'Sawan(t) Ko Aane Do'

Like General December of Czar Alexander II, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) PRADIP SAWANT is often dubbed as the 'blue-eyed' boy of successive Police commissioners. Not long ago, when former commissioner M.N. Singh was bombarded with a tricky question over the Mohd. Afroze fiasco, the former frantically searched for his most trusted troubleshooter. "Sawan(t) Ko Aaane Do" was his curt reply. DEBASHISH PANIGRAHI meets the Mumbai police Crime Branch's master strategist and longest serving DCP (Crime)

You have often been described as a blue-eyed boy of successive police commissioners. What have you to say about it?
There are two answers for this questions. Firstly, the demands of my post makes it imperative to go in tandem with the police commissioner's operational policies. I have to interact with and keep informed my senior on a regular basis. Secondly, as a disciplined soldier, I always execute the commisioner's directions in letter and spirit, sincerely and with the highest honesty. If I am described as a 'blue-eyed' boy of the commissioner while discharging my responsibilities, then I think it is more a compliment.

You have been in the Crime Branch for quite some time now. What is your success mantra?
There is no short-cut way to success. You cannot interpret success as script of a Bollywood pot-boiler where the hero does it all alone and finally emerges victorious. In the force, success means a lot of hardwork, support of seniors and cooperation from the subordinates. The combination of the three is the key to success in each and every field. And most importantly, an uncompromising zeal for public service comes as the driving force to achieve the desired objective. It may sound too bookish to you, but its is the only 'mantra'.

You have been the recipient of the Deepak Jog Memorial Award and also the Best Detection Officer award, for two years in a row. What is the key to good detection?
Crime detection is more like a basic instinct which, I believe, every policeman has in him. This instinct, coupled with a basic commitment towards the society makes the task easy.

During your long innings at the Crime Branch, you must have witnessed many ups and downs. What's been your overall experience?
Ups and downs, success and failures, are like the two sides of a coin, a part of life. Why police alone, the funda is applicable to every department and organisation. In a city like Mumbai, which is the nerve centre of the country's economy, criminal activities cannot be completely decimated. Even when we call a film personality to record his statement at the Crime Branch, that becomes a page one story for newspapers. And this is followed by a media trial of the police. It is a tight rope walk.

Of late, the image of the police seems to have hit rock-bottom following a series of controversies. Are you planning to bolster the sagging image?
Tell me, which department is not immune to controversies?

What would you attribute as the biggest setback to the Crime Branch during your stay?
That way, the police had received a lot of brickbats while handling the Mohammad Afroze case, but for no fault of its own. Actually, the incident had been hyped to an unprecedented height.

...And achievement?
On all counts, the arrest of a couple of Pakistani nationals, involved in the IC-814 Indian Airlines flight (Kandahar episode) hijacked in 2000, was a major achievement for the Mumbai police. With the arrest, a large cache of arms and ammunitions, that included anti-tank missiles and grenades, had been seized and the entire hijacking plot had been unearthed. Also the ISI gameplan had come to the light.

The achievements notwithstanding, there has not been any change in the common man's perception about the image of police, oppressing and greedy. What is your own analysis?
Yes, we are aware of this problem. In fact, a lot of schemes are currently underway to bridge the gap between police and public, in order to reinforce confidence in the minds of the people. The latest in this endeavour is the revival of 'Beat System' by the present commissioner, Mr. Ranjit Sharma.

What according to you is the most pressing need of the force at present.
We are not lacking in manpower. What we really need is a lot of training in order to convert the existing manpower into a striking force, especially in view of the present terrorist threat perception. Also a lot of funds are required to acquire new weapons and gadgets to intensify our surveillance. A lot of things are presently underway in this direction as part of the current modernisation programme.

Some people in the police force and also the media say that if not an officer, you were the right material for a Marathi film hero. Do you subscribe to that belief?
What do I have to say (laughs). Frankly speaking, films, or acting per se, is not my cup of tea. This does not mean that I am against films or acting. In my long career at the Crime Branch, I have interacted with a lot of film personalities from close proximity. And from the experience I have gathered, I can tell you that the field is equally creative and it requires a lot of hardwork, dedication and also patience to become a successful actor.

Have you received any offer?
Not so far.

...But if given, will you accept it?
Unfortunately, no one has yet approached me so far (laughs). But honestly speaking as professionals (government servants) we are not supposed to take up any other assignments.

Finally, if not a policeman, what career option would you have chosen?
Police was in my blood since my father was also a policeman. But if not a policeman, I'd have opted for a career in medicine. I have a high regard for the doctors who are doing a wonderful job for humanity. Remember, they are the protectors of our precious life.