Former Director General of Police (DGP) of Bihar Abhayanand has advised police officers to win the faith of people to deter politicians from making an attempt to influence their work.
Abhayanand, who has always been a strong votary of police-people communication, contends politicians will be wary of asking police officers to concede their undue demands if they have the backing of people’s trust. Since politicians derive their strength from the people’s support, they will not like to lose it by dictating police personnel in whimsical ways as it will ultimately erode people’s faith in them, he asserted.
Abhyanand has recently written a book, Unbounded: My Experiments with Law, Physics, Policing and Super 30, a memoir that gives readers a sense of how he evolved through his illustrious 37-years-long career as an IPS officer, and also his experiences as a teacher of Physics.
Contract policing: The Special Auxiliary Police
The former DGP had set a new benchmark by not using his licensed service revolver even once during his entire service. “I led several encounters, some lasting for hours but I never used the weapon. My role as a senior police officer was to lead and give instructions to my men who were already laced with rifles and other weapons,” he said.
When the NDA government under the chief ministership of Nitish Kumar was formed in 2005, the new government’s major focus was to improve law and order situation as people across the country had started assuming that ‘jungle raj’ had replaced rule of law in the state. But the new government faced the major challenge in the beginning itself as there was an acute shortage of police personnel. The shortage was as high as nearly 12,000 in a force of 35,000.
Abhayanand fully understood that there was no way in which the shortage of police personnel could be filled in the next three years as the process involves recruitment and training; it’s only after the training that constables could be used for operational purposes. But he came up with the bright idea of recruiting retired army personnel on contractual basis as they did not need any training. This was perhaps for the first time in the country that the concept of contract policing was implemented.
When the Defence Ministry came to know about the initiative, it circulated a letter to all the states, giving an example of Bihar where about 5,000 retired Army personnel were recruited for policing work. Their unit, called the Special Auxiliary Police (SAP), became immensely popular among people.
Similarly, Abhayanand also innovatively used the Arms Act, pushing up the conviction rate remarkably. A person can be booked under Arms Act for possessing a firearm illegally and can also be convicted easily as the witnesses involved are policemen, the former DGP added. Before Abhayanand intervened, police would produce two private witnesses before the court to prove the charges against an accused even if it was not required under the act.
Abhayanand also gave importance to ‘independence’ in his functioning while serving in the government. When Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned from his post in view of JD (U)’s rout in the 2014 LoK Sabha election and gave the post of CM to his ministerial colleague Jitan Ram Manjhi, the former IPS officer said that he decided not to continue as DGP as he thought he would not be able to take police-specific decisions independently. So, just six months before his retirement, he left the post of the state DGP and joined as DGP (Home Guards).
Watch Video: Interview with Bihar’s former DGP Abhayanand
In a chapter of this book titled ‘O Captain! My Captain,’ he writes how when he was told that he was going to be the next DGP of the state in August 2011 and went to meet the CM, he just made one request that he should be told frankly when he became a “political liability”; he would simply file in his papers and quit.
Even working in a state known for its caste and political intricacies, Abhayanand did what he knew best — policing, law and science — so he put them to the best use to control crime in the state, proving that unconventional ways of policing could be effective. His thrust on scientific investigation is also quite remarkable and he experimented with the law in the best possible manner to enhance the conviction rate.
He said that he put a special emphasis on improving the standards of forensic laboratories so that police could have clinching evidence against the accused. In such a situation, the court would also not face any dilemma while awarding punishment to the accused. Now, Bihar’s forensic labs are comparable with those functioning in other states, he added.
“When science is so advanced, we should apply it during our investigation fully to ensure that the accused is finally convicted,” he said.
Abhayanand also worked hard to ensure that the accused were convicted in a short time frame as the focus was on the speedy trial of cases. It was also ensured that witnesses were produced before the courts so that the trial could move on speedily. He put a special focus on the cancellation of bails granted to criminals if they were found guilty of jumping bail and also violating the conditions.
The passion for teaching
Abhayanand’s immense interest in teaching is no less impressive. He had set up Super 30 with a mathematics teacher Anand Kumar to impart coaching classes to students from the deprived sections in order to help them crack entrance examinations to enter the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other premier engineering colleges. But he parted ways with Kumar as for Abhayanand teaching was just a passion while for Anand, it was a profession.
He continued with his passion for teaching by offering his services to Rahmani 30 and, subsequently, to Magadh 30. He still continues to give coaching to students to enable them to study in engineering institutes like the IITs.
Besides his penchant for teaching Physics, he has now become a great votary of non-genetically modified foods, too. “Since our body is very natural, we should also eat natural products. GM products are not natural as crops are genetically modified in a controlled way; it could be either for making crops more pest-resistant or even for better yield,” he concludes.
Watch: Interview with Abhayanand here