"Udhar mat jao, maar diye jaaoge" (do not venture there (in UP) you will be killed in a police encounter). The phone conversation between two Delhi-based gangster recorded by the police speaks volume about the trigger-happy police of Uttar Pradesh.
No wonder, in UP's 'wild west' (Meerut-Saharanpur range) more than 57 gangster have been killed and a record 817 have been seriously injured in police encounters since July 15, 2017. The encounter list of the police grows bigger by each day as for every daring encounter, a cop either gets a reward or a plum posting.
The daredevil encounter strategy of UP police has its side-effects. Big or small-time gangsters, fearing 'encounter killings' in UP, have now escaped either to Delhi or Haryana. Subsequently there seems to be a rise in the graph of organized crime, including loot, auto-lifting in the NCR region except UP's western zone.
The Additional Director General of Police (in-charge of Meerut and Saharanpur range) Prashant Kumar says incidents of loot and murder, the two important parameters of heinous crimes, have come down by 20 per cent in his zone.
"In the past two years, Meerut and Saharanpur range (which also includes crime-prone cities such as Noida, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr and Muzaffarnagar), is witness to more than 1,500 encounters. The encounter strategy has frightened hardened criminals who have fled their area of operation. Others have surrendered in courts. Fear psychosis works in criminals too," said the ADG, adding, "our rule is simple.
If a gangster tries to bully, he will be retaliated. If he tries to pull the trigger (of a gun), he will not be spared."
While Eastern and Central parts of Uttar Pradesh are still witnessing law and order problems and an increase in crime rate, the situation is much different in UP's wild west.
"I cannot comment on the situation beyond my jurisdiction. But in my Zone, we have made efforts to post police officers on the basis of performance and merit. If a Deputy SP or an SHO is unable to check the crime graph, he has no right to stay there.
Similarly, those whose performance is excellent, are being promoted to better assignments. Besides, the new government has no place for 'sifarish' (political recommedation) or other considerations for postings and transfers," said the senior IPS officer of UP cadre, Prashant Kumar.
He was of the view that meritocracy is not only followed at the rank of Inspectors or Circle officers but even the District Police Chief(SP/SSP) are selected on the basis of their leadership quality and performance.
Talking about the use of technology in tackling organised crimes, ADG Prashant Kumar explained that police have modern surveillance gadgets and software to track criminals and also workout complex cases.
"But let me tell you, human intelligence is crucial in busting crimes. I have tried to motivate constables to gather intelligence. You will be surprised to know that all the top 15 gangs involved in kidnapping for ransom have been smashed," he said, adding, "members of Sushil Mooch, Kala or Rathi gangs, involved in extortion and kidnapping have either been killed or put behind bars. Efforts to nab absconding gang members are on. The point is to keep putting pressure on gangsters 24x7."
On Tuesday, the UP police chased four dreaded criminals of Rohit gang in two daring daylight encounters. Gang leader Rohit, who escaped from Muzaffarnagar jail and had killed a police sub-inspector, was also shot dead by the cops.
"The police have had to pay a heavy price for eliminating dreaded gangsters. More than 335 policemen have been injured in encounters in the past two years. For pro-active policing, we have to be on our toes, 24 hours a day," said Prashant Kumar.
On prevailing corruption in the police department, the ADG said that CM Yogi Adityanath has a very clear mandate on this. "Whenever a complaint is received against an erring cop, the matter is investigated. The zero tolerance policy on crime and corruption seldom gives black sheep a chance to operate," he said.