Responsible policing

When the Indian public life is riddled with corruption, scam, crime and other ghoulish social manifestations; a recent incident with my colleague forced me to wonder whether every stakeholder in the paradigm is worth demonizing! My colleague and his wife went for a holiday to Trivandrum via Cochin. They reached there by bus from Cochin at 11:00 at night only to find that all budget hotels were occupied. Despite visit to several hotels, they failed to find one that had rooms vacant for them. After their visit to probably the last hotel in that area, they saw a police van standing next to their cab. Drawing inferences from their past experiences, they knew that they were heading for trouble. He almost imagined how these police would take them to the police station, harass with all sorts of nonsense and then draw money from them. But on the contrary, the police team was in fact eager to search hotel for them at that wee hours! And the gesture was extended by none other than Assistant Commissioner of Kerala Police who was patrolling the area at that time. He then assisted them to a compatible hotel and arranged an accommodation and further offered them an accommodation at police club the next day. What was the icing on cake was that he called up the next afternoon and gave his advice on the places of interest in the city. This is seriously a rare ‘encounter’ one can ever have especially if one is from a city like Delhi. Cases of police misbehaving with civilians are plenty across the nation. In a recent case reported from Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, 2 ITBP personnel molested the wife of a shop-owner during a search operation.

It is my sincere conviction that this one man is not in isolation to experience but a flag bearer of a changing police attitude across the country. The Shipra Path police station of Jaipur being recognized as the best Asian police station, the mission of Tamil Nadu police of ‘Friends of police Movement’, Mumbai Police’s determination to protect, particularly, the weak and downtrodden et al. are some of the genuine pointers towards the same.

After recent cases of heinous crimes that rocked the nation, there are certain police forces in India which have already taken steps to curb crimes committed on women and children. It was way back in 1987, when UNICEF proposed a project in training of the force for better security of women and children. A very few police forces at that time came forward to comply with. However, Mr. Ajai Kumar Singh of Bangalore Police was the only exception where the programme was implemented. An outlay of Rs.50 lakh per annum is spent annually by police force in Karnataka for training of its police with perceptible positive results. Another welcome step was taken by the National Human Rights Commission in association with IGNOU in 2011 by launching a 5-days online training programme on creating mass awareness of human rights for police personnel.

Therefore, better training and greater accountability certainly will help the Indian police force rise in the benchmark of the best in the world. The building of people centric police require reforms involving total change programme, skill enhancing methods and implementing and institutionalizing change interventions. Otherwise, the people who require them most have to be at the mercy of some few exceptions. What is more important is that imbibing the trend of doing ethical policing a matter of pride and dignity by the Indian Police Force will add great value to make Indian internal security system the best in the world!