'New Delhi district posting requires me to take all my calls at the first ring'

No matter how busy he is, he attempts to answer his phone calls by the first ring. Even if that means juggling between as many as four phone calls simultaneously. Serving as the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the volatile New Delhi District, SBS Tyagi keeps himself available at most times.

“We have to interact with 10 demonstrations everyday on an average. Beginning from early morning till 2 am sometimes,” he says.

On the day Deccan Herald met him, he spent over two hours trying to negotiate with a group of visually-impaired protestors and a Member of Parliament, they wanted to meet. On one phone he tried to convince the group to call off their protest. On the other he was attempting to arrange their meeting with the MP.

“There is only a certain extent to which we can play politics,” says the President’s Police Medal awardee.

The recent sit-in by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his supporters was a different test. “That protest was against the police itself. So we had to exercise special restraint despite the provocations and abuses. But irrespective of whom the demonstrations are targeted at, most of the protests by and large turn out to be versus the police,” he says.

Being one of the two important visible faces, the other being Joint Commissioner of Police Mukesh Kumar Meena, of Delhi Police during the two days of demonstrations, Tyagi remained calm and composed throughout. But only the senior officers showing restraint in the face of abuses and several tense moments was not enough.

“At times our young lot gets frustrated and excited. But we counselled them, briefed them repeatedly not to take things personally and held them back to save the situation,” he says, adding that they do feel bad about certain things, but they check themselves.
But more than the police, he was worried about the protestors. “People protest out of sheer emotion, but they could fall or suffer irreparable damage. They say they don’t care for their lives, but that is not how we work. Our aim during those two days was not just to prevent them from moving ahead,” says Tyagi.

While policemen too were recording the happenings, he says the blame then would squarely fall on the police for any grave injuries to the protestors. While one of the demands of Kejriwal was to bring Delhi Police under the state government, Tyagi feels there are situations where under whose command the police functions don’t matter.

“Most of the crimes, including rapes, are committed by people known to the victims. I am still trying to figure out how such crimes can be prevented by police,” says Tyagi.

But aren’t police to blame for law and order failures during incidents such as the recent gang rape of a Danish woman? “In this particular case, all you can do is increase the police presence. Mind you, the rape took place inside a railway club. There are people responsible for maintaining the sanity and order inside the club. Who goes in and who stays inside that club is certainly not police’s responsibility,” he says, quickly adding that the accused were nabbed in the quickest possible time.

Police being one of the most visible faces in the society, he feels there are lot many situations in which people transfer their frustration and failures to the police.

“Police cannot be blamed for everything. There are lot many areas where we have no role to play, yet we are blamed.”

Just a few minutes before this interview, he was approached by an old man who complained of threats by an old friend-turned-foe. The old man had agreed to be a guarantor for him years ago and was recently asked to pay up by a court when the man defaulted on the loan. While Tyagi told him that the money issue was a matter of courts, he immediately dispatched a policeman with him to look into complaints of threats.

But do incidents like the recent case of three Delhi Police personnel mercilessly beating a man near Lal Quila dampen the spirits of policemen? “You have to see things in perspective. Nobody says thieves should be beaten, but he was a thief who was caught red-handed stealing a wallet. He was not an innocent person,” he says.

But does that justify the beating? “Of course not. That is why the policemen have been suspended,” he clarifies.

He doesn’t believe all policemen are honest and have a conscience, but says it is unfair to paint all of them with the same brush. “We come from the same society. We reflect the morals, values and conscience of the society. But conscious efforts are made to discourage such elements and weed them out of the force,” he says.

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