My IIT background has given me a different mindset: CP Gupta
Pune : deccan express – Commissioner of Police Amitabh Gupta is a dynamic and upright IPS officer. He has introduced several positive changes in the Pune police. He, along with his colleagues, have assured Puneites through their action that the police are there to help law-abiding citizens. At the same time, they can get tough with those who do not abide by it. He is an IIT, Kanpur graduate and joined the IPS in 1992. His earlier stints as the SP (Gadchiroli) and DCP (Mumbai) were noteworthy. Being an engineer, he is tech-savvy and keeps himself abreast with the latest trends in technology. After he joined the Pune police, he has focused on cybercrime and has used social media to curb crime and connect with common citizens also.
In a tete-e-tete with Chaitraly Deshmukh, CP Gupta speaks on various issues, including his work as the CP, Pune and his past achievements.
Q: Sir, which is the biggest challenge for the police?
Gangsters and the underworld are the biggest challenges that the police face. They may cause anarchy and fear among common citizens. However, the common public is more concerned about street crimes and traffic issues.
Q: Cybercrimes have increased in the city. You were assigned a special task during your tenure in Mantralaya. Sir, you have always stressed on the use of technology in policing. You took initiatives in this regard and helped to improve the department’s efficiency and tackle cybercrimes. How are recovery, punishment and obstacles in this area?
Cybercrime is a very fast-changing area. The IPC dates back to 1876 (which deals with routine crimes). However, the Cyber Act (Information Technology Act, 2000) was introduced in 2000. It has been overhauled completely three times till date. This indicates its ever-changing character. We have to keep pace with the technology and offences committed by using this technology. It is often seen that cyber criminals tend to surpass law-enforcement agencies across the world. They study loopholes in the system. They undergo training in the latest technology and also possess better devices, equipment. Till recently, the police department did not look at cybercrime as a very serious issue. However, let me put it very clearly that we are bothered about a chain-snatching incident which may cost its victim Rs 50,000 or Rs 1 lakh. However, in cybercrime, a citizen can be swindled of crores of rupees in a fraction of second without any hint. This has to be brought in a proper perspective. Hence, we have overhauled the entire cyber department. We have set up five units under it. We have trained police personnel to tackle cybercrime. Around 20,000 complaints were filed regarding cybercrimes in the city. We look into all complaints in this area. We try to do justice to them all.
Q: Handling Puneites is a difficult task. You have been heading the Pune police for over a year now. What has been your experience with citizens of Pune?
Puneites are very straightforward, simple, speak from their heart and do not like beating about the bush.
Q: Sir, the police are relying heavily on social media these days. They are taking help through social media in investigating, checking crime. Do you think social media plays a vital role in policing?
Social media plays a vital role in policing. Over 10 percent of citizens do not read newspapers or watch news channels. They are always on social media or consume news online. You have to consider this section of citizens also. They love to be on social media. They express their views on social media. So, Twitter and Instagram cannot be ignored. Besides issuing press notes, we have used social media to educate people, instruct them and sometimes give tongue-in-cheek messages. We also have participative policing. We seek suggestions from citizens on social media. Accordingly, we have modified our schemes. Social media is there to stay. You have to accept it and excel in it.
Q: Sir, you have worked with all segments of society in Maharashtra as a part of your job. You were posted in Parbhani, Nanded, Gadchiroli and Mumbai. Which was the challenging posting?
There were many challenges at all those places. However, two of my postings, I consider most different and challenging. One was as the SP, Gadchiroli. I was the SP there at the young age of 26. There are 50 police stations in Gadchiroli district. Heavy force presence is there. You have to deal with them. You have to see that tribals in the area are taken care of. Formally, tackling naxalism was my first major challenge. The second most challenging posting was as the DCP in Bandra. Because the crème of society stays in Bandra. Handling them is also a different task. Serious crimes such as murder elsewhere in Maharashtra may not make headlines. However, even a minor crime in Bandra makes a national headline. So, you have to be very careful about the image and working of the police. They have to be up to the mark. You are attending to people and always on your toes. This is my third challenging posting as a unit incharge of a big city like Pune.
Q: Sir, bringing about change quickly in the police force is much needed. What is your response to change?
I have already given you an example of changing our approach towards cybercrime. One has to change with changing times. The police have to change their style of working. The police were seen as very ruthless some decades ago. Now, they have to be sophisticated and citizen-friendly. At the same time, we have to be very tough with criminals. We have to strike a balance. This balance keeps on changing. Types of crime keep on changing. During 1990s, the police tackled underworld crime. Now, it is cybercrime. In the future, something else will crop up. Economic offences are on the rise. Street crimes will always be there, though CCTVs have curbed them to a certain extent. Traffic issues will never be solved completely. Because it is a combined problem of all sections of society. So, you have to keep your style changing as certain resources are limited. You have limited forces. You cannot have unlimited forces in a developing country like India. The force that you have is 90 percent engaged in routine duties. So, you have to manage with the rest as per demand.
