At 6 feet 2 inches, he was asked this question at the UPSC interview – the final round for selection to the Civil Services. “What’s the one challenge that your height poses, if at all?” Pronto came the repartee: “Getting into a Maruti 800 car!” The jocular drift aside, for close to three and a half decades, this 1988 batch IPS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, has been even literally standing head and shoulders above his peers.
Ram rod straight and upright to the core, Sanjay Arora’s gait and expertise are not the only outstanding features. The medals that adorn his chest – right from the Chief Minister’s Gallantry Medal for Bravery and Heroic Action, the Police Medal for Meritorious Service, the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service, the Police Special Duty Medal, Antrik Suraksha Padak and UN Peacekeeping Medal bear testimony to his impressive track record.
The B.Tech degree holder in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Malviya National Institute of Technology who hails from Jaipur, hardly had to re-engineer his career moves. Evidently destiny played its part. Post Tamil Nadu, his cadre State to deputation at Chhattisgarh, Kashmir, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and now Delhi, there have been quite a dramatic progression. Just last year, Arora was a frontline contender for the Head of Police Force in Tamil Nadu coinciding with a change of guard in the State. While he missed out on that pick, the sensitive and prestigious Delhi Police Commissionerate came his way, making him only the third non AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram & Union Territories) IPS officer to be made the Delhi Police Commissioner after Ajay Raj Sharma and Rakesh Asthana.
The credo “to set new benchmarks in policing” has taken shape, not merely in terms of what one would imagine is the staple VVIP security cover but also through several measures like Delhi Police’s Community Policing initiative ‘We Care’. Proof of the policing is in the twitter feed with citizens thanking the cops for specific help like a senior television journalist showering encomiums on the department for cracking a cyber crime of which his relative was a victim.
Always known to be a no-nonsense, strict but affable officer, Arora, earned his spurs early in his career. After being trained by the National Security Guard (NSG) Arora was an integral part of the crack team that formed the Special Security Group (SSG) to provide security to the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms.J.Jayalalithaa in the wake of a threat from militants.
An accomplished team player, he was a key member of the Special Task Force (STF) that later eliminated sandalwood brigand Veerappan in the Sathyamangalam forest. It was for his role in the STF that Arora was honoured with the CM’s gallantry award.
Not the sort to talk about his work, Arora was quite media shy during his years in Tamil Nadu. But ask any of his batchmates or seniors or subordinates and just one chorus will emerge – dedication and focus. So, whether during his stints as Superintendent of Police or Deputy Inspector General of Police of ranges like Villupuram or Deputy Director of Vigilance & Anti-Corruption (DVAC) Arora or as Commissioner of Police of the communally sensitive Coimbatore City, Arora made a mark.
Not just at Coimbatore, but also in Chennai, Arora displayed his expertise in City Policing. Having served the Chennai City Police as the Additional Commissioner (Crime & Headquarters) and Additional Commissioner (Traffic) he introduced a slew of people centric initiatives, particularly the E-Challan system for transparency and to obviate corruption in spot fine collection.
After being promoted as Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Arora was posted as ADGP (Operations) and ADGP (Administration) before heading out on deputation.
Arora’s Deputation innings have been eventful, what with the leadership mantle of the top para-military forces – Border Security Force (BSF) the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
Now in the hot seat, the 57 year old top cop who has three years to go to hang up his boots, is determined to be his natural self – soft spoken, down to earth, non-controversial and professional. Knowing him, retaining those qualities in the rough and tumble of the national capital, is not a tall order.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author & Former Resident Editor of NDTV 24×7. His 4th book ‘High & Law’ published by Thomson Reuters is available on amazon)