Can we agree to vote only for parties that promise to implement the police reforms?
Dear readers: I congratulate those among you who do not have their children in the police force of this great country and I commiserate with those parents whose children have become policemen and policewomen either through legitimate means (UPSC examinations?) or through less savoury means (bribing the minister in charge of police recruitment!). According to the eleventy-eleventh amendment of the Indian Constitution,our honourable Executive Branch is required to so conduct affairs of state that policemen need to be beaten by legislators,policewomen need to be harassed by mobs and senior police officers need to be killed in a manner where the principal accused have unshakeable alibis for being hundreds of miles away from the scene of the crime. Police personnel are hailed as heroes for bumping off criminals in incidents euphemistically referred to as encounters; a few months later,these same individuals are charged with the murder of innocents. Police officers are required to enter dangerous alleys in dim-lit neighbourhoods,to confront so-called terrorists; it is obligatory for them to be killed by adversaries who are better-armed.
Instead of winning a gallantry medal,the concerned dead police officer can be safely accused of falsely implicating innocent youth and giving them the chase. It is to the credit of the Executive Branch of our great Government both in the various provinces and in the imperial city of Delhi that their constitutional duty is being fulfilled with great vim,gusto and panache.
Our great Government has money to send ministers and officials on unneeded foreign trips,to build gigantic stadiums that stand as mute Ozymandian witnesses in their glorious emptiness,to buy special VVIP helicopters at inflated prices,to subsidise the rich as they buy diesel for their SUVs and generators,to keep starting new ministries at the drop of a hat while never shutting down old redundant ministries,to provide sinecure appointments to their buddies and to gift contracts for ghost canals and non-existent dams to their cronies. But our Government does not have money to provide tiny flats for constables who are required to live in thatched huts and asbestos cabins in slums and shanties. Our police stations do not have air-conditioners; never mind that air-conditioning improves productivity,we just cannot let mere havildars get uppity by having good working conditions. Besides,the power cuts of our land mean that these devices will not work anyway. Our police department budgets do not provide for payment of electricity bills or purchase of diesel for generators. This is available only to exalted Ministers and Officials. Our police stations have computers that gather dust as they are not connected to any intelligent database and do not serve any useful purpose.
The primary duties of our police are: one,VIP Security distinct from VVIP Security,which is provided by elite commandos who are hierarchically far above mere policemen and policewomen. Two,crowd control it is a distinction of our country that enormous crowds gather for religious festivities,marriages and frankly for no reason at all. Crowds are almost invariably lacking in discipline and given to disobeying laws. Our police force is required to control crowds not by using force,but by imploring,begging and beseeching the self-appointed leaders of the crowds to take pity on the police personnel. Three,mob control this is distinct from crowd control. Mobs do not congregate on religious holidays. Mobs are organised by our great Political Leaders with the specific purpose of creating trouble while making hysterical demands of an unreal and patently impossible kind. The principal purpose of mobs seems to be to incite the police to charge them with quaint colonial-era lathis or shoot at them with quainter colonial-era 303 rifles. Once the Mob has accomplished its purpose,it is imperative that dozens of shrill spokespersons of spurious organisations make wild demands (these days these demands are made on prime-time TV) to punish the police,to establish a Commission of Inquiry (preferably a Judicial one) and to otherwise confuse an already bewildered police force.
The secondary and incidental duties of our police,which they may carry out optionally,in the unlikely,nay,virtually impossible event that they get time off from the three primary duties are:
One,investigating crime. Two,nabbing criminals. Three,keeping the streets safe. Four,reading up all the new laws which our great Legislatures keep passing. (I am told that there are plans for a Police Mob to agitate that Parliament should stop meeting,because each time there is a relatively undisturbed session of Parliament,more unimplementable laws are put on the statute book; the hapless police are required to first understand these bizarre laws and then are going to be held responsible for failing to enforce that which is inherently unenforceable).
There was a time when the only route to enter the police was a legitimate one,when parents were proud that their children were in the police,when the abbreviation CID signalled a high level of expertise. Can those times come back? They can quite easily. All we have to do is to implement the recommendations of the numerous police commissions of the past. Instead of doing something as obvious as this,our great Government is likely to take the time-honoured expedient route of appointing yet another Commission to come up with yet another report. That report will then be examined by a non-Empowered Group of Secretaries who will then pass it on to an Empowered Group of Secretaries who will then pass it on to a non-Empowered Group of Ministers who will then pass it on to an Empowered Group of Ministers who will then pass it on to a Cabinet Sub-Committee who will then pass it on to a Cabinet Committee. My tale,Dear Readers,is as long as Hanumans proverbial tail.
In the next elections,perhaps we can all agree to vote only for those parties that promise to implement the police commission reports. Is that an option? Or are we dreaming?
The writer is a Mumbai-based entrepreneur