Just A Minute With: Mumbai police chief Sivanandan
MUMBAI (Reuters) - D. Sivanandan, Mumbai's police commissioner, was appointed to his position in June after his predecessor came under fire for mishandling the November attacks in which 166 people were killed.
Sivanandan, who is credited with wiping out Mumbai's notorious underworld as head of the city's crime branch in the early 90s, taught economics for several years.
Known for his iron hand, he was even depicted in a Bollywood movie on gang wars.
At a recent interaction on security with business executives, Sivanandan spoke about measures taken to secure the city, the possibility of a new attack, and the need to motivate the police.
Q: How real is the possibility of another big attack?
A: "Today, anyone can make a bomb, even nuclear weapons are available on the market. I can't say there won't be another attack or a blast. But if something happens, our response will be quicker and better."
Q: Last November, the police were criticised for their ancient weapons, their poor response. What's changed since then?
A: "There is money coming in for bullet-proof vests, combat vehicles, troop carriers with GPS, wireless. We've revamped the main control room, set up five quick response teams of 200 men each. There are 13 bomb disposal squads, and about 600 beat marshals on bikes.
"We have acquired four speed boats and some 2,000 new weapons. There is a hub of NSG commandos in the city. We need to do more: we need 5,000 CCTVs; we have just 200."
Q: There were reports that the police abandoned their posts...
A: "You know, these men have to be willing to face the bullets and grenades and lay down their lives. So we need to motivate them. Why do we take pleasure in ridiculing them?
"Right now, policemen work 12 hours a day. There is no overtime. There is no trade union. They are stretched: they are chasing chain snatchers and militants.
"So alongside the weapons and the vehicles, I've also taken steps to motivate the men. So we're modernised and built new gyms, we are teaching yoga for stress, giving advice on their diets so they can be healthy. All this is very important."
Q: But are they able to do the job alone, given the constraints they have?
A: "There are 48,000 police in the city, and 200,000 in the state. What we need is better qualified, better trained police, not more police. Let's raise the qualification required: let's say we want only graduates. And then let's invest in training.
"We need quality policemen, better technology, a bigger budget. After 9/11, the U.S. put billions of dollars into homeland security. Give me 1 billion rupees and I will also put in better systems. Everything boils down to resources."
Q: You have sought the help of the private sector and citizens...
A: "Yes, security is our responsibility, but we need the private sector's help in training, with resources. And the citizens are our eyes and ears. That is why I have set up a website (www.copconnect.in), we have interactions with senior citizens and minority communities, and I invite everyone to e-mail me with suggestions. We have had a very good response."
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