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Sep 16, 2008 at 09:55pm IST

Tapping public for info to combat terror

Tiruchirapalli: With India’s extremely skewed police-to-public ratio, the police force would always prove to be ineffective unless people start volunteering to provide information about suspicious activities in their neighbourhood.

In an interaction with Network 18 late in 2008, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan admitted that though intelligence agencies have foiled many terror bids, they would have been more effective if police could tap the public for information.

But it’s something that’s already been put to practice.

In 1999, following the Coimbatore blasts, Jalad Kumar Tripathy, the then Police Commissioner of Tiruchirapalli decided that community policing was the only way to arrest the slide.

“The idea is basically to break into the web of anonymity,” IGP, Tamil Nadu, J K Tripathy, says.

With local help, he got 58 beat offices constructed for every street. Policemen were moved from police stations to the beat offices. They went from house to house introducing themselves.

“We are not police but public servants,” Beat Officer, Alwarthoppu, Arockiasamy, says.

Twelve new police commissioners have assumed charge since 1999, but the essential structure of the beat system has remained intact.

In fact, people text the police asking them to keep a watch on their houses when locked for long periods and even send thank you messages.

In April, Tripathy was given the Prime Minister's award for excellence in public administration in the individual initiative category.

But the award will remain a mere token of recognition if the community policing system is not adopted across the country.