Celebrations turned sour. The annual police parade on the sprawling grounds of police lines virtually turned out to be "crime meeting" presided over by the Governor TV Rajeswar. His acerbic comments over the fast deteriorating law and order and the complete politicization of UP police caused ripples among the senior IPS officers.
While some faces turned long others rejoiced over the predicament of the leadership. "Maha Mahim's" plainspeak over rising crime however evoked a mixed response among the officers. The governor, a retired senior IPS officer in the country, had twice counseled the top cops during the last two police parades to mend their ways and become professional. But the situation perhaps has become irreversible.
There is a feeling even among the officers that instead of properly concentrating on crime control, the police had been implementing the ruling party agenda.
However the politicization is not a new phenomenon. "The police functioned as blue brigade during Mayawati's regime", commented a senior IPS officer.
Interestingly now seeing the rising fortunes of BSP, the police officers have started "parikrama" of BSP leaders. Recently a controversial IPS officer went on a motorbike alone to meet a BSP leader to apologize for his mistake. He has recently been posted in a district.
The Governor's sermons which reverberated during the police week, even forced the Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav to come out with a strong rebuttal. The senior SP leaders Mohan Singh and Ramgopal Yadav reeled out national crime bureau (NCB) data to claim that UP was at the lowest ebb in crimes.
The DGP Bua Singh also dished out figures to claim that UP was one of the ten best policing states. But the police have not been able to change the perception of people. The reason is not far to seek. It is the image of a section and the failure to control them, which has painted the police in black hues. Thus the governor chose the annual parade to tell the senior police officers about their misdirected approach in discharge of their duties. The governor gave the impression that the riding piggy-back of the politicians was a dangerous trend for the state police.
He said senior police officers could raise their heads in pride only when they were impartial in their functioning. If the governor appreciated the Supreme Court seven-point directives including fixed two years tenures for the DGP and other senior officers, he had justified reasons for this perception.
There is no doubt that state police had seriously faltered. Even though the DGP VKB Nair had been doing well he was dislodged by Yashpal Singh. But with the situation taking a turn for worse Bua Singh replaced him to ensure improvement.
However the political leadership does not appear to be satisfied with the prevailing situation. The officers have been asked to gear up and give results within 15 days. The time frame is crucial for the DGP.
Making a presentation on discipline, training and morale of the police personnel at the officers' conference the ADG PPS Sidhu said "discipline, comradeship, leadership and self respect form the basis of morale. Good discipline within a unit is the foundation of good discipline throughout the force and is based on good man management." But the situation in the police could be gauged from the fact that during the last nine months 272 cases were registered against cops for their criminal conduct.
The DGP said 87 cops had been jailed, 40 sacked and 191 suspended. Sidhu said cops' morale could be improved by (a) an unbiased and proactive leadership (b) prompt action on grievances (c) utilization of human resources in accordance with capability (d) clear unambiguous policy and its execution and last but most important "leader's own personal conduct". The police morale, for which even senior officers are also equally responsible, appears to be on an all time low.
As Sidhu's presentation indicated there are reports of unauthorized absence, increasing negligence on the job, increase in incidence of indiscipline, lack of faith in organisation, which resulted into outside influence in service matters (read politicization) and lack of pride in organisation and uniform causing cynicism, poor loyalty, disrespect to superiors and poor turnout.
Increasing caste imbalance in UP police force has also led to consternation among the officers. Already there are growing cases of indiscipline because of this factor. While the process had been going on for a long time, it assumed serious dimensions during the last three years because of the appointment spree in the department.
During the last two years there have been nearly 18000 appointments in the police and PAC. Senior police officers are worried about caste imbalance in which one community with around 30 to 35 per cent representation at the constable level could create functioning problem in the future. It could lead to a Bihar-type situation, commented an IG.
"There are already cases of insubordination", said one additional director general (ADG). He said people of one community had been joining the force with "divided loyalty" which was a serious trend. The ADG said mobilization on caste lines in the force would have an adverse impact on the performance of the department in the long run. An attack on the district police chief Firozabad Amitabh Thakur by some cops was a pointer to this direction.
Significantly cops accompanying Thakur refused to protect him. Similarly some cops beat up a sub inspector in Kannauj. In fact there are many more instances of gross indiscipline in the police, the IG said.
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