Lokpal campaign inspires retired cops to launch 'People's Police' movement

India still doesn't have a lokpal but the public support that the anti-graft campaign generated has inspired a group of retired police chiefs to try something similar.

A ten-point agenda in hand, more than two dozen retired intelligence and police chiefs launched an attempt to reach out to the aam aadmi over the weekend to get them to demand better policing, a move they hoped would force governments in the states and the centre to implement basic reforms.

They call it the Movement for People's Police.

"The police need transition from being the rulers' police to the people's police," said Prakash Singh, the former Border Security Force chief.

"The focus now is how to take the movement to the people," said Singh, with Prashant Bhushan -- one of the architects of the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption agitation for a Lokpal – and constitutional expert Fali S Nariman sitting by his side.

Bhushan wasn't too sure if the political establishment would listen even if they get people on their side. The lawyer – who has split from Hazare's camp over contesting elections – said the country needed fundamental structural reforms to make the system accessible to people.

NK Singh, however, believed the best course forward was to convince the political class that status quo hurt them most when police officers took orders from the political leadership.

Maja Daruwala, who heads the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, however, emphasised that police leaders too needed to introspect. She wonders why police leaders buckle under pressure.

"You cannot press upon him unless he is willing to be pressed upon," she said, a point echoed by other civil society participants at the launch too.

Social scientist Ajay Mehra said the big problem facing them was how to create a constituency for a democratic police and send a message across that only demonising the police wouldn't help. Singh later suggested one way was to seek help from civil society groups to reach out to people.


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