Mumbai’s new Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh, who took over charge from Arup Patnaik on Thursday, told journalists that the morale of the police force was low due to the “perception of the August 11 violence.”
He said there were some lacunae in the way the situation was handled on August 11.
“My priority will be to revive people’s confidence in the force since many questions were raised on our capability to maintain communal harmony,” he said.
“If so many questions have been raised on the police, there must certainly have been some lacunae in handling the situation.”
Mr. Singh took charge within hours of the announcement of Mr. Patnaik’s transfer on promotion. Mr. Patnaik has been promoted to the rank of Director General of Police and posted as Managing Director of the Maharashtra State Security Corporation.
Maharashtra Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal told The Hindu that it would be wrong to say that the proposal to transfer Mr. Patnaik was moved by the department. “The government moved on its own. The DG office does not send proposals for promotions on transfer at the rank of the DG [Director General],” he told The Hindu.
While Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil said earlier in the day that Mr. Patnaik’s transfer had nothing to do with the August 11 violence and that he had been promoted for his good work, Mr. Singh indicated otherwise.
“Mumbai Police are facing very trying times. During such a time of crisis, the Maharashtra government has selected me and reposed its faith in me. I am grateful for that,” he said.
Before taking charge as Mumbai Police Commissioner, Mr. Singh was the Additional Director General (Law and Order). A 1980 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, he has worked at various senior positions in the past. They include the positions of Police Commissioner of Nagpur, Pune, and the Additional Director General (Establishments).
Notably, Mr. Singh was Mumbai’s Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) when the August 2003 twin blasts case was cracked successfully. Two blasts had rocked the Gateway of India and Zaveri bazaar area after a trio, which had hired two taxis, left behind the RDX in the two hired taxis.
Mr. Patnaik refused to talk to the media. He walked away immediately after handing over charge. In his tenure of two years, he took up many projects for the welfare of the police personnel. His tenure was also mired in controversy after he was accused of moral policing.
The Social Service Branch headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble raided many bars and pubs running beyond permissible time limits. The city’s nightlife enthusiasts complained of the dying nightlife, while many citizen groups came out in support of the police action. Mr. Patnaik had supported Mr. Dhoble and had said that he would be given support to curb the ills in the city.
The Social Service Branch, which was earlier under the Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), was brought directly under his control by him. He also formed special squads to work on specific cases.
He had recently deployed nearly 15,000 police personnel for the rally of around 50,000 persons held by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.
He came under attack since he had deployed only around 800 police personnel during the August 11 rally of around 15,000 persons. The violence was seen as a clear failure since there was intelligence reports indicating trouble.