Interview – Commissioner of Police, Gurgaon: Sandeep Khirwar
Sandeep Khirwar, Commissioner of Police, Gurgaon is not a new name to the city. Ever since he picked up charge in August 2016, he has been actively involved in utmost upkeep of law and order in the city. SUBURB catches up with him on his new initiatives to sync in with the changing dynamics of Gurgaon.
Born and brought up in New Delhi, a trained electrical engineer and after completing his LLB while in the police service, he is currently pursuing LLM.Excerpts from an interview:
Q: You have taken over last year as the Commissioner of Police, so, what do you think are the three challenges plaguing the city?
Ans: The first and foremost challenge is traffic. The city has witnessed a rapid growth, the infrastructure hasn’t kept pace, and the population has totally exploded. There is a great influx of the migrant population and because of the economic capacity of the city; the buying power has gone up tremendously. As a result, the vehicles on the road have gone up considerably that proves to be a big challenge. But, yes, we have a very cohesive team of officers and there is a vision in place now. The civil administration and the GMD have been set up with the core focus areas on traffic improvement and traffic mobility.
The second challenge is that of women safety. It’s also an outcome of infrastructure inadequacy as there is insufficient lighting is certain areas like chawls and slums. The slum population and children of working couples of lower strata of the society where both husband and wife are working are most vulnerable. Also, street lighting is an issue. So, there are certain vulnerable areas which we are trying to address by way of policing. We are also working with the MCG to have proper civic conditions in place and we have a large police presence there.
We do not have significant law and order issues in Gurgaon, but, yes we are impacted by crime from Delhi and UP area. Also, because of the large labour force and work force that we have, there are labour issues that keep cropping up. We have to work with the labour department – the employer and employee organisations to control these which is again a major challenge.
Q For the traffic situation in Gurgaon, you mentioned that there is a vision in place. Can you elaborate on that?
Ans: As far as the role of police is concerned in this area, we are working on awareness with media organisations, schools, colleges, NGOs and civic organisations. Then for regulation we work with MCG so that traffic lights are well managed, functional and installed at important junctions.
Finally for enforcement the police force is issuing 2500-3000 challans on a daily basis and huge values are collected.
From the infrastructure point of view – GMDA – traffic modifications like introducing one way traffic at some places help. We carry out experiments and share the plan before carrying out the experiments on social media so that we can get a feedback from the people also who are the end users.
If roads have to be improved, we take it up with MCG, HUDA, GMDA and NHAI. If some culvert has to be properly managed then whichever agency has constructed that, we contact them.
Q. Have you approached the Corporates for their volunteers to help the police in managing traffic?
Ans. Gurgaon has an extremely aware population from various countries. So, their expectation levels are high. But, many of them do understand the gap between expectation and reality that exists here.
We do have a set of Road Safety Officers but, somehow the numbers dwindled after a certain time. However, the core group has remained. They are very active and influential group of RSOs and better planners than all of us. They do the modeling on computers; they stand on the ground and implement it. They are gems whom we honoured on 26 January also as they are really precious to us.
Q. What are your plans for women safety in Gurgaon?
Ans. We have a reasonable number of women police officers and want to increase these numbers and the process is underway. Wehad an infusion of 100 women police officers recently, another 40-50 are scheduled to arrive.Government of Haryana has set up a Mahila Police Station in every district. We have a Women’s Helpline 1091 as well.
We have a unique divide of the urban-rural population but we are there. I really want to share this message that if you have a problem, voice it and share it with us. There is a problem with women’s issues that it is kept under wraps. People try not to voice it and it is only when some safety valve gives away, then it blows up and hits the ceiling.
Call the Women’s helpline, approach the Mahila police station and we are there for you.
Q. Gurgaon has a significant portion of senior citizens, are there any initiatives for this segment of the population?
Ans. This is the section that lives in gated societies. For them security is not as big an issue as the other issues they face like isolation, not having a social life, which we really can’t respond to. As far as security issues are concerned, we have a special helpline dedicated for sorting out their issues. Like family issues like property issues, children disowning their parents, daughter-in-law mother-in-law disputes and such. So, within the family disputes is an area where there are laws in place. For other issues like robbery and burglary, there is a cell for that but so far we haven’t faced any significant problems in the recent past.
Q. Coming to the third challenge now, issues faced by organized labour. How are you geared up for that?
Ans. We have to strike a balance between the employer interest and the employee interest. We work with the labour department and try to ensure that the matter does not spill over into a law and order issue. We try to facilitate a platform where the contesting parties come on the same table to resolve the dispute amicably. We try and apply that external pressure to find a solution.
Q. Any message for our readers from you?
Ans. Gurugram is a place buzzing with energy. The citizens have very high level of energy and commitment and the same is true for the Gurugram police force. If we work with each other, we will overcome all our challenges.
Q. Last year there was a big furore over the water logging and traffic issues during monsoon and it was labeled as a ‘black day’. For the coming monsoon, is there a task force that you have kept ready to ensure that the same situation does not arise this year?
Ans. Now, there are two or three things we need to do. First of all, if there is water logging, it needs to be cleared. That is a civic administration issue. Right now, the Gurugram admin is really geared up. We are on Whatsapp groups and we have had capacities installed like powerful pumps to clear out the water. We also have a platform for issue redressal. Depending upon the rains, we meet daily or once in two days.
Apart from that we have taken up 23 points where we provide round the clock police deployment headed by an NGO so that regulation is controlled.
God willing, if we stay alert and we all work together; we should not have a repeat of last year. But, minor issues may crop up due to the volumes of traffic and because civic administration is not perfect.
Q. In such times when the pressures are immense and gratification may not be as much, how do you motivate your team?
Ans. We are soldiers and we have to soldier on. We have to act in face of adversity and we will. That apart, we also have to tackle the image issue and are trying that. We have soft skills trainings for our force so that the first point of contact becomes pleasant for the citizens. We are also active on the social media and are trying to improve the complaint redressal mechanism. Gap is there and will remain but we have to bridge it to the extent possible. Some of it we have to do by image management and some of it by way of improvement.
This interview was first published in the print version of SUBURB August 2017 issue.