'Police must function within a democratic framework'

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 01, 2011 18:41 hrs

Our human intelligence capabilities need to be improved. The grass roots information and intelligence collection systems that have traditionally been a part of policing have languished or fallen into disuse in some places. The role of a vigilant and effective beat constable can be vital in checking the activities of networks, which otherwise operate under the radar. Some reorientation in the functioning at these cutting edge levels is necessary and the role of community policing should also be emphasised.

Shortage of manpower is another problem and we are trying to address it on a war footing. At the meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) last week, the need for a well-trained and equipped force to deal with riots was underscored. The Rapid Action Force has been discharging such a function with distinction. I would like the conference to consider ways and means of scaling up the availability of such trained personnel and formations in the state police forces.

Sometimes our security forces have to perforce serve in unfamiliar areas far away from their homes. They don’t have adequate understanding of local sensitivities and of the language, as well. These can be vital handicaps in earning the trust and confidence of local communities. I understand a number of steps have already been taken in this direction, but more needs to be done. As the 26/11 tragedy showed, terrorists use the latest technologies for communication and real-time information sharing. Therefore, we have to remain one step ahead of our adversaries. With this in mind, connectivity has been established between subsidiary multi-agency centres and state special branches. I hope that the NATGRID would enable seamless retrieval and dissemination of data critical to the task of anticipating and pre-empting terrorist attacks.

Crowd control techniques in a democracy where people often vigorously vent their opinions and, sometimes their frustrations, have to strike a fine balance between the requirement to maintain law and order and the imperative of using absolutely minimum, non-lethal force. The Jammu & Kashmir police have improved their capabilities considerably in this regard.

Another issue which also figured at the recent meeting of the NIC was the sometimes perceived bias of the law enforcement and investigation agencies against the minorities. The existence of such a perception is inimical to effective policing, which must necessarily draw upon the confidence and cooperation of all sections of the population it serves. I would like you to consider ways and means to deal with the causes of such perceptions wherever they may exist. The constabulary is the mainstay of our police forces, constituting about 87 per cent of their total strength. Improving the image of the constabulary is, therefore, critical to building public trust in our police forces.

The job of a constable is arduous and hazardous. Currently, the constabulary is over-stretched and asked to perform multifarious duties. Many find it difficult to get suitable accommodation and are even forced to live in slum areas. All our police stations do not provide basic facilities for women constables. It is not realistic to expect high levels of efficiency unless proper attention is paid to the living and working conditions of our men and women in the police forces.

Our country recently witnessed an outpouring of public anger against corruption. A life in the service of the people is a noble calling, particularly so for those charged with the responsibility of securing life and liberty of our citizens. People who enlist themselves for such a task must take pride in their ability to honestly discharge their duties.

These are difficult and challenging times for our security forces. Our social fabric continues to be targeted by organised terrorism, abetted by misguided zeal and false propaganda among the youth and the marginalised sections of society. We have to contend with the Left-wing militancy, parochial and chauvinistic movements, and tensions caused by socio-economic imbalances and iniquities. Policing the metropolitan areas, the control of organised crime and the protection of women and the elderly require special attention.

While dealing firmly with these challenges, the police must function within the bounds of a democratic framework, in which human rights of our people are scrupulously respected and upheld.

Excerpts from the address of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Directors General and Inspectors General of Police in New Delhi on September 16

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