Compared to urban pockets, what are the specific issues of the rural areas in the Pune district?
In rural and fringe areas, it is a tough job owing to lesser manpower, vast expanse and a lot of hilly and open terrain which give the criminals the opportunity to hide at many places and eventually get away. In city, on the other hand, the police have a greater access to resources and technology such as CCTVs. This result in better reporting. People in the city are equipped with technologies such as mobile phones and GPS maps which are absent in rural areas.
What is your assessment of the organised crime scene in rural areas?
While robberies and dacoities are being reported from there, there are not many organised gangs in rural areas. Most of the criminals with past records are those who belong to other states. Many new gang members have been found to be coming from other states in search of jobs. Secondly, there is a rise in the number of extortion cases. Such criminals are active in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation areas where they seek control over labour contracts. We have been approaching companies as a part of our investigations. Besides cases of routine crime, we are seeing an increase in land-related cheating.
Do you think there is lack of co-ordination between rural and highway police, which is leading to increased crime on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway?
We have a strong coordination between my staff and the highway police. But after the incidents of robberies at the expressway, we are improving our patrolling. For this, we are having a joint meeting with the IRB officials, the highway police to improve the response time. We have also directed the IRB officials to renovate the fencing and nets which are damaged, especially at routes which are used by the robbers to attack passengers. We do not want to play a blame game. Therefore, learning from the past incidents, we have planned to set up three police posts—at Taje Petrol pump, Indriyani Chowk and Wadgoan Talegaon chowk—where the police will be patrolling round the clock.
What initiatives have been taken up for tackling the rising trends in crime?
I started the Thanta Mukta Goan (dispute free villages) where a committee of village elders resolve issues so that the matters doesn’t escalate. However, here we saw that only elders took interest. The youth were being neglected and the crime among them was rising. So, we formed other groups in which youngsters could be involved and can discuss issues that confront them. Later, we found that such youths even helped the police in detecting cases. For women security, I recently formed a squad of female officers who visit school, colleges and even meet girls in common rooms to understand their issues.