INDIAN POLICE NEED MODERNISATION
By Brigadier(Retd) Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The Indian Police today has the same frame of mind, the same training, the same weapon system, the same sense of deprivation and the same urge to be corrupt as it was an instrument of subjugation of the Indian people by the British Raj. Leaving aside the Armed Forces in general and the Indian Army in particular, the two services depended upon by the British Raj were the Indian Civil Service, also known as the steel frame of administration, and the Indian Police that was notorious for its brutality and inhuman behaviour across the seven seas.
It was rightly insinuated that the ICS, as the Indian Civil Service was commonly called, was neither Indian nor civil nor did they render any service to citizens. Most of the ICS officers were British subjects and had the United Kingdom as their home where they were entitled to go on long home leave. In due course of time the native Indians made it to the exclusive English club and enjoyed the perks and privileges of the ruling race. Some Indian ICS officers preferred to go to England on long home leave and had little love for the country they were born in. No wonder, the ICS was replaced by IAS in the post independence period. Let us leave them at that for the time being and grapple with the Police.
FEAR OF POLICE
The fear of Police is worse than the fear of God in the common man’s mind. The Police is supposed to protect citizens from an attack by the robbers, dacoits, law breakers and now the Islamist terrorists. But it is not so in real life. A citizen has to protect himself and his family from the atrocities of the Police and then from attacks by lawless elements of the society. The basic reason behind this anomaly is the wrong psyche of the Indian Police that the British administrators allowed to take roots and develop to such an extreme that the Police became the Robber and got away with the most serious infringement of law. Let us take an example or two to prove the point.
Driving on an rather lonely section of the highway, I am forcibly stopped, robbed, my car is carjacked, travel documents snatched and am left in the uninhabited stretch of land to fend for myself. I manage to hitchhike and reach a police station to lodge a report and seek some solace, if not help. The policemen on duty is not impressed with my narration of the robbery and is disinclined to report the case to the SHO who is snoring in the cool climes of the next room. I am offered no sympathetic word, leave aside a glass of water. The Dewanjee refused point blank that no FIR could be lodged as there were no witnesses to the crime. I call my friends who reached the scene rather promptly and two of them flashed their identity cards to prove that they were journalists of influential English dailies. Suddenly there was a sea change and it became a happening place with all concerned in attendance. The First Information Report was duly lodged and the SHO promised immediate action.
The moral of the story is: the Indian police does not help the common man but goes into action when some influential man is giving the push. It is the push or the pull and not the rule of law that matters. I do not wish to contrast it with the London bobby who is ever keen to go out of his way to help a damsel in distress.
TRAINING THAT MATTERS
The policeman is not properly trained. His brain is tuned to making money as a beat constable or as a traffic policeman or as one on pass port verification duty. He does not work because he is paid a salary. He works because he makes some extra-money from the citizens whom he frightens with dire consequences if they do not grease his palm. Corruption and the Police have become synonyms now. I shall not be surprised if the Advanced Oxford Dictionary of Current English includes these two words as synonymous.
There is a true story of the wife of a judge whose pass port had to be renewed and a sub-inspector of police asked for a bribe. She protested. The reply of the Sub-Inspector was that the bribe would be shared by one and all, from top to bottom.
Investigation of a crime is an integral part of duty of a policeman. Is he suitably trained for it? Has he been taught the basics of the criminal law and how not to cross the dividing line? If not, the investigating officer will use only the third degree methods, beat up the accused and obtain a confession under duress and push the case to the court inspector.
The mind of the policeman needs training of the highest order. It has to be drilled into his mind that he is a policeman or she is a police woman of the largest democracy of the world. He has volunteered to be a police man and is not a conscript. Therefore, he should serve the Police Force in such a way that no blot comes on it or on him. He should go out of his way to help the common man like the London bobby does. A police man is the protector of the people and not the punisher.
REFORMING THE POLITICAL MASTERS
The Home Minister at the centre or in the states has to be a role model to the beat constable. Is the political master misusing the police force for narrow gains of his political party? If so, there will be no attitudinal change in a police constable. If the minister is breaking the law in ordering a cane charge on the sleeping Satyagrahis, men, women and children, like it happened at the Swami Ramdev rally in Delhi, the police officers and policemen will harass and beat the citizens more mercilessly than heretofore. It is the leader who sets the pace; rank and file follows. Politicians must reform themselves first before they think of reforming the police force.
Rule of Law should be the guiding star for all actions in a democratic society. It is for both the politician and the police to remember the dictum:
HOWEVER HIGH ONE MAY EVER BE, THE LAW IS ABOVE YOU.
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