Our expectations from the police

| July 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Consider  the following cases: Binayak Sen held for a year in a jail in Chattisgarh without trial and without a shred of hard evidence against him. The numerous other atrocities committed by police-supported Salwa Judum in Chattisgarh…

The Anti-Terrorism Squad and the Special Task Force of UP police picking up, detaining and interrogating suspected terrorists in flagrantly illegal ways, with no lawyer agreeing to take up their case because they are all Muslims…

“Encounter” deaths of innocent people caused by the police under the garb of fighting left-wing extremism…

Rapes and murders galore by members of the police force that is actually paid to prevent rape and murder…

And innumerable acts of omission such as not accepting FIRs, if inconvenient.

If we could have Lodhas of Bengal considered as a criminal tribe, it would be surely justified for the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), in view of the above, to fund a study to determine if the tribe of the police should be done the same honour.

That leads us to the question: what may we judge our police by? I dare say we may do so against the following ten expectations of civil society from the police:

Professionalism: Just look at the way traffic police operates in say, Hyderabad. They have no idea of what the rules of the road are: not even what a one-way street means.

Honesty and integrity: Today, those who don’t have a price in the police are unlikely to last for long.

Respect for human rights: The police station is, for civil society, one of the most dreaded places to go to. It has become virtually synonymous with torture, insult, rape, and apathy to basic human rights.

Courtesy: Have you ever heard a policeman say sorry or thank you?

Help: Can you recall the last time a policeman was helpful to you, say at the police station, if you went there with a genuine complaint and are neither rich nor famous nor know somebody who is rich or famous or powerful?

A minimal understanding of basic human needs and human behaviour: If they had that understanding they wouldn’t think that the only solution to left-wing extremism is through the gun.

Ability to resist political pressure in the discharge of duties: If this were so, the brats of the rich and the powerful would not be able to break all traffic rules with such impunity.

Commitment to the country, to its objectives and to its values: What we see, instead, in our law enforcement set up, is a total commitment to oneself and surrender to political, bureaucratic and money power. Police and sycophancy have become a lethal combination for the civil society in our country.

Strict law enforcement (and, therefore, awareness of law!): Otherwise, how would the maximum number of traffic violations and violation of building norms occur right under the nose of the police?

Being proactive: The road contractors, at least in my city of Hyderabad – specially in areas where the rich, the powerful and the famous don’t live – after doing whatever job they were supposed to do (no matter how badly), leave all the waste material by the road side which the police sees day in and day out. Have they ever made a complaint against the contractors and the builders having behaved so irresponsibly?

In a fair marking system, with ten marks for each of the above ten expectations, I dare say 1 per cent of our police force will probably receive over 90 per cent; 4 per cent between 75 and 90; 5 per cent between 60 and 75, 45 and 60, and 30 and 45 each; and 75 per cent below 30 marks. So there is much space for improvement!

I believe there is a police bill on the anvil for consideration by the Parliament. But, perhaps, it is too much to expect that the law makers will not behave like the police itself and take note of the above expectations of the civil society from the police.

It is unfortunate that it is not understood that such a situation, where keepers of law become breakers of law, and makers of law become insensitive to the miseries and problems of people, cannot last for long. Remember the French Revolution. We may well be headed for a similar one.

Reference: Our expectations from the police. Pushpa M. Bhargava. The Tribune, 14th Jan. 2008.

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