A SURVEY of nearly 12,000 police personnel in 22 states has revealed that one in five respondents believes that cases registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are “false and motivated”. This view, the survey found, is more likely to be held by police personnel belonging to the upper castes.
The findings are part of a report, titled ‘The Status of Policing in India Report 2019: Police Adequacy and Working Conditions’, released earlier this week. The survey was conducted jointly by Common Cause and Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (Lokniti-CSDS).
More than half of the respondents told the surveyors that they “very much” and “somewhat” believe that cases filed under the Act are “false and motivated”.
When surveyors broke down the responses, they found three-fifths of these respondents were police personnel belonging to upper castes. However, 25 per cent of ST police personnel maintained that they do not believe this to be the case.
The report also found that police personnel in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh held this view most strongly, with more than half the respondents stating that they are skeptical of the veracity of allegations made under the Act.
Fifty-three per cent of police personnel in Telangana, 24 per cent in Karnataka and 22 per cent in Maharashtra claimed that ST and non-ST personnel within the department are not treated at par.
When the respondents were only ST personnel, the figures for the same were 53 per cent in Telangana, 40 per cent in Maharashtra and 23 per cent in Assam.
Similarly, 48 per cent of respondents in Telangana, 33 per cent in Punjab and 24 per cent in Maharashtra told the surveyors that there is a disparity in the manner in which SC and non-SC staff are treated within the police department.
When the respondents were only those belonging to Scheduled Tribes, this figure was 47 per cent in Telangana, 30 per cent in Assam and 26 per cent in Punjab.
Further, 45 per cent of the respondents reported that they only received caste-based sensitisation training when they joined the force, while 11 per cent claimed never to have received such training.
The report stated that as an institution, the police department has not provided equal space to the diverse groups and communities that make up its ranks.
“While a majority of police personnel were found to have received training in human rights, caste sensitisation and crowd control, for a large section of the police, this training was only imparted at the time of joining. These attitudes and opinions could therefore be a reflection of the lack of proper and frequent training. Such training, if provided regularly using proper modules, might help not just in softening their preconceived notions towards vulnerable sections of the society, but in also ensuring that such biases do not interfere with the proper functioning of the police,” the report stated.