BENGALURU: Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai speaks to The New Sunday Express on recent riots in Bengaluru, the need to modernise the police force, overcoming the shortage of policemen on the field and the challenges the force has been facing during Covid times.
You have drawn a connection between the upcoming BBMP polls and Bengaluru riots...
It is evident that over a period of time there has been a political rivalry in certain constituencies of the state for the votebank. Unlike traditional parties, the SDPI is pushing its ideology to control local bodies.
Are you hinting that SDPI is seeking to take over two Congress constituencies of Narasimharaja in
Mysuru and Pulakeshinagar in Bengaluru?
It is between them and the answers are evident. Why should I comment?
How long will it take to recover damages from rioters?
We will follow the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court. We are in the process of assessing the losses. Once that is done and culprits are identified, we will start the recoveries. We are serious about it, as we want to send out a message that nobody can vandalise public and private property and get away with it.
You have spoken about ‘across the border connection’ of groups behind the riots, especially PFI...
Many state and central agencies are looking into this link. These groups can be very amorphous as they change their names, forms and identities to escape scrutiny. But our officers are on the field and nothing will escape the eye of the police.
In November, the CM spoke about SDPI’s involvment in riots in Shivamogga and Mysuru. It was also allegedly behind the stabbing of MLA Tanveer Sait. Now, it has figured prominently in DJ Halli riots. But the party is registered with the Election Commission. Is a ban possible?
What Yediyurappa said was right and the FIRs and chargesheets are on record. There is nothing for me to comment. The propposed ban will be presented to the CM and after his consent, it will be sent to the Union Home Ministry.
The lack of strength and preparedness of police was exposed during the riots...
Bengaluru police will be equipped with electronic surveillance and artificial intelligence for effective policing, considering the high density of population in the city. Many technical experts too have suggested these measures.
The police complain of a severe staff shortage.
It is true that there are many vacancies in the force. We will fill up about 6,000 vacancies, including 1,000 SIs, this year. We will also fill up about 18,000 vacancies over the next three years.
What challenges to the police during Covid times?
Covid has been a challenge as over 3,000 policemen had to be quarantined as they were either positive or contacts of someone positive. Entire police stations had to be sealed. But that was only for a certain period and most of them are back on duty now. The morale in the department is very high.
How seriously are you about tackling cyber crimes ?
We have a cyber crime police station in each district, considering that such cases are being reported from Mangaluru, Mysuru, Belagavi, Hubballi and other places. In Bengaluru, there are eight such stations. We have experts from IT and other sectors as consultants. I will call a meeting of banks and experts to discuss aspects related to cyber crimes.
What is the road ahead for the police?
We are a people-friendly force, and we have a good track record. We are ever striving to improve.