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Naidu spreading falsehood: Gautam Sawang

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Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang has yet again reacted sharply to former chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naid advising the senior TDP leader to desist from writing such letters which are “misleading”.

Gautam Sawang said Naidu has been writing letters with misinformation and misleading facts” He has been writing letters without even verifying if any incident has even occurred in the first place. When our police team investigated, we found that no such incidents took place. The police are being dragged unnecessarily with a political agenda. This is not correct. Recently, we have arrested some people who were posting misleading information with regard to the attacks on Hindu temples,” Gautam Sawang said in a veiled warning that Naidu too could be arrested for “spreading falsehood”.

Later, Sawang went on to list out the achievements of the Andhra Pradesh Police. He said the AP Police has set up a welfare committee for the Prakasam police, a first in the country. “The Prakasam police are using the latest technology to crack crimes. The Prakasam police have set an example for the police personnel in other districts. We are adopting new scientific and technological changes in the state policing. The police are alert and keeping a constant watch on cyber crimes. There is no breakdown in law and order situation in the state. We are keeping a close watch on anti-social elements and the Andhra Pradesh Police will take stern action against people who try to break the law and order,” Sawang warned.

Was Gautam Sawang referring to Naidu? Earlier, Naidu had alleged that the law and order situation in Andhra Pradesh is deteriorating. He had sent an open letter to Sawang. In the letter, Naidu had appealed to him to take steps to restore the law and order situation in the State by allowing the police to discharge their duties impartially and fearlessly.

Gautam Sawang has been regularly reacting to Naidu’s letter. This is unprecedented. Police bosses are supposed to maintain law and order. If the Opposition party leaders express apprehensions over the law and order situation, the police are supposed to clear such doubts. However, it appears like Gautam Sawang is reacting like a YSRCP leader and not as state DGP.

Why should the DGP react to Naidu’s letter? This is the third time the DGP has reacted to Naidu’s letter. Sawang’s reactions are typical of a politician and not that of a police boss.

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Vizag gas leak accident an eye-opener, says Andhra DGP Sawang

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Amid the pressures of policing Andhra Pradesh during the Covid-19 lockdown, Thursday morning sprang a nasty surprise on the state police when a gas leak in a chemical unit led to 11 deaths and hundreds being hospitalised. In an exclusive interview to IANS, state Director General of Police, Gautam Sawang, discusses the takeaways of handling crises situations during challenging times of national lockdown.

Here is the text of the interview.

Question: A potentially larger tragedy was possibly averted in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday. What factors went in favour of the state?

Answer: First of all, this gas is not so lethal as it could be. Only if it is inhaled in large doses, it becomes lethal. Secondly, there had been a very prompt response, particularly, the police and all other machinery very very quickly because at 3.30 a.m., the first call came to the police control room. Soon after that everybody responded to it and within 10 minutes, our Rakshak mobile patrols landed there so they were able to alert everybody. And this vehicle had some loudspeakers built in for making Covid-related announcements. They were able to alert everyone. So when all the teams rushed there, they went about knocking on doors and even breaking doors and evacuating people from the place.

Q: With the gas leak coming during Covid lockdown, what are the takeaways from this for police forces in the country?

A: Basically be prepared because you may be caught unawares. Not to be caught unawares. The fact that police was prepared and alert mainly because of Covid, we had our teams on 24/7 alertness. That quick response, for example, we had Quick Response Teams (QRTs). There were two teams available 24/7, particularly during night time also. They were able to respond quickly. So therefore, we need to have that levels of preparedness to respond to any emergency situation which may arise during this time. I mean this is very necessary. Even normally it is so, but particularly so because of Covid times.

No. 2, having this kind of face masks did help us because of the Covid facemask… People had some irritation when they first went in. For example, three of our personnel – one inspector, sub inspector, one head constable, they are also in hospital now. They were the ones who responded first and rescued a lot of people. So that preparedness is basically alertness and responding to situations.

Q: Would you consider this a flawless rescue operation considering it was taken up at such short notice at an unearthly hour?

A: I would say that. One thing is that it could have been better. I wouldn’t say that this is the best. It has been done very well. While we say so, we could have done even better. But then in the given circumstances, keeping the level of resources, kind of resources that we have at our disposal, I would say that this was really good. We’re really appreciative of our officers on the ground for having responded. Our honourable CM also has acknowledged that. And then right up to the top, they were constantly monitoring the situation.

