| Photo Credit: ARRANGEMENT
Indian Police Service officer Sandeep Shandilya who came to the hot seat of Hyderabad Police Commissioner on October 13 less 45 days before the Telangana Assembly Elections is a happy man. The polling in Hyderabad has been largely peaceful and uneventful except for stray cases of impersonation albeit the polling percentage has remailed low. Mr Shandilya speaks about taking charge as the city police chief and steps he took to ensure an incident-free election. “Policing is not tough. All we have to do is understand the majesty of law and follow the book,” said the official. Excerpts from an interview:
Challenges faced during transitioning to the new role
I took charge on October 13, which was after the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into effect. The first thing I did was to identify the qualities of my officers and utilise them accordingly. Some are tech-savvy, some are smart, some are courageous, some resilient. I wanted to identify and utilise those traits in a useful manner.
How did you go about ensuring safety of polling booths identified as sensitive
The rowdy sheeters in the area were identified and a list was made after tracking their call data records and IP addresses. We profiled about 20 rowdy sheeters and shared the list with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials. One of them already has an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) report, which is a formal entry of the complaint lodged by the ED started against him. Apart from this, the rowdy sheeters in the city were called and counselled. Around 600 of them would report to Circle Inspectors and Sub Inspectors of 71 police stations about their whereabouts. We realised that the rowdy sheeters were acquitted even if they had 20-30 FIRs filed against them. We are now registering His motion cases and taking action.
Model Code of Conduct and other violations
Each zone out of the seven zones in the city has about 15 checkpoints. We were booking about 100 cases for drunk driving violations everyday. We were also seizing around 50 vehicles everyday for violations, including not carrying registration documents, not wearing helmet, lack of driving licence and irregular number plates. Whereas for MCC cases were booked immediately by the law and order police. The Flying Squad Teams (FST) and Static Surveillance Teams (SST), working under the election observers and revenue staff, also shared information and photos in our group and action was taken accordingly.
Challenges and changes within the police department
As a few police personnel assumed their postings with an introductory letter from politicians, there is somewhat of an obligation felt towards those individuals. I gave them a message and motivated them to take pride in their uniform and be independent during the election season. I urged them to follow the law and to play by the book. Earlier, a Station House Officer (SHO) was transferred when a rowdy sheeter was murdered in their jurisdiction. The SHO will then deploy forces at the locality to maintain peace. However, I now tell them if they do not want a transfer, they must step out, set up a camp and duly follow all the rules by closing the case at the earliest. No additional forces will be deployed. The officer is held accountable for law and order issues in their jurisdiction.