A day without reporting of a case of chain snatching or burglary under the police stations of Tallakulam, Anna Nagar and Koodal Pudur would always bring relief to the city police. But, such days are a rarity. For, among the 21 police stations of Madurai city, these stations have either bigger jurisdictions or grossly inadequate number of police personnel.

Both police and residents under the jurisdictions of these stations have been silently putting up with the mismatch in the number of police personnel for the vast areas ever since the city police became coterminous with the expanded Madurai Corporation on January 1, 2015. An addition of 28 wards with around 100 square km of area came under the city police jurisdiction. However, Tallakulam and Anna Nagar police stations, already known as ‘heavy stations,’ got a raw deal with a quantum jump in their jurisdiction without matching manpower.

When Koodal Pudur police station was shifted to city, it came with a sprawling jurisdiction but limited strength. “While every police station in the city has two Inspectors, one for law and order and the other for crime, Koodal Pudur, a Sub Inspector-manned station, came with no Inspectors,” said a senior police officer.

Now the city police have deployed an Inspector from Serious Crime Squad and one from the Control Room to have additional charge of law and order maintenance and crime prevention at Koodal Pudur. However, the strength of around 30 personnel is only making effective policing a distant dream.

Other newly-added stations, except for Avaniapuram that came with around 60 personnel, like Tirupparankundram and Tirunagar came with limited strength. Besides, these stations also have only one Inspector.

While ideally a city police station required about 100 personnel, including officers, the maximum strength found in a police station is only 70. It is only 40 to 60 in other stations. “With such a huge manpower shortage, it is not easy to maintain law and order and prevent crimes. The city police jurisdiction has grown 300% and the population is ever increasing, but the strength remains the same,” another police officer said.

Beat, patrolling vital

Maintaining beat system and patrolling were vital for effective policing. But without adequate manpower it is impossible, said former Assistant Commissioner of Police A. Ganesan. “The police should be seen on streets to strike a cord with residents. So bigger jurisdiction needs more personnel,” he said. He advocated a compact jurisdiction of 3 to 5 km of radius and 80 to 100 personnel, depending on the population for effective policing.

“Visible policing helps in two ways: it gives a sense of safety and security to people and a sense of fear to criminals. But, given the inadequate number of personnel and the 12-hour shifts, it is not possible to have tireless policemen to frequently visit problematic areas,” he said.


Fear of criminals

It is true with Tallakulam station. “I last saw police patrolling in our area when there was a theft in our neighbourhood. For a few days, I heard police sirens at night. But, that was three months back,” said advocate P. Maharajan of Tiruppalai. “Though the extension area largely remains calm, there is constant fear of chain snatching and burglary as intrusion of outsiders goes unchecked. This can be prevented by frequent police patrolling,” he said.

The jurisdiction starts from Goripalayam junction and stretches to Yadava College in Tiruppalai, covering areas adjoining Old Natham Road, New Natham Road and part of Alagarkoil Road. The area has grown from 7.71 sq km to 17.21 sq. km. Consequently, the number of cases reported too has almost doubled.

“The police often complain of manpower shortage when we ask for increased patrolling in our area as three crime cases have been reported in the last three months,” said K. Dhanapalan, general secretary of KVR Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association. They promised to rush here when we reported some incidents. Even the beat police just made a visit to the entrance of the residential area and not go around the five streets, he said. Now the association has put up 16 CCTV cameras at a cost of Rs. 1 lakh.

“Of course we have manpower shortage. But we cannot simply complain of that every time. We are trying to rationalise the strength in all stations. Our officers are on the job of reducing personnel involved only in paper work, so that we can improve visible policing,” Commissioner of Police S. Davidson Devasirvatham said.

Already, he has withdrawn personnel seen shadowing officers without much responsibilities. “We have formed a new patrol team that can be moved to trouble spots at short notice,” he said. As a first step towards optimising their energy, the Commissioner transferred police personnel to their preferred or nearest possible police station.

Bifurcation

The good news is the State government has announced a new police station for Madurai Bench of Madras High Court campus. “We’ve planned to bifurcate Tallakulam and Anna Nagar police stations. A new Tiruppalai police station and a new Vandiyur police station have been proposed. We are also weighing the option of diverting two wards (from Anna Nagar police station) along the Vaigai to Mathichiyam police station,” Mr. Davidson said. S.S. Colony police station is also planned for bifurcation. The city police is also mulling to integrate the work of Deputy Commissioners of Police (Law and Order and Crime) and post them as DCP North and DCP South for better coordination among crime and law and order officers and men.

The city police is trying to have the maximum technological leverage by encouraging people to go for more CCTV cameras that could be networked with the city police for remote monitoring.

The police complain of manpower shortage when we ask for increased patrolling as three crimes have been reported in the last three months

K. Dhanapalan

General secretary

KVR Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association

There is constant fear of chain snatching and burglary as intrusion of outsiders goes unchecked. This can be prevented by frequent police patrolling

P. Maharajan

Tiruppalai advocate

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