A common man may have a different perception towards the police and one may not be comfortable talking to them or reporting any sort of complaint until and unless it affects them. However, there must be innumerable instances where crime goes unreported and the cops seem apathetic to misery of the common person. The police force is criticised for its paralysed work and fake promises of solving cases quickly.
However, we should not forget that there are always two sides to a coin and therefore, there is a need to explore the other side of the coin as well. “Crime rate is very low in Panchkula as compared to our counterparts,” says Panchkula Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mamta Sodha who before a police officer, is an Indian sportsperson, known for her successful 2010 attempt to scale Mount Everest. She was honoured by the Government of India in 2014, by bestowing on her the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, for her services to the field of mountaineering sport.
Subsequently, she passed her Masters degree in Physical Education (MPhEd) from Kurukshetra University, in 2005 and joined the same university at the Shaheed Baba Deep Singh College of Physical Education, Haryana, as a lecturer. After the successful Everest climb, Government of Haryana absorbed her into Haryana Police Force. Sodha was recruited into Haryana Police on August 11, 2010, following which she took the charge of Panchkula city in June this year as ACP. Here she speaks to DAILYPOST Correspondent Yuvraj Kaushal about crime in Panchkula and the initiatives being taken by the police to get a grip over the law and order situation in the city. Excerpts:
For how long you have been managing Women’s Police Station and Panchkula city?
It’s been around two-and-a-half months since I have taken charge and joined as Assistant Commissioner of Police. Earlier, I was posted in Jind, Haryana as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
What are the key issues in this area in terms of law and order? What kind of complaints do you get most?
If we talk about Panchkula city, most of the people here are educated and even though the head office of the police department is here, the law and order situation becomes important as we sometimes deal with high-end agitations. Otherwise, the city is peaceful and the situation here is normal and is managed properly. The major issues which we are facing in this area are related to education and matrimonial problems and disputes, which are mainly crimes against women that are around 80 per cent in the rural areas situated in Panchkula followed by molestation cases. Our police force is giving their best shot to solve the cases in the vicinity as soon as possible. We keep telling the citizens on how to tackle the disputes and problems and how one can avoid various problems. This is something which takes time as it’s troublesome to track the criminals on a short notice.
If I ask you to compare the crime rate in Panchkula to the other areas and counterparts like Chandigarh and Mohali, how would you rate it?
Comparatively, the crime rate in our city is very low as compared to the counterparts. Earlier, snatching incidents were on the rise in Panchkula but if we see the situation of the city now, the crime rate has decreased. No one wants any kind of crime to be committed in their neighbourhood, and our law enforcers are continuously working to completely eradicate it. We want to convey this message that police personnel are always available at public service.
Infrastructural issues like streetlights etc foster crime in the vicinity. How difficult does it become for you to combat this obstacle? Do you complain to the municipal bodies about infrastructural issues?
It is very obvious that if streetlights are not in a working condition, it can make any locality unsafe. The concerned issue is managed by the administration. Issues like streetlights are not much of a concern here because we do not face these problems on a higher scale and if I talk about municipal authorities, then yes, we do complain to them and ask them to come out with a solution at the earliest. Our police personnel coordinate with the civic agencies accordingly and work towards the benefit of the society.
How many police personnel are there in Women’s Police Station? Till now how many cases have been registered and sorted out?
There are maximum numbers of female officials in the women’s police station as compared to the male staff, as we have around 10 male police officials. Around six to seven investigating officers of different designations with one station house officer is there in the women’s police station. A total of 18 to 20 female police officials are there in this police station. Around 48 cases have been registered this year in the women’s police station out of which, around 12 cases have been solved and other cases are under investigation process which will soon be cleared out whereas a total of around 25,754 complaints were made in the women’s police station from which 95 per cent of them were disposed off.
Most of the citizens are scared or not comfortable to register their complaints with the police. What’s your take on it?
I strongly believe that police and citizens both need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and that’s how it will assist us to make this locality safer for the citizens. We also conduct public meetings to spread awareness among them. They need to lodge their complaints if they want us to help them. People are no longer unfriendly with police. This used to happen a lot in the early 90’s; however, scenario has changed for the better. Now, people are also getting aware of our women and children helplines.
Any new projects to interact with public?
Yes, we have started many new awareness programmes and workshops as we recently conducted a one-day workshop for welfare of women following defence and legal aid. We appreciated the outcome of these programmes as women from the region showed their support and were involved in this workshop. We have also started an awareness programme regarding eve-teasing.
What is Panchkula Police doing to control various crime cases?
The department always tries to curb crime cases by making special teams. Also, earlier we had started an initiative which is not running currently, through which we put the petty crime offenders in different fields, like in sports, which creates a gap between their criminal background and present life as we indulge them into sports which decreases the chance of them becoming hardcore criminals. Also, CCTV cameras have been installed in the city. Around 56 CCTV cameras have been functional at different points in the city which will be a major advantage to our police department to keep a check on violations and as a evidence recorder for various crime cases.
Who is ACP Mamta Sodha as a common woman? What do you do in your regular day?
(Laughs) I seldom have time for family as we also had a role to play at home besides our duty as a police officer as a common woman. As a common woman, I also have to take care of my family and give time to them as well. The difference is that our responsibility extends to an upper level as in the office I need to play a role of a police official and at the same time of a common woman for the family. I spend some valuable time with my close ones, though my key motive is to dedicate myself in the service of the community. I will continuously strive for it. My first and main priority which has always been is that one work should be good enough with a lot of hard work and discipline towards their goals. My main hobby from the very beginning is only mountaineering sport.
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