Here, I intend to write what comes to my mind about India. This could be about anything, politics, religion, movies or remote happenings. Feel free to check this blog for updates, who knows some could be of some interest to you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Indian Police-Terrorists/Beggars in uniform?

I am not happy with this title of this blog post but neither am I happy about the state of the custodians of Law and Order of the country.

We all talk of rooting out corruption in all the government functions and have a clean country and for decades have not even identified where to start with it. My take, it is the Police department that should be fixed at first.

Generally only when there are concentrated issues going out of control, the home minister or the Prime Minister convenes a meeting, re-iterates the importance of clean Police department to the states and ask them to work on it...no action plans, no deadlines, no accountability neither is there any transparency in the progress. It just feeds the media of a few weeks of debates and articles in print about 'Police reforms'.

Are we really serious about it?

If we look back in history for the origin of the present Police department. It is during the colonial rule, to be specific, post 1857 the 'first war of independence' or my preferred term for it 'Sepoy mutiny' that the British established the police Act of 1861 which is till date the official Act of the Indian Police. It is apparent that the Police force was created to protect the people in power and definitely not the public in distress then. True to it's original purpose, the department still is loyal and works for the people in power though we have moved from feudal age to 'democracy'.

Corruption is so rampant in the force that the term 'honest-police officer' is seen as a great example of oxymoron.

Almost everyone in the force when they join are ambitious and strive to do good and correct all bad things they saw from outside. However, the saturation of corruption in the system swallows their motives like a black hole. The corruption career starts with not minding little gifts, turning a blind eye to wrong doings of superiors and graduating to deliberately breaking the law for personal gains from when on the vicious circle acts on its own into bribery, fake encounter, illicit use of weapons, sexual harassment and custodial crimes...list not complete. Major part of it goes to the reason that the Police is still controlled by our 'very able' politicians who misuse their power to appoint or transfer as a reward or punishment to help them for their or the ruling party's selfish purposes. This goes back to the Police Act and why it was formed.

At times it makes one feel that the town is better off without the police, than with them. It definitely applies to places around the country's capital. Some of the official surveys shows that up to 80% of people who interacted with the police reported them to be corrupt. Over 60% have to either use illegal means (commonly, pay money) or use political or other influence to get things done. It is a common sight on the road that when 2 vehicles are involved
in minor accidents the parties involved decide to sort out the issue before the traffic police officer arrives. They know that their financial loss will be in multiples if the police is involved. I know of a an incident first hand where the traffic police had stooped to the level of accepting a 'coffee-bite' chocolate, yes, remember the 'coffee-bite' toffee OR coffee ad...? (a real good toffee) to let go one of my friends who made a 'U' turn where he was not supposed to. If not for the uniform, I really find it difficult to differentiate between the beggars in the traffic signals who put their hand in front of you and the traffic cops who put their hands in front of every truck or auto-rickshaw for a petty amount. It's a bit scary to see that they no longer try to even hide it and its become a part of their job.

The basic mindset of the police force must be changed. They no longer exist to protect the crown by crushing the crowds but to serve and protect the crowd (public) who is now scared to talk to a police man, forget visiting a police station to register a complaint voluntarily. Filing a FIR (First Information Report) the basic official police complaint required to take the case forward is legally is a nightmare task in any police station for the common man.

Our policemen are so under trained, ill equipped and out of shape that they cannot command respect from the people. We must have regular rigorous training exercises mandated for all policemen to have them in shape and fit to fight the ever growing bad forces failing which they must be moved to other jobs in the force or any appropriate area. Strict physical fitness levels must be expected and tested for once every 3-5 years.

Citizens are expected to complain to the police if they have problems but are lost when the problem is the police itself. Unless the care takers of the Law are not fixed, the Law will be left uncared for and the system will erode from inside which will not be visible until the entire structure collapses.