Punjab CM announces task force to curb organised crime, gang wars

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Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has directed state DGP VK Bhawra to establish a full-fledged Anti-Gangster Task Force (AGTF) headed by an ADGP-rank officer.

The menace of gangsters is again on the rise. A kabaddi player was shot dead recently for not submitting to the demands of criminals. Some Pollywood artistes also recently approached the police after receiving threats from gangsters operating from jails or through their handlers abroad. In January 2018, during the Capt Amarinder regime, DGP Suresh Arora had set up the Organised Crime Control Unit (OCCU) to tackle gangsters. This unit is credited with eliminating all top 20 gangsters belonging to the ‘A’ and ‘B’ categories, barring Harvinder Singh Rinda and Harry Chatha.

The OCCU also arrested nearly 300 of the 500 identified gangsters, belonging to 70 gangs. The state even has a dedicated cell in the Bathinda Jail for notorious gangsters.

Former IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap, who is now an AAP MLA, was a key officer associated with the OCCU before he resigned from the service.

Sources said the AGTF is likely to be a revamped OCCU. At present, the OCCU has more than 200 personnel at its disposal, but the unit is facing a shortage of officers. It is headed by ADGP (Internal Security) RN Dhoke with ADGP Amit Prasad next in command. The unit has only two more gazetted officers — a DIG and an AIG. The OCCU looks after counter-intelligence operations also.

Announcing the task force formation after chairing a high-level meeting of the Police Department, the CM assured requisite manpower, latest equipment and technology, besides adequate funds to the police force “to break the unholy nexus which has already spread its wings in the drug trade and kabaddi world”.

Mann said he had already instructed the Jail Department to keep a strict vigil on the activities of gangsters lodged in various prisons in the state.

The CM also asked the DGP to make a proposal regarding a separate wing of the highway patrol to prevent road accidents. He said 136 “black spots” had been identified after the demise of renowned TV personality Jaspal Bhatti in a road accident, but unfortunately nothing concrete had been done on the ground. He also underlined the need to keep a first-aid kit in every police vehicle so that injured could get quick medical assistance.