Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria has soft launched "Operation Recapture", a campaign to bridge the gap between men in uniform and citizens.
"After I took charge I asked my colleagues what should be our priority. All of them replied law and order. I told them the need to restore the people's faith and trust in the force. Once that is done, then law and order automatically take care of itself. There are problems relating to infrastructure etc. But the number one priority, I told my men, was to get back the trust which people had in Mumbai police," Maria told dna.
The game plan is to get citizens on the side of the police so that policing becomes a collective effort. Maria's initiative is a recognition of the fact that over the past few years, there has been a gap between the police and the public. Citizens were increasingly becoming victims of harassment and extortion, which alienated the people. All these will be the things of the past, once the initiative taken by Maria succeeds.
Maria plans to involve college students in a big way in all police stations. Selected students will be asked to do voluntary work. They will provide the first interface for the public at the police station. The aim is to bridge the gap between the people and police. "I have already started meeting principals of various educational institutions and the response is good. I will also rope in activists from NGOs after verifying their credentials so that there is no scope for any controversy," Maria said.
On Holi day last Monday, all officers and men, including those at the IPS level, were asked to be on the streets and make their presence felt among the people. The revellers were kept in check by the sheer presence of the police.
"Many people appreciated this extensive effort," joint commissioner (law and order) Dhananjay Kamalakar added.
One of the thrust areas of Operation Recapture is to re-instil respect for the traffic police in the minds of motorists. Maria conceded that the fear of the traffic police has vanished from the minds of people. "I have seen drivers jumping signals right in front of the traffic police with impunity. The traffic police should be respected and feared. I have given strict instructions to the traffic police to implement the rules strictly.
There will be no let up," Maria stated.
Kamalakar, who has returned to the city after a gap of six years (he was earlier in the Mumbai crime branch), has started paying surprise visits to police stations. He has ordered the preventive detention of as many as 1,600 persons with a view to keep the law and order situation under check.