Published : Times of India
The recent shooting of a sub-inspector by his subordinate once again points towards the deep malaise that’s afflicting the police system in this country.Whatever police reforms have happened,have centered around senior levels of the police force.The middle levels have remained largely untouched.A series of suggestions about adverse living and working conditions and lack of promotional avenues have,unfortunately,not progressed beyond lip service.
Unfortunately,the issue of human rights for policemen is raised only as a counter-question to that of a terrorist,Naxalite,criminal,or when they are killed by their own disgruntled subordinates.We bombard the police department with choice abuse and incessant criticism.Society points accusing fingers it needs a whipping boy and the police force is an easy target.Such reckless whipping alienates the public further and makes the department’s task more difficult.It’s ironical that while we condemn the force,we expect it to solve all our problems.
It’s a pity that society expects protection of human rights from the same personnel whose human rights are compromised the day they join service by taking a pledge to be available 24×7,365 days a year,without complaining.Rather than counselling and stress release classes,I feel that giving them their legitimate dues is their biggest welfare.Unless we remove the root causes of stress,meditation,yoga or counselling wont yield results.
There are bigger welfare measures : ensure they are with their families after duty hours;they don’t travel long distances to their place of work;provide housing so that they don’t have to coexist with criminals;and a healthy work environment.Reasonable working hours are a basic right and not a welfare measure.
To hold only outsiders responsible for the predicament of the police force is like being in denial mode.In the force,there is still a divide between those who support brawn and brain as a prerequisite to being good policemen.Educated,empowered and ambitious youth join the force only to find themselves trapped in an unfair system.To apply their own mind,express reservations about directives from superiors or ask for basic rights like family time is often seen as insubordination.We exhort policemen to work harder while burdening them with more responsibilities.A tired and frustrated police force cannot deliver and let’s not forget that 95% of the field jobs are done by constables.
There is a need for massive surgery of duties entrusted to the police department,re-engineering of processes and defining the mandate within the realm of possibility.The focus needs to be the security of citizens rather than the state.Instead of asking them to work harder,we need to train them to work smarter.
(The author is Additional DGP ; the opinions expressed are his own)
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