Po­lit­i­cal clout over khaki to blame for bru­tal crime

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

paid Rs50,000 per sit­ting while the states con­tin­ued to wil­fully com­mit con­tempt of court.

Had some of the po­lice re­forms taken place, po­lice­men sit­ting in Delhi’s Hauz Khas po­lice sta­tion could have re­sponded with alacrity when a pas­sen­ger who was robbed by the rapists ap­proached them, seek­ing help. Had they taken im­me­di­ate ac­tion, the bus could have been lo­cated and in­ter­cepted and a heinous gang rape and mur­der pre­vented. In­stead, they ig­nored the com­plaint and wil­fully abet­ted a crime that shook us all.

So, why is this crit­i­cal? It is be­cause the po­lice are the first re­spon­ders when a cit­i­zen re­ports a crime. They are the first line of de­fence against an an­ar­chic state. They are also the in­ves­ti­ga­tors whose skills and abil­i­ties will de­cide the success of the pros­e­cu­tion as the case goes through a tor­tur­ous le­gal process. While the union government, sit­ting in iso­la­tion in New Delhi set up two com­mis­sions to “speed up’ the courts and the ju­di­ciary, they re­mained silent on the is­sues that really mat­tered.

A few years ago the CAG con­ducted an elab­o­rate au­dit of the 10- year po­lice mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme. Crores of Cen­tral government funds were sent to states to mod­ernise the po­lice. The re­sults of the report were shock­ing. The CAG, Vinod Rai, sent a copy to prime min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh. His let­ter and report was con­fined to the dust bin of his­tory. A quick cal­cu­la­tion re­vealed that ev­ery year the government was only spend­ing Rs 53 per po­lice­man per year, and that too in­ef­fi­ciently.

Worse, this hor­rific crime also re­vealed the true in­ten­tions of the UPA II. They re­fused to ac­cept any dis­cus­sion on the long- pend­ing de­mand to trans­fer the Delhi Po­lice from the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs ( MHA) to the state government. The MHA — al­ready sad­dled with in­ter- state re­la­tions, the north- east, in­sur­gency in Kash­mir, in­ter­nal se­cu­rity, man­ag­ing the In­dian Po­lice Ser­vice, in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing etc — also lords it over the po­lice of a small state like Delhi. Their jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is that the Delhi Po­lice have spe­cial du­ties such as pro­tect­ing VVIPs. But, by do­ing so, they deny the peo­ple the abil­ity to de­mand accountability from the government they elect in Delhi.

In­stead, the government gives the union home sec­re­tary to grin and pat the Delhi po­lice com­mis­sioner at a press con­fer­ence hours af­ter a na­tion was shocked by the bru­tal as­sault on a 23- year- old. It fid­dles and rolls out plat­i­tudes and lists the speech of the PM as “ac­tion taken” af­ter a gang rape, while a democ­racy dies a slow and painful death.

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