Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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Not just Delhi, there is growing disconnect between police leadership & constabulary in India

The policeman in the video outside Delhi's Saket Court complex didn't retaliate against violent lawyers. But not because he was a coward.

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Delhi Police personnel are nursing feelings of hurt and anger against their seniors for having been dealt with unjustly for the violent clash with lawyers at the Tis Hazari Court and developments thereafter. What precipitated the unprecedented protest Tuesday was a short video of the thrashing and humiliation of their colleague on duty outside the Saket Court complex Monday, allegedly by lawyers. In the video, the policeman being thrashed doesn’t retaliate. He doesn’t call for reinforcement or support. He just helplessly rides away to avoid more indignity.

No, he was not a coward running away from a difficult situation. He was trained in self-defence, but chose to avoid a conflict. The crucial question is what held him back? Like his other colleagues, perhaps he also believed that he wouldn’t get justice, either from his seniors in the Delhi Police or from the system for which he is working. Most likely, the seniors will blame and penalise him without even giving him a chance to explain. Why the lack of faith in their seniors?

The senior brass of the Delhi Police was silent after the Tis Hazari incident. And Delhi police commissioner Amulya Patnaik Tuesday showed up to ask thousands of protesting personnel to “return to your duty points and continue to uphold the values of Delhi police”.

The Centre is already unhappy with how the police protests unfolded and wants to rejig the top brass. A senior official said: “We can’t allow a disciplined force to develop a mob mentality.”

Also read: Years of resentment sparked Delhi Police’s unprecedented protest, lawyer attacks a catalyst

A growing disconnect

Across police forces in India, there is a growing disconnect between police leadership and constabulary. For anything going wrong, the blame invariably passes down the ladder. It has resulted in a large number of departmental inquiries against junior officers with seniors getting away with much bigger misdemeanours. Poor living conditions adds to the anger. Just go and visit the residence of a senior police officer and compare it with the dormitory in which constables live only yards away.

A recent survey by Lokniti-CSDS found that police personnel were mentally and physically stressed due to their workload, lack of resources and no work-life balance. An average police officer was working for 14 hours a day, six more than mandated.

Further, senior police leadership have to dance to the tunes of political masters and help them subvert the law in return for important and prestigious posts – even after retirement. It’s either that or transfers. All those manipulative orders have to be executed by those lower in the ladder. In the process, the police leadership loses moral authority and respect. The hope of justice from them fades.

And justice is what the protesting Delhi Police personnel are demanding. Not only Delhi Police personnel, all victims of the 2 November violence should get justice. Without going into who is to be blamed for what happened at Tis Hazari Court, one thing is clear: both lawyers and police personnel took the law into their hands that day. There are several videos of what happened. So, it may not be difficult to identify the culprits, register cases, decide compensation and prosecute culprits, irrespective of whether they are police personnel or lawyers.

Also read: Lawyer-Delhi Police row: is it tough to empathise with cops due to their poor image?

Need for justice

The problem with the police is that they find it difficult to convince others about their innocence because of their poor public image. It weakens their case among the masses. Public sympathy usually is with the victims of police response first, even if it was justified.

However, this time the behaviour of the lawyers has not also gone down well among people either. Wearing a black coat doesn’t mean that they are above the law. The kind of violence that they indulged in raises questions about their professionalism and how they must be treating poor litigants, who approach them in distress in the hope for justice.

No one should get away with violence. Delay and denial of justice are not options. It will only aggravate the crisis and make it more complicated.

There should be a judicial inquiry into the lawyer-police clashes headed by a retired Supreme Court judge of impeccable integrity, with one representative each of lawyers and Delhi Police and two independent eminent persons with known neutrality. This will help diffuse the pent-up anger in the Delhi Police and other police forces who have similar grievances.

Also read: If we are abused or beaten up, should we remain quiet — protesting Delhi policemen ask

The author a former Director General of Police in Sikkim and a former Intelligence Bureau official. Views are personal.

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  1. It is the judiciary that requires total overhaul. They are not only a total failure they are also promoters of abuse of authority by other agents of governance. The police are a stressed lot because they are pressurized by the politicians, babus and the judiciary. And how do they keep their sanity alive? By getting their frustrations out on the common man. Of course there are bad hats in the police but compared to the larger force these are few in numbers. Whereas in the judiciary it is the other way around. I have to admit, for arguments sake at least, that there will be good judges and lawyers, but I haven’t across any.

  2. Delhi police are cowards.

    They ran like dogs, with their tail between their legs when attacked by lawyers.

    And beat up girls and boys from the Jamia

    Any guess why these guys, top to bottom, are
    despised ?!!!

  3. Delhi police , corrupt cowards

    Run away from the lawyers who thrashed them. Beat up girls and boys !!!

    We wait for a rally by the wives and daughters of these cowards, celebrating their bravery, valour and courage

  4. Ill treatment of police force, not giving them stress free environment to work and live, have their careers and stable family lives at the mercy of superior police officers (IPS) and political masters.. these are some of the ways in which our system controls and exploits the entire society. As responsible citizens, we should fight for our police force, because they cannot fight for themselves. We have to stand up for them and demand their independence at work, better living and working conditions, ability to do honest work without getting harassed by means of transfers or suspensions.

  5. You are portraying the the policeman as the angels of justice, whereas, in reality the police is nothing more than the dacoits with licence to loot. Their behaviour and way of talking is pathetic.public see them as most corrupt people who think as beating, demanding bribes and misbehaving with public is their birthright. Now the advocates have shown them, who is the Father in court complex… its very good thing and even public should unite with the advocates and give the police taste of their own medicine…
    Whole media is stressing upon the action taken by the advocates but nobody is raising question as to how the police had the courage to drag the advocate into the cell and for what….to have discussion over coffee…i guess. It was actually, the old habit of thinking themselves as law…
    Good job done Advocates..
    Let me clarify here that neither i belong to Adv fraternity nor against the views are based on my observations of the system ..

  6. The Police brass have no guts to defend their own. It is easy to intimidate the subordinates than to defend them before the public.

    On 2nd March 2012, when Gali Janardhana Reddy, the mining baron of Bellary was brought to Sessions Court premises in Bengaluru, an orchastrated riot broke out. There was certainly no provocation for the lawyers to attack the Police and the Public. Though Bengaluru police also stretch palm for petty bribe, they are not highhanded. So the public sympathy lie with the Police, not with the lawyers.

    But, my experience in north India is different. When I was riding in car from Delhi to Hardwar, the police stopped as the driver was not wearing seat belt. The pollce said”What do you think bastard, you come from Delhi, and you can violate our laws? He tried to slap the driver. We the passengers intervened and requested him not to be violent. He stopped. In South India, you don’t see a policeman suddenly attacking a civilian without provocation. This may not represent the conduct of police in entire Delhi, or UP or north India. But, I have sensed an agressiveness amongst police. But, this does not mean that lawyers, who belong to learned profession should act like thug, beatup and humiliate the police, who are definitely less learned than the lawyers. If the lawyers are not booked for attacking the police, the unruly behaviour of lawyers will spread across the country.

  7. Very reasonable thoughts bringing out the difficult situations under which the personnel are performing demanding duties.

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