DEHRADUN: With just days to go for the 70 member assembly polls, Uttarakhand Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar said that the force is duty bound to conduct free and fair elections in the hill state and it will deal with anyone who tries to provoke tension on the communal or caste lines sternly.
In a candid interview to The New Indian at Police headquarters, Kumar a 1989-batch Indian Police Services (IPS) officer said, “It is the duty of Uttarakhand Police to conduct the elections in free and fair environment and we are all prepared for that.”
The officer, who has earlier served on important positions in Border Security Force (BSF)and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF, said, “We will do our best to conduct the elections peacefully, neutrally without any favour towards anyone.”
While discussing the election preparedness at length, he elaborated on the challenges faced by the Uttarakhand Police. According to him, the varied terrain of Uttarakhand poses different challenges for them. “Typical law and order situation as in Uttar Pradesh exists in the plain areas of Uttarakhand such as in Haridwar, Dehradun, Udham Singh Nagar and some other districts as well. We are already vigilant and are going after the criminals aggressively. We are booking them under Goonda Act and Gangster Act so that no one dares disturb the polls.”
Similar is their vigil against the communal and caste related issues. According to him, the Uttarakhand Police is on high “alert” already and actively holding meetings. “We are trying to minimise the tensions and are taking proactive steps so that no issues come up closer to the polls. And even if they do, we are prepared to deal with them sternly,” he said.
The hilly areas of Uttarakhand are relatively simpler in their community interactions. “Here, law and order problem are little less. The terrain, however, is harsh as some areas are ice bound. So preparedness is keeping the topography in account. We are ready for any kind of eventuality,” he said.
The assembly elections in the state is scheduled on February 14 and counting of votes will take place on March 10. The ruling BJP is eyeing a second consecutive term in the state while the resurgent Congress is looking to dethrone the BJP.
To a question on communal tensions in Haridwar, followed by those in Dehradun, he said, “No one is allowed to give hate speeches or provocative speeches — be it any community or any caste or anyone. Once the video (of hate speech in Haridwar) went viral we registered FIR and arrested the accused. Two-three days later, similar video (of another hate speech in Dehradun) went viral and we again registered a FIR and took action. Law is equal for everyone and we will not allow anyone to take law in their hands,” the DGP said.
The video of hate speeches of Haridwar and Dehradun created a uproar in the poll bound state and evoked anger and condemnation from people. The Uttarakhand Police has already arrested the accused in the case.
On a separate note, he shared a bit of his writing life. Despite a busy schedule as a senior IPS officer, the DGP has authored several books. “Many times it is difficult but my writing has been related to my job. When I was at IIT, my writing was different but since the time I joined Police, my writing has been related to my job,” he shared.
Citing an example he said: “Like my book Human in Khakee, says it is not tough to be humane while wearing the police uniform. Most of my writing is related feeling to my job and whatever I feel strongly about, I write.”