By Sumeet Kaur:
In spite of the sacrifices of martyrs like Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and many more, the public confidence in the police is low and decreasing such that the reputation of the police remains ripped apart. The police force is meant to provide citizens a sense of safety and security while looking after peace and order in the society as a whole. We have lost faith in the system over the time, rather it is on an all time low. Every common man talks about policemen as the most corrupt people who misuse their powers. “One of the easiest government official to bribe is someone from the police force”, says Deepak Rawat ,an English professor. In case you are caught on the road for speeding your car, the best way is to bribe the police officer on duty rather than wasting your time. The investigations are delayed and the guilty never punished. The rate of successful conviction in serious crimes like rape is 6%. Recently, protests continued in Delhi demanding Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar’s resignation but he ruled out the resignation saying that “If my resignation will prevent such deprived action of the society then I am ready to resign a thousand times. But this is not going to address the problem”.
The primary reason for the malfunctioning in the system is the lack of external supervision over the day to day investigations carried out by the police and the shortage of manpower as figures state that there are still around 3 lakh vacancies across the country. Protecting VIPs—usually politicians, business people, and entertainment figures is amongst the main duties of police officers. Senior police officials frequently use low-ranking staff as orderlies and even as personal family servants. Another reason is the lack of training and skills as required with the changing times. Law minister Veerappa Moily also said that “India urgently needs a well-trained special police force to deal with cyber crimes and internet bugs”. Junior and low-ranking policemen and women are no wonder demoralized due to degrading working and living conditions. The police are under constant stress due to work pressure requirements and that they be available for duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Whatever may be the reason, the ordinary citizen is angry and frustrated with the system and this is very well evident in the recent outbursts against the Nirbhaya case and the rape with an innocent 5-year-old girl. Another case is the recent high profile murder of Ponty Chadha in Delhi NCR region, where the police was no doubt involved and many similar cases where evidences are tampered with and justice is delayed. The general pubic views are that you hardly find honest police in India. If there are any, they will be transferred to remote locations and put into trouble. Each and every police official in the country is corrupt – starting from lowest to the highest and they are slaves to politicians most of the time. They are not present at traffic signals to regulate traffic but to find someone to bribe them. They refuse to file complaints, torture and ill-treat suspects in their custody,urge victims to compromise and even harass people or ask them vulgar and insulting questions such that people are rather scared of going to the police station and lodging their complaints. Fake encounter killings occur frequently, largely in Uttar Pradesh. As such many cases go unreported. Of course, all this is true as that is the image being projected on a large scale.
The people who have to face repeated ill-treatment are the ones who are poor and economically weak because they are unable to bribe police to secure their release and are unlikely to have connections with local political figures who can intervene. I would like to cite an example(taken from a book):
“Twenty-year-old Pradeep Singh died after suffering a severe beating by police in Chitti, Dhankaur, Uttar Pradesh, in January 2007. According to Singh’s family, police arrested Pradeep with two other men. Police released the other two after they paid a police bribe. But Singh’s family, Dalits with little money, were unable to pay the police. Singh’s grandfather Kedara, age 83, visited him in lockup before he died: When I looked at him, I felt very sad. He couldn’t stand up straight. Why? We are poor people. We don’t have money to give to them. And if it’s our caste, then they beat up all the more…. We don’t have money ourselves, where do we give money to police from? If we gave the police (money) probably it would have helped my boy.”
The police well deserve a bad reputation but there is no shortage of honest and dedicated officers in the forces, but they are also under pressure from senior officers or politicians. No officer can be expected to do his or her job if they are frequently transferred. Many influential people or rather the men in power are the ones who control the anti-social elements. On March 3rd, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Zia-ul-Haq, was shot dead in Kunda, Uttar Pradesh, allegedly by goons of former state minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh (Raja Bhaiya). Six police chiefs came and went in a span of 12 months in Pratapgarh district. Honest and upright officials who choose to change the system are often targeted so mercilessly by their fellow policemen that they have no other option. They, for the sake of their existence, survival and approval from the police subculture, are forced to change their behavior. I talked to a few policemen and got to know that the police at all ranks fear reprimand or punishment if, in the course of doing their jobs, they act against individuals with political connections. The Indian film and television industry through various movies(Gangajaal ,Singham,etc)and serials is trying to reflect this behavior of both good and bad police personnel so that the society at large is made aware of the real picture.
It is not true that all police personnel are bad. They too are the ones with good morals and ethics, coming from good family backgrounds. They are the ones whose lives are at maximum risk as they fight criminals 24×7. But when all newspapers and channels are depicting the same story and criticizing them all the time in various cases, our views and beliefs tend to get more strong. I quite liked a recent story published in Telegraph, Calcutta.
Pune traffic cop stops boss for not wearing seat belt — and is rewarded:
Pune, Apr 23 (PTI): “A traffic constable here happened to stop the car of his boss for not fastening the seat belt was in for a pleasant surprise when he was rewarded for his alertness.”
This is also a story that makes us feel proud and it is a kind of encouragement for the department as a whole. Why not report hundreds of such stories throughout the country? No wonder many policemen would be doing such acts somewhere or the other.The need of the hour is to restore faith in the police administration and that can only maintain law and order in the state. One needs to think that policemen are the ones tasked with fighting crime, terrorism and militancy. As per figures, there is just one civil police officer for every 1,037 Indian residents, way below Asia’s regional average of one police officer for 558 people and the global average of 333 people. So just give it a thought. We need to create a culture that rewards respect for human rights and a professional conduct.