The Sunday Guardian interacted with a few officers of the Delhi Police who spoke about the challenges of policing in India and shared their personal experiences.
The Delhi Police may have often faced the flak for several reasons, but the police force has produced some of the best investigating officers the country has ever seen. Many cases ranging from terror attacks to organised crime to busting of several notorious gangs to the protection of a plethora of VVIPs residing in Delhi, have been successfully given a closure by the Delhi Police.
The Sunday Guardian interacted with some officers of the Delhi Police who have brought immense pride to the police force and to the country.
SANJEEV KUMAR YADAV
Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, presently posted as the DCP of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell, has been credited for being one of the most able officers of the Delhi Police’s investigating team.
Yadav has one of the highest rates of conviction in terror-related cases—32 of the 44 cases he has investigated have seen judgements being delivered on them. This is perhaps the highest in the country and out of these 32 cases, 22 have seen convictions of the guilty.
Yadav has handled cases related to the 2005 and 2008 blasts in Delhi. He also handled the attack on Jama Masjid in Old Delhi in 2010, as well as the 2012 case where an attack was carried out on Israeli diplomats.
Yadav told The Sunday Guardian, “Terror related investigations are very tough as evidence is widespread. To collect all the evidence and present them in a concrete manner is the real challenge in such cases.”
For him, the case of the multiple blasts that rocked the national capital in 2008 has been a very tough one since it involved a huge network of terrorists who operated on this particular plot and evidence spread across various cities made it challenging for him; yet he and his team was able to file the chargesheet in the stipulated time frame of 90 days. “In this case, our biggest success was completing the investigation on time and we filed 4-5 supplementary chargesheets in this case,” Yadav said.
Yadav is also lauded for successfully breaking the backbone of the Indian Mujahideen when the terror group had increased its notorious activities in India between 2005 and 2008.
Yadav has received several threats to his life, prompting the government to provide him with a Z security cover. Yadav said: “The life of an investigating officer becomes so tiring that on special request, I moved out of the Special Cell in 2009, but I was called back to the cell as the DCP after the blast that happened outside the Delhi High Court in 2011. Ever since then, I have been here.”
Recalling the 2013 IPL spot fixing case in which Rajasthan Royals was involved, Yadav said: “We could not get to win this case, because there is no law for spot fixing. Yet, it remained a very challenging case.”
Neeraj Kumar, a former Delhi Police Commissioner and an IPS officer of the 1976 batch, had an illustrious career as an officer of the Indian Police Service, handling important portfolios right from his day of induction into the service.
Kumar had even served in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) where he handled important cases like “Operation Desert Safari” which involved busting the case of kidnapping of an Abu Dhabi-based businessman in Delhi by Dubai-based gangsters. Kumar is known for his conversation with international underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who was behind the 1993 Mumbai blasts. He had also busted the “Lapka Gang” which used to dupe foreign tourists.
In a conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Neeraj Kumar fondly remembered his days in the Delhi Police and his tenure as the Commissioner of Police in Delhi. “The Nirbhaya case was one of the most challenging phases I faced during my police tenure. We had to crack the case soon and also handle the crowd that was protesting outside on the streets of Delhi. We had to resort to lathi-charge because at some places, the crowd had become violent and had uprooted the police barricade. The Russian President was to be in Delhi during that time and we had to clear the India Gate. Our force had no option but to take that measure,” Kumar said. He was the Police Commissioner of Delhi during the time.
Kumar said that his first conversation with Dawood Ibrahim started on a rather awkward note when he wanted to question Ibrahim for the serial blasts in Mumbai. Kumar said that the last call he had got from Dawood Ibrahim was just weeks before his retirement from the Delhi Police in 2013, where the underworld don said, Kya saheb, aap retire hone ja rahe ho. Ab to peechha chhod do” (What is this, Sir? You are about to retire. Isn’t it time you left me alone?)
Kumar, who retired in 2013 as the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, was the first to give promotions on an ad-hoc basis to several police officers, especially from the specialised cadre including the Dog Squad, Mounted Police force and wireless operators, as their promotion had not been granted for several years. He also initiated schemes like the Jan Sampark Scheme where senior officers would meet people of their area for a better police-to-people connect, among others measures.
Maxwell Pereira had a distinguished career spread over 35 years in Delhi Police service.
Pereira, 73, who started his career as an IPS officer in 1970, was known as a “no-nonsense man”. He received the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Services in 1995.
Pereira was one of the officers who handled the infamous tandoor murder case of 1995 where a young lady was killed by her husband Sushil Sharma who was a youth leader and MLA from Congress, and her body disposed of inside a tandoor in a Delhi restaurant.
Pereira said: “For me, every case is important. The tandoor murder case was a high profile one because high profile people were involved in it. The identity of the accused was revealed within 12 hours, but it was a challenge to get him and the other big challenge was to prosecute him since we knew he was affluent and witnesses could be influenced and evidence tampered with. Despite these challenges, we were able to get him behind bars. I still recall how people in Delhi had stopped eating anything that was made in the tandoor. This shows how it impacted the people,” Pereira said.
Pereira has been praised by many for handling the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in a “brilliant” manner. Pereira said: “During the 1984 riots, I was heading a team in Old Delhi near Chandni Chowk where a mob started approaching the Sishganj Gurudwara. If I had not acted at that moment and waited for orders from my seniors, it would have been too late. Assessing the situation and using my presence of mind, I had ordered opening fire at the mob. This resulted in the mob dispersing and, in turn, hundreds of Sikhs were saved during that time.”
Pereira said: “No political party or politician has ever been able to influence me. If from the very first day you start resisting political pressures, it does not become that difficult for you in the long run, as your image of integrity gets conveyed to the people trying to influence police actions and duties.”
He, however, narrated an incident when he had got a call from the then Deputy Prime Minister of India, asking him to suspend a police officer. He said he had not budged under the pressure and had politely declined the Deputy Prime Minister, saying that it was not his duty to suspend or transfer a police officer.
An exceptional police officer, Harcharan Verma joined the Delhi Police in 1979 as a Sub-Inspector and rose to the rank of the ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police) before his retirement in 2017.
Few of the important cases that Verma recalled during his conversation with The Sunday Guardian included the busting of a series of bank dacoities in Delhi and the nabbing of the prime accused Brijmohan Sharma. In the 1986 narcotics case, he and his team was able to seize about 1029 kg of narcotics from notorious drug peddler Pratap Singh, who is currently serving his jail term in New York.
“One of the biggest catches was the busting of the dacoity gang as it solved several bank dacoities and murder cases in Delhi. We were able to catch Sharma from Agra after our informers told us about his movements and hideouts after a bank robbery he had then executed in Okhla which had also left three dead. The nabbing of Pratap Singh was also lauded by all my senior officers as it was the biggest narcotics seizure in the history of Delhi Police. Another important catch was of Bunty Chor, who had 400 cases against him for house burglary and auto thefts.”
Verma had also headed police stations in Sarojini Nagar, CR Park, and Defence Colony in South Delhi, Connaught Place in Central Delhi and also in sensitive and crime-prone areas like Gokulpuri and Nizamuddin.