India has undeniably added many feathers in its cap since the Independence, some of them being landmark achievements every citizen should feel proud of.  The country has come a long way on the economic front, despite the serious crisis of dismal growth in 1991. In the same vein, continual slumping on Human Development Index though, India has registered stupendous success on some fronts. However the policing system of the country cuts a  sorry figure as its modus operandi still reflects British Raj mindset, which reminisces the brutality and insensitivity of British colonialism in India before the Independence. Today also common people have to face similar horror while approaching police station as Indians had to reel under the havoc of audacity and highhandedness of British police. Recently, the barbaric face of cops who gave inhuman treatment to a 10-year-old rape victim at Bulandshahr police station, who had gone there for lodging complaint, is just tip of iceberg. Hardly had people forgotten the blood-curdling Delhi gang-rape incident, a shocker came from Bulandshar. On satisfactory note, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the whole matter and sought explanation from the Uttar Pradesh government, the incident has however raised questions on the callous response and insensitive approach by the state police. The way massive protests over Delhi brutal gang-rape sent ripples across the nation, it was expected that police too would adopt a sensitive approach towards people, but the situation was back to square one.

Any claim of development will appear pointless until police are on toe to ensure law and order in society. The failure of policing is billed to be fountainhead of myriads of problems confronting the nation. The slipshodness of law enforcing agent manifests not only the growing crimes but also other problems like extortion, illegal constructions, encroachments and road mishaps. In some cases, blames are squarely pinned on poor policing while some other problems are triggered by the unholy nexus between police and anti-social elements. It appears that our cops are not willing to don considerate outlook.  Whatever happened in Bulandshahr erupts in other parts of the country as well. The recent incidents of Tarn Taran and Patna are tell-tale sign of bobby brutality. Both the cases are subjudice. It is highly outrageous that our police don’t feel hesitant in showing their callous attitude to even children and women. Nevertheless the Central government adopted stricter law owing to mounting pressure of people in the aftermath of Delhi gang-rape, a bid to spell out message of its zero tolerance for such heinous crimes, the situation is still wearing gloomy look.

The main reason of no change in police personnel’s approach is assuming themselves above law. There are several reasons of feudal mindset of police, most important being political outfit’s tendency of using them for personal gains. Our political parties never want police to be free from their clutches and work properly in order to control crime. Another big challenge confronting the law enforcement agency is the dearth of recruits in the police force. The strength of police personnel against the population of the country is so less that it is becoming difficult to put a check on the growing crime graph. The police officials are not only subjected to resource crunch but the conditions imposed on them result in high stress levels, which leads to insensitivity among the cops. From their selection to posting to appraisal, everything is under the pressure of ruling establishment. Corruption is already eating into their vitals. They are not hesitant in spending a hefty amount for seeking the desired posting. It is due to these malpractices that the police force seems to have become synonymous with corruption.

The corrupt, inhuman and insensitive face of Indian police appears to be a stigma for the country. Every political leader is in the know with this image of police but no one is bothered to change it. Such dillydallying situation prevails despite the Supreme Court coming down heavily on the Centre and the state governments regarding police reforms. Since the law and order is associated with the state, police works under the control of state governments. However, the ground reality is that most of the state governments do not have enough funds to equip police force with basic facilities and modern weapons. Clearly, the ruling dispensation at the Centre should come forward for image makeover of policing system so that they could work with much more efficiency. Until there is a sea change in the policing system, there could be no reform in their functioning. The development of the country is bound to affect if nothing is done to stop political interference in the functioning of the police. Meanwhile, it is hard to expect from the Centre that it will work on long-pending police reform in its remaining tenure. Now only the new government after general elections can be expected to bring diametric change in policing system.

If new Central establishment, be it of any political hue or coalition, does not move forward in the context of police reform, people will be bound to conclude that political parties deliberately want police to remain weak so that they can dictate them. Since the country has now become strong enough on economic front so that it could provide effective policing system to ensure law and order for its citizens. In the perspective of present economic growth, our ministers and mandarins should realize that police reform is the need of the hour to ensure effective law and order in the country.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on April 14, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)