Q: Some postings in the police department are seen as punishment postings. One of the most neglected areas in the police department is Legal Metrology. You took up the challenge and worked efficiently there also. We would like to know what initiatives, measure you took such as regarding the MRP law.
I spent over two-and-half years of my career in Legal Metrology. It was a very interesting and unique experience. Normally, we only deal with the IPC and the CrPC. But it was all related to consumers and citizens at large there. It is basically an engineering job involving measurements, instrumentation, etc. We introduced two-three major reforms. First of all, we made everything online. It took lots of effort and training. Legal Metrology is completely online today. It is a big achievement. Secondly, we strictly implemented even small laws which were not used for the benefit of citizens. MRP was one of them. We put in place many controls at airports, stadiums, malls and cinema halls. We made them comply with the MRP law. That was a huge victory for the people. Fines, remunerations were not so strong. However, people’s support was so strong that everybody had to comply with it.
Q: Document processing regarding various certificates, passports, etc was taking time. Now, with your initiative of ‘Zero Pendency’, citizens are getting passport within a week. With manpower crunch and rising crimes, how are you able to achieve this?
There was an unfortunate incident some months ago at our main gate. A man tried to immolate himself because he did not get the character certificate. It had shaken us. In that case also, the time limit was not exceeded. It was 30 days for character verification. For a passport, it is 21 days. We took it as a challenge. Whether it is 21 or 30, citizens are not happy with the time limit mandated by the government. We wanted to reduce it. We increased manpower. We provided additional machinery. Out staff worked in two shifts. Our first objective was to bring the pendency to zero. Now, once the backlog is over, you can have a system where you can maintain the speed. We are clearing everything for character verification in 3-4 days and for passport the physical verification is done in not more than 7 days.
Q: When it comes to syndicate gangs and the police, there is a big tussle. There is political influence. You have effectively acted against over 60 criminal gangs under the MCOCA. Is this curbing crime?
Yes, it has definitely made a huge impact. If you ask any Puneite, they feel very safe and secure. The number of small-time goons has come down drastically. We had a campaign of serving ultimatums to criminals. If a person does something wrong, we take it to the logical conclusion. By using MCOCA or MPDA, we have succeeded to a large extent. Citizens are happy about it.
Q: Sir, as you said you ran a campaign by serving ultimatums to goons. Was it your attempt to rehabilitate such notorious criminals?
No, our personal experience is that once someone is involved too much in crime, they cannot be reformed. My message was clear: If you commit a crime, we will catch you. We will start but we will finish too. It is as simple as that.
Q: Sir, what is real Amitabh Gupta’s style of functioning?
I am a simple person. I want to be very simple also. I want to maintain my soft demeanour. Anyone who comes to meet me should feel comfortable. There should be smiles on both sides. But that is for public, which forms 99.99 percent of my work. There are 0.01 percent criminals. We know how to deal with them.
Q: Training plays an important role in the police department. You have headed the training department and special units. You are credited with many changes in training, revamping its structure and changing the teaching style. For example, Covid-19, nobody had any idea about how to deal with the situation arising out of it.
Training also has a recruitment aspect. So, for the first time, I started online recruitment of constables. I used my technical background to set up a system. Two recruitment cycles were successfully completed with this system. Now, it is established. We revised the training curriculum. We revamped all PTCs and the MPA. We also put up a proposal for the independence of the police academy. The government ultimately approved it. Now, we have a head of the MPA. It is independent and can do its own work. We introduced these reforms. We are trying to create good content. We were happy about what we achieved.
Q: The Maharashtra Police or the Mumbai police are often compared with the international police standards. Do you think such comparison is needed?
Yes, definitely. You see very few cases are investigated in foreign countries. Hardly, four percent cases are taken up. Here, if it is a cognisable offence, we catch hold of culprits. Even during the first wave of the pandemic, the police travelled to far-off places in the country to nab culprits. I can tell that the Indian police are much better than other police forces in the world. They may have fancy budgets. However, no other police force can match the Indian police in terms of gut feeling and sheer hard work.
Q: Sir, you have worked in your career of three decades with various sections of society. The police have to do multi-tasking. Besides law and order, crime and VIP bandobast, they have to take care of many other social issues involving women, children and issues during the pandemic. Should their work be segregated?
There have been attempts to segregate law & order and crime. They were not very successful. Traffic, cybercrime, economic offences have been segregated. However, law & order and crime are still mixed up at the police station-level. Specialised units such as ATS and Force One comprising commandos deal with terror attacks, investigation and prevention. Then you have the SRPF. Some specialised forces have been formed. So, you rightly said, if you want to have expertise, segregation and training will be required. Efforts are on in that direction. The police are doing their best with the given manpower.
