‘There has to be regular dialogue between people and police’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Jun 2018 08:22:40


By Dheeraj Fartode,

WHEN he left a cozy job with a package of Rs 15 lakh per annum in a reputed multi-national company a day after getting double-promotion, Shailesh Balkawade was just following the goal his father had set for him -- to serve the society. This was in 2008 when Balkawade, and engineering graduate, listened to his inner voice.

A year later, he cracked UPSC in the very first attempt and got selected for Indian Revenue Services (IRS). During training, he made another attempt and was selected for Indian Police Service (IPS). And thus began Balkawade’s journey as an administrator in service of the society.

Balkawade took charge as Superintendent of Police (SP), Nagpur Rural, in January 2017, his first independent posting. He says, he is bound by the powers vested in him by the Constitution which enables him to provide solace to people in distress. He comes across as a tough cop but talk at length with him and one realises the softness for sufferings of people and his endeavour to alleviate them.

In an interview to ‘The Hitavada’, SP Shailesh Balkawade spoke on various issues including patterns of policing, investigation of complex and sensitive cases and challenges of policing a vast area like Nagpur district.

Q: What are the challenges of policing in Nagpur district?
A: When I saw complainants coming to police station from as far as 90 kms it made me realise that basic fabric of policing needs to be suited to needs of the common man. There are limitations in rural areas as jurisdiction of police station is quite vast. But we made it a point to increase dialogue and reach. It is our core belief in Maharashtra Police that there has to be regular dialogue between people and police. This policy has benefited us so far.

Q: What steps have you taken to counter this problem?
A: We have formed 600 Gram Suraksha Dal (GSD) in villages with 30 per cent membership to women. They have been assigned power to bust illegal activities in their village or inform police. It is mandatory for police to conduct a raid within 24 hours after receiving information from GSD.
Directives have also been issued to police station in-charges to register each and every complaint. Sub-Divisional Police Officers (SDPOs) have been asked to take stock of disposal of complaints every week. Around 90 policemen were punished in a year for delay in taking action on the complaints.

Q: What are challenges in semi-urban areas of the district? How are you tackling it?
A: District police have adopted urban policing practices in semi-urban areas like Butibori, Kanhan and Khaparkheda. After noticing rise in crime, preventive action was intensified in these police stations area. In 2016, eight persons had been externed from the district. The number rose to 75 in 2017 and 22 in first five months of year 2018. Two gangs were booked under MCOCA. We have also introduced Beat Marshal patrolling in semi-urban areas. Patrolling was mapped after studying crime hot spots in the areas.

Q: The district has seen some serious offences of firing. What action have you taken to put a check?
A: Use of fire-arms was rampant in areas of Khaparkheda and Kanhan, which are dominated by coal mines. We have launched special operations to combat this. Every case of firing was minutely investigated and attempts were made to nab arms smugglers, selling arms from Madhya Pradesh and other States. We have seized 24 fire arms in 2017 as against just one in year 2016. Many arm smugglers were held from other States, too.

Q: What initiatives have you taken to control farmers suicide cases?
A: Farmers suicide is a major issues in rural areas. During investigation of these cases, we learnt that illegal money-lenders were harassing farmers by charging hefty interest. Action was initiated against these lenders and many gangs were busted. One gang was arrested from Bhivapur last month. All the accused were from Tamil Nadu and they had set up an illegal money-lending business. Now, we have formed Samta Cell to receive complaints of farmers. Similarly, rural police have also launched action against illegal herbicide tolerant (HT) BT seeds.

Q: Which case was the biggest challenge in your tenure so far?
A: I think detection of robbery at Amit Jewellers in Kanhan was the biggest challenge. The robbers had decamped with valuables worth Rs 21.42 lakh after firing eight rounds inside the shop. There was resentment among public and jewelers had shut down the market in the district. Seniors were asking me to transfer the case to CID. We took the case as a challenge and solved it within seven days. My men worked for 16-18 hours for this detection. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also appreciated our team for the work.

Q: What motivates you at work?
A: My family, ‘sanskars’ from my parents are real motivation for me. Society helped my father for education during his schooling. He always used to tell me, “We need to give back and serve the society”. Hence, I am trying to follow the goal set by my father.

Q: You are an avid reader. What kind of books do you like?
A: Yes, I like reading. Usually, I read autobiographies of big personalities. ‘Mahanayak’, a novel on the life of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, written by author Vishvas Patil, is my favourite book.