Just appointed Mumbai Police Commissioner Dr Satyapal Singh was eager to demonstrate his hands-on approach to policing by personally implementing his first publicly-visible change after taking charge. Singh has directed all senior police officers, from the rank of ACP onwards, to be present at police stations in the city every Saturday to personally redress people’s grievances.
He walked the talk himself by dispensing with complaints at the Bandra Police Station on Saturday. Chief among people’s concerns were the Azad Maidan riot that had culminated in the transfer of Singh’s predecessor, Arup Patnaik.
Singh said, “Our focus has shifted from gang warfare to terrorism. I would not say that the morale of my officers is low. They are members of my family and they know I am with them.” When questioned whether the Citizens’ Durbar would be consistent, Singh said he would do his best to make sure it was maintained.
Iqbal Qureshi, a Bandra resident told Singh, “Thankfully, to date, we have never seen any riots in this suburb. But there are many Bangladeshi migrants residing at Shastri Nagar. The police ought to take action against them.”
Singh replied, “Why don’t you approach the police and register a complaint?” Qureshi said he was afraid the Bangladeshis would retaliate against him. He added, “They don’t have election cards, but they have been staying in that area for many years. They pay about Rs 200 per person per month, and 10 of them occupy a single room.” Singh directed Qureshi to complain against them, and assured him action would be taken.
The idea of public durbars was first initiated in the mid ’90s by then-police Commissioner RD Tyagi. The practice died, however, after senior inspectors of local police stations began calling their own cronies to the durbars to sing praises of the police station’s good work.
As people trickled away, Singh was gradually inundated by the media, and by the time they cleared out, it was time for him to leave. From Bandra, Singh headed to Bhaidas auditorium in Juhu, where he met the organisers of the city’s Ganpati pandals, to plan the upcoming festival. He left Mumbaiites with a message — “Do not be afraid. Keep your eyes and ears open — just like Lord Ganesha.”