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Geek in uniform

March 11, 2013 14:52 IST

Premal Balan meets an Ahmedabad constable who is helping crime investigation become faster and more accurate with his software

A 37-year-old constable in Gujarat is changing the way police in Ahmedabad function. Dilip Thakore, who started out by studying diesel engine mechanics and went on to maintain guns at the police armoury, is the brain behind some indigenously-developed software that could revolutionise crime detection in the state.

Thakore, who is posted with the Detection of Crime Branch, Ahmedabad, has developed a software called Pinac, or Programme for Identification and Arrest of Criminals. Once the investigating officer feeds in the place of offence, the modus operandi of the criminal and the kind of offence, the software gives a list of criminals who have, in the past, been involved in similar crimes. The software, thus, narrows down the number of people which the police need to probe, thereby saving time spent on each case.

It has been a little over four months since the software was installed in all the police stations of Ahmedabad city and already it has helped the police crack over 200 cases.

“We have used multilingual fonts so that the police personnel can type in the details even in Gujarati. The search would give results in the same language,” says Thakore. The software searches a database of over 35,000 history-sheeters in the city whose profiles, including their photographs, fingerprints and names of their relatives, are available in detail. The database, centralised with DCB, has been shared with every police station in Ahmedabad. Thakore and his team update the data every month.

Pinac is among the dozen-odd software programs that Thakore has developed over the past decade.

He’s come a long way since he joined the police force in 1996. “In 1997, the police academy got its first computer. I was then posted at the police training academy, getting trained in maintaining arms,” recalls Thakore. “I had never touched a computer before that. But my superior, V K Mal, encouraged me to learn computers.”

Thakore, whose father was also a policeman, enrolled in a computer course at a private institute. Later, the department recommended his name for a one-year course in Oracle-based programming. An opportunity to put his training into practice presented itself in 2001-02 when a software developed by a private firm for police recruitment crashed at the eleventh hour. Thakore was called in to salvage the situation. “Since I had done a course in Oracle, I told my superiors that I could develop a software,” says Thakore. The program he developed was used for the next five recruitment processes. 

Later, while he was posted in Mehsana, he developed a network using dial-up modem to communicate with other police stations in the district. In 2008, he was transferred to DCB where he faced one of the toughest tasks of his life -- the Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts case. The team succeeded in nabbing the accused within a week. Some of the software developed by Thakore came handy in that case.

Like the others, Pinac has been developed using the existing resources of the police department, which include licensed software from Microsoft and other companies. “The department,” says Additional Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia, “would have incurred huge expenditure to get a similar software (Pinac) developed by some private firm. Thakore has made our job easy.”

Thakore is now working on developing a mobile application on the lines of Pinac which could help investigators speed up their probes. Among the other software he’s developed are ‘Amarbail’ to track criminals out on bail and ‘Eklavya’, which contains details of 800,000 vehicles in Ahmedabad. This makes the task of recovering stolen vehicles easier.  The police department is using all these software.

The information from software is admissible in court to an extent. It can be used to assist the court in understanding certain complex cases involving a large number of accused and establishing their link and involvement in the conspiracy, or to support some evidences. However, the analysis cannot be treated as evidence in the court of law.

Some weeks ago, a team from Microsoft India met Thakore to learn about the software he has developed. Microsoft has also offered him training in its programmes. 

Premal Balan in Ahmedabad