Time to Police the Police – Tahmina Laskar

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Home Minister Rajnath Singh with other ministers and police officials wields the broom as part of 'Clean India' campaign.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh with other ministers and police officials wields the broom as part of ‘Clean India’ campaign.

Now that the Indian government is on an ambitious mission to clean up the country, can we expect it to clear the systemic rot too?

TAHMINA LASKAR

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Clean India campaign or the “Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan” has taken India by storm and cleanliness seems to have suddenly become a national obsession. According to news reports, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has issued an ultimatum demanding that all police stations in Delhi be cleaned in a week.

He even warned of surprise visits to police stations to ensure that they actually are complying with the ultimatum.  The Prime Minister himself pulled up the staff at Mandir Marg police station for the mess on the premises and he himself picked up the broom to clean up. He had gone on to scrub the premises for 15 minutes.

We Indians definitely are in awe that people of their rank actually care about such mundane issues and they are walking the talk instead of simply instructing, laudable indeed. However a question relevant and contextual right now is–will the Home Minister borrow the broom to clean the mess within the system and not just the premises?

Would he take out time and do similar surprise checks to see if lock-ups are not cluttered with illegal detentions; that the DK Basu guidelines are prominently displayed and adhered to; that every complainant is given their free FIR copy with no delay; no witness/complainant/ or member of the public is abused, harassed or made to wait long hours in any police station; all rights on arrest are adhered to?

Members of an NGO at a protest rally in Srinagar, demanding speedy probe into the Poonch fake encounter case. Photo credit Nissar Ahmad/The Hindu
Members of an NGO at a protest rally in Srinagar, demanding speedy probe into the Poonch fake encounter case. Photo credit Nissar Ahmad/The Hindu

Would he ensure that women’s helpd esks are right in place and working and juvenile officers are present to play their part; police stations are open and accessible and not like fortresses; no bribes are taken by any police personnel? Ugh!

Sorry, sir, the list is a little too long to be spelt out in entirety here. But I am sure you know your priorities well. If only one could take the cleanliness drive to a challenging level because it’s such a routine thing to just dust and wield the broom.

As home minister, your job demands and is capable of delivering much more than this. Never mind whose mess it is just in case you thought of passing the buck like it has been going on for decades.

Gandhi said “Be the change that you wish to see in this world.” Having invoked the Mahatma’s ideology of cleanliness surely you could take up the cause of fixing the systemic mess too. It’s time to reform and police our police so people can look at policing as public service.

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