Bhubaneswar is evolving as a metropolis. But you are only following rudimentary technology and do not have sufficient manpower to deal with the transition. What is your take on this?
We have gone beyond rudimentary technology. The modern police control room launched two days ago has sophisticated gadgets and a GPS-enabled system. We can take 30 calls at a time, which would improve our response time and help us reach people faster. Although we have limited manpower, we have a special team that is competent to crack any case. It is quality that matters and not quantity.
There has also been a surge in cyber crime and hacking of many government websites. What steps are you taking to check this crime?
We are doing whatever is possible at our level. We have an expert at our commissionerate headquarters to deal with cyber crime. So far, we have cracked all cyber related cases. We need a special cell for this purpose which is likely to come up soon.
You have been provided with a few jammers by the Centre as part of Maoist operation. Are you using them?
We are using them as and when required, including during VIP visits. The jammers are attached to the vehicles. We have a trained team to take care of that.
What about allegations that some police officers are not registering cases promptly but are waiting for your directions?
This is completely false. Police officers not registering cases promptly might be happening in some police stations but I have no role to play in that. They wait for my instructions only for investigating a case and not for registering FIRs.
There have also been allegations that officers are demanding money to file FIRs and issue copies of the same.
This has never come to my notice. We would take stringent action if we come across such incidents. So far as copies of FIRs are concerned, most people get them.
Congress leader Lalatendu Mohapatra has alleged that you are a BJD worker in uniform. How would you react to this?
I am least bothered about such comments. If he has these opinions about me, it is his problem. I am just doing my duty as per law.
Mohapatra also alleged that you raided his farmhouse at Brahmagiri to arrest MLA Ramesh Jena, who was involved in a firing incident, to vent out personal grudges. Is this also baseless?
Yes! It is not about settling scores on a personal front. Even if it had been anyone else's house, we would have conducted a raid. I am a police officer who has to abide by law and perform his duty.
Do you think the police commissionerate has been successful in reducing crime rate in the city?
Our commissionerate is one of the best in the country. Initially it was tough since everything had to be rebuilt and redone. We tried to be citizen-centric in our approach instead of going for a traditional enforcement system. Today, I feel satisfied that we have performed well under pressure.
During a recent function at BJB College, girl students were swooning over you and asking for autographs. But you stopped signing autographs when Naveen Patnaik entered the campus. Why?
There is nothing like that. I personally feel that I am not a great personality that I should sign autographs. It was really embarrassing.
Whenever a crime takes place, you always rush to the spot. But why do you take such a long time to file the chargesheet in various cases?
We do our homework well before approaching a lawyer. We always move in a systematic way.
Do political bosses wield influence over the police?
There is no political interference at all. People are becoming aware and the media is always watching you. The pressure is only on performing well.
Why do the police become so touchy when media is critical of its conduct?
That happens only when media gets too personal. Sometimes they rely on baseless hearsay and write reports. Attacking us on our performance is acceptable but they should not drag personal issues. Police work 24/7. We are human beings and tend to make mistakes at times
The Malkangiri collector who was kidnapped by Maoists is your contemporary. Further, you were posted in the district for nearly two years. How do you view the entire episode?
The situation there now is quite different from what it used to be in 2005-07. Three years have elapsed since I left Malkangiri. I cannot comment on the issue.
A go-getter in uniform
Instrumental in solving several sensational murder and robbery cases, Himanshu Lal is one of the daring cops in the state. He was born and brought up in Muzzafarpur in Bihar
He completed his graduation in psychology from Patna University and went on to pursue a master’s degree in International Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
He also holds a degree in management from Institute of Rural Management, Anand in Gujarat
After a brief stint in the marketing and banking spheres, he entered police services and was first posted in Malkangiri as assistant superintendent of police
As the Balangir superintendent of police, he unearthed the “fake medicine” racket which helped bust the entire fake medicine networking in the state. He established a special cell of Bhubaneswar Urban Police District for handling technical and cyber crimes
He also helped set up a licensing cell, executive magistrate courts, senior citizen cell under BPUD. He has organised several workshops for sensitisation of police officers and played a significant role in establishment of Red Cross branch of Commissionerate Police
For his key role in anti-Maoist operations in Malkangiri, he was awarded the President’s Police Medal
What would you have been had you not been an IPS officer?
Well, IPS was something which happened accidentally, there were no fixed ambitions. I am a management graduate and was working as an area sales manager at Amul. I had done my post-graduation from Jawaharlal Nehru University. I also worked in the banking sector for quite some time. Gradually, civil service caught my fancy. After qualifying the examination, I got into IRS. My wife (Mrinalini Darswal, collector of Nayagarh, Orissa), also an IRS then, and I were posted in two different places. So, I reappeared for the exams for a change of cadre. That is how I entered police services and got Orissa cadre. Then she came here from Manipur.