This refers to your cover story on the police (Might is Right, January 27). The armed, paramilitary and police forces are paid by the central or state governments, and are expected to act on their orders despite their oath to abide by the Constitution and protect the people. It is quite natural that they act brutally against protestors. The main fault is of the government. The police can enter the Jamia Millia Islamia campus and library without waiting for the orders of the head of the institution, and assault the students, but wait outside the JNU campus for hours for orders from the vice chancellor while masked men armed with iron rods and lathis wreck havoc and destroy infrastructure and beat up the students. The government’s ideology was manifested in all the recent incidents of police atrocity.
In the past, Indians in police uniform used to thrash protestors during the freedom struggle against Britain’s ruthless imperialist regime. Those uniforms are still donned by Indians who assault citizens protesting against the elected government.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
As we witness a cauldron of repressed anger in our student community and with all the outrage over the conduct of police in JNU, one small thing merits attention. Are policemen not one of us? Are they not part of a milieu that is not of their making or asking? I speak with decades of experience behind me, having had the proud privilege of working in Delhi Police all these years. Is a police force not only as good or as bad, as free or as servile, as any other limb of governance? Is it not that the police get extraordinary flak just because their uniform is seen as a symbol of oppression? The comment in your editorial note that conscience seems to be in short supply in the top rungs of the police sounds like a half-truth, the famous Ardh Satya of the iconic film by that name. Its hero Anant Welanker is the prototype of an average cop and his dilemma whether to listen to his conscience or bear the consequences of his action is the dilemma of every person and every cop. Notwithstanding the optics of power, the cop is as vulnerable as anyone else as he delves into treacherous administrative quicksands, where the choices he makes are fewer than one can imagine. Policemen, at best, are only cogs in the wheels of a system. It might be convenient to blame the police, but what ails us is far bigger, deeper and more profound. We have a long to-do list. It’s a good idea to begin with the police, but to single them out for lack of professionalism is dodging the whole truth.
Arun Kampani, New Delhi
The fact that none of the articles in the cover story is appreciative of the police tells all we need to know about the Indian police forces. They hold allegiance to the politicians in power, who use and abuse them as their private force to serve their personal and political interests. Those concerned with the sorry state of affairs in the policing system and the politicisation of police have been long demanding reforms to free the police from political control. In 1996, two former director generals of police approached the Supreme Court with the request that the court direct the central and state governments to address the bad practices of the police. The Supreme Court realised in 2006 that it could not wait any more for governments to take appropriate steps for police reforms and issued seven directions that were binding upon governments till they frame suitable legislation.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
India is fast becoming a police state, thanks to our inefficient, insensitive and anti-people police who could put the colonial police to shame. Never did they enter the library of an academic institution, create havoc there and force the students to come out with raised hands like a band of surrendered criminals. And never had they stopped an ambulance from entering a university. Instead of serving their political masters, the police must start serving their real masters—the people. Else it will remain what it is: an institution that perpetrates violence on unarmed citizens, including women and children.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer is a violation of the victim’s rights. But what about the other side of the coin? The somber-looking men in uniform are mowed down by the pressures of ever-increasing crimes in this restive world coupled with political patronage enjoyed by the criminals. They are first to be blamed for every criminal activity and investigations initiated by them to book the criminals are mostly hampered due to political interference and criticism. The men in khaki are mercilessly dissected by the print and electronic media, which hold them responsible for every evil that exists in the society. The police have been reduced to mere slaves of their political masters, appointed and placed at various stations and designations just to carry out acts of vendetta against opponents of the ruling party. Political interference has to stop for efficient policing. The media needs to exercise restraint in blaming the police force for all acts and omissions. We need to evolve a strong support system for our police force. We need to adopt a system that enables the police to be able to work fearlessly.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
This refers to Afzal Blowback (January 27) by Naseer Ganai. It is unfortunate that J&K Police DSP Davinder Singh, who had received a gallantry award recently, was found with two most wanted militants in a car. He was the officer who was also named by Afzal Guru as the officer who tortured and forced him to make some arrangements in Delhi for one of the militants who attacked Parliament on December 13, 2001.
Afzal was hanged in 2013 to “satisfy the collective conscience” of Indian society, but this officer continued to be a favourite of the security establishment. All this is highly suspicious and a huge embarrassment for our intelligence agencies.
Bal Govind, Noida
This refers to Nivedita Menon’s column Dangerous Minds (January 20). The events leading to the bloody Sunday of January 5 at JNU leaves no doubts about the central government’s intentions. The BJP, whose political mission is to establish a Hindu Rashtra, wants to change the ethos and character of those educational institutions where free flow of ideas is not just valued, but encouraged. It’s not surprising that the liberal Hindu feels as much hurt, psychologically, as the bleeding students who received blows from masked goons. The Centre has yet again failed in providing security and equality to all its citizens.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
This refers to When the States Push Back (January 27). The stand taken by the Opposition is nothing but to appease the minorities even after the prime minister made it clear that CAA will not affect Indian Muslims. Therefore, the contention that it polarises communities is incorrect and the needless exercise is only an attempt to mislead the nation. The prime minister must call for a meeting of chief ministers and explain the salient features of CAA to prevent the impending implosion.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Waving of the national flag in anti-CAA protests is not a spontaneous outburst of pluralist sentiment, but a belated attempt to blunt the perception that opposition to the new law is a front for spewing hatred against the elected government. The attempt to depict the protests as the fight between a community and the government is a dangerous narrative that upset those who seem willing to accept the articulation of CAA as positive discrimination in favour of persecuted people who have cultural links with the nation.
K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore