Gaon Connection Survey: 36.4% said the police is doing a good job, but …
In the Gaon Connection survey, 26.1% said the police misuse their power, 12.2% said the police favour people from particular religion and caste, 13.6% people said they don't not file FIRs and 13.6% said the image of the police force has taken a beating in the past few years.
It was a classic case of police apathy. A video went viral in the beginning of this year. An elderly woman was seen pleading to a senior police officer, Tej Prakash Singh, from Gudamba police station in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh to file an FIR. He was sitting in his chair, not reacting. At the end of the video, the elderly woman was seen slumping to his feet.
Her son, Aakash Yadav, who used to work in a plywood factory had died in a freak accident at the factory because of a faulty machine. The elderly lady wanted the police to file an FIR against the owner of the factory, but the police did not budge.
This is not a one-off incident. It shows why don't the citizens consider police to be people-friendly.
The Gaon Connection had conducted a nation-wide survey in the month of May in 19 states. It was the biggest rural India survey. We asked more than 18,000 people to comment on issues that are plaguing people living in rural India.
One of the important aspects of this survey was safety and security and people were asked to comment on the police force.
While 7,741 people (34.6%) said the police is doing a good job, 26.1% said the police misuse their power, 12.2% said the police favour people from particular religion and caste, 13.6% people said they don't not file FIRs. 13.6% people said the image of the police force has taken a beating in the past few years.
Talking about the image of police force, IPS Abhishek Pallav, who is the SP, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, said: "The police should make sure that people are not scared of them. People should feel safe. Also, it's important that senior police inspectors pick their calls up and talk to people directly. Because this is not happening, there is a disconnect between the police and people."
He added: "Today we are technologically-advanced. Police should also make use of social media effectively to reach out to people."
Talking about the image of the police force taking a beating, Sanjeev Krishna Sood, retired additional director of Border Security Force (BSF), said: "The Britishers set up the police force in 1862 to suppress people of India. We have continued with that trend even after the Britishers have left. The police should help people and not scare them." He has been writing on police reforms and border security for a very long time.
"Police does not listen"
In 2006, 13-year-old Neeraj was found dead in Gomtinagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. His father, a tea seller, tried telling the police that Neeraj was murdered. The police did not file any complain. His father went to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. After the Commission summoned the police, the Lucknow police, in 2016, after 10 years, filed a case and lodged an FIR against 5 people.
"Police hesitate to file a case because they want to show zero crime rate in their jurisdiction. So, their immediate reaction to any crime is to not register it. If a case is filed against a high-profile person, the police clears it in haste because they are answerable to their authorities."
Those who were interviewed in the survey agreed with this. Mamta, who lives in Palamu, Jharkhand, said: "Police don't listen to the poor. They listen to those who have money. We have to run from pillar to post."
Many vacant posts
According to data that was tabled on July 26, 2016 in Lok Sabha, until January 1, 2015, there were 5,00,000 vacant posts for police.
Talking about this, ex-DGP, Uttar Pradesh, Arvind Kumar Jain, said: "Police is under tremendous pressure. The vacant posts should be filled up fast. that will ease the situation. We should not judge the overall crime situation based on number of cases that get registered or don't get registered. This is a wrong way to judge the police."
Other experts said that though there are many vacant posts, but those who are working should do their job diligently.
"We are not making use of the police force effectively. Around 10 police officers guard one MP. Many politicians walk around with constables. If they spend that much time at police stations, they would be able to help people," said Sood.
When asked why don't the police file FIRs, Pallav said: "The primary reason is any investigation needs a lot of paperwork and lot of money is spent but the force does not get as much money from the Centre. Many people said on an average 2,000-3000 is spent on a case from the time FIR is filed and it reaches the court. The government should give some funds for paperwork as well."
Abhishek added: "Each police station should get a fixed amount. Many states get that. Like in Chhattisgarh, every station gets Rs 5,000. In Telangana this amount stands at Rs 50-60,000."
Mahendra Singh Jadeja, who lives in Morbi district in Gujarat, said: "The police is doing a good job in this digital era. They even run free classes to educate people. Yes, the common complaint is that they don't file FIRs. But this is an era of social media and there is lot of pressure on them."
The caste divide
According to a State of Policing in India's 2018 report, people belonging to scheduled caste said they are scared on the police, whereas upper caste Hindus said they aren't. While upper caste Hindus want more police in their areas, lower-castes Hindus want the contrary. The report was jointly published by Common cause and Centre for the Study of developing societies.
According to a report by Hindustan Times published in July 2017, in Uttar Pradesh, among 75 police district heads, 13 were thakurs, 20 were brahmins, one was kayastha, one was bhumihar, one was vaishya and 6 were from other castes.
"It's important that this distribution is just. Many people say that there are very few from the minority community in the police force. Those who are from the lower castes are also economically backward. They don't get proper justice so some laws are made keeping them in mind. So, it's important that there is a balance in the police force."
However, Sood contradicted this when he said: "I don't think crimes are filed based on castes of people. If police take bribe, they don't discriminate on the basis of caste. The person with more money will get benefited and poor people will never get justice."
Police misuse their power
On September 28, 2018, Vivek Tiwari, a sales executive working with Apple, was shot dead in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. According to reports he went to drop his colleague at midnight. Around 1:30 am two constables on a bike tried stopping him. To escape them he sped and, in the process, ended up knocking the bike. The CCTV footage revealed one of the constables had shot Tiwari dead.
"This misuse of power will continue till we sensitise the lower rung of police force because constables are the ones who deal with people. They have to learn how to talk to them and not scare them. We should train them in soft skills," said Pallav.
Talking about police reforms, Sood said, "The police force has a lot of potential, but we will have to stop the force from getting politicised. Plus, the police will have to learn to tackle politicians as well and not the common man."