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Court martial with Kiran Bedi

Top cop Kiran Bedi feels that Star Plus' television show Aap ki Kachehri has given her a wider reach. Rachana Dubey quizzes her on topics close to her heart.

entertainment Updated: Aug 18, 2009 18:46 IST
Rachana Dubey

Top cop Kiran Bedi feels that Star Plus' television show Aap ki Kachehri has given her a wider reach. Rachana Dubey quizzes her on topics close to her heart.

You’ve always been into social work..
Yes, I started working with an NGO when I was just 21 and still too young for the service. Even after I became a cop, I was always pushing for welfare policies and police reforms, including the rehabilitation of the inmates of Tihar Jail. For me policing was always the power to correct wrongs.

Does television help you reach out to more people?
I was reaching out to people earlier too and not just in Delhi but even outside. People I met when I was on vacation or when I was promoting my books. But yes, Aap ki Kachehri has given me a wider reach. What I was doing in my room, I’m now doing on camera.

So more people are approaching your NGO?
There’s an onslaught of mails on my Blackberry. And I reply to every one of them before I pass them to the front desk that I have funded with my own earnings. The desk then diverts the requests to my NGO who take appropriate action. I’m inundated but my conscience won’t allow me to sit around doing nothing. I’m always looking for lawyer, psychiatrists, anyone who can help.

Your advice on the show impacts lives. Has it ever sparked off a moral dilemma?
Never, because the basis of my advice is the law that is in itself rooted in the social conscience. On Aap Ki Kacheri, we’ve been simplistically weaving in the law into courtroom discussions to ensure that it registers with someone who’s not a law graduate and doesn’t know one section from the next.

I explain these rights to those who come to me and never suggest anything that the law does not permit. The idea is to wipe out ignorance and spread knowledge. The society needs such man, woman and youth forums and not just kangaroo courts. Earlier, it was our parents and grandparents who played the role. There were also the village panchayats but they are no longer neutral.

Abroad, they have shrinks and social workers associated with the police for redresal of problems. Here, women and children are left to suffer. We need conflict resolution training. Policing and courts are not the solution. Why aren’t retired professionals, bureaucrats, teachers and lawyers getting into mainstream? My show points them in that direction but it has only a limited tenure.

From Tihar Bedi you’ve become Kachehri Bedi then?
(Laughs) There’s been no switch.. It is the continuity of one soul. The spirit is unchanged and the objective is still to be of value to people, wake them up to their rights and see that justice is done. Tihar linked a community with social work. We’re still working towards the same. I was a mediator then, I’m one now too.

How much has your daughter contributed to the show?
(Smiles) She’s contributed by letting me be who I am.

Do you see another Kiran Bedi around?
(Laughs) Not as old as me. Maybe they are there but I don’t know too many of them.

Haven’t lady officers volunteered to help?
They are terribly busy. I somehow managed to do what I did. But a cop’s life today is extremely trying.

Shouldn’t cops be paid better?
They need to be not just paid better but be better lead, resourced and armed. They need better houses.. And they need laws. Rule of law has to be implemented to ensure that everything falls into place. If that’s the priority, life becomes simple because it’s easier to catch the deviants who violate it, even if he’s the police chief.

What’s your take on corruption that has seeped in everywhere?
If you don’t follow the rule of the law, corruption has to seep in. Discretion leads to injustice and grave violation of human rights. Heightened accountability will come into play when rule of law becomes applicable everywhere in the
country.

It will reduce the pressure on the courts because everyone will then fall in line and India will become a democracy in the true sense. Right now, we only have the RTI for which there’s a long battle. All the arms of justice need reform. Aap ki Kachehri needs to become a part of the system.

How well is Safer India doing?
I’m empowering citizens by linking them to the DG and SP, the nearest police stations and volunteers.
Aap Ki Kachehri has become a movement because it’s well promoted. Safer India could be a movement too if it was written or spoken about.

Are you satisfied with the investigations into the Mumbai terror attacks?
There is a greater sense of urgency and accountability. A trickle of resources has happened. But the ground swell of policing is not up to the mark yet. The beat cops have to be connected to the top office, and this has to happen across the country.

The thawing of internal relations has accelerated the response
system. Hopefully, the next time, the media won’t be allowed to cover such attacks the way they did. Lessons have been learnt. If something like this happens again, I’m optimistic it’ll be curbed faster