The meeting called by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday with senior police officials of the State, including SPs to discuss the law and order situation turned out to be a stormy one with several police officers, turning the agenda on its head and registering their ‘dissatisfaction’ with the new Bihar Police Act.
A firm Chief Minister defused the heat saying: The legislature had the power to decide which type of law should govern the State, while adding that the police had the responsibility to carry out the tasks to maintain law and order as mandated by the government of the day.
As soon as the meeting commenced, officials in the rank of ADG, IGs, DIGs and SPs started ventilating their grievance against the Police Act in its present form. Contrary to expectations that young officers would take up the matter, senior officers started the debate. An ADG officer said the basic purpose behind the new Act stood defeated, as “it still has no provision to free the police from political interference”.
“There are certain provision in the Act which are irrelevant today,” he said. Another IG-rank officer took over, saying the Act “would have a demoralizing effect on the police force and not much should be expected from it.”
The resentment over the Police Act was near unanimous. An officer questioned the relevance of the meeting now that the Act had been passed. “It should have been better had the meeting been called before the draft was finalized,” he added,
A DIG-rank officer raised objection to Section 20 of the new Act. “It grants authority of controlling the Range DIG, AIG and the Zonal IG to the office of the DM in matters of relating to appointment of special police officers. It is derogatory to the police,” he said.
An SP-rank official dwelt on the confusion regarding certain provisions among the police officers. “We have been cheated. It will only have an adverse impact on the police. When the SPs remain demoralized, one can well imagine the impact,” he added.
There were also questions raised on the inclusion of IAS officers in the Police Establishment Board. “It was to have DGP and four other police officers, but in the new set up DGP is just a member, while two others are IAS officers,” asked an officer.
Sensing the mood of the IPS officers, the Chief Minister said that the legislature had the power to decide on it. “Yet, I understand your feelings,” he added, while trying to veer away the debate to more important law and order issues.
The Chief Minister said that maintaining communal harmony in the State was the top priority of the government. “It should be done at all cost,” he directed.
Kumar said the SPs would also look into the BPL lists and supply them to officers-in-charge. “While trials have been speeded up in some districts and has had a salutary effect. it is high time other laggard districts also get its teeth into their specified roles,” he added.
Some of the SPs also put forward their financial and infrastructural problems in maintaining law and order duties. The CM said that funds had been released and it would soon reach the districts. I am conscious of your problems and all efforts would be made to solve them,” he added.
Earlier, Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah initiated the discussion, saying, “we would like to know the missing points in the Police Act.” ADG (Headquarters) Abhyanand defended the Act, saying it needed to be “well understood”. The police officers were, however, not in a mood to hold back their emotions.
After the heat of the discussion there was reprieve towards the end when the CM invited all the officers to tea at his official residence and for informal talks.