Handling unprecedented challenges is part of our training: Saurabh Chandra, ACP, Seelampur
Saurabh Chandra, Assistant Commissioner of Police, posted at Seelampur, East Delhi’s high-populated area, is of the view that Covid-19 posed unprecedented challenges for police officials.
Saurabh Chandra, Assistant Commissioner of Police, posted at Seelampur, one of the highly populated areas of North East Delhi, is of the view that Covid-19 posed unprecedented challenges for police officials. Besides taking care of law and order, the police force went beyond their call of duty and helped citizens deal with all sort of issues be it distributing food to migrant labourers or educating locals about the importance of wearing a facemask and using sanitizers etc.
This unparallel role of police earned praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, while interacting with IPS probationers in September this year, said that that human face of the Khaki uniform has been engraved in public memory due to the good work done by the police especially in the wake of Covid-19.
Chandra, in an interview with The National Bulletin’s Editor-in-Chief Syed Mashkur Hussain, spoke on how Covid-19 is an unusual time which requires an extraordinary role for everyone to play, especially the police force, in the society.
Q: What kind of new challenges do you think the police have to face during this pandemic?
A: In the past nine months, we have faced different challenges at different times. For instance, when the lockdown was announced in March, it was a challenge to enforce it. We collaborated with social workers, NGOs and other responsible citizens to ensure that people from weaker section of the society should not go hungry. We identified such areas and distributed food. Then we faced the migrant crisis during which we made arrangement for migrant labourers’ safe journey from Delhi to other states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir etc.
When the lockdown was started getting relaxed, we had to ensure that people who had necessary permissions were allowed to move and those who didn’t have were prosecuted. The Delhi Police have adopted ‘carrot and stick’ policy for that. We are handing out support to those who need help and we are taking action against those who violate the law.
We are distributing mask and sanitizers to needy people and we are prosecuting those who can afford to obey Covid-19 protocols but they are deliberately violating it. Since cases of Covid-19 are on the rise, you will be very surprised to know that every day we issue challans to about 100 people for disobeying government norms.
Q: Do you agree that Covid-19 has shown the human face of the police force in the country?
A: This is the part of the training of police force starting from a constable to the higher-ups that police is for the society and it is our first duty.
This is perhaps for the first time that police have to work with civil authorities on such a large scale in the country to distribute food, educate people for sanitisers and helping migrants reach home.
This is unprecedented time and police, health workers, sanitary workers have to work beyond their mandate. I always remember the 9/11 lesson when the World Trade Centre came under terror attack. When people were running out of the building, police were going into the building to rescue them.
I believe that it is our mandate to help any citizen irrespective of his/her status, condition and kind of miseries he or she is in.
Q: We have seen that after making mask compulsory, petty criminals are using it to hide their faces and commit the crime. Is it a challenge for the police?
A: Challenges is there but we used to arrest people even in those eras when there was no CCTV installed at public places. Basic policing depends on local informers, the presence of police and their network. Mask is a challenge but it is not so big that make police force helpless in arresting an anti-social element. There are so many other means to overcome the challenge.
Q: How was the crime rate in your area during Covid-19 lockdown?
A: Crime was low during lockdown but there was an apprehension that after lockdown it would go up. However, we have taken preventive measures and arrests to check that possibility.
Q: Based on your experience, can you say that lockdown has increased mental problem among people? Have you come across this kind of situation in your area?
A: As per PCR calls, I don’t think there is any such trend. In the past 10 months, I have not received a single call of any person who has tried to show up any mental problem. I can say on the basis of the total complaints that we have received. What’s going on within the houses of people, I can’t talk about that.
Q: How do you encourage your team and yourself to visit in the field, interact with people and help them when there are instances of Covid-19 infection among police force which resulted in deaths also?
A: If I say that the whole police force is fearless in going out to help people, it will be an exaggeration. We all fear that we should not contract the infection. However, our seniors such as CP sir, or joint CP sir and DCP sir are continuously providing us with their guidance and I keep on passing on to my subordinates.
For instance, those people who were deployed in containment zones, we ensured that they got PPE kit, double masks, sanitisers, electric torch for protection and dealing with any challenge.
Delhi police have used all possible means to motivate its force and provide them with all kind of facilities in case any individual contracts the infection.
We gave a lot of honour and respect to those police officials who joined duty after recovering from Covid-19. The purpose was to make them feel proud of their work. We treated them as real Covid warriors to keep their morale very high.