An allergy is what some officers seem to develop when approached by NGOs. For Pradip Kumar, it’s sheer energy. Far from seeing these outfits as a thorn in the flesh, to be kept at an arm’s length away, here’s a senior officer who chooses to work hand-in-hand.
Be it ‘Uyir’ to promote road safety or ‘Siruthuli’ to restore water bodies or the ‘Gajanand Trust’ to counsel victims of sexual offences and child abuse, through ‘Project Vallam’, Coimbatore City’s Commissioner of Police finds value in embracing these social workers as partners to bolster his priority – “empowerment, healing and restoration of dignity to victims of crime, especially women and children.”
The ‘get-set-NGO’ mindset took shape during his formative years in Hathras, near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, where a young Pradip witnessed his father Dr.Shyam Sunder Kaushik, a doctor, treating medicine as a form of service in the village and using agriculture as his livelihood. Keeping the home fires burning with a modest income, his mother Saroj Devi, brought up four children with a rich harvest of values.
The bullying that he was subjected to in school was a catalyst for Pradip’s desire for the uniform. Determined to take History as an optional paper in the Civil Services Examination, he even graduated through private study as this Arts Course was not offered in local colleges. After his Masters in History from the Dr.B.R.Ambedkar University in Agra, he earned his khakhi uniform as a 2003 batch IPS officer.
An inherent calm demeanour seems to have come in handy right through Pradip’s career and in sensitive posts. “Caste tension and restive college campuses” greeted him in his maiden posting as ASP Chidambaram. VVIP security with the Prime Minister attending the Indian Science Congress gave the freshly minted cop good exposure. On his promotion as Superintendent of Police, it was “quite rare” for an officer to be retained in the same district. As the SP Cuddalore, Pradip had to be on high alert after the killing of LTTE Chief Prabhakaran. An equally sensitive district of Ramanathapuram followed where an important task was to ensure that the Thevar Jayanthi “went on peacefully.”
Five solid years on deputation with the CBI from 2011 to 2016, sharpened Pradip’s investigative prowess. When he was back in Tamil Nadu, a stint as Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) in Tirunelveli saw a widely reported burglary in a jewellery store in 2017. Almost 37 kilograms of gold was looted. “The crime was solved in 24 hours. A red alert had been issued for the suspects from Jharkhand with intensive vehicle checks at State borders. The culprits were nabbed at the Vellore border as they were trying to flee towards Tirupati.”
The next promotion as Deputy Inspector General of Police of Madurai from 2017 to 2019, with additional charge of Ramanathapuram, entailed in another VVIP visit of the Prime Minister to inaugurate former President Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam’s memorial. Digitisation, toning up the locked houses register system and the Kavalan app were undertaken, along with steps to promote communal harmony.
As the Deputy Inspector General of Police – Salem from 2017 to 2019, Pradip focused on strengthening intelligence gathering, by roping in uniformed services personnel and ex-servicemen. “This rapport helped us in getting many a tip-off and also gave them a sense of belonging.”
After the assembly election in Tamil Nadu, Chennai City beckoned. Pradip found himself in a hot seat as the Additional Commissioner of Police – Traffic. Although this was quite a cameo posting for just six months, he strove to give a fresh impetus to the Traffic Wardens system and worked on the “tunneling” method of VVIP convoy movement for the Chief Minister to obviate the holding up of traffic.
Coimbatore City has presented both challenges and opportunities. “On the L&O front, we have refurbished 11 city check posts, strengthened our CCTV coverage and re-modelled patrolling with more visible policing, surprise checks and use of face recognition software.” The victim-oriented approach has meant going beyond registration of FIRs, arrests and prosecution but also counselling. “In our traffic enforcement, we have started taking suggestions from road users. Their perspective is considered. Our intensive drives are not restricted to numbers and cases booked but awareness backed by counselling.” This involves making violators listen to advice from the officials on the spot for a few minutes (unless they need to rush in some emergency) and signing a pledge.
This 2003 batch officer’s deep interest in geo-politics and national security dictates his reading list and is reflected in his personal library on History as well as Philosophy. “Aside of Indian Medieval History and the occasional self-help books on finance, I’ve read at least a dozen books of Jiddu Krishnamurti.”
Soft spoken and reserved by nature, Pradip is a complete family man, who lost no time in having his wife Umanjali Mishra, a former government official in Uttar Pradesh and son Parth Aryan Kaushik, a budding debater, moved from Chennai to Coimbatore when he was transferred, despite it being in the middle of an academic year.
A strong penchant for co-opting resources and a publicity-shy stance will make him a right fit for any sensitive assignment. With all the right ‘Rules of Engagement’.