Saturday, 20 April 2013

No protection for India’s civil society?

The shocking behaviour of Delhi police to hush –up the case of a brutal rape of a minor girl by trying the bribe the family of the victim, and then slapping a women protestor by one of its officers calls for a serious police reforms in India.

It was around 10 pm in South Delhi. I was speaking with my friend whom I met in a shopping square close the area where I live. She was dressed in a skirt. Two policemen, apparently on a patrol, came on a bike and started asking questions about who we were and very rudely asked us to move away from there. They said: “if you don’t go, I will take you on your bike.”

I had to show them my visiting card to establish my identity. They calmed down and drove away. They belonged to Vasant Vihar police station. Locals tell me that they are out to make money and often target people who look like outsiders.

A couple of months back in another residential residential area(C. R. Park), police stopped my motorbike. They asked me for papers. When they found I had them, they began asking me about my salary and the type of job I do. Then one officer said: ”what about a party sir?”

As I write this thousands of people are protesting outside the Delhi Police HQ. They are angry because they tried to bribe the family of the five-year-old girl who was brutally raped, and to add fuel the fire, one of the senior officers slapped a young woman officer in full glare of the media!

Rishi Kant, a well-known social activist, who rescues trafficked women comments: “This situation we face in every police station. The police IO of any case try to purchase the victims slowly to change the statement in the court.”

Police, like most government organisations in India, is heavily corrupt. But if India really wants to protect its civil society, the trust deficit that people have with police needs to be improved.

India’s police have no ethics of customer service. They are not trained to speak politely and have no respect for others. The whole idea of being on the street is to earn money and harass the weak.

A few things needs to done immediately: a mechanism for civil –police partnership needs to be created for community policing. Given India’s diversity, police needs to work with the local community to understand the demography and culture of different areas. The police force in the national capital should have officers from other states speaking different languages.  

There has to be transparency in police recruitment and promotion. Promotion has to be merit based on not based on seniority. The well- cultivated system of corruption in police that has been existing over the last 60 years has to be dismantled – technology is the best answer to this.

Finally, sensitisation  of police and change of mindset is the need of the hour for 21st century policing.  It is time for India to get the basic public services right so that the civil society can breathe in peace.