Opinion: “The Police Force Has Been A Long Term Prisoner Of Democracy”

In the year 1977, the Government of India set up the National Police Commission with the intention to bring in reforms in the police force in the course of policing. The Commission produced a total of eight reports during 1979-81, including the Model Police Act, and submitted it to the Center.

As per the recommendations of the Committee, the police force needed to be accountable to the citizens of the country, the law, and the system. Despite decades of its conception, this particular spirit amongst the police forces is equivalent to nil.  The police force, which is expected to be a social security system, has been trying to decimate the very ideal of democracy in the nation. The Supreme Court has often addressed the concern of the police force being filled with integrated criminal mentalities.

The recent events that have taken place in the national capital of Delhi show that the defamatory police have again proved themselves worthy of such a statement made by the highest court of law. During the pogrom that took place in Delhi last month in light of the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019) protests, many helpless citizens called up the police and pleaded them for their intervention and help, stating that their homes and shops are being burnt.

The recent events that have taken place in the national capital of Delhi show that the defamatory police have again proved themselves worthy of such a statement made by the highest court of law.

To such calls, the reckless response given by the police was that it’s okay and they should be happy for not being engulfed in the said fire, by the hands of the anti-social elements!! This has again shown the nation, the level of corruption and negligence that the police are opting for, during the tenure of performing their duty. 

Violence and riots since the night of 24th February in the north-eastern part of Delhi, where protesters opposed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, have become a living hell for the residents of the area. Areas such as Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Chandbag, Yamuna Vihar have been engulfed in the violent communal riots that left at least 53 dead in the area, along with taking the lives of a police constable, an officer from the Intelligence Bureau, and a large number of casualties. 

The police have received hundreds of phone calls from the local residents that anarchists have attacked their homes, with no one coming to their rescue. Later, the residents shared their despair, stating that because of this unsympathetic attitude of the police, they have lost their dear ones to the violence of these rioters. They further complained that the police force staying on guard in the area were standing as mere spectators, while the communal rioters used rods and knives, and attacked the residents and the innocent in the name of religion. 

Simply knowing that there were around 500 bullet shots fired over the course of the said three days, it can be easily imagined the preparedness of the murderous mob in terms of accumulating destructive ammunition and weapons such as knives, stones, bullets, acid, fuel etc. In such a disastrous scenario, the police, who were expected to protect the common man, washed their hands off responsibility, saying that it is the individual’s responsibility for his safety. If such is the case with the police personnel, the common man is posing a question to the need for uniforms and lathis for the police personnel.

Some leaders, too, stated that the North Eastern Delhi is a reflection of a gothic scene out of a horror film. According to the Union Home Ministry, some forces have been voluntarily involved in spreading violence incidents in Delhi. Of course, behind the bloody nightmare of the Delhi incidents, there is every need to believe that a heinous strategy might be at play. However, that does not leave behind the inaction and negligent behaviour of the police force, who chose to play the role of an onlooker instead of a protector.

Post the riots, Delhi streets were filled with burnt vehicles, books and bags, and schools seemed to be in complete ashes, further rupturing the daily life of the common man – all these have been stated to be a clear cut example of nothing but the failure of the police to control the violence, as the Supreme Court out rightly indicted. The Court further questioned the police whether they were waiting for special permission to carry out their regular duties and responsibilities. Their recent act of indifference proved that they lacked autonomy and professionalism. 

However, this Judicial conviction seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The police do not seem to be mending their process of responding to the common man. Not only did these communal riots affect the very lives of the locals, but also left a heartburn across the country. A few videos and posts that were planned and implemented before the said riots are doing rounds on social media, which has become a common cause of worry for the entire world about blood-thirsty communalism.

These videos have unveiled the manoeuvring by the police force for the blindfolded too. A video of a 23-year-old crying and reciting the national anthem has been recorded while being threatened and abused by policemen. After being remanded for 36 hours continuously, the youth was freed but has lost his life to the various third-degree treatment meted out to him, as alleged by the boy’s grieving mother. Videos have been recorded of people in uniform breaking CCTV cameras set up by the Delhi government. 

Though the police now says that more than 650 cases have been registered, 1,820 people have been detained, and four cases have been filed under the Arms Act, there is no answer to the question as to why the same people disappeared during the catastrophe and failed to bring the situation under control.

During the episode of the communal violence, there could have been an immediate imposition of a curfew, Section 144 could have been issued, and suspected miscreants could have been taken into custody, as part of emergency measures. However, only when the riots slowly transformed into a violent communal pogrom, did the police remember to implement Section 144 in and around the sensitive areas. 

The curfew was imposed on the night of 25th February in four parts of Northeast Delhi. The Code stipulates that the investigation of religious crimes should be carefully monitored and an SIT (Special Investigation Team) should be formed, if necessary, for a free and impartial investigation. The very act of handing over the proceedings of the riots to two controversial deputy commissioners – Rajesh Dev and Joy Trike – is by itself an open secret of the communal imbalance in the system.

A nation surrounded by the defence forces is not immune to politically crushed morals amongst the police force. It is a shame to see that the goodwill of those who seek to protect the faith of the peaceful people, are drowning in the manipulative strategies of the politicians and are amassing wealth through illegal settlements. The prevailing scenario of the Delhi communal clashes are fresh examples of incidents where the lives of the deprived people, social and religious minorities, and the misfortunes that prevail among various castes are being used as instruments by the police force, for the implementation of political agendas.

In such cases, though after some time, an inquiry into the incident is carried out or a minimum compensation is provided to the affected, there is no guarantee that this will bring happiness to the lives lost or injured for no fault of the common man. In order to ensure that Delhi-style violence is not replicated – the police will have to break their political gut. To start with, a process should be put in place to clean the police force, of all the miscreant and corrupt police personnel internally placed in the force.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau (2016), around 209 police personnel have registered cases against them under the Human Rights Violations Act. Almost 50 of them have been indicted (charge sheets filed). However, no one has been convicted. Though a number of committees such as the Law Commission, Rebiro Committee, Padmanabhayya Committee and Justice Malimat Committee, have come up with various recommendations on improving the Khaki forces, it has merely been a futile exercise, as a number of corrupt officers are using certain means to remain in the force and reserving their posts for eternity.

Unless the police force in India is brought out of the political clutches and made an independent entity to work impartially, as being executed in countries such as the UK and the States, the fundamental rights of citizens in the country cannot be safeguarded!

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