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For 3 Months Now, The Indian Police Has Spun A Tale Of Disenchantment And Fear

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India, i.e. Bharat, from the past few months has been witnessing multiple issues both on domestic and international front. Be it the deteriorating economy or the Kashmir conflict or the countrywide outcry on the CAA, NPR and NRC, the government is doing its work in its own ways and a considerable chunk of population is questioning on multiple agendas, which is usually expected of a flourishing democracy but if we zoom in on the status quo, it’s a stampede.

A stampede with people of the country, no matter good or bad, being trampled mercilessly. The politicians are witnessing a rich harvesting season and law enforcement agencies are no better than the spectators amidst such a chaotic situation in the country.

The Indian Police is struggling hard to even maintain its credibility. There have been multiple events in the recent past where there has been no accountability from their side. I think it would take me days or weeks to write if I start to dig deep but for an understanding. So, let’s analyse the major events in the last three months relating to police and ask the questions to ourselves.

The Tis Hazari Brawl

The month of November started on a very bitter note for the Indian Police. The whole nation saw a car parking conflict between a cop and a lawyer taking an ugly turn and intensifying into a riot like situation.

The clashes, the violence, the destruction of public property and intentional violation of laws inside the temples of justice. The country, for the first time, saw ‘cops in uniform’ picketing their own headquarters.

We saw policemen crying on TV. We saw cops looking for answers. We saw senior police officers and bureaucrats evading accountability and failing to take a side or even resolve the matter through a dialogue. It was a huge embarrassment to the department as well as the government who runs it but worse was yet to come.

The Hyderabad Encounter

The December of 2019, too, came to India on a very dark note. A vet was mercilessly raped, burnt and killed in a case of an absolutely inhumane incident. The nation instantly got furious about the rising cases of rape all over the country, especially in the national capital.

There were protests against the government all over the country. Peace marches were organised. Demonstrations were held. Even the central government was seen taking a firm stand on the ‘heinous crime’ and state governments presenting new methods for protection of women.

Just as our country was thinking about solutions, on the sixth day of the same month, India woke up to an encounter. All the suspects in the rape case were brutally shot and killed on the spot as they were trying to escape, during the process of reconstruction of crime scene, along with the weapons that they snatched from the police itself.

Even if the police is to be believed without a doubt, the incident raised some serious questions not only about police but about its politicos and general population as well.

How can 4 people, who don’t even look physically sound, snatch guns from the police personnel?

How can they do such a thing keeping in mind that they are accompanied by a police force? How come not even one suspect was shot on their knee caps and all were killed?

How can anyone including politicians, people, actors, etc. laud such sheer failure and utter carelessness on the police’s part? The questionnaire is too long to fit in an article.

I wonder how easily people forget the news.

Nobody thought of the Ryan International School murder case, when a Class II student was brutally murdered and it turned out after a month that the police’s prime suspect (who was arrested), a school bus conductor, was innocent and it was another school boy who did it.

I wonder if he had been killed in the same manner as these four, would it have been equal to treason? Although, the people would still have lauded it. This is why I believe everyone needs to think of both ways and not choose sides in the matters of life and death.

Us Indians were just thinking about reforms and remedies when the third bolt of lightning struck.

Anti-CAA Protests And The Jamia Millia Islamia Lathi Charge

In the wake of the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, nationwide protests were orgainsed to express dissent. Most of the protests, initially silent, transformed into violent ones when there was a clash among students of Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and the Police.

It was seen in footage that students were beaten mercilessly, even in the bathrooms and libraries. One person even lost an eye due to the injury and several lay on the floors, injured and bleeding. The police, once again, was under the scanner.

In an image that has now gone viral, a Jamia student, Aysha Renna, stands up to the police for beating up her fellow student.

The people of the country and many student organisations held demonstrations. People came out in support of the students and raised questions on the police, like how did the police enter the premises without proper orders? Why did the police have to use force so brutally?

Yet again, no one was seen taking accountability or talking about students. The authorities engaged in a blame game instead. The flow of the wind was on the verge of a shift when another jolt hit us.

The ‘Masked Monsters’ Of JNU

Despite the protests against the violence in Jamia Milia Islamia, anti-CAA protests in Jawahar Lal Nehru University, a pre-existing fee hike issue also was going on alongside in Delhi. As a part of the protest, the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) boycotted the examinations and registration process. Some students allegedly even broke into the server room and disabled the server to stop the registrations so that the Vice-Chancellor was forced to come out and talk to them.

