Hating The Police Is Easy, But Do We Understand Their Plight?

Posted on April 25, 2014 in Society

By Gunjit Arora:

Dhundta hai mann mera, yar wo saathi sakhaa.
Mujhe bin kahe, jo ye bolde,
tujhe fiqr kya, main hoon khadaa.”

These lines from the song by Ram Sampath clearly show the desire and the expectation general public has from the keepers of the law – The Police.

While talking to my relatives and friends who live abroad, I have many a times heard them praising their respective local police. Swift and quick action, 24×7 hotline service, and the main aspect — healthy co-operation and relations with the locals. When the needle comes back to the Indian police, the one thought that dominates us is that you cannot trust them. Why is that we, the local residents, cannot praise our police? What is the real reason behind the hostility between the local people and the police?

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Many of us talk about corruption and how it is badly affecting our country. But the irony is, whenever we are stopped by a policeman for breaking a traffic rule, 85-90% of us will bribe that policeman to settle down the matter. Aren’t we the ones to be blamed? Aren’t we the ones who are fuelling the fire? And fact of the matter is that the bribe which we give doesn’t go into the pocket of that policeman. It is a vicious circle of the constables, their immediate seniors and the seniors above them where this money is distributed. It’s a very small amount which comes into the hands of lower rank policemen.

And it doesn’t stop here. There is a certain amount which is sanctioned to every police station for things like post mortem, paying the informers and other odd jobs. But the truth is exactly what you are thinking — the police stations never receive that sanctioned amount. Most of the times, the constables have to pay from their own pockets for these jobs. Informers are an essential part of the police information department and these informers demand money in exchange of information. As there is no money provided from the department, the policemen have to pay on their own. If they find a dead body in the water, they have to pay the fishermen to carry that body ashore. Their own basic pay starts from meager INR 5200/- which may go upto INR 15000/- per month. In today’s scenario, is 5200 sufficient enough to sustain a family of three or four? When these petty expenses are added up, just imagine what psychological pressure delves in those police personnel.

We have a number of festivals in India. We celebrate them with our families, but what about police? They are away from their home doing their duties. There is no denial that when they took up this profession, they knew that they would have to do such tasks and duties. But isn’t it our moral responsibility to at least praise and respect them for what they do? Isn’t it the government’s responsibility to provide them with basic needs? Police stations don’t even have adequate hygienic facilities like toilets and other basic amenities which are necessary for policemen on night duty. Many of them are posted at such places that they don’t go home for many days at end.

It is an admitted fact (admitted by senior DGPs and DIGs of Police) that they all are kept as hunting dogs for the politicians. They are bound to do any work the politicians tell them to – drop cases against their men, take strict action against innocent people sitting in a protest, lock up people who are instigating against the government. If they don’t follow, politicians either get them transferred to remote places or demote them.

To add to their miseries, the trainees at the Police training schools are appointed to the senior police officials and are made to do work which they didn’t even think of – cooking, house cleaning, washing clothes, etc. If this isn’t derogatory, I don’t know what is.

Psychiatrists say that many of these policemen often take to drinking and substance abuse when this kind of embarrassment doesn’t stop. All the frustration either blows out on the fellow policemen or on the public. There have been reported cases of suicides too among the police and what’s astonishing is that suicide claims more lives of policemen than an ambush with criminals. Disturbing.

Some regional police have started to reform their ways as well as their relations with the public. The Kerala police force is one such example. They have become so friendly with the locals that when they visit anyone’s house, the people are very happy to receive them. It is this kind of warmth, affection and mutual relation that is needed.

Undoubtedly, it really is high time for the government to bring reforms and implement them effectively. Only then will people change their perception towards the police and give them the love and respect that they deserve and desire. Otherwise, this distress call which is uncalled for might go unheard and the police department may remain “a damsel in distress”.