Despite complaints against the Hoysala staff, the patrol squads did a good job in the first year, writes K.V. Subramanya

WITH THE city growing by leaps and bounds in the past few years, the Bangalore police are feeling the need to procure more vehicles for better patrolling.

And on the other hand, the Hoysala patrol vehicles, which were pressed into service on July 26, 1997 to prevent crime and help the aggrieved people, seem to be losing their effectiveness.

Realising that mobile patrol squads were needed to deal with the emerging challenges in maintaining law and order and protecting lives and property, the then Police Commissioner L. Revannasiddaiah conceived the idea of mobile patrol squads, and thus the Hoysala came into existence.

When the Hoysala completed one year, a booklet was brought out by Mr. Revannasiddaiah to list the achievements of the patrol teams. Despite complaints against the Hoysala staff, the patrol squads did a good job in the first year by catching chain snatchers, robbers and even underworld elements from Mumbai.

A day after the Hoysala was introduced, the staff of the Hoysala-17 apprehended a chain snatcher in Malleswaram. On January 28, 1998, the staff of Hoysala-5 caught hold of two persons near Pallavi cinema and seized fake currency notes worth Rs. 10 lakhs. The Hoysala-35 played a major role in catching the Mumbai underworld elements in Kadugondanahalli on July 26, 1997.

But with each passing year, the Hoysala squads seem to be losing their punch. The number of Hoysala jeeps has increased over the years and another set of patrol motorcycles, "Cheetah," have been inducted. Despite an increase in the number of patrol vehicles, chain snatching and robberies on the road are continuing. The instances of Hoysala staff foiling crimes have become rare.

Even in crowded areas where the Hoysala and Cheetah are on the prowl, the chain snatchers have been targeting women during the day. Many of these cases have been reported from such areas where patrolling by these squads is said to be intense.

Senior police officials admit that Hoysala and Cheetah staff have been misusing their powers and extorting money and articles from commercial establishments and hawkers. Public confidence in the patrol squads has been plummeting because of such acts, they say.

A senior official says that when the Hoysala was introduced, criminals avoided operating in the areas patrolled by the squads fearing that they could be caught. The criminals seem to have understood the manner in which the Hoysala and Cheetah squads function and also the weakness of the staff and care a little for them, the official notes while explaining the reasons for the Hoysala losing its effectiveness.

When Mr. Revannasiddaiah was the Commissioner, it was decided to hold a meeting of the top brass of the city police every three months to review the functioning of the Hoysala squads and reward the Hoysala staff who had done good work. According to some senior officials, such meetings are not being held regularly of late.

More In: KARNATAKA | NATIONAL