Seven years since the ghastly terror attacks on Mumbai on 26 November 2008 which killed 164 innocent people and injured over 300, the Maharashtra Police is now in a better state of preparedness. In an exclusive interview to The Sunday Guardian, Maharashtra Director General of Police Praveen Dixit has said that the force now has better communication and combating techniques, training and equipment. In an email interview, the top cop expressed his views on myriad issues including transfer of the Sheena Bora murder case and the Chhota Rajan probe to CBI, tackling Naxalism and terrorism. Soon after taking over as DGP, Dixit undertook measures to digitise the police force. Recently, many police stations in the state were directly connected with people on WhatsApp, enabling people to directly register complaints with the police stations concerned.
“In coastal security, Central forces as well as state forces are much better prepared in terms of communication combating techniques, training equipment and morale,” Dixit said.
Under Phase II of the Coastal Security Scheme, Maharashtra will soon receive 14 more interception boats from the Centre. The tendering process for the same is complete. The state currently has 69 boats. Of them, 75% are in an operational condition. These boats are used by various police stations to carry out surveillance activities in up to five nautical miles from the coast. Till now, 4,000 police personnel have been trained in the state to operate the interception boats for coastal surveillance. After the 2008 terror attacks, the Maharashtra Police has the responsibility of coastal surveillance of up to 12 nautical miles from the shoreline. Beyond that the Coast Guard and Indian Navy are entrusted with sea surveillance. Monthly review meetings take place among different state and Central agencies to take stock of the security scenario. The state government has issued biometric cards to nearly 80% fishermen. The colour coding of fishing vessels and trawlers is also complete, Dixit said.
SHEENA, CHHOTA RAJAN CASES
About the transfer of the high-profile Sheena Bora murder case and Chhota Rajan arrest case to the CBI, he denied that these transfers have dented the image of the Mumbai Police or affected the morale of the police force. “There are no negative feelings within the force. Everyone is aware about the international ramifications and complications in such cases,” he said. Dixit refuted reports that the State Home department had directed the Maharashtra DGP to conduct any inquiry into the lapses, if any, by the Maharashtra Police in handling the Sheena Bora case. Dixit’s predecessor Sanjeev Dayal had already ordered an inquiry in the matter. He had also submitted a one-page report to the State Home Department. “No such (fresh) request has come, but we would clarify all details. Inquiry is done completely,” he said. He also said that the CBI had not sought any help from the Maharashtra Police in investigating the Sheena Bora case.
‘SOME YOUTH HAVE JOINED ISIS’
Talking about the threat of terrorism in Maharashtra, he said the police are working to engage community leaders to teach religious tenets. The concept of “police mitra”, too, is helping the police deal with radical elements in sensitive places like Malegaon city, Nanded, he said.
“A few Muslim youth have joined ISIS, but the number is negligible. It is projection of ideology in a wrong way to dominate the world through sword. Efforts are on to explain religious tenets through sober elements of the same religion,” Dixit said. “Police mitra” or friends of police, who are local community members engaged in patrolling the area and providing local information, are also proving to be very useful. The concept has been conceived and implemented in Maharashtra. It is a project dear to the DGP’s heart. “Police mitras are helping police to patrol areas that were so far prohibited, particularly in Malegaon City, Nanded and other sensitive places. Recently on 22 November, all these Police mitras took out prabhat feri in all police stations with great enthusiasm and appealed to everyone to join in the campaign of “Police mitra”.