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Not All Cops Are Bad Cops, They Can Be Real Heroes Too

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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”.

policia-india

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.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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