Time flies. But if you take charge as the pilot, no posting is either plum or a punishment; but an opportunity to serve. So even when V.Vikraman played a cameo innings for just two months as Superintendent of Police in Karur, on orders of the Election Commission of India for the high voltage Aravakurichi by-poll last year, he hardly viewed it as a stop-gap arrangement but went on to make a huge impact. By being accessible to the public and putting down rowdyism, illicit liquor retailing, sand mining and prostitution with an iron hand, this 2010 batch IPS officer emerged as the darling of the local people. The proof of his popularity lay in the posters that surfaced, representations that were sent to the Chief Minister’s Cell and Writ Petitions that were filed to recall his transfer back to Chennai.
An irrepressible urge to be a change agent right from his SRM Engineering College years, prompted this Computer Science Engineering graduate to log out of his IT avatar and open a new window in the Civil Services. “The leadership roles that we would get doing things that matter to the society was what inspired me to take the plunge.” The Indian Police Service turned out to be Vikraman’s “4th job after graduation” having worked at the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) during which stint, he was involved in “developing open source cloud computing infrastructure for the Government of India.”
For pretty much a city slicker who studied in PSBB and Shrine Vailankanni schools in Chennai, the taste of transfers was not new to Vikraman as his father S.Vasudevan’s job in a Central Government Undertaking led him to also study in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of Tamil Nadu during his formative years. Thanks to his homemaker mother Geetha Vasudevan, the relocation was made seamless.
For a sizeable part of his decade long career in khakhi so far, it has been baptism by fire. In the initial years as ASP, Vikraman was posted at communally sensitive areas like Mudugulathur and Kamudhi. There was never a dull moment in those nascent years. “In 2011, there was police firing at Paramakudi. In 2012 there was violence during the sensitive Thevar Jayanthi. I was posted as ASP Kamudhi in 2013 to ensure that the event passed off peacefully. Our district team headed by Collector Nandakumar, SP Mayilvahanan and myself set out to handle the bandobast with a fresh look. With government support, we were able to tackle the issue smoothly. In 2013 there were absolutely no incidents. Our model was replicated in all the sensitive bandobasts of Southern Tamil Nadu till date.”
While manning the Villupuram district as the Superintendent of Police, Vikraman led an operation to unearth an illegal gun factory in the Kalvarayan Hills. “We caught a cache of 500 single barrel guns.” Then came his transfer to the volatile Tirunelveli district. “In my two and a half year stint, we were able to contain rowdyism and the murders came down drastically. All due to our wonderful team.”
The young officer’s tech savvy background was not lost on the top brass. Handpicked for an assignment on Automation as Superintendent of Police in 2018, operating out of the State Police Headquarters, Vikraman’s team “rolled out e-office suite developed by NIC throughout all the 4 zones of Tamil Nadu. Now all the DPO, CPOs, Range offices and zonal offices are e-office enabled. We also ensured that all necessary Infrastructure such as computers and LAN connectivity were provided to the districts. The biggest challenge was changing mindsets. “We had to convince the old timers that the change had come and they have to move on. We ensured proper training to all ministerial staff to operate e-office. I’m proud of our team’s accomplishments and confident that in a short time, the entire Tamil Nadu Police would come under the e-office ambit.”
Four months after the Covid pandemic surfaced in India, Vikraman earned a Chennai City posting – as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Adyar. This is one of the widest turfs in the Greater Chennai Police. “I would say that Adayar is a microcosm of our country. It has extremes. At one end, it has the plush corporate offices at OMR of all the top notch IT and other industries; and at the other, there are blackspot areas like Kannagi Nagar and Kumaran Nagar. The entire ECR stretch with its costal belt is in Adayar. It requires us to be on our toes always. But it is deeply satisfying.”
A public contact number and whatsapp video calls with DCPs have helped in establishing a good rapport with the public. The decentralised Cyber Cells in all the 12 districts of the city, a brainchild of Commissioner of Police Mahesh Aggarwal, has been quite a hit. “Keeping in mind the current situation we are meeting petitioners through Video Conferencing. All these initiatives have helped in taking policing a step closer to the public.”
Not to forget a robust social media presence. “I had the opportunity of heading the Tamil Nadu Social Media team while I was posted in the DGP’s office. I learnt the nuances of engaging with the public. The information we get from the public has helped us in busting many brothels operating in the guise of Spas in our district. However, you need to know the Rubicon while being on the social media.”
Vikraman is also adept at a different net game – Volleyball. “As SP, I used to play in the evenings with my striking force. Playing with our subordinates increases the bonding in our force.”
At home, the DCP is quite a doting dad, helping bathe and feed his little daughters Samyukta and Satvika and also handholding them as they paint many a beautiful scenery. And doing his bit in the kitchen too – cutting vegetables, whenever possible, as he juggles with the walkie talkie giving instructions from “Mic 29 to Control.” Vikraman unhesitatingly credits his wife Arthi as “the lady behind my success”. Although “she now works for a private company, she travelled with me wherever I went – right from the interiors of Ramnad, Kamuthi, Tirunelveli and Villupuram sacrificing her own career.”
Evidently endowed with a sense of equanimity, the 37 year old cop has a Rudyard Kipling sort of mantra. “Don’t bother about short term inconveniences for long term peace.” Policing just got an upgrade.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)