Need for a balanced approach
The appointment of Amulya Kumar Patnaik to head the Delhi Police has not come as a surprise to those who have closely followed the 'politically significant' appointments in the national Capital in the past one year. The first was the case of the appointment of a low-profile Alok Kumar Verma as the Police Commissioner about a year back. Verma, with his very reticent outward profile, managed to contain the ongoing diatribe between the Delhi Government and the Delhi Police. The next was the appointment of former Home Secretary Anil Baijal to Raj Niwas, when the much controversial Najeeb Jung decided to quit office as the Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Now the appointment of Patnaik over the claims of his one-batch senior Deepak Mishra is part of the same trend.
Mishra in his younger days was known to be a trigger-happy cop, who did manage to tame the wild outer areas of both eastern and western peripheries of the national Capital as the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of the North-East and the West districts. Patnaik, on the other hand, is credited with bringing down crime in the Central, East, and South districts of Delhi thanks to his focus on preventive planning and police-community partnership. In 1995, Patnaik launched Pratidhi, a Delhi Police programme to extend counselling and other assistance to victims of traumatic crimes. To prevent crimes against women he launched the Anti-Obscene Calls cell and Anti-Stalking Cell. Patnaik, an IPS officer of AGMUT cadre, was holding charge as special commissioner (administration) in the Delhi Police when announced to succeed Verma, who moved to the CBI as its director. The new Commissioner is known for his 'satvik' and very reticent lifestyle. Delhi Government would find it difficult to engage him in a "public strife" as it happened during the tenure of Bhim Sain Bassi. Without taking away any qualities at his command, it should not be forgotten that Patnaik has in past had close interaction with the leaders of the party which is in power at the Centre today. He served in the Special Protection Group (SPG) as an Inspector General, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. He is credited with planning security of Vajpayee's lone train journey as Prime Minister in 2003.
His ability to maintain a low profile, professional approach and experience of handling law and order situations in three major districts of the city must have gone in his favour. His challenge in addition to maintaining law and order would also be a balance in Delhi Police, Delhi Government relationship. For the past two years, Delhi Police has come to increasingly acquire the image of being a tool in the hands of the Centre to harass the functionaries of the Delhi Government, which is led by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In the lighter vein, love for cricket seems to be the flavour of the season. Patnaik is a good cricketer and credited with starting annual cricket tourney between the police officers and the media persons.