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Measures to counter the menace of communalism

Police should be given specialised training to handle communal riots. In some of the recent riots, more people were killed in police firing than in rioting.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2004 14:54 IST

The police should be held fully responsible for the control of communal riots. If a concerned officer fails to check violence within 24 hours, he or she should be transferred or suspended.

Police should be given specialised training to handle communal riots. In some of the recent riots, more people were killed in police firing than in rioting.

Non-lethal rubber bullets and water canons should be made available to the police.

In order to spare innocent lives, policemen with guns must be trained as marksmen. Preventive arrests should be made mandatory.

The intelligence machinery must be toned up, and competent and secular officers should be trained in intelligence gathering.

Absence of codified guidelines paralyses the administration. Among all states, the West Bengal government has succeeded in damping major communal disgruntlement (except after the Babri Masjid demolition, which was soon controlled).

There should be refresher training for the entire police force. The Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, has conducted more than 50 workshops for the Mumbai police and for the police officials in Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Mysore, etc. Such workshops are particularly necessary for the field constabulary and lower-level officials. Unfortunately, these re-orientation courses are seldom organised.

The police force should also have representation from minority community and Dalits. Riot prevention calls for the screening of recruits for their secular credentials.

The his book, Communal riots -- the state and law in India, Iqbal A Ansari suggests reorganisation of the police under statutory Security Commissions as recommended by the National Police Commission. It also suggests measure for the representation of minorities and other weaker sections in all wings of law-enforcement, and training of forces in human rights, specially in the use of firearms in accordance with UN code of conduct.

The criminal justice system especially arising out of communal violence has also been criticised. Suggestions have been made to reform police procedures, and practices and to set up special investigating and prosecuting agencies, for speedily bringing to justice all those who are involved in rioting. The book, Riots and Pogroms, Edited by Paul R Brass, underlines the need for certainty of punishment of the guilty and adequate compensation to the innocent victims for which a law needs to be enacted.

First Published: Feb 10, 2004 00:00 IST