The superintendent of police, Pune rural, Pratap Dighavkar (43) would have been healing patients rather than chasing goons had he got admission to BJ Medical College. Although he scored high marks in his higher secondary examination, he could not get admission due to lack of seats in that college. But the IPS officer has no regrets. As the police chief, he is going out of his way to keep criminals at bay in his jurisdiction along with his dedicated police force. His love for planting trees earned him the Indira Priyadarshani award, which was given to him by the Union ministry of environment in 2001. He is also a recipient of the President’s Police medal for meritorious services and DG insignia for excellent performance and service record. Dighavkar tells DNA about his plans to tackle the Maoist problem in Pune rural area and other challenges before him and his police force.
What prompted you to join the police force?
I was the youngest amongst the five siblings and was keen to pursue medical education. Unfortunately, I could not do so as I did not get admission in BJ Medical College. I was crestfallen and started doing farming in my hometown in Nashik. After a dispute with my father, I took admission in BA in an Open University and got a degree in public administration. At that point of time, I wanted to become a fighter pilot and started preparing to join the armed forces. I also gave the state civil services examination for the post of police sub-inspector and got selected. During my training, the Director General of Police, Arvind Inamdar, stressed on the need to plant tress. This influenced me so much that I started planting trees as much as I could. I again appeared for MPSC examination for the post of assistant commissioner of police (ACP)/ deputy superintendent of police. I stood second in the exam.
It seems that Maoists are trying to create a base in Pune rural areas. How are you going to deal with this problem?
I am aware that Naxals are trying to make inroads in Pune rural areas. Over ten of them were recently arrested by the anti-terrorism squad. I have directed my police personnel to keep a tight vigil in the villages to ensure that the rebels cannot get any foothold in the district. I am also visiting schools and colleges within my jurisdiction as Maoists target youth and children to induct them into their fold. I appeal to the young generation to not get misguided and should instead join the police and defence forces to serve the motherland. We are now collecting data on labourers, coming from other states for work to Pune rural areas, from the contractors as well as the companies that hire them. A special squad is being prepared to tackle the Maoist menace. The Pune rural police would thwart all the attempts of rebels to create a base here.
What are the other challenges before the Pune rural police?
The Pune rural police has a jurisdiction of 16,000 km involving 31 police stations with manpower of 2,268 officials. The land mafias are active here who grab lands and such cases are on the rise. In fact, crores of rupees are involved in these cases and the white collar goons are equally involved. Moreover, land disputes among families are increasing that adds to the problem. We are planning to develop a new cell, Economic Offences Wing (EOW), due to the rising cases of land disputes so that the problem could be tackled more effectively. Recently, the Pune rural police was awarded Rs 19.90 crore by the Maharashtra government for making 788 dispute-free villages. We plan to share the award among all these villages to improve their basic infrastructure.
You recently visited Australia for a mid-career training programme. Please throw some light on the training you received.
Five IPS officers, including myself, from the state took this training initially at Hyderabad and then went to Australia. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn new things about the police force of Australia and how it operates within their country. When we went there, elections were going on. But over there no one shouted slogans or put up posters or banners. The election process was conducted peacefully. It was really an amazing experience. Over there it is mandatory for every citizen to give their DNA samples. There is a DNA samples bank and crimes are detected with the help of these samples.