A message lost in communication : The Tribune India

KK Paul

Undoubtedly, good communications are pivotal for the efficiency of any police department. With the advent of the 5G network, a number of new applications are likely to become available, hopefully improving the efficiency even further. Even in the seventies and the eighties, the modernisation mantra, that we are so used to hearing these days, was very much in fashion, but never yielded any fruit. Either there used to be no financial support or the equipment was not available indigenously.

A lucky break came when in 1982, Delhi had hosted the Asian Games, followed by NAM and CHOGM the next year. The Delhi Police, being at the core of the arrangements for these mega international events, were a direct beneficiary, having received good quality communication equipment. A fancy item but of great utility was a car phone, branded MRKB, from Hungary.

After the games were over and senior officers had, as usual, gone back to their offices, the MRKB had little use and with its special antenna on top of the car, was just reduced to being a status symbol. So much so that when the staff car of a senior officer from the administration was reported missing, all he wanted was that the replacement car must have the special antenna on top even if without the car phone.

Another very useful piece of imported equipment that became available to us was the hand-held wireless set. Earlier, while one used to struggle with excessive noise and poor voice quality even over small distances, these imported sets were quite handy, small, sleek and powerful. One could easily converse throughout Delhi and even beyond, without any strain or interference.

Though these sets immensely facilitated direct officer-to-officer communication, even such state-of-the-art equipment could do only that much which the communicator wanted done. For some malingerers in the force, these sets came in handy as now they could operate from the comfort of their residences without the others being wiser.

Night patrolling is an essential feature of urban policing. There are very detailed instructions on the subject. For ensuring their strict compliance, there is a check-list which helps supervisory officers. During one such night patrol, the district DCP asked a particular officer over the new hand-held set, “Where is your position?” The officer responded, “I am at Gol Methi”, a known landmark in New Delhi. The DCP asked again and got the same reply. The DCP finally told him, “Gol Methi par to main hun, where is your position?” The response was, “Ab meri position bahut kharaab ho gayi hai.”

I leave it to the readers to guess as to what might have happened the next morning.

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