Think of a cop and what’s the first top-of-the-mind recall we have? Lazy. Inefficient. Corrupt. Not committed. Can’t blame us, but there are exceptions like JP Nagar Inspector SK Umesh, who defies the stereotypal image of a cop in every respect. Umesh works almost 24/7/365 and is available from 9 am to late night in the police station. Amiable, accessible, well-qualified, and computer savvy, Umesh transformed the JP Nagar police station with a beautiful lawn and landscaping to give it a friendly look, and make it less intimidating to the visitors.
One of the first things he did after taking charge at JP Nagar was to re-open a murder case of a woman brutally killed by her husband and buried in his own residence, in 2006. The culprit was nabbed after his persistent efforts, which earned him the epithet of being a Rescue Man. Awarded the State Police award three times for his outstanding performance, Umesh has worked with top cops like Bava, Ashok Kumar and BK Shivram.
A practicing lawyer, Umesh left his flourishing practice to join the police department in ’99. He shot to fame instantly when he was a part of a special CBI squad which nabbed underworld don Muthappa Rai.
Umesh started gaining in popularity after tasting success in a string of famous kidnap cases like the Jaipuri case, Vinith Vachani case, Raghavendra case, Gulab Iskar case, and the nabbing of the Mumbai-based Babloo Srivastava and Chota Rajan gangs.
Umesh’s daring exploits was instrumental in putting an end to the rising kidnap cases in Bangalore. This is particularly noteworthy considering that he has worked in highly sensitive areas like Mahadevapura, Tilaknagar and Kalasipalyam.
What makes Umesh tick? Excerpts from a tete-a-tete with TWB:
• What I treasure most:
Rescuing a kidnapped person from the clutches of his kidnappers. Nothing can be more rewarding than seeing the smile and relief in the face of the victim.
• Any second thoughts about joining the police department.
Never! Despite the risks and the tough challenges, serving the public as a police officer has no equal. I am thoroughly enjoying it!
• On his approach to a visitor to the police station.
Initially, we adopt a positive approach, treat them with due respect and then ascertain the purpose of their visit. Gone are the days when people used to be scared to visit a police station. Today it is not uncommon to see even homemakers stepping to the station with their complaint. This is mainly due to the change in the systems and practices in the department.
• On life after chasing robbers and murderers.
It’s more work related to crime. I collect facts and data relating to crimes from all over Karnataka and even neighbouring states and add it to my scrap book that I maintain. This helps me to keep up to date with the latest criminal practices and improves my understanding of criminal psychology.
• On pressure from the top in sensitive cases:
Everyone talks about it, perhaps because it is fashionable to do so! I sincerely appeal to the people not to believe in such stereotyped, film-inspired thoughts. There is more to the police department than just these things…
• On instances where an innocent is punished:
While we treat everyone who comes to the police station with respect, sometimes we do make honest mistakes in our assessment of whether a person is guilty or not. In such cases some innocents may have been wrongly punished. But once I come to know of the truth, I have profusely apologized to the person. I even try to make amends by compensating for my mistake. I feel very bad when such things happen. But then to err is human, we cannot be always 100% right or 100% wrong.
• On people saying crime rate has come down in JP Nagar police station limits after he took over as Inspector:
That is for the people and my superiors to judge. I only believe in discharging my duty to the fullest extent possible.
On his style of tracking down criminals:
I would like to believe that my style of operation is like that of an eagle. No one knows what it will pick and when. Similarly, no one will know whom I pick, why, when, where, how and for what. Only after you read the next day’s papers you will realize that your neighbour whom I picked the other day was actually a hardened criminal wanted in several cases. I believe in being tough with anti-social elements, very, very tough!
• On spending time with his family:
It’s tough, they must be fed up of my talking about victims, criminals, accused, and criminal law! But I try my best to take out some quality time for them. Recently, I accompanied my daughter who is a national-level swimmer to Aurangabad to be with her in a national event she was taking part in.
• On the follow-up action taken against money-lenders as per directions of the Police Commissioner:
We have received many complaints against money-lenders who are charging very high rate of interest. We have taken strict action by seizing their documents like signed blank promissory notes, cheques, etc and given relief to the victimized complainants.
• On his bright prospects of moving higher up the rank:
I am happy with my current post. I can serve the people better by being an Inspector than in a higher post!
• His advice to aspiring and new recruit police officers:
Be courageous, honest , inspired and service minded, whatever the circumstances.