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Cops failed to improve image

CONTINUITY IN most things and changes in few best describes the past year for Indore police. Amidst cases of dacoity, loot, theft, murder and rape etc that the policemen were confronted with everyday, some subtle and some not so subtle changes, could be discerned during the course of the year.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2006 23:14 IST

CONTINUITY IN most things and changes in few best describes the past year for Indore police. Amidst cases of dacoity, loot, theft, murder and rape etc that the policemen were confronted with everyday, some subtle and some not so subtle changes, could be discerned during the course of the year.

Sadly for the police, what has not changed is the perception among the common people, especially the middle class, that it is best to avoid the police at all costs. Neither has the perception (which is true) that it is a largely a coarse and corrupt force, where a few honest senior officers are making only a marginal difference in its overall dealings with the public.

This despite the fact that sincere efforts are being made to bring about attitudinal changes among the rank and file through a series of seminars, pep talks, model police station and lately ISO 9001 police stations.

A number of seminars and interfaces were held to improve police-public interaction – be it over human rights, gender sensitisation or for the rights of the oppressed. And, to institutionalise these efforts it was decided to set up eight model police stations (Central Kotwali, Chhoti Gwaltoli, Banganga, Lasudia, Juni Indore, Pandrinath, Aerodrome and Rajendra Nagar in the City and two ISO 9001 police stations (Chhoti-Gwaltoli and Palasia, apart from the Control Room and IG office).

The main aim behind the model police stations is to give a better ambience at the police stations so that it ultimately translates into better interaction with the common public and improved performance on the field, while the move to get ISO 9001 certification for police stations is a further step in this direction since here the parameters of performance are determined by an external agency which is going to review it every six month.

Another thing that did not change was the way police go about investigating a crime. Interaction with a cross-section of TIs revealed a preponderance of using the stick to get confession, and then collecting collaborating evidence to pin the accused in court.

Most TIs maintained that with habitual criminals third degree was the only way out, for first-timers often a couple of slaps would suffice. However, there has been a slight change in the sense that while using third degree, TIs also have the fear that a custodial death might ruin their career.

What has changed for good is that response time of the police to incidents has come down, mainly due to the fact that their mobility has increased. Most police stations are now equipped with vehicles, and with Baz and Panther squads. With motorcycles manning major intersections, and mobile telephones becoming very common, in many cases police are among the first to reach the crime scene.

Police, however, did not earn any glory due to the fact that they buckled to the saffron brigade’s pressure and did whatever they wanted. A notable exception to the rule was in the stern action taken against saffronites, who ran into the Indore airport tarmac and stopped a plane from taking off.

Boosted by the police behaviour the saffron campaign against minorities gained momentum. The activists attacked house of Gracie Singh, a so-called faith healer, at Sri Ramakrishna Bagh and forced her to stop her prayers. In another incident they forced Pastor Sunny John, who was running a school-cum-home for the poor at Sunder Nagar Extension to stop his activities.

There was also change in the inter-personal relations between senior officers. Earlier, of the two additional SPs in the City, one was invariably an IPS, and the non-IPS additional SP invariably considered the IPS additional SP as his senior, though the IPS officer was way his junior in terms of age and experience. For the IPS officer, it was a learning experience and moreover since non-IPS officer could never be his rival, there was no jealously involved.

But, for the first time, throughout this year, both the additional SPs were from the State services, and this led to a battle of one-upmanship between the two.

However, in two major kidnapping cases – that of Nitesh Nagori and Kailash Baheti (though Baheti was kidnapped last year, he was set free this year) - the police notched up unqualified success. In both cases, against heavy odds, the police managed to free the victims without paying ransom, earning kudos not only for the Indore police but also for the entire State police.

First Published: Jan 01, 2006 23:14 IST