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Wanted: many more good men in khaki

The biggest trouble, security experts say is that India just doesn’t have the men and women needed to police its cities and hinterland, reports Aloke Tikku.Flagging Force

delhi Updated: Aug 30, 2007 03:02 IST
Aloke Tikku

There is no grand strategy to check terrorist activities and no magical solutions except good old policing. The biggest trouble, security experts say, is that India just doesn’t have the men and women needed to police its cities and hinterland.

With one policeman for 728 people, the police in India are stretched more than their counterparts in other countries.

“There is a tremendous capacity deficit,” Ajai Sahni, executive director, Institute of Conflict Management, says. Home Minister Shivraj Patil seems to agree. Responding to a discussion on the Hyderabad blasts in Lok Sabha, he made it a point to draw Parliament’s attention to the deficit by comparing India’s police-population ratio with those of other countries.

The fact is that Indian cities cannot be secured if its hinterlands remain unsecured, Sahni says. Ministry officials could not agree more. There are nearly 6.5 lakh villages being policed by 13,000 police stations, a senior official said.

There are districts that run into hundreds of square kilometres, in one instance covered by merely six police stations. “What kind of policing can one expect?” There are states, he says, that demand central forces after every incident but have not taken the trouble to fill thousands of existing vacancies.

Patil said he had been drawing the attention of chief ministers to these issues for three years, trying to convince them to spend more on the police. Between themselves, states and union territories raised spending on police by just about Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 21,000 crore in 2005-06. Just 1.18 per cent of this was spent on training.

Patil said a handful of states were now trying to make amends. He said the Centre and states had to start spending more on security.