The Recent Delhi Incident Highlighting Police Brutality Needs A Broader Perspective

Quite disturbing visuals are doing the rounds from Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar, in which a person can be seen being brutally thrashed by the Delhi Police. The video which went viral on social media platforms is from last Sunday,  which was made when officials of Delhi Police and a Gramin Sewa Auto driver got into an ugly tussle, which spiralled from a small altercation between the two parties, and led to the driver physically assaulting the Police official on duty and subsequently chasing him with a sword in his hand. The cops beat up the driver was in response to that attack.

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While people have been enraged by the Police brutality and we must all condemn it too, it’s also important to see the incident in a broader context. We should ask ourselves whether it is an isolated issue or a part of broader functioning of our first line defence system internally i.e. the Police.

The civilian police are entrusted with the task of maintaining law and order with the power to investigate and book the guilty. We all know what the situation around us is. But the fault every time does not entirely lie with them given the constraints on the institution and working of Police in terms of manpower shortage, overburdening, lack of infrastructural support, lack of incentives etc.

There is a longtime demand for Police reforms in our country and it is one of the most significant recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission. In its fifth report, it has been remarked by the Commission that Police remains the most untrustworthy state institution with public having the common perception of them as being tardy, inefficient, high-handed and often unresponsive or insensitive. The above incident shed some more light on the insensitivity of the cops, while we continue to hear the complaints quite often, especially when they become the silent onlookers of mob lynchings. For sure, there exists a clear trust deficit between the civilians/citizens and the Police, and until and unless the needful is done to fill this gap, we can’t hope for the better.

Another area of concern after this incident should be the training of police personnel in handling the civilian disputes. The ARC Report on the issue remarks that “Often the State Police Training Schools where a large majority of policemen undergo training are ill equipped, starved of funds and staffed by unwilling instructors. Furthermore, training methodologies are often outdated and focus is more on discipline and regimentation while attitudinal and behavioural improvements are relegated to the background”. Attitudinal change, humanitarian behavior and sensitivity is what is needed to be inculcated in the police forces.

Having said this, we should not also miss the other side of the story,  which is that the policeman was chased by the driver with the latter having sword in his hand. This is as condemnable as the act of Police personnel involved in the incident. When you come face to face with the law enforcement agency i.e. the civilian police in a normal situation with a sword in hand, it suggests a deeper crisis in the society we live in.

This reflects the kind of regard and faith we have in the system and for the laws of the land. It can ultimately lead to the total failure of the State with each one of us being caught by chaos, threats and dangers. In one sense, it is not only the police which is needed to be more humane and civil; we, as citizens are also in an equally bad shape and need to be made into law-abiding citizens with equal sensitivity towards others.

In the end, it is required that the Police and citizens both are held accountable for their actions in a free and fair manner as no one is above the law.

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