Flying bullets at a crowded Mango neighbourhood in Jamshedpur on January 1 evening killed two persons and injured one, but the greatest casualty was citizen security.
An audaciously northward crime graph has most Jamshedpureans pointing an accusing finger at the weak police network in the city, reminiscent of 1992-1993 when gang wars ruled the industrial belt.
In the past one month, Jamshedpur has witnessed a dozen incidents of murder, loot, burglary, snatching, extortion and theft, but not a single crime has been detected (see box).
East Singhbhum police, busy with arms-checking drives, seem be clueless about persons and motives behind crimes.
In the case of the January 1 murders, when masked men — a biker and two pillion-riders — stopped at Mango’s Sankosai area with the aim to kill, police had been frisking people at the roundabout near the bridge barely 1.5km away.
The police are facing flak from all sections of society.
“I am afraid of venturing out after sunset as you never know what is waiting outside. I have lost all confidence in the police,” said Sunita Toppo, a Sakchi homemaker.
Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Suresh Sonthalia spoke on crime as a repellent to investment. “Kolhan’s overall economy will get affected if crime is not controlled. Which industrialist, businessman or trader wants to live in fear?” he asked.
“Police give enough leeway to criminals to escape. City entry and exit points should be sealed,” prescribed Sonthalia, who has raised his voice time and again on the fears of the business community.
“Tez tarar IPS ko laana chahiye (a dynamic IPS should be given posting here). Only then will crime be controlled,” said noted criminal lawyer Sudhir Kumar Pappu.
The one “tez tarar IPS” who controlled crime in the early 1990s as East Singhbhum SP was Ajoy Kumar, now Jamshedpur MP of JVM.
In 1992-93, Jamshedpur saw shootouts virtually every day between the rival gangs of Hidayat Khan and Saheb Singh. Parvez Hayat was the East Singhbhum SP then.
Kumar, who came to Jamshedpur in 1993 as East Singhbhum SP and earned the tag of “supercop” very soon for efficient tackling of the gangs, told The Telegraph that policing was not such a difficult task as it was made out to be. He also gave a few tips.
“Instead of unnecessary checks at every corner, the police should develop an information-gathering mechanism,” Kumar said.
He added every thana officer-in-charge (OC) should assign personnel separate areas so that they develop contacts with people who are the main sources of information.
“But instead of direct contact with people, police are focussing only on arms-checks,” Kumar said. “For my part, I am ready to extend all help to district police in controlling crime.”
For his part, SSP Amol V. Homkar, who took charge in November, admitted the crime rate had gone up. “The police are taking necessary steps to control and detect crime and will come up with results very soon,” he said.
Kolhan DIG Arun Kumar Singh echoed Homkar. “We have picked suspects involved in some recent and sensitive cases of Jamshedpur. Probes are on and results will be visible soon,” Singh said. How soon is the question.
How can we ensure better policing?