Q: Resumption of factory activities after lockdown has been cited as one of the reasons for the gas leakage, so what kind of precautions are to be expected, going forward?

A: We can’t say that. We can’t be attributing this incident to resumption of this factory after lockdown. Can’t say that. For any situation, anywhere there are certain set protocols and I’m sure they would have resorted to their protocols with regards to which are the critical areas which may need attention. Like when you start an aircraft, there is an SOPwhen to start it, they go through certain processes and then only they start moving. Likewise it would be naive to say that because of restarting this happened. But it’s an accident, It’s certainly an accident but we’ll investigate that. Government has ordered an investigation.

Q: Any moves on part of the police to put in place any precautions because of this mishap?

A: Definitely this is an eye-opener. Casualness. Otherwise would have been taken in a routine manner. People will really double check before they start something critical or dangerous processes…. inflammables, explosives, toxic chemicals, a sense of caution will be there.

Q: Do you expect Covid numbers status in Visakhapatnam to rise as physical distancing precautions were not observed during rescue operations on Thursday?

A: First of all when there’s a crisis situation on the ground it’s a natural instinct or reaction of people to come together to reach out to help. Unless we physically put barriers and see that people don’t come together forgetting physical distancing practice, it may be difficult in a situation where so much public emotions are involved. Secondly that area is not a red zone nor containment zone or hotspot, so therefore we don’t have any cases of Covid-19 cases in that area.

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Quarantine must for all interstate entrants: AP DGP

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Andhra Pradesh DGP Gautam Sawang said on Thursday that any individual crossing over the border into the state will be mandatorily subjected to 14-day quarantine.

Speaking on Thursday to the media, Sawang stated that since Wednesday, there have been attempts by many people to enter the state from neighbouring Telangana.

With reports continuing to come in, of people belonging to Andhra Pradesh converging at various points along the interstate border with Telangana, the AP top cop maintained that nobody will be allowed to contravene the lockdown regulations in place.

On Wednesday night, the AP-Telangana border had witnessed tense scenes after a few hundred people, mostly students, armed with permission letters issued by Telangana Police, had tried to return to their homes in Andhra Pradesh.

However the AP Police had stopped their entry leading to tension for a couple of hours. Following the two state governments’ intervention, the students were allowed to cross over to Andhra Pradesh where the AP Police took them to an isolation centre for observation.

The AP government had earlier announced that people from outside would not be allowed entry into the state during the lockdown period. However, with many Paying Guest (PG) and working people’s hostels in Hyderabad shutting down to the COVID-19 lockdown, people staying in these places were forced to return to their hometowns in Andhra Pradesh.

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HC slap on DGP Gautam Sawang… Police should not be used for political vendetta

Providing a fearless society to the people by establishing the rule of law should be the top priority of the governments. Police machinery should be given full independence so that it discharges its duties freely without fear of the ruling dispensation. Unfortunately, the police machinery is often used by state powers for its vendetta politics, to silence its adversaries. Vendetta politics in Andhra Pradesh has used fear through violence manifested in either verbal or physical intimidation, threats or assaults against political rivals.
Power should not undermine the sanctity of the government. Misusing the instruments of governance, namely the police and the administration, into either passive agents or active promoters of fear and intimidation to silence the Opposition is detrimental to democratic principles. Sadly, political vendetta has become stronger than the law in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere in the country.

The responsibility of the DGP is to ensure the rule of law is maintained but this is not to be, at least in Andhra Pradesh. The arrest of former chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu at Vishakapatnam airport falls in the category of political vendetta. The TDP boss was arrested when he arrived at the airport on February 27 to participate in various programmes. As a matter of fact, the TDP obtained necessary permissions from the police to hold the party’s programmes. However, the YSRCP workers arrived at the airport and disallowed Naidu from entering into the city and thereby forcibly stopped him from taking part in the party’s programmes.