Amidst all this, a meeting of students and even teachers was called out to maintain a consensus for the protest against the fee hike and discuss issues involving the same. Soon, masked people entered the campus in broad daylight, destroying whatever came their way and hitting whoever they saw.

The police, who was standing at the gate, now started to wait for instructions from the VC to enter while innocent students were thrashed in the worst way possible. Security guards were terrorised. The glass doors stood broken, rooms stood vandalised and people, scandalised.

On top of that, video recordings showed that the masked goons were even given safe passage by the police itself. In an infamous JNU sting operation, one person who identified himself in the viral videos as one of the attacker, even went on to say that a policeman on the gate himself told him to go and create havoc. He goes on to say that “everyone knows who owns the police.”

A screenshot from a video that shows the attackers in JNU.

Police entered the JNU campus after the show of brutality was over and like every single time, made promises to solve the issue ASAP. It’s been weeks but nobody has been arrested till date.

JNU is still under strike by the students but blows to the police’s didn’t stop at this.

With the new year came another disastrous day.

A Curious Case Of A DSP And Hizbul Terrorists

The police and government hadn’t even taken a breather when the news of a DSP being arrested in Jammu for ferrying two top militants to Jammu flashed on the idiot box.

DSP Davinder Singh, apparently, was enroute to Delhi to provide safe passage to two terrorists who had conspired a terror plot for Republic Day later this month.

The statement from the department itself unearthed the incompetence of the police and loopholes inside their system.
I know that every pond has a rotten fish. I know there can be a black sheep anywhere, but isn’t this is a major failure?

In a time when country is struggling so hard to fight terrorism, insurgency and other internal security challanges, an officer with a ‘dark record’ getting arrested transporting terrorists is a scene that looks lot like it came out of a movie sequence.

Analysis

These observations cannot be ignored at any cost. Expecting transparency from the people, who are recruited into the system to protect us, doesn’t seem bad to me. Questioning my nation’s institutions makes me feel more nationalistic.

Bias of any kind is totally unacceptable from a cop. They have their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), their penal code, their jail manuals and a full fledged system to support them. All they’re expected to do is to follow them no matter how hard the conditions are and no matter what toll it takes on them.

Remedies

  1. Education And Reforms: most of the failures in the police force happen due to lack of awareness, negligence on duty, improper governance and insufficient training. Educating our cops is the key. They need to be made aware about new techniques in policing.

    They need to be tested on their skills after a considerable interval of time. Proper counselling can be made mandatory every year. Frequent grievance addressal sessions should be held. Manuals and SOPs be updated regularly and awareness should be raised. Committee reports be taken seriously and worked upon. Maybe some phone apps can be a good start.

    We are not that poor a country. These things can be done easily and without spending much. The challenge is to embed this sense of responsibility among the cops and it needs to be done with immediate effect. None should rest until every cop is trained to maintain a ‘scientific temper.’

  2. Working Conditions: the working conditions have to be made favourable. Frequent family management and anger management programmes be held.
  3. Matching Global Policing: our police, like the Army, should be made to train with cops from the countries with a more stable police force. The coordination of Intelligence agencies be made more of a cooperative rather than competitive (that we see today).
  4. Halting Moral Policing: the police can be really effective if people, instead of fearing, start to love them. For this, our police needs to stop this moral policing thing. They should let the couples hang out wherever they want (if it’s legal). The raids in hotels should only be done if the police is dead sure about a wrongdoing.

    Women shouldn’t be scolded for smoking. Cops shouldn’t be beating anyone up in public, which is common in India. The behaviour of police towards citizens is one thing that really needs to be fixed.

  5. Internal Intelligence Agencies: if it’s common knowledge that anyone can be a black sheep, there must be a separate department who keeps a check on its own employees. They have to learn this from their foreign contemporaries.Had DSP Davinder Singh been caught before and arrested silently, it may have led to a bigger success. Authorities could have used him for ensuring the same.
  6. Choosing The Right Leadership: the leadership chosen to lead the force shouldn’t be the one who tries to find an escape route at time of a mess-up.The leaders should be such that they accept their mistakes, take full accountability for the things that went wrong, learn their lessons and take necessary actions so that the things don’t repeat.

We can think of innumerable ways to make the system better. All it takes is one good guy and the revolution can come. I’m writing this for that one guy to take up the responsibility and show everyone how its done. Anticipating a bright future for India is of no use if you choose to lay back. It’s time to stand up for our nation and do whatever is in our hands, to make it a better country. Every action counts.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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