A police station for the people

- February 23, 2024
| By : Kushan Niyogi |

The Sultanpuri police station, which was adjudged the best police station in the Capital for 2023, has focussed on social welfare to stand out

PREPARATION: Aspirants prepare of various competitive exams in the library

Sultanpuri, in north-west Delhi and part of Delhi Police’s Outer District, was adjudged the best police station in the national capital for 2023, finishing ahead of Southeast District’s Okhla Industrial Area and North District’s Roop Nagar, who won second and third position, respectively.

The award was presented to the respective police stations on February 13.

Beating “the better-equipped stations” in Central and South Delhi districts, the police station which is the nearest to Tikri Border where farmers’ protest is ongoing, beat all odds to emerge as the best. The formula for victory — change how the public views the police.

Darshan Lal, the Station House Officer, said, “The aim of the police station is to make the people think of the system as their ally and not a machine of oppression.”

He added, “The people have always thought of the police in a sense that we exist only to harass them, especially here where the residents mostly belong to the lower income strata. I wanted to change that and turn the process into one which makes it easier for them to perceive us as their allies.”

TO READ: The community library in the Sultanpuri police station’s compound

According to the SHO, the police station, unlike its counterparts, has placed the focus on public welfare. Recently, a cricket tournament organised by the police station had juveniles under the care of correctional facilities participate in it. Lal added that it was to help them not feel isolated from the larger society.

The award is presented to police stations on parameters like the upkeep of records, disposal of cases, time taken to allot Investigating Officers, general cleanliness of the station, social welfare and employee satisfaction, besides other such factors.

About the station

Presently, the station boasts a workforce of around 140 police personnel with a maximum capacity of 170. Moreover, it has also benefitted through the maintenance of digital evidence lockers, an online portal that allows citizens to file their complaints leading to an IO being allotted within 24 hours, a digital registry where all cases are labelled and marked for reference, and most importantly, a happy workforce. This has enabled the police station to have just over 300 cases pending from 2023, out of 5,000 total cases lodged in the year.

Although crime rate remains at consistently high at the police station, the goal has become to mediate and counsel the accused and the complainant. Lal himself has started holding these ‘counselling’ sessions with them.

The police station, however, has one qualm.

“The government should be doing social welfare, not the police,” said the SHO.

Delhi Police Public Library

Their attempts to further the cause of social welfare also led them to construct a community library in the premises, where over 200 members have enrolled to prepare for various competitive exams.

According to the SHO, the concept was formulated during the tenure of the previous inspector and he wished to expand upon the idea.

“Normally any work undertaken by the previous serving inspector is not continued but I had learnt a lot from him. It was a noble task that he entrusted me with,” added the SHO.

Presently, the library is home to multiple newspapers — ranging from the Hindi daily Navbharat to the English dailies like Indian Express and The Times of India — while also holding an exhaustive collection of over 700 books.

Helping students appear for and pass the many competitive examinations, the library contains books on scoring big in the Delhi Police’s Staff Selection Commission, UPSC and regular college examinations. It also holds a varied selection of novels from famed authors such as Lee Child, Jeffrey Archer and Devdutt Pattnaik, among many others.

PREPARATION: A view of the police station

Just a glimpse across the floor and its shelves, one is greeted by the sight of a well-lit room adorned by three bookshelves on its three sides. One is on the right just as one enters, while the two remain parallel to each other at the far end of the room. All are filled with myriad books, covering a wide array of subjects. Ramachandra Guha’s India After Gandhi greets from the first shelf, while Abhijeet Banerjee and Esther Dufflo’s magnum opus, Poor Economics smirks from the other.

As the proverbial discourse between books unfolds, the library’s members remain focussed, slanting on their tables with a notebook opened and a mobile phone in hand.

Initially, they used to visit a library atop a rain basera (night shelter) for men. However, they stopped going there as its working hours reduced by each day.

“The library at the rain basera would stay closed half the time. I don’t even know why it was closed. There was a time when in a space of a month it would stay shut for almost 10 days without reason,” said Mayank Kundra, a 21-year-old student from Delhi University’s distance learning BA (General) programme.

Similar issues were faced by 25-year-old Sofya Anjum, who has been a part of the library for the past two months and has started preparing for SSC examinations.

 “The library at the rain basera was very ill kept. All I would see throughout was people ganging up on each other. The stench of alcohol would only make matters worse. Even apart from that, the present supervisor barely opened the library’s gates, or opened them late,” she said.

Some joined the police library for the want of a better space.

“I was going to the private library near the coal godown. Everything was fine but we did not have many facilities even after paying Rs 800,” said Rajiv Nigam, a 25-year-old preparing for the post of a CGI non-gazetted officer.

Presently, the library is being maintained by both the Delhi Police and Shikhar NGO. Ashu, 23, a representative of the NGO and manager of the library, divulged that the membership fees has been kept nominal to make the space inclusive.

“Anybody from 11th standard and above can come and become a member for a price of Rs 200, which can later be refunded too,” she said.

She also added that many police officers also visit the library to get done with some of their own work, while some also go to study.

“Much of the staff comes here to read newspapers. Most of us don’t get much time, but some of them come here to study and prepare for the Indian Police Service exam to work towards getting promoted,” said Vanshika Rana, a 22-year-old constable.

Most of the children who visit the library hail from the nearby areas of Sultanpuri and Mangolpuri.

The library began on April 17, 2023.

Before Sultanpuri this year, North District’s Civil Lines Police Station had emerged victorious in 2022.