As I witnessed the resurgence of Gandhigiri across the media, I was inspired to complete the loop and take the Mahatma to the police headquarters and place him there as the police chief.
I have let my imagination run its course and must admit that the experience has been joyful, therapeutic and spiritual.
Since no chief is without followers, I positioned and visualised myself as one of his juniors, who observes how he handles various situations. Some of the frames that flashed before my mind’s eye were: his accessibility to ordinary citizens or junior ranks of the police service; his handling of VIPs and their innumerable recommendations, justified or otherwise; and his views on crime registration, interrogation, collection of evidence and prosecution of offenders. What would be his advice on interference by politicians, bureaucrats, influential persons and one’s own seniors? Or the reality of frequent transfers?
Gandhiji led by example what he wanted to see in others. Truth and compassion were the cornerstones of this chief’s philosophy and management style. His tenets and practices included being out of home by 8 a.m. and daily visits to different units, either by surprise or after prior announcement. Whichever unit he visited, he first listened to the staff. He smiled and rejoiced and made the police personnel relax and smile. All saluted him out of love, not hierarchy.
When questioned on the matter of using one’s discretion, he said, “Follow the law with compassion. Do only that which is just and fair. Spare no one and never be revengeful. Look after the person in your custody. He is in your care. Ensure no one uses any force against him. Use technology and scientific methods of interrogation and investigation. Never attribute to him anything that is false. Remain truthful.”
To a question on how convictions could be secured if the path of truth alone were to be followed, he smiled and elucidated: “The results of following the truth cannot be worse than the present state of affairs. On the contrary, since you will be believed by the courts and the people, it will gradually make it difficult for the defence to prove falsehood. This is how you will win the trust of the people. Remember, you are an investigator and not a judge. Do your duty truthfully. Believe and practice righteousness and in the right means to the right end. Pray for peace for all before you go to sleep.”
On the issue of outside influences impacting policing decisions, he said, “Remember, we are trustees of citizens’ security. It is a sacred duty.”
I wondered whether we would ever see a real Gandhi in uniform. And the spirit of Gandhiji replied with a resounding ‘yes’. This may not just be wishful thinking, especially after the recent judgment of the Supreme Court on police reforms, directing the Centre and state governments to replace the colonial-era Police Act of 1861.
I firmly believe the future may well belong to Gandhigiri. It is just a matter of time.
The writer is a senior IPS officer.