Administration and policing go hand-in-hand when it comes to the smooth and systematic running of a country. The adaptability and accountability of the entire policing system largely depend on how the officials perceive the community towards which they have their responsibility. Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar speaks about his journey during the pandemic and how a team effort ensured the maintenance of law and order in the state as a whole. Excerpts:
Monitoring the state:
Kumar once quoted that his main focus as DGP would be to maintain the law and order in the state and efficient handling of the disaster in the hilly areas. Touching upon his specific plans to tackle these two challenges, Kumar shares that law and order are not much of a challenge in hilly areas as compared to plain areas whereas disaster is a bigger concern in the former. There is a need to create a capacity building in order to mitigate disaster. It is one of the regular problems in the hills, especially during the rainy season and snowfalls. Police station and outpost people are being trained in mitigating disaster so that lives can be saved.
Role of communication:
Communication is very important when it comes to policing. Being extremely active on social media and with an inherent love to interact with people, the cop mentions that community interaction is pivotal as police are for the community and it is here that regular interactions between both facilitate a better understanding of situations.
The police have taken enormous risks during the lockdown to ensure strict observance of guidelines, including physical distancing, which in India is among the most difficult rules to put in place. When asked about how Uttarakhand police devoted their concern to maintaining such norms, Kumar says they have tried to implement all protocols strictly but have also tried to remain humane in their approach. They supported senior citizens by taking their ration to their doorsteps along with several other measures. Even when the lockdown was lifted, they ensured that people wore masks and maintained proper physical distancing.
“The men and women in khaki are all set to play a very active role in the distribution of vaccines across the state. Though we are not directly in charge of distributing vaccines throughout the state as this will be shouldered by the Health department, we will be primarily ensuring the security aspect. Secondly, around 41 vaccination centres have been made where we will monitor the law and order situation so that the entire process is effective and smooth.”
Directing the police force towards the goal of proactive policing, Kumar considers it to be the need of the hour as following the criminal is important rather than the crime.
Digitisation in police force:
Rapid digitisation has taken centre stage in every sphere of life — from administration to policing — hence making it all the more important to be equipped faster digitally. “We have to develop ourselves accordingly. The force needs to become smarter because everything is online these days, even crime. I believe that keeping things online means a lot more transparency and hence it’s easier. Online data is more easily accessible. Digitisation is undoubtedly the need of the hour and we are taking giant leaps towards it.”
Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of police robots in several cities such as Tunis in Tunisia, Guangzhou in China and Chennai in India. On the other hand, a spike in cybercrime is alarming. A middle path that will keep citizens safe from cyber threats and also help them reap the advantages of modern technology is very necessary. Sharing his thoughts on this, he says it is quite strange that from jobs, crime to monetisation, everything has gone online nowadays.
He believes that the best strategy or solution is not to restrict the usage of online modes rather stay alert and not fall into greedy traps and keep updated with the security features so that people don’t become victim to cybercrime.
Women in police:
The Army has already adopted women in a combat role though police forces across India are still taking tiny steps towards this. Inducting more women in different regiments, including combat, is now an important concern that needs to be addressed. Kumar mentions that slowly women are getting adjusted in the police force. So, the transformation will take time but women are capable enough to contribute to such segments.
One of the few things that have changed my life for good after donning this uniform has been the fact that it has made me a happier person.
From a non-hardworking person to one of the most hard-working persons and counted as a workaholic in the department, I’m loving my job thoroughly, he says.
Stories of people’s lives with whom he interacts, the little things he notices in his daily life and the books he reads have continuously fueled his creative mind.
My mother has empowered me in many ways, but one thing I would definitely mention is that she has been extremely helpful towards people. This is her one quality that I have imbibed which thoroughly strengthens me to serve the people and work towards the community.
Every individual requires their leisure time and Kumar says sports has always been a breath of fresh air. He also enjoys reading literature and listening to music.
With a striking balance between professional and his personal life, the DGP exemplifies how life offers happiness mixed with duties and responsibilities. Knowing them and understanding their contribution inspires us always.