What was YSRCP afraid of? The Jagan-led party enjoys a clear majority in the Assembly with 151 members, why then should the party fear Naidu’s entry into Vizag? The YSRCP boss needs to introspect for the actions of his workers and followers which of course must have been carried out with full knowledge of the ruling party president. On its part, the Andhra Pradesh police arrested Naidu under CrPC 151 in clear violation of the police manual. Sec.151(1) empowers a police officer knowing of a design to commit any cognizable offence to arrest, without orders from a magistrate and without a warrant, person so designing if it appears to him / her that the commission of the offence cannot be otherwise prevented. What cognizable or unpreventable trouble did the AP police fear that Naidu or TDP workers would foment? The arrest was challenged in the High Court.

The High Court pulled up Andhra Pradesh DGP Gautam Sawang questioning why action should not be taken against the police. In his deposition before the court, Sawang had to cut a sorry face. He admitted before the court that Naidu’s arrest was not in the spirit of Sec.151(1). The HC asked him to take action against the assistant commissioner and the commissioner of police of Vizag who served the arrest notice. One wonders if Naidu was arrested without the knowledge of Sawang. The HC’s observations were definitely a slap on Andhra Pradesh DGP. Lesson: The situation should not arise where the High Court has to remind the DGP of his responsibilities and that the police should safeguard the people and not serve the political agenda of the ruling dispensation.

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HC orders for DGP affidavit on action against Vizag police

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The AP High passed serious strictures against DGP Gautham Sawang. The DGP appeared before the court today as he was summoned for his personal explanation. It was on the issue of Section 151 notice given for Chandrababu Naidu preventive arrest at Visakhapatnam airport. The court gave a jolt to the DGP by making him to read Section 151 of CrPC and asked whether it could be applicable in Naidu case. The DGP duly read out and told the court that it was a mistake of Vizag police to give that notice to Naidu. Then, the court asked what action was taken against the officials for this mistake. The DGP said he would take action if the court gives orders. Then, the High Court told the DGP to take whatever action he would take against the Vizag police officials. The court also asked the DGP to file an affidavit back to it on what action he had taken.

This has created sensation in police and advocates circles. The High Court made DGP wait throughout the day and expressed its displeasure on the deteriorating rule of law in the state. The court told the DGP to uphold the rule of law keeping in mind that the officials remain in public service while the governments come and go. Later, DGP returned to this office near Mangalagiri. The Advocate General rushed to Tadepalli and met with CM Jaganmohan Reddy.

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Is DGP Sawang a much changed IPS officer now?

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The TDP leaders initially thought under Gowtham Sawang as AP DGP, they would get a fair deal to some extent at least. But slowly, they realised his helplessness and started criticising him in various issues. Sawang could not respond even in SC, ST atrocities cases being filed against TDP leaders in different police stations. Now, DGP has become helpless even if a police lathi is allegedly used by anti-social elements to disturb Chandrababu Naidu convoy in Amaravati visit.

Now, the TDP leaders are asking DGP to clarify how a police lathi landed in the hands of rowdy elements. The opposition leaders are making direct attacks on the DGP style of functioning. The TDP leaders are also wondering whether there is any comparison between Sawang during his stint as Vijayawada police commissioner and now.

Sawang was known for his tough handling of the call money scam. He struck fear among the anti-social elements in Vijayawada city limits in those days. The TDP leaders are upset that such an IPS officer is now behaving like a YCP activist like any other lower level police officer. During the TDP regime, Thakur was DGP and he did not get entangled in political issues much. There was no blatant misuse of police machinery and atrocities cases against rivals at that time.

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Chandrababu fires on DGP over drone incident?

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Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu called up DGP Gautham Sawang and expressed his disappointment over breach of security at his residence in Krishna Karakatta. Naidu asked whether the drone cameras were used over his residence without permission from the DGP or the government. How can private persons enter into the high security zone and begin flying drones to capture videos of the surroundings?

Naidu asked DGP whether this does not compromise his security and safety. He asked DGP to give him full details of who has ordered this drone recording. Naidu also demanded to know the identities of the drone operators, their masters and the overall conspiracy behind this.

Reports say that Mangalagiri MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy has visited Naidu residence surroundings in early morning hours itself. After that, the drone mission has started. The drone operators have taken aerial videos of Independence Day celebrations addressed by CM Jagan yesterday. The secret coverage of Naidu residence is suspected to be part of the package. The operators initially told security at Naidu house that one Kiran in CM camp office has asked them to do this.

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