Today is Christmas eve but in Delhi instead of a festive celebration there is a massive outrage outpouring on the streets. The whole nation is protesting against the police’s apathy regarding public safety which led to a brutal gang rape and mutilation of a young female medical student on a moving bus a few weeks ago. Every time I read the newspaper or watch the news, stories of this incident always bring me to tears. It is incomprehensible to me how bold and fearless the perpetrators have become that they believed they could get away in doing gruesome crimes like these. I feel the people’s anger, pain and frustration very deeply as they aired their sentiments on tv. Most of the women were unable to control themselves from sobbing as they voiced their sadness and rage against the improper treatment they constantly face. It is an awful thing to feel unsafe in your own country. ‘ Do not tell us how to dress but tell your sons not to rape’ is the most popular slogan in the demonstrations as some of part of the society often put the blame on the women’s behavior and modern style of clothing when they fall victim to this kind of crime.
Because of all of this the whole police force is now facing nationwide criticism and anger. The people’s patience has reached its limit. Something has to change. But does this badly needed change falls entirely only on the police’s shoulders?
I understand that all of us at one time or maybe numerous times in our lives have had an unpleasant encounter with a policeman especially if you are living in third world countries like India and Philippines. It is the way of life. For our protection our parents had warned us since we were young never to get involved in any police related matter or situations if possible. I myself had grown to fear these men in uniform rather than to feel protected whenever I see them around. This is wrong. Policemen are after all people like us. They are not soulless monsters out there to get us. They also have needs, feelings, families and lives. We must not make villains out of them. We must appeal to their sense of duty to protect us. We must make them want to protect us. Making them constantly feel they are the enemy will not help. Finger pointing, blaming and shaming will only further cause animosity and misunderstanding between them and us civilians.
A lot of them do abuse the power entrusted upon them as numerous scandals over the years have shown us. But we have to be honest and admit that us the people, the government and the system aided their spiral into corruption. Us civilians by not firmly demanding how a man in the service should behave. And by conspiring with them to let us skip the necessary processes involved in all police related matter from a speeding ticket to police verifications. The government by not providing them a decent and dignified way of living. The system by robbing them even before they join the service propelling them to the vicious cycle of corruption.
I have read somewhere that in some places in India you have to pay at least five hundred thousand rupees to be able to join the police force. This money they try to recover by extorting bribe from the citizens for any police related matter you needed to do like for example when we needed an address verification from a policeman, even if all the required documents were presented to him, he still asked five thousand rupees from us just for the trouble of coming to our place.
But still we cannot constantly demand reforms from the police department without doing our part. We the people and the government should help them regain their pride and dignity while performing their duty. The government should equip them with the necessary tools to keep them healthy and fit for the job. Not only physically but mentally and spiritually. I have read from an article in Times of India ( Tough Conditions But You Expect Us To Fix Everything by Indrani Basu) that they have to perform their duties in such shabby conditions. ” Several stations don’t have facilities for overnight stay though duty can stretch to three, four days continuously. Issues of mosquitoes, unhygienic surroundings and unavailability of fans plague many. Some police stations don’t even have access to drinking water. There may be no water connection even. Lack of proper facilities causes us to function with a negative frame of mind.
Such tough work conditions make us an unhappy lot, which sometimes compromises the police-public interface. Many cope with the pressure by resorting to corruption, anger, brutality – a vicious cycle.”
Good, clean and comfortable offices are a must for any employee to do their job well. So much more so for those who are in charge of such an important job of keeping the law and order in our country.They are not robots designed just to service us. One can only think beyond his personal needs and start to care for others after he is able to afford all basic necessities in order for him to live with dignity. This is true for everyone and policemen are no exception.
We the citizens should also treat them with respect even the one in the lowest positions. Do not mock them. Do not fight with them but firmly remind them what their uniform represents. Do not waste their time on police unrelated issues. Let them focus their efforts on cases that urgently needed attending. As the story from the same article mentioned above related, “The control room receives roughly 24,000 calls a day; 70% of these are not policing matters. Almost daily we are called in for civic disputes, problems with electric supply, presence of stray dogs, monkeys – the list is endless.”
Righteous anger is good and sometimes necessary to awaken the apathetic masses but let us first examine our own contribution to this vicious circle of corruption that permeates every atom of our society before we go marching and pointing fingers. It is kind of hypocritical to demand change from our police force and government without first reforming our own way of thinking and behaviour.As the saying goes ‘cleanliness begins at home’.