By: R K Sinha
Khaki used to generate fear. It was not a very long ago. The fear has gone now. Or, so it appears in the light of killing of a Deputy Superintendent of Police and seven other police men in Kanpur which was once called the Manchester of India. The team had gone to this town in Uttar Pradesh to arrest a history-cheater Vikas Dubey. There was firing from his house which was built on a land possessed illegally by him. These policemen were killed in that firing. He is yet to be arrested. Several teams have been formed to find out his location and to nab him. The team will also go to Nepal and search his hideouts there.
It is not a naxal-affected area. Nor has it sheltered any dreaded terrorist. Why has it happened then? There are several other unanswered questions. The state government had launched a drive against criminals. A number of criminals were killed in police encounters. The government had claimed that either the criminals have been neutrualised or they have left the state. These questions assume significance in this light. The issue becomes grave considered in the light of reports that the history-cheater was informed about the police raid in advance and that is why he had collected arms and men to deal with them. A senior policeman who is alleged to have a major role in this connection has been suspended.
What causes worry is that this is not the first attack on the police men. Police men were targeted at a number of places hit by Corona. They were hurt when they tried to enforce the lockdown or, when they took action against the violators of the lockdown. Hand of a police man was chopped off by some of the violators in Patiala when he chased such a group. They had taken shelter in Gurudwara and had fired from there. Later, all of them were arrested. Two police men who were patrolling in Sonipat in Haryana were brutally murdered. These incidents apart, human face of the police had come to light during the Corona outbreak. Rose petals were showed on them in some parts because of it. They were treated as warriors along with nurses and doctors.
The Kanpur incident, however, raises some serious questions. If the fear of police men will go, how will live the common people? How will law and order be maintained? Criminals will move freely. Law-abiding citizens will have a tough time. There will be a jungle raj. Everyone concerned should sit together and find some solution.
A few things more have to be done. All police posts should be filled and additional police force has to be deployed in sensitive areas. Duty hours should be fixed. Reforms suggested by the some of the bodies appointed for the purpose should be reconsidered and implemented on a priority basis. More suggestions should be invited. A zero tolerance policy should be followed. Action should be taken against those protecting the criminals. Those policemen who are soft towards law-breakers for any reason, palm-greasing or any other offer should be immediately suspended.
In case of Kanpur in particular there are some other points to ponder. The police team which had gone to arrest him was not well-equipped. It was known to many in the police setup that he has a private army, automatic weapons and could attack the team. Also that he has informers among the policemen who could alert him. He was involved in a number of criminal cases. Even a state minister had become his victim. He was reportedly killed in a police station. A case was filed against him and it had faced a trial in a court. He was let off because of lack of evidence.
Clearly, he is a hardened criminal. To deal with him more inputs and preparations were required to be made. There was need for a back-up force as well. Indications are that there was none of it. For, after killing eight persons he escaped with his men. Following the killing, the government ordered to raze his house and damage other properties. His bank accounts are also being seized. A detailed study should be made as to why from Patiala to Kanpur this is happening. Action should be taken in the light of the findings. There is one issue which should be seriously considered. Whenever there is killing, even the death of dreaded criminal, and some group of activists or other would come out in the open question the police action.
This provides indirect support to criminals. Some left liberals will condemn the police action and try to eulogise the criminals. False narratives like he was pro-poor and had helped many needy would be pushed. All these liberals become silent when police men are killed. They do not speak about their rights. None of them has come out in support of the killed police men. No demand for justice has been made. I still remember an incident which had taken place 20 years ago in East Delhi on Rafi Marg’s Constitution Club. A seminar was organised by leftists. A senior judge justice Arijit Pasayat was also to address it. I had gone to attend the seminar to hear Justice Pasayat. Speaker after speaker was spewing venom against police men. Others in the audience were loudly cheering them. What the justice said is still fresh in my memory. He said human rights are important. They are the basic rights. They should be respected. Those who abide by laws deserve these rights. Do naxals, terrorists and extremists who have no love or respect for human beings should receive the same treatment.
Of course, those who are corrupt and inactive and are working in collusion with criminals deserve punishment. But others who protect the common men who are law-abiding and efficient should be honoured and protected. They should be given modern weapons, better that those possessed by criminals. Proper screening should be done before selection and service rules amended to give them more freedom. In self-defence they should be allowed to fire and allowed to act independently. Human rights may be revisited. Every other step should be taken to embolden them, remove the trust deficit and create fear in the minds of the criminals. Khaki should generate fear again. (The writer is a Senior Editor, Columnist and a former MP)