Who will police the policeman?

March 19th, 2010

Does it bother you that the nature of the Indian State is changing before our very eyes and it is acquiring untrammelled power insidiously?

It bothers me. It bothers me a lot.

The combined twin threats of Islamic radicalism and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) are enabling law enforcement agencies to arm themselves with complex new powers. The courts are much more sympathetic to law enforcers, thanks to all the scare-mongering by TV and newspapers. And it is really hard to see where policing stops and corruption begins.

In 2009, Saji Mohan, an IPS officer of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre who was decorated for record drug hauls during his tenure in Chandigarh a few years ago, was arrested in Maharashtra for drug peddling. Apparently, he used to seize drugs, under-report the quantity found and stash it away to sell it himself.

Last week, the Goa government arrested four policemen alleged to be engaged in drug peddling, including a highly decorated police officer, Arvind Shirodkar, who was a star buster of drug peddling rings. Shirodkar was arrested on the strength of the testimony of an Israeli drug smuggler in prison.

In Haryana last week, members of the Special Task Force were arrested for extortion.

This is happening because the police force knows the extent of the power it wields: and true, fewer police officials used to be arrested earlier, but the number of officers being put away now suggests the situation is probably worse than we imagined.

Two Muslim boys were arrested on supposed charges of conspiring to blast Mumbai last week. One of them said he was picked up for a love affair with a Hindu girl. In the past you might have scoffed at this. Today, it is entirely possible.

I don’t know about you, but I resent attempts by temples to keep me awake all night and try to invoke the law (SCR: no loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am) whenever there is a jagaran in my locality.

Lately when I call 100 to request PCR for a van to put an end to the caterwauling, policemen have taken to asking me what religion I belong to. God knows what they say to Muslims.

It makes my blood boil.

About 20 years ago, when undertrials were blinded in jail, the conscience of India’s civil society revolted and there was a massive uprising of persons in support of civil rights.

Good, honest, righteous men like VM Tarkunde spearheaded that movement. Today, the apathy is frightening.  And yet, the state is either being corrupted or coming into your face to say: ‘Now, behave!”

Are you happy with this infantilisation? Can’t we do something about it?

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