Meaning of being a Police man

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By : Rakesh Kumar Singh

To the common man, what a police man means? What is aam admi (common man’s) perception about police? What comes in the mind of a kid and a grown up man when they think of police? Except for kids probably everybody mostly think of police with a negative perception. Police are predominantly seen not as friend but abettor of more problems during crisis. Why this image for an organisation which has lost 9236 personnel since 1994? (Source: satp.org) Every year not only hundreds of policemen are killed but many thousands are injured in the line of duty. Still, people rarely endeavour to make an objective analysis of the good and bad works done by police, their successes or failures, their honesty or dishonesty. An informed reasoning and debate is hardly done regarding professionalism in police. Police doing wrong things immediately catch up the imagination of people and have got media value too, whereas good works done rarely get praise and appreciation it deserves.

Probably, perception is more important than reality. And generally, people while judging a police man gets prejudiced because of improper conduct and unprofessionalism of a few police personnel whose misdeeds are unpardonable and reports about such misdeeds keeps coming in media frequently. There are definitely a few Police / Para Military / Military personnel who fail to protect human rights of common man and a few are indecent too. Such police man should certainly be disliked and hated, but for this reason the whole police organisations should not be discredited and defamed. In fact the police department are very strict in taking punitive actions against erring personnel. No other organisations / departments take the complaint of its clients / stakeholders as seriously as this is being ensured by police / CAPF department. However, the action taken by the department are not highlighted thus the impression goes that they take such gross misconduct as part of their profession.

From official data regarding departmental proceedings against erring police personnel it is very much evident.  In 2010 total 65,383 cases of departmental proceedings, including those brought forward from previous year against Police personnel were processed. Of these cases, 40,082 were initiated and subsequently disposed off. (source: BPRD)

In fact, the police department is very efficient and proactive in policing its own department. Be sure your genuine complaint will never go unheard of before police officers.

Now let us spare some time and thought to look at what a police man is doing to protect and safeguard the people of the country. The population of India has multiplied so many times; the number of people with criminal intentions has also increased. The various kinds of terrorism and hate crimes have increased because of misconceived perceptions and notions among certain sections of people. Democratic set up has its own dynamics which makes way for protests, strikes and competitive electoral processes. All these require massive manpower in police organisation to tackle the issue. Today Airports, industrial establishments and even railways have to be highly protected. Simply, the management of traffic in cities have become arduous task because of increase of vehicular traffic. But the strength of Policeman is not going up in that proportion.

In 2010, approx 22.24 lakh IPC crimes were reported and crime rate was 187.6 at All India level. Under special law approx 45.25 lakh crimes were registered. In 2010, approx 55 thousands agitations of various types took place. To deal with such huge numbers of incidents the strength of police is meagre.  Almost 576 people (actually 761 due to vacancy) required to be looked after by one constable as per data of 2010 despite terrific increase in challenges faced by police forces in the country in the light of incidence of terrorism, naxalism, communal violence, and other kinds of security threats. These are the sanctioned strength of police and approx 20-25 % vacancy exists generally.  At national level, as in 2010, one constable is responsible for every 1.53 sq. kms. of the geographical area and because of vacancies actually it is 2.03 sq Km. The organisation is overburdened with work too. Police is often criticised for reaching late but only 09% policemen has access to transport facility.

Indian Police is still having old and archaic rules and regulations for policing and the basic being the Indian Police Act of 1861. Most of the laws and procedures are of pre-independence era. Critiques say that the very essence of Evidence Act is distrust towards the people. May be such set up of rules had created negative and oppressive image of police.  Inspite of working in democratic set up the old stigma of colonial police is still with the image of police. The image management in police organisations have generally not been taken care of with this perception that someday the hard work of police will be understood by everyone.

Scientific outlook of investigation and interrogation are not getting introduced with desired speed. Information system and data vital for policing have to be updated and shared across all police stations to prevent crime. Various studies have been conducted for reforms in police; however those have never been implemented or selectively implemented, thus preventing the police organisation from introducing changes and innovations.

Right from social activist to politician to common man all criticize police and mock at every given opportunity. The degradation of policewala in Indian film is pathetic where poorly dressed police man are abused, misused and mocked at. This negative portrayal of professionalism has also eroded the trust of people in man in uniform. However, there is not only dearth of manpower and resources in police but even the available resources are unevenly distributed to various stakeholders. The feudal and VIP syndrome has also adverse impact on the functioning of police. There are no shift wise duties or rotation of manpower thus most of the police man is on call for 24 hours. Hardly any protective gears are available to protect against nature’s fury, riots and bullets.

Successive incidents which had shocked the imagination of nation have stirred people to bring reforms in Police and the way it works. But still not only the laws are primitive but also the mind set in dealing with anything related with policing is same since decades. Things have become so dreadful that often we come across the incidents of police man being burned alive by anti- social elements and such news are taken as normal by the society. The challenges in naxal area have been violent since last two decades resulting in death and sacrifices of hundreds of police personnel but still these sacrifices should be recognised as martyrdom or not, is being debated whereas police personnel continues to be killed across the nation on the call of duty.

Uniform is mark of respect and reflection of professionalism. It carries certain obligations as well as it has privileges too. But these days it is often at the butt of jokes. All and sundry can disregard it by imitation, intimidation and insult. We as a society do not repose our faith in this vital institution, and if this is so then how it will maintain its professionalism and impartiality. Police like other human being too need to be patted and motivated. Police officers are duty bound to serve people 24×7 as well as to bring all crimes to the notice of the concerned authority. A police man respected and valued will work with tremendous zeal and energy to dedicate his life for the service of common man; even to the extent of supreme sacrifice. Isn’t our history full of such supreme sacrifices? Even during war Police and Forces like CRPF had fought against enemies’ Army- CRPF fought aggression by regular Chinese army at Hot springs, Laddakh in 1959 and in Rann of Kutch against a brigade of Pakistan Army in 1965.

 Let us make the meaning of being policeman a dignified and respectable human being, who instils sense of pride with his sheer professional outlook and compassionate attitude. Policing…meaning selflessly serving the people and for this common man’s constructive criticism and critical participation is very essential for it.

Author is Commandant 69 BN CRPF, Imphal He can be accessed at  rksingh47@gmail.com.

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