Episode 2 of Satyamev Jayate, Season 2 – arguably India’s more relevant and thought provoking chat show ever – examined the issue of the police in India. Predictably, the show started by examining the general perceptions towards police in our country; perceptions of inefficiency, corruption, dereliction of duty, insensitivity and so on.
However the show, instead of listing a litany of wrongs, chose to focus on police reform, factors that will hopefully usher in real change. The show gave us a shocking insight into the exigencies within which the police work; of problems that we the people are all to unaware of.
Problems that the police face
An IPS officer from Uttar Pradesh, Abhinav Kumar came on the show to speak about the difficulties that the police face – difficulties with working conditions, the paucity of resources, and the inadequacy of man power. He highlighted the kind of day to day problems that the average policeman faces, and the reasons why he often has to resort to ‘jugaad’ just to do his duty – how he doesn’t have sufficient fuel allowance or sometimes even the wherewithal to day the police station’s electric bills.
Aamir Khan himself also spoke about his own experiences when researching for his film Sarfarosh, when he found that people demand bribes from the police as well.
How politicians undermine the police
Prakash Singh, retired Director General of Police of UP, spoke about the reality of the police being for the rulers and not for the people. He spoke about how those in power control the police by controlling their postings and so on, how the police are made so beholden to politicians that they are unable to perform their duties. There is a politician-criminal nexus that can and does disrupt the chain of command within the police, raising obvious problems. Mr. Singh also spoke about the dreadful fate that awaits the honest and upright cop.
Mr. Singh who is himself an activist endeavoring to bring about change in the system, spoke about directions of the Supreme Court which are being ignored. In this connection, Justice Thomas (retired Supreme Court judge) spoke about the reluctance and refusal of state administrations to implement directives regarding setting up independent committees for deciding transfers and promotions of police personnel.
Actual life of the police constable
92% of the Indian police force consists of police constables. IPS officer Anuradha Shankar spoke about the difficulties that the constabulary faces. She spoke about how constables function in hellish conditions and how her senior spoke about ‘Yamdoot’ and not ‘Devdoot’ emerging from hell.
Constables have to be ready to do duty 24×7, even doing menial tasks at senior police officer’s houses. They are very poorly paid, work without basic facilities, have poor living conditions, have to work during festivals as well and routinely face problems with leave. How can we expect sensitivity and efficiency from such a police force?
Shivaji Mahan Caire, former DGP of Jharkhand spoke about how rampant the problem is, of police personnel being assigned to jobs they are not meant to do – all with public money.
Sanjay Pandey, DIG, SRPF also spoke about how the conditions of the constable are only slightly better than a daily wager and about the limitations upon his ability to rise in the organisation. If a constable takes bribes, he doesn’t even get benefit of it; the bribes are divided between many others; Mr. Pandey explained this system; about organised and institutionalised bribe collection.
The system of investigation
The show explored the system of forensic investigation elsewhere in the world. S R Darapuri, IPS spoke about how the training is not implemented and the problems with collecting evidence. He spoke of ‘Danda’ investigation where the innocent may also confess to what they have not done as well as custodial death.
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty spoke about the fact that people’s perception of the police is detrimental to their morale and self esteem and about the mental and physical illnesses the personnel face. He spoke about the process of dehumanising and the reasons why the rate of suicides are very high in the police.
Changing the system
Bipin Gopalkrishna, IPS, spoke about basic problems that exist – how the system is adversarial; how the police are not permitted to serve people; how the concept of ‘public servant’ is absent. There is no motivation for the constable to do good work because his chances of rising in the system are so limited. He opined that change can only be brought about when people demand it.
English police officer Sir Peter Fahy joined from Greater Manchester to speak about how he rose in his own organisation and the factors that make it possible for a constable to rise to the top of the system. Britain has moved on from the Police Act, which India however still clings to.
Lessons from Kerala
Unique initiatives by the Kerala Police have made differences on the ground – Jan Maitri is a movement that has lowered rates of crime and caused people have to regard the police differently; more as a friend. Jacob Punnoose, former Director General of Police of Kerala spoke about ways in which the project has improved police morale and lowered instances of torture in police lockup.
Suresh Khopade, IPS appeared on the show to speak about his Mohalla Committee which he had started in Bhiwandi.
Julioi Ribeiro one of India’s best known and most controversial cops also appeared on the show to speak about the importance of leaders to usher in change.
Vote for Change
You can vote for change by calling up 1800 103 2301or by visiting the Satyamev Jayate website to join the petition and give support to this quest for change.
By – Reena Daruwalla