LUCKNOW: A half-concrete, half-thatched roof house in Jauharpur village in Banda hardly appears different from others in the vicinity. The owner, Lakhan Singh, in his late 80s, is a farmer and lives with his wife Kalawati, youngest of the four sons and their grandchildren.
However, what sets it apart is the name plate on the front wall that reads ‘Sulkhan Singh, IPS’. Last week, Lakhan Singh was busy discussing sowing the next paddy crop, when he heard that his eldest son Sulkhan Singh, had been appointed chief of the world’s largest police force.
Just a year shy of retirement, Sulkhan Singh, known for his honesty and straightforwardness had been dumped at the police training centre, Unnao, by the previous SP government.
It was unexpected, also because he was not part of any lobbying – as is the norm in this State with a highly politicised bureaucracy and police force.
He is also known as a hard task master, an expert in police paper work and an adept trainer. For Jauharpur, of course, it was time for big-time celebration.
The 1980 batch officer, who has just five months in hand, has a firm conviction to set the State’s law and order machinery right. “Anybody indulging in criminal activities or taking the law into their hand will face the consequences. We have clear orders from the chief minister,” says Singh.
The bitterness of being ignored by the successive governments and surpassed several times for the top job – his predecessor Javeed Ahmad, was four years junior to him – is hardly visible.
The fulfillment of ambitions is a state of mind, he says philosophically while talking exclusively to the New Indian Express, “for that even a lifetime is not sufficient.”
If the rightful due came a bit late, he attributes much to the right time and place, chance and fate for things to fall in favour.
He is also very candid about the image of the Uttar Pradesh police, and his biggest challenge, as UP top cop, would be to rein in the brazenness of the force.
“Policing is a harsh and unpleasant endeavour. My intent is to make it public friendly and consensual,” he says.
Sulkhan Singh studied at Tindwari Secondary school, and left home for the first time to do class 12th from Banda in Bundelkhand district with parched land, otherwise known as the hunting ground of dreaded dacoits like Dadua.
He cracked IIT Roorkee in the first attempt, and after completing B.Tech in civil engineering, he went to IIT Delhi for MTech and got selected for railway services in 1979.
In another first, he got accepted into the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1980.
Having held various key posts in police headquarters in Allahabad, training and jail departments, Singh has also served as inspector general (IG) Lucknow zone and deputy IG Lucknow Range.
Sulkhan Singh has first-hand experience of crime control and effective policing during his tenure in the district police force.
On the requirement and relevance of the anti-Romeo Sqaud, the DGP says it has evoked confidence among women and they have appreciated the step. Anti-Romeo sqauds have been given a list of do’s and don’ts, plus a body camera to record the field action in order to rule out alleged harassment of the innocent.
He reiterates his resolve to rein in vigilante groups saying, “Nobody will be allowed to play with law in the name of Gau Raksha at any cost.”
Sulkhan Singh is also trying to reinitiate the rehabilitation and relocation of destitute mental patients found on roads, one of his favourite endeavours, in his career as a cop.