Monday, November 23, 2009

'Karnataka is safer than most places in the country'

N D Shiva Kumar, TNN 24 November 2009, 04:47am IS BANGALORE: Ever since the attack on the Indian Institute of Science in December 2005, the oft-repeated question is: How safe is Karnataka,

especially Bangalore? The question came to haunt us after the serial bomb blasts in Bangalore and it's asked every time there is an attack on any Indian city.

Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG & IGP) Ajai Kumar Singh assures us: "There is no need to panic. Karnataka is safe, and, in fact, safer than most places in the country.'' He shares his thoughts on terrorism and policing with TOI:

* How safe is Karnataka?

Karnataka is safe -- in fact, safer than most places in the country. In comparison, Asian cities in general and Indian cities in particular are safer than cities in developed countries.

* Why do you say that?

The safety of a place is ascertained by the following factors: law & order situation, crimes and extremist activities. There is no problem with the law & order situation in the state. The peaceful conduct of elections are testimony to this. When we talk about crime, some crime happens in all places at all times. What's important for assessment is the magnitude, seriousness and frequency of crime. On that count too, the situation is far from serious. The Naxal influence exists in a few pockets, but the intensity of the problem is not huge. Also, the police action (detection and arrest), after the incidents has been good. Having said this, I can't vouch for the fact that nothing can happen. All I am saying is we're very alert and systems are in place.

* What about Bangalore being branded as a hideout and a safe place for sleeper cells?

This is baseless. What's the basis for a person knowing whether sleeper cells exist or not? The information should come from intelligence sources. This information is such that it can neither be denied nor confirmed.

* Coordination between central and other state agencies has been the bane in the past. Has it improved now?

We have excellent coordination with them. We are receiving fantastic support from all of them. Let me tell you that more than 50% of the time, news of alerts from central agencies which appear in the media are false. Sometimes we do get alerts and act according to the situation.

* What are the constraints the police force faces?

Many things need to be done. Priority area are -- open more police stations, increase staff strength and improving training modules. We need 200 more police stations in the state. The working conditions of police personnel are not conducive for efficient and morale-boosting performances. We should have a proper shift system at the police station level, so that a policeman is not over-burdened. Police training is not our strong point and needs to be bettered.

* How can policing be made effective to tackle terror?

To handle any crimes -- be it routine crime, Left Wing extremism or fundamentalism -- basic policing i.e. the beat system should be strengthened. If this is strong and effective, then prevention and detection of all kinds of crimes becomes easier. The beat system should be public-oriented. The police should have good and continuous rapport with people. If that happens, we'll know about both -- matka or the plan of a terror strike.

* What's the role of people in preventing crimes?

It's not fair to expect people to do night rounds with policemen daily; it's not a sustainable model. They can assist us as and when required. They can act like the eyes and ears and inform the police. They can come forward to be mahazhar witnesses, participate in petition inquiries and inform us about warrantees and absconding criminals.

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