A report published in the Hindustan Times today talks about the five famous assistant sub-inspectors (ASI) of Delhi police who pursued and caught almost 500 proclaimed offenders in 2017, more than one-fourth of what the entire force managed that year. Amongst the five dauntless officers namely, assistant sub-inspectors Bhagwan Singh, Krishan Kumar Yadav, Naresh Rana, Rajesh Kumar and Jagat Singh of Delhi police posted in different locations, ASI Rajesh Kumar Pahal of Punjabi Bagh police station topped the list with 129. All these fearless officers have their own stories to tell.
ASI Rajesh Kumar Pahal, joined the force in 1993 and worked as a driver in police stations till 2007. Since 2008, the year he became part of a team assigned to catch fugitive criminals he claims to have nabbed around 1,500 proclaimed offenders. As a driver, he drove for many of his senior officials, including the squad leader, now-retired inspector Joginder Singh, who caught more than 3,500 proclaimed offenders in 39 years.
Pahal recalls that the “The working style and dedication of those officers made them favourites of their seniors. This impressed and inspired me and I decided to be like them,” he said.
The opportunity came in 2008 when inspector Singh put him on the trail of a fugitive named Virender Singh from Haryana’s Bahadurgarh, a bus driver hiding for almost 25 years after he ran over a man in old Delhi in 1983 and fled. The man died and a court declared Virender a proclaimed offender. Pahal worked his intelligence network and learned that Virender had returned to his village after many years and was looking for a job desperately. Pahal disguised as a transporter, went to his home offering a job to Singh. Lured by the offer Singh called two days later confirming to meet Pahal at a bus stop on Jhajjar road. As he reached the police team was waiting for him. “Virender was the first proclaimed offender I caught. He was carrying a reward of Rs 5,000,” Pahal said.
ASI Bhagwan Singh of Jamia Nagar police station caught 107 fugitives last year, followed by 100 by ASI Naresh Rana of Alipur police station, and 86 and 76 each by ASI Krishan Kumar Yadav of Sangam Vihar and Jagat Singh Jatav of Palam Village police station. All these Five ASIs are a storehouse of enthralling stories of fortitude.
Rana, the eldest and most experienced among the five, recalls an incident, where he caught 98-year-old Rajrani this New Year’s Day. She was declared a proclaimed offender 15 years ago after she jumped bail in a bootlegging case. “She was 81 when she was arrested by Uttam Nagar police for allegedly selling illicit liquor. She got bail and never went to court for the trial. The Tis Hazari courts declared her a proclaimed offender in 2003,” he said.
ASI Jakhar narrates that he posed as a farmer to arrest a suspected rapist, Zafaryab, who was declared a proclaimed offender in 2013.
ASI Bhagwan Singh recalled the frustration of at least 15 failed attempts to arrest a man wanted for allegedly raping his married cousin, and the joy of success after digging in for almost four months.
During difficult times, ASI Yadav said they go back to their mentors and discuss problems. “Their advice keeps us going.”
It was guidance from seniors that inspired and turned five constables into ASIs with a unique knack for prizing out criminals from their hiding holes. Delhi police have over 80,000 personnel, but only a few are selected for the task that these ASIs are capable of accomplishing. Their skills and intelligence apart, the motivation to chase down a fugitive comes from three incentives that, according to Yadav, are — an out-of-turn promotion by arresting over 80 proclaimed offenders, including 40 involved in heinous crimes, in a year; reward money and the acknowledgement and appreciation with each success.
These missions of going after a fugitive involve its own set of risks and challenges. Many times these brave officers have found themselves surrounded by supporters of suspects, got attacked by villagers, and were wounded on several occasions, but these do not refrain them from taking up challenges. On other occasions, they are assigned regular duties such as maintaining law and order, visiting courts, securing streets and night patrol.