Posted On Friday, September 14, 2012 at 12:46:24 PM
Even at first glance, Satyapal Singh, smiling benevolently in his office a stone's throw away from CST station, comes across as the antithesis of his cavalier and sometimes abrasive predecessor Arup Patnaik.
A mild-mannered policeman with an academic bent, Singh, a 1980-batch officer, has a doctorate in Public Administration and an M Phil in Chemistry: credentials one wouldn't immediately associate with Mumbai's top cop.But Singh, 57, especially by taking on former Minister of State for Home Rakesh Bagwe during his stint as Pune's police commissioner in 2010, has garnered the reputation of being much firmer than his soft veneer belies.
A former Joint CP (Crime), he takes over at what is a particularly difficult time for the police force. Morale is at an all-time low following the August 11 riot at CST.The police have been accused of being ham handed and out of touch with reality during their raids on Mumbai's night-life in recent months. And the political environment, heading to the 2014 elections, is not making everyone in the city - especially those from other states - feel safe.
In an exclusive interview with Mumbai Mirror, Singh talks about those problems, and shares his philosophy for tackling the most challenging job in the state.
1.This city has its fair share of controversies and difficulties for the police commissioner. How do you see the assignment?
Policing Mumbai is very challenging. We have to work under very trying circumstances almost all the time. There is fire-fighting to be done every day.
2. Are your doors open for every citizen? Is that a commitment?
I am deeply committed to public service, this city and everybody who lives here. I will be accessible to anybody. Actions speak louder than words.
3. One of the things which always crops up when Mumbai police is discussed is the morale of the force. How do you assess this?
Unfortunately, the August 11 incident perhaps affected the morale of the police. Something like this has never happened in the history of the Mumbai force. Policemen being beaten and policewomen being molested publicly are unprecedented. I am very clear that these things are unacceptable. I am behind each and every member of my force and if mistakes are made by them I am equally responsible.
4. After the 1992-93 riots the Mumbai police started the Mohalla Committees to restore trust. Are you going to revive them?
That’s a good point. For some reason, the Mohalla Committees have not been active for the past year or two and I’ve given instructions that they should be re-started. In the coming days you’ll find that they will be functioning actively and vibrantly.
5. There is always talk that the Mumbai police is riven by internecine power struggles, with senior officers dragging each other down. Do you see this limiting the efficient functioning of the CP?
I am not sure what happened in the past, but during my time we will work as a team and family.
6. The shelf life of the CP seems to be unpredictable and short. What according to you is a minimum period a police commissioner must have to get his vision into execution?
Not just me, it was the recommendation of the National Police Commission as well as the directive of the Supreme Court that for field officers the tenure should be two years. That would give the officer stability to implement his plans and ideas.
7. Do you see yourself in a pressure situation because of the circumstances you’ve come in?
By nature and by habit I don’t remain tense. Being a spiritual person, I do my duty with utmost without any tension.