Q: Sir, I would like to ask a few personal questions. You have been an IITian. You have a BTech degree. What prompted you to join the police department? Are you happy with your current profession?
Yes, I am happy. When I joined the police service. It was a trend. There were 56 engineers in my batch of 1992. Of those, 45 were IITians. The lure of power has attracted them to these positions. The intake in the civil services is 100-150. However, there are over 5,000 seats in the IITs across the country. It is a different competition here. I had passed out from the IIT. I had a scholarship. I was in two minds whether to pursue my further studies in the USA or not. That time, there were not many good opportunities in the private sector. Openings in the government were thought to be the best. They are still the best. However, there were no good openings in the private sector. Staying back in India, the civil services was one of the best options. I took it up.
Q: Sir, you are a family man. Your two children studied in the IITs. People that you work with or meet often are your extended family. However, when you are at home, how do you play your role as a father? Do you take studies of your children?
Women usually are not happy with their husbands when it comes to looking after their children. However, my wife is happy with my role as a father. My elder son did his BTech from IIT, Bombay. At present, he is in IIM, Kolkata. My younger daughter is a graduate from IIT, Kharagpur. She has been selected for IIM, Kolkata and London Business School also. God has been very kind to us. Yes, good kids and studies do not happen automatically. When my children were in Stds XI, XII, I took side postings. I could devote more time to my children and other family members. I claim to be a family man. I try to make my parents, kids and wife happy. Our children were with us during the pandemic. Otherwise, we did not see them since 2016. Both were studying at the IITs. But God has been kind.
Q: Is it a good husband or a good parent’s role that is important for you?
My wife claims that I am good parent. Beyond that I do not want to comment. My parents, children and wife have been staying together for the past 20 years.
Q: Young people are drawn towards crime. Why cannot be the khaki uniform more attractive for them?
Do not get lured by shortcuts. There may be momentary gains in shortcuts. However, your entire life cannot be a shortcut. Crime does not help in the long term.
Q: You are an IITian. How has your degree helped you in your job?
I do not know how my BTech degree has helped. Yes, the IIT education gives you a different mindset. Rational thinking, tongue-in-cheek approach. I always remember my middle class humble background. I am on this side of the table. But my relatives, friends are on that side of the table. I always think of them. More than education, learning from life experiences is more important.
Q: You read a lot. You are an orator. Sir, we would like to know about your hobbies.
I do not get much time to read books. But I do sport activities. Previously, I used to take part in team sport. But now it becomes difficult to manage players. For example, if you play tennis, then you have to have three more men. Then there is a rotation on the tennis court. Then I shifted to individual games such as running, gym, trekking, swimming and yoga. You can do these activities on your own. Sometimes, we have team sport on Sunday with our own staff.
Q: You have been handling the recruitment scams. It was going on for many years. Many candidates were conned. Government officials were taking money in the name of recruitment. There must have been political pressure. The Defence was also involved in probing their recruitment scam. How did you handle all this?
People have more faith in the Pune police. Students, organisations and NGOs gave us clues. Our Cyber police, EOW and Crime Branch put in a lots of efforts. Both DCPs Bhagyashree Navtake and Srinivas Ghadge put their heart and soul into the investigation. All leads were taken to a logical conclusion. It is a never-ending story. As you go deep, it goes on expanding. We will go as far as possible with all scandals that we have unearthed.
Q: Sir, what plays a vital role? Is it rehabilitation or penalising the accused?
It depends on which type of case it is. If there are citizens, teenagers, youngsters, we try to counsel them. We do not want to damage their track record. Everyone goes through such phases in life. We never humiliate people during raids on hotels, where things like rave parties go on. We try and not arrest such people. This causes a scar on their mind. Their future is spoiled. They have to struggle with it throughout their lives. However, we are very clear about criminals. We put them behind bars.
Q: You have worked in various capacities in the police in various places. Your CV runs into several pages. We will have a separate interview on that part. Which another task would you like to undertake after the CP of Pune?
It is a difficult question. It is not in my hands. It is in the government’s hands. What they ask me to do, I would do it. Some unfinished agenda is there, like I was a part of the ATS. A train blast took place in 2006. But it is up to the government to see the suitability or the person, for which job he fits better.
Q: What effective measures do you take for your own manpower?
Keeping them happy is the first thing. Normally, the police hierarchy is such that you make their life miserable, then only they work. This is the standard practice that our sub-culture has. I have thought to put this approach upside down. Actually, my approach is to think out-of-box. I never displease my subordinates. I give them full freedom. I keep them happy. They do not want to make me unhappy. So, they deliver. They put their heart and soul into every investigation, every detail, every criminal as per my instructions.
Q: Would you like to give a message to our readers?
It has been a roller-coaster journey for the past 15 months in Pune. We have got lots of love and affection from citizens, leadership, my own people, my subordinates. Please continue to shower your love.
Web Title : Dr BK Upadhyaya promoted to the post held by Param Bir Singh