Monday, April 15, 2024

Focused on making roads safe for travel

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At a time when Central authorities are focusing solely on maximizing toll revenue from highways without bothering least about the toll in mounting accidents, both fatal and non-fatal; here is a cop in Andhra Pradesh who has halved accidents after taking over as Superintendent of Police, Bapatla. The young dynamic IPS officer, Vakul Jindal, product of IIT-Delhi, came into public service by choice, after a brilliant academic career. In a conversation with The Pioneer’s C Pradeep Kumar, the much-decorated IPS officer sheds light on his journey from Barnala, Punjab to Andhra Pradesh.
Parents and siblings
I was born to Kewal Jindal and Suman Jindal at Barnala town in Punjab state. My dad is a businessman — wholesale dealer in suiting, shirting and dress material – based at Barnala. My mom is a teacher at Gandhi Arya School, Barnala. I am the only child to my parents and they have always showered lots of love and affection on me and extended loads of support in all aspects.

Active childhood
I spent my entire childhood in Barnala – that is, till completion of 10 + 2. I have very fond memories of my school and college days. I studied in BGS Public School, Barnala.  I was very good at studies and played a lot of sports. I used to also take part in extracurricular activities. At school, I participated in several quiz and debate competitions, winning many prizes. I won prizes in sports and academics too.

Higher education
I took up non-medical stream after class 10. I took JEE and secured All India Rank 50. I got a seat in IIT-Delhi and took up Computer Science Engineering (2009 to 2013). I wanted to get into public service; so, after completing my engineering, I decided to join Civils coaching, and finally cracked the Civils in 2016.  I joined the service as Andhra Pradesh cadre IPS officer.

Transformation in IIT
After I joined IIT-Delhi, it was a period of total transformation for me, as I had come from a small town in Punjab.  I got a lot of exposure in IIT and made a good number of friends. I still cherish those memories.

Support from parents
There was tremendous support and caring from my parents right from childhood days, paving the way for my accomplishments. Thanks to their constant support, I got into IIT-Delhi, which is a very prestigious institution and which changed my life. My parents inspired me to work hard all through my academic life and beyond.

Wife is best friend
I and my wife, Mallika Garg, were batchmates in IIT-Delhi. We both did computer science engineering and decided to go for Civil services. After joining IPS, we got married. It was more of a love-cum-arranged marriage. My wife was selected to the West Bengal cadre. After marriage, she changed her cadre to Andhra Pradesh. My wife is my best friend and we have been so from our college days. We have very good understanding, professionally and otherwise.

Quality time
Devoting time to family is the most challenging part, considering that we both are IPS officers and posted as SPs. Still, we make it a point to take time out of our busy schedules for quality time with family. We are blessed with a son Vedaant Jindal, who is 4 years old. We make sure that we give sufficient time to engage him. Our parents too are very supportive. They live with us; so, my son always feels secure and safe under the wings of his grandparents. We give ample time to Vedaant. We make him study without compromising on play. We make sure that he does not feel that his parents are always busy. At the same time, we both work hard with dedication and do justice to our jobs.

Support from spouse
A spouse’s role is very important in a cop’s life. In my case, we both are cops. We understand the problems that arise on a day-to-day basis. There is great support from my wife in all aspects. We always discuss and sort out problems. I am very grateful to her for managing things well.

Hobbies and leisure pursuits
I like reading books (non-fiction) during my free time. I often read two to three books at a time. I also listen to music and watch movies at times. Most importantly, whenever I find time, I engage my son and play with him.

I joined service in 2016, underwent training in NPA, Hyderabad for a year, and was allotted to the Andhra Pradesh cadre. I underwent practical training in Kadapa. My first posting was in Greyhounds as Assault Commander for six months. Then I was posted as Assistant Superintendent of Police Rampachodavaram in East Godavari district. I was later posted as Additional SP Special Enforcement Bureau, Krishna district. Before joining the present post as Superintendent of Police, Bapatla district; I was SP CM Security. Since 2016 the people of AP have showered immense love and affection on me, for which I will be grateful to them forever.

Over the years, I have received many awards and rewards. To mention a few, I received Gold DGP Commendation Disc for 2023; a Silver DGP Commendation Disc in 2020; SKOCH Order of Merit – 3 awards: for the good work done in Operation Parivarthana – Alternate Livelihood; for the good work done in Sankalpam – Fight against Drugs; and for the good work done in Raksha Kavach – Powered by Women Force. I am also a recipient of SKOCH Silver Award for good work done in the Police & Safety category. CARE – Commitment to a Safer Roads Environment.

Challenges faced in service
Out of the many challenging tasks I faced during my career, the saddest perhaps was the boat mishap that took place when I was ASP Rampachodavaram in 2019. It happened near Devipatnam PS, near Papikondalu, where a boat carrying 76 people drowned. Immediately we swung into action and could save 26 people. For almost 40 days thereafter, we had a camp mid-river and recovered 47 dead bodies. I was personally there while recovering the bodies. I learned a lot from that incident. Apart from the local police, there were seven different relief forces camping there before the boat was brought to the surface. For the service, I was honored with DGP Commendation Disc.
During my posting as Additional SP (SEB), I set up the structure and the system that proactively curbed illegal liquor transportation and illegal sand digging.
After I was posted as Bapatla SP, I could help bring down fatal road accidents by 50 % and non-fatal accidents by 30 per cent. This is a major achievement in my career till now.

Pressures from political circles
Political pressures are always there. Still, we do whatever we can do legally and within the framework of rules. If we can’t oblige, we let them know clearly. As such, I did not feel any pressure or problem from political circles. In a democracy, we need to work with political executives as a team and focus on developing the state and resolving public grievances.

Message to younger generation
Whatever you dream you can achieve, go ahead; as sky is the limit. Hard work is very important to achieve your goals. Along with hard work, smart work is very important and that has to be oriented towards the goal.

Quick bytes
Like Coffee or Tea: Tea
Favourite colour:  Blue
Strength and weakness: Family and food respectively
Compliment you received: You are the best (from my son)
Favourite food: Chole bhature
If interested in cooking, what you prefer to cook (recipe): I like to cook Chole bhature
Favourite holiday spot:  Coorg
What you like in others: Someone who is fair and honest
Favourite movie and song: Afreen Afreen sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Fav movie: Forrest Gump.

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