Some times back, the Congress Vice-President had said that ISI, through its operative terrorists, outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, had tried to inflame the people affected by the communal riots in and around Muzaffarnagar to join hands with the Pakistan-based terror group. Two Haryana imams arrested in December, 2013, for their suspected links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, and another LeT operative, had allegedly visited relief camps a of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots and sought to recruit men to their module.
Some of the persons, who were allegedly approached refused to join hands with the Pakistan-based terror group and instead informed the Special Cell of the Delhi Police. On December 31, 2013, they recorded their detailed statements under section 164 Cr. P C, before a city magistrate, in New Delhi. The sealed statements are now admissible as evidence in court.
Indeed, in our country, there is no law against terrorism and the result is that it has become free for the enemies of our country. We are still governed the laws passed by the Britishers in 1861 and 1863, though the whole world, has jettisoned ancient laws. Sh, P Chidambaram, as a Union Home Minister had admitted that India which is facing serious terror and Naxal threats has an ill-equipped police machinery, especially at its lower ranks.
“Police system is outdated. Police are ill-trained, ill-equipped and ill-paid,” said Chidambaram, talking about the challenges to internal security. The Minister further said the “Police Constable who works for 12 to 14 hours a day throughout the year is the most abused part of the machinery. At the level of administration of criminal justice and the level of policing, these are matters which fall exclusively under the states’ jurisdiction. We have tried to help, or, if you wish, put in checks and balances by creating a number of institutions — for example, the Human Rights Commission — at the national level and at the state level.”
The Supreme Court has laid down a set of minimum measures for police reform in a judgement of November 22, 2006. No State has implemented the orders of the Supreme Court Now, we impress upon the states the need to put in place these mechanisms. For example, a committee to decide on transfers and postings at the state level, another committee to deal with complaints against police. Many states have put in place these committees, some have not.
Even where states have put in place these committees, many of them are not quite functional and don’t really exercise the authority that they are expected to exercise. The Supreme Court continues to hear the cases and pull up the states (that) have either not set up committees, or, having set up the committees, have not empowered them. We fully support these reforms, which the Supreme Court has laid down.
An impression has gone around the country, based on the past and present experience, that if any section of society wants anything or any demands conceded, then the best way is to agitate or cow down the Government. The idea of peaceful agitation has been given a good bye and has been replaced by Bandhs, bullying, beating, killing and destroying. Whether it is a question of cancellation of allotment of land to Amarnath shrine, only the violence, annoyance, irritation has brought the Government on its knees, even for the most unreasonable demands.
The Police, which has nothing to do, or caused the issue, are caught in the cross fire of expectation of the agitators and the stand of the Government. They are the only bulwark between the chaos and peace and harmony in the society. As Police is the visible symbol of the Government and its authority, it is the easiest target, to strike at the Government. Indeed all protests against the Government, turn out, to be a free, for all between the Police and agitators.
A common complaint is that excessive force was used or the firing on looting and arson indulging mob, should not have been done. Arm chair theoreticians find it easy to assess the police performance, while sitting in the comfort of their airconditioned and tension or agitation free atmosphere. If the property is destroyed or terrorists are killed, in police use of force or firing to control the mob, it is accused of using unnecessary or unwarranted or too much force. If it does not take action to play safe, it is accused of inaction or playing safe. The policemen have to do a tight rope walking and as said by the National Police Commission; “The dividing line between the objectives of the Government in power as such on one side, and the interests and expectations of the ruling political party on the other side, gets blurred in actual practice, and the image of the police, as an impartial law enforcement agency, suffers in consequence”.
The concept of ministerial responsibility has given an impression to the political masters that they are authorised to guide and intervene in all functions of the police in all areas. Most often, all intervention takes the form of only oral directions, which are difficult to prove later on in a court of inquiry or in case the politicians set up commissions of inquiry to look into the conduct of the police. Political executive gives only oral orders and never written orders. So the responsibility lies with the Police and authority without accountability lies with the politicians Professor David H Bailey says: “In India today, a dual system of criminal justice has grown up, the one of the law and the other of politics. With respect at least to the police, decisions made by the police officials, about the application of law, are frequently subject to partisan review or direction by the elected representatives. The autonomy of the police officials, in specific and routine application of law, has been severally curtailed. This is not only true of law and order situations.
People accused of crimes have got into the habit of appealing to political figures for remission from the law. Police officials, throughout India, have grown accustomed to calculating the likely political effect of any enforcement action they contemplate. Fearing for their careers and especially their postings, they have become anxious and cynical. But everywhere, officers are expected to be held personally accountable by the politicians, even more than by their superior officers for enforcement action taken in the course of duty. Altogether, then the rule of law in modern India, the frame upon which justice hinges, has been undermined by the rules of politics.
Supervision in the name of Democracy has eroded the foundations upon which the impartiality depends in a criminal justice system.” Most of States do not have full strength of the Police, as the Government figures show.
The table gives the idea of the top 5 states with the highest differences as on January 1, 2012:
The UP has been most affected by the communal riots. Against the International norms of the 240 Policemen for per 1,00,000 policemen, it has only 70, with more than 50 per cent posts vacant. Bihar has only 50 Policemen for one Lakhs population, with more than 30 per cent vacancies. Ideally, 25 per cent policemen should be under training to sensitise them and make them aware of the latest laws. The actual position is that quite often, the State training institutes do not have enough capacity to train the replacement of retiring policemen, forget about refresher courses or training courses. Such has been the misuse of the police force, that in a glaring case of Yasin Bhatkal, who had all his contacts of Indian Mujahideen in Bihar, the State Government did not even take action, when the whole country knew about the terrorism havoc brought about by him. Even the rally of the Prime Ministerial Candidate, of the party, which was a coalition partner of the Government was subjected to the terrorists attack. The State Government even denied about any information or caution received from the Central Government though some Police officers admitted of possible attack on the rally and Bodh Gaya temple of Lord Buddha. Obviously each State is acting as an independent entity, instead of working as a cohesive units. The degree of importance given to various national issues, depends and differs from States to States. The result is that when the Central Government wishes to escape its responsibility from terrorism, it says that it is a 'State Subject'. No State is above the security and integrity of India. The real truth that the politicians for the sake of vote Bank politics, and to grab power, play this game in the Country, which in their real interest, they would not think twice about damning. It is not that it cannot be done, it is because, petty people in the name, caste, creed and religion or guns have been voted to power. Sir Winston Churchill said in the debate on India’s Independence Bill in August 1947, while opposing it, said; “Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters…. All leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw… They’ll have sweet tongues and silly hearts… They will fight amongst themselves for power & the two countries will be lost in political squabbles…. A day would come when even air and water will be taxed.”
He wrote this 67 years ago. Incredibly we’ve worked very hard to prove him right. I would remind the people of India, in the words of Mark Twain; “Loyalty tocountry ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
(The writer is former CBI Director)