Who will police the policeman?

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March 19th, 2010 Aditi Phadnis

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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6 Responses to “Who will police the policeman?”

  1. AJ Says:

    Aditi, I have lived in hyderabad and want to tell you one incidence which i may have probably read in one of the news papers too. After the Hyderabad bomb blast the Hyderabad Police wanted to summon some of the Muslims from the Old City area. Police sent a Constable to serve the summon. The constable was scared to his life to to enter that part of the city and therefore he came back and said that he couldn’t find the address. Police wanted “permission” to be tough to crack the case, but was denied since the ruling party had an alliance with Muslim radical party and off course for the vote bank.
    The Police is controlled by the Politicians who encourage and shield them to be corrupt for their illegal gains. Policemen know that as far as they can satisfy the desires of Politicians they can’t be touched and therefore out of this fearlessness they start doing the very things they are supposed to stop. This behavior is the result of misrule for the past so many years. Being a journalist Aditi might be knowing all this and more and therefore should present a complete picture.

  2. Pucca ghati Says:

    Aditi is right .Right from Gandhi and Nehru till today , the Indian state was and is a thug state . Today the central govt is but a North Indian govt , the Army a North Indian Army .Our Muslim and Christian Minorities as also our Master Races : Gujjus, Marwadis, Parsees, Bengalis ….. et al impose their will and rape the resources of this country .The Muslim is still a fifth Column, a robot for Saudi Arabia and Pakistan waiting for instruction for sabotage and terror . The North Eastern Christians yearns for white man coming back to rule the Hindu infidel There is little democracy or concern for people , the police are but instruments of this dominance . If you are a Muslim terrorist then you have the support of NDTV/CNNIBN , TOI/HT et al . This can’t continue for long these minorities religious and linguistic are are going to pay with blood , they deserve it !

  3. pravin Says:

    well,swapna presumes that the jihadi or the maoists are somehow the creations of the citizens and not indian state policies (the kashmir issue,minority appeasement and the vicous cycle that it has spawned to name a few).ditto for maoists and the landgrab in the name of industrialization.
    ever since property rights have been taken off the indian constitution, it has been a free for all.we are all now chattel of the great indian state.

    police,or anyone with power,WILL abuse it. the question is not if,but how soon.
    radicalism/extremism etc are abstract ideas.trying to get a pandu to blast some unlucky sod off the face of the earth in the name of ‘war on terror’ is juvenile.

  4. deep Says:

    The article points out to real issues (like the policemen caught selling drugs) but to include the statement of an accused Muslim that he was picked up just because he wanted to elope with a Hindu girl (love jehad?) weakens the theme of this article.

    Btw, Swapna’s reply rocks! I used to think she was some ultra-liberal type but she’s quite practical and realistic.

  5. Espi Says:

    Aditi Phadnis is wrong in stating that police are resorting to illegal methods by taking advantage of threat of terrorism and actual bomb blasts. The police in India have a one point agenda - to please their political bosses by doing their bidding, no matter how illegal these demands might be. As most of the demands by politicians are illegal, police officers cynically exploit this god sent opportunity to themselves indulge in corruption and extortion, secure in the knowledge that their political masters will not take action against them as they enforce the writ of politicians and collect bribes on their behalf. Politicians face the heat from the public due to the depredations of Naxalites, terror groups like ULFA in Assam, terrorist acts by Pakistani sponsored and indoctrinated Indian Muslims and are under pressure to deliver results. Where will they turn to? The police and the army therefore get a free hand to crush the terrorists and no one cares how brutally they act so long as the insurgents are killed or captured. The cases Aditi Phadnis mentions are the result of police politician connivance and will keep happening so long as the police force is under the thumb of corrupt politicians, are poorly trained, recruited purely on caste considerations and not merit and do not have autonomy to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without “permission” from the “accused”, namely very same corrupt people!!

  6. Swapna Says:

    As a liberal pacifist who hates any kind of authority, I agree with you BUT wish I knew the answers to:
    (1) How do you deal with radicalism/extremism/terrorism (of whichever type)? Certainly not by sending in the police or the armed forces with one hand tied behind, right?
    (2) As you say, it is at least comforting that the bad apples in the police force are getting picked these days. When they use excesive force or when they allow loudspeakers to blare or when they are politically incorrect and ask you your religion, whose orders/philosophy are they following?
    (3) With whom should we start doing something: the police force or our representatives the politicians?

    As long as it is the police who face the guns of radicalism/extremism/terrorism and liberal pacifist “intellectuals” can write or talk without dirtying their hair, wish I knew what to do without being a hypocrite?

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