mid-day's 39th anniversary: The Singham from Satara

By Rahul Mahajani | Mumbai

The story of how a dare-devil IPS officer singlehandedly brought down cop deaths from improvised explosive devices in Maoist-infested Gadchiroli to zero

Sandip Patil says his inspiration is no decorated policeman but batting hero, Sachin Tendulkar, for his ability to focus

Sandip Patil, 39
Superintendent of Police

Soft spoken and slight, at first glance IPS officer Sandip Bhimrao Patil could pass off as a banker. What comes as a surprise then is Patil's reputation in the police force. At just 26, his first posting in 2006, as probationary officer, was at Ramnagar police station in naxal-infested Chandrapur district. And, he was welcomed with 1,000 threatening letters dropped at his police station. Undaunted, Patil set about finding the men who had written them and arresting them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Ever since, his fearlessness has earned him praise and tough postings.

Four years ago, in Gadchiroli, Patil, who joined as Superintendent of Police (SP), singlehandedly brought down the number of deaths of police personnel due to improvised explosive devices (IED) to zero. When he was first transferred to the district, he was baffled by the statistics. He also discovered that the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had no IED casualties. He dug deeper to realise that while the CRPF had IED experts with every squad, the police had just two IED squads for the entire district.

He immediately got all 60 police stations in the area IED-trained. There were no cop casualties from IEDs during the 2014 Vidhan Sabha polls. This feat was repeated in 2015 and 2016, during his tenure. It continues to this day. He went on to shine in Bhandara, Parbhani, Chandrapur and is currently posted as the SP of Satara.

Patil was born in Ellur village on the border of Sangli-Kolhapur. His father was a manager at a co-operative factory. The family, however, was unwavering in its focus on education. "After class five, I got admission into Sainik School in Satara, where I studied up to Std X," he says. This school boosted his confidence, since it grooms students for the defence forces and other challenging exams. Patil's dream of joining the armed forces took a hit, however, when despite clearing the exam and interview, he failed the medical exam.

He then refocused on engineering, completing it from a university in Islampur, after which he joined a firm at Kandivli. Unable to forget his dream of serving the country, Patil quit his job and went to Delhi to clear the UPSC exams. He got into the IPS in the Maharashtra Cadre, and met his wife Priyanka, also a UPSC aspirant.

Patil's inspiration is no cop, but Sachin Tendulkar. He quotes his idol, who had said, "I focus on batting, the rest will follow." Patil's take on it is, "I believe in doing basic policing well, and the rest will follow."

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