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Minister is responsible for establishing and maintaining a people-friendly police force: CORE

Chumthang News Service
Imphal 30th June 2015: The Centre for Organisation Research and Education expresses extreme concern with the deteriorating discipline and performance of the Manipur Police as reflected in the consistently frequent reports in the local news media of uniformed personnel belonging to the Police Department involved in all sorts of misdemeanors, serious crimes and rights abuses. During the month of June alone, there were local media front page reports of at least seven (7) separate instances where Manipur Police personnel were involved in violations of the law; robbery or attempted robbery (4), traffic law violation (1), assault and manslaughter (1) and unprovoked firing during vehicle checking in the capital city of Imphal (1). The reported incidents and events are too numerous to detail.

Particular forces within the Police Department such as the Traffic Police, Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and Manipur Village Defence Force (VDF) have been reported as regularly involved in crimes such as extortion, robbery, kidnapping, cybercrime, murder and militant activities, petty corruption in public, disproportionate use of power, indiscipline, undermining of authority, public arrogance, use of abusive language and open disrespect to the citizens and abuses of human rights including torture, cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment and sexual abuse. There are absolutely no excuses for this form of behaviour by the police of Manipur, and the minister has yet to make a public statement regarding these reports.

The association of the police with drug use, drug trafficking and alcoholism, according to frequent reports in the media, is one of the foremost concerns of the public in Manipur today. Such aberrations among the police personnel have profound and negative consequences for society and the force.

In this sea of bad publicity and negative public discourse regarding our police, any good that they may have done are totally drowned out. We recall, with deep disappointment, our press release on 19th March 2012 welcoming “the reported statement of the Home Minister of Manipur, Mr. Gaikhangam, that, his first priority is to develop a people-friendly police force in the state of Manipur. The Minister also reportedly said that in order to provide a secure environment in the state, confidence building measures need to be taken up so that the general public could feel secure when they see policemen in the street and in their homes.”

Our cautious response the minister’s statement soon after he took office as an “extremely challenging” and “a daunting task” because this important law enforcement agency of the Manipur Government has become a primary law breaker seems to have gone unheeded by the respected minister. The respected minister seems to have now lost this priority that he set for himself when he first took office.We have yet to see the confidence building measures translated into hard reality.

We reiterate that providing a secure environment and taking up confidence building measures requires two priorities, first and foremost being the issue of making the police a disciplined force. A disciplined police officer is a friendly police officer. After more than three years under the stewardship of the minister, there are still many serious and unaddressed shortcomings in the police recruitment model, training, deployment and supervision of the force by competent, honest and dedicated senior police officers that are to be seriously reviewed and corrected. Secondly, there is widespread and regular interference in the work of police while conducting their duties from politicians and other authorities. Such interference not only hampers police work, but also discourages and undermines their morale, status and role in society.

A third priority is for the government to establish an independent Police Complaints Mechanism. The government is yet to comply with the orders of the Supreme Court of India for wide police reforms. The VDF recently resorted to strikes and bandhs, disrupting services, to raise their demands for equitable remuneration. A police force, such as the VDF, which has very poor quality training, and suffers from low morale and self respect, is bound to be undisciplined and vulnerable to influences that pull them towards criminal activities, dereliction of duty and pitiable performance. This has been found to be the case with the VDF.

As a modern police force today, the Manipur police department has begun to recruit women among its police officials of all ranks. The women police personnel must be given adequate exposure and training to conduct their challenging duty in the service of the people with the highest discipline. Recently, a ranking woman police officer in charge of traffic duties was implicated in a widely reported and condemned incident that reflected misconduct and acting beyond the call of her duties. This sort of reported misconduct has inflicted the department a great and demoralizing blow.

It has become a regular practice for the police to get involved in mediation exercises between disputing parties, including domestic disputes. Laws specifically preclude police from offering mediation or assisted alternative dispute resolution services to parties. Police should not attempt to improve relations in the family by offering these services or by mediating a dispute. Involvement of the police in mediation opens up many opportunities for corrupt practices and the miscarriage of justice.

The police have specific multiple roles and functions sanctioned by the law. Therefore, confidence building measures must address the different roles that the police have, such as, maintaining law and order, registering FIRs, full and objective investigation and prosecution of crime, controlling traffic, providing security to state property and high functionaries, public awareness of law, etc. To be a people-friendly department every police person must first became an exemplary citizen and member of society. Our police stations and out-posts, police pickets and manned barricades, police guard posts, etc. are to be the face of our society. The staff and personnel officiating and conducting their duties at these important points of interface with the public are required to exhibit the highest level of discipline and polite behaviour. No citizen, young and old, male and female should approach our police with fear, shame or uncertainty about how they will be received and treated by the police officers on duty.

The minister is responsible for establishing and maintaining a people-friendly police force that is dignified. That was the respected minister’s commitment. The public does not expect and tolerate a police force that has no dignity or discipline.

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