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Sensitisation efforts come to naught

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 15:48 IST

WHY THE image of the police doesn’t improve amongst the common citizens? That remains a cause of concern for mandarins at the Police Headquarters (PHQ) who regularly issue directives to the field officers and hold sensitising workshops but on ground level, the situation remains more or less the same.

Nothing terrifies the ordinary citizen than the power exercised by police to pick up any person and illegally detain him for long periods in absolute disregard to the law. Successive DGPs have issued directives to the station officers (SOs) to desist from illegal detentions but situation has hardly changed.

Mostly the person who is poor and doesn’t have connections is kept in lockup for weeks. As per law, a person who is picked up for questioning can’t be kept in custody for more than 24 hours but it rarely happens in case of the ordinary citizen.  In some cases, the aim is to put the person in fear and allegedly extort money from the family for his release. Elsewhere, the person is implicated in a case where the real accused is far from the clutches of police and police wants to ‘work out’ the case at the earliest.

Often, soon after a major crime, dozens of persons related in any form to the victim and accused are brought to the police station and harassed for months until they cough up money. In police parlance, this form of illegal detainment it is termed as ‘baithana’, which is a dreaded word for any family that has suffered the fate.

An example is the recent case of a youth, who was allegedly kept in illegal detention and tortured at Koh-e-Fiza police station. The family claims that even the SO’s superior was aware of the matter. One can well imagine the situation in faraway rural areas when such practices continue in the State capital under the very nose of the Police Headquarters.

Height of secrecy
The police officials had made all efforts to ensure that the theft of sandalwood from the Police Headquarters could be kept under wraps. Apparently, there were strict instructions to the officials at the Jehangirabad police station not to inform anybody that the case was registered. However, when the news got leaked, the officials were asking how the journalists got air of the matter. They better know that there are disgruntled souls everywhere including the police.

What ails the jails?
The jails are in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. A woman inmate got pregnant in the Bhopal Central Jail recently and it could be discovered only when the woman had reached the advanced stage of pregnancy. Besides, a prisoner in the Bhopal Central Jail was admitted to hospital after his private parts were found severed last month. He had not even informed anybody until the doctors discovered. Besides, a prisoner had escaped during the Prisoners’ Day function recently.