The deck is being shuffled once again in Uttar Pradesh. Within three months of coming to power, Chief Minister Mayawati has started the process of transfers, suspensions and dismissals in the state police. In the first phase, no less than 6,500 constables have been sacked and 12 senior IPS officers suspended. However, the more revealing facts are that neither has the move caught anyone by surprise nor has the general public displayed a sense of shock at the alleged list of irregularities in the new recruitments — from fake school certificates to criminal backgrounds — that prompted the dismissals. However valid Ms Maya-wati’s reasons for taking this step may be, there are bound to be suspicions that it was motivated by political vendetta.
What is also interesting to note is the interminable delay by the UP government in putting into effect the Supreme Court’s directives on police reforms nearly a year ago. This has a direct bearing on the goings-on in the state today. The state has gained the dubious reputation of being lawless. In such an atmosphere, frequent and indiscriminate transfers are often tools used to bring pressure upon the police to carry out the will of their political masters. The reforms suggested by the Supreme Court are meant precisely to prevent such abuse of the police machinery. It gives a substantial degree of autonomy to the police, reduces the scope for political interference, fixes tenures for senior IPS officers and makes the police accountable for their actions.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure that controlling crime and maintaining order require an impartial authority. The constant state of flux forced upon the UP police, besides being a waste of public money, will serve to kill any motivation to do their job well. In order to display that she is sincere in cleaning out the police stables, Ms Mayawati must be ready to give them professional independence.