By Sanjeev Dayal
May I extend warm wishes and greetings for a very happy and prosperous New Year for Maharashtra and for you and your family. May the state progress and strengthen under your able leadership and command. May the New Year bring happy tidings for the farmers. Time has now come for the State to contemplate challenges it faces in the coming year. Internal security management must rank among the top. While terrorism and radicalisation are being dealt with under a deradicalisation plan of the state, other facets would merit your consideration.
Internal security is a complex matrix of several parameters requiring a lengthy discourse to deal in its entirety. Some principal aspects are sought to be flagged here. Ability of the state to enforce the rule of law is most important. Failure to do so leads to all manner of problems having an adverse bearing on the internal security situation. It may be recalled that failure of the authorities in 1984 and 1992/1993 to enforce it, changed the history of terrorism in the country. There is an urgent need therefore, to ensure that all authorities enforce rule of law without fear or favour. Unequivocal and unambiguous instructions need to go down from you and the Cabinet to the cutting edge of all departments, where the service delivery takes place, that the state government would like to see impartial and just enforcement and that any remiss or negligent conduct will not be tolerated.
State must adopt zero tolerance to breach of law, howsoever small it may be. Willing compliance to law is essential for any society to progress. How long will we need to place constables on traffic lights to ensure compliance? This will, however, require character building and inculcating values that need to be cherished, respect for women, respect for children, for infirm and old, for poor and socially underprivileged and above all an innate respect for law. We Indians largely come across as insensitive, rude, crude and dirty in our habits. A good foundation has to be laid in formative years of the children through education and stress upon these values by all institutions. It is impossible to impart them once a mindset is formed. ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission so important for the country and so dear to the Hon. PM will truly succeed when minds are trained to be “Swachh” and to keep environs clean. So sir, kindly seize the moment and let Maharashtra be the pioneering state in laying foundation for building of a better citizenry for tomorrow. You have the capability and capacity to undertake this task. Let things happen in mission mode as not a moment can be lost.
Enforcement of rule of law, however, does not and should not mean that every infringement of law should be made cognisable and non-bailable and pushed on to the shoulders of an already overburdened police. State does not gain anything by criminalising the society and filling the already overflowing prisons with more people. Let an example be cited. The Regional Town Planning Act was amended in 1985 making section 52 (A) cognisable thereby shifting burden on police to investigate. The reason given was that it will help curb slumlords and mushrooming growth of slums. Has any benefit accrued? Many poor persons forced to live by their economic plight in shanties have faced criminal prosecution. Worst, police cannot chargesheet these cases without sanction from Assistant Municipal Commissioners which does not come. It is much better to follow what is done in many countries which is to impose economic costs for such offences rather than throwing people in jails and making them rub shoulders with hardcore criminals. Empowering departments concerned to levy those costs and recover them is far easier and practicable. We must choose whether police should watch mangroves, littering, smoking, defecation, washing of trucks in rivers, gambling, sale of liquor, bars, noise, and unauthorised buildings or be professionalised and called upon to do their core duties much better. If we observe policemen closely, we may find, perhaps to our surprise that they have the same number of hands, eyes, ears, brains and legs and have the same twenty four hours at their disposal to do their duty as everyone else. It will be a great service to people if police are held accountable for better service delivery but are divested of areas of responsibility not their core functions and enforceable by other departments. Police must be left to investigate crime and maintenance of law and order which includes fighting terrorism, managing traffic and security. Failure on these fronts would cost the state dear and hit efforts to boost the economy by attracting investment.
Sir, I wish you success in your endeavours and commend the steps flagged above.