the occupants have already said there has been no incident. “There was no negligence on the part of the police department,” adds Mishra.

The farmhouse episode was just one of the calls the PCR got that day. It acts on 20,000 calls every day, and receives many more.

The PCR unit comprises some 8,500 personnel, and it is one of the biggest units among law enforcement agencies in Delhi. The unit is always there to help people in distress and give timely aid during crisis, he adds.

The central police control room and patrol vans work as the nerve centre of all police activities. This unit plays a vital role in maintaining law and order, and in preventing and detecting crime in the city. Its presence gives a sense of security to residents. Despite that it has a long way to go as people in distress sometimes feel left out by patrol vans.

Despite population increasing rapidly in Delhi — spread 52 km in length and 48 km in width — and new industries and colonies coming up on the outskirts, the number of PCR vans on the roads have not seen a corresponding rise.

There were 338 patrol vans in 1996, and around 600 this year, nearly double. But during the same period the capital’s population has increased exponentially and geographically, leading to an increase in the number of calls to the police control room. In 1996, a mere 16,928 calls were received at the PCR unit, while this year there were 1.42 crore.
“We have a fleet of around 650 police vans, and we have sent a request for another 400 to the home ministry,” says Mishra.

He says an increase in the number of vehicles will directly decrease the response time, leading to quick help to people in distress.

But with less PCR vans on the roads and new ones nowhere in sight, police face a tough time in handling the pressure.

To add to their woes, about 200 vans in the fleet are in bad shape, close to being declared unfit for operation. Even the number of police stations has gone up.

“Keeping pace with the response time in this condition becomes difficult,” says Mishra.
On complaints about PCR vans reaching late, he says under normal conditions a PCR van takes five to 10 minutes to arrive. “But there is scope for improvement,” he adds.

PCR vans ferry at least 90 people per day, including accident victims to hospitals.  
Police conduct training programmes for PCR van officers, including on giving first aid and other medical help to accident victims.

“In coordination with various hospitals, we regularly provide basic medical training to PCR van personnel,” says Mishra.

With the installation of global positioning system (GPS) in all PCR vans, and an online city map at the police control room to track the movement of these vehicles, efficiency of the personnel has increased manifold. Not only that, every call made to the police control room is followed up.

PCR officers have to report to the control room when they reach the spot, and they are monitored by senior officers. “Every call is attended to, and proper assistance is given,” says Mishra.

Comments (+)