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Why can't our cops clean up their act?

By Neeta Kolhatkar
August 31, 2015 12:29 IST
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'It is worrisome that religion, politics and strong regional biases have pervaded our police force,' says Neeta Kolhatkar.

Mumbai police

I am impressed with the Mumbai police. They took prompt action and arrested a man who apparently 'flashed' an American expat. The lady posted the perpetrator's photograph on social media. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was embarrassed and asked the Mumbai police commissioner to act.

It is so picture perfect. I do wish such prompt action is shown to us natives.

Where are the police when men urinate in the open, whisper offensively, shove and nudge women?

Where is the Mumbai police's prompt response when a local woman is sexually offended?

The woman has to go through harrowing times before a non-cognisable offence is registered, forget filing a First Information Report. Most women lose their desire to fight the case after such an encounter.

Recently, after a radio jockey was sexually offended, she went to lodge a complaint at a police station near her work place. For about an hour, the police tried to convince her to file a non-cognisable report, and not an FIR. Her experience of recounting the incident and getting the crime registered was so demeaning that it has left her scarred.

Why can't the police be sensitive and prompt with citizens?

Take the Sheena Bora murder case. Some crime reporters, at the urging of some senior police officers, lauded the police for cracking the case with high-profile television executive Indrani Mukherjea's arrest. No one mentioned that the police had no clue about the case for three years till they were tipped off by a mysterious informer.

The same crime reporters ask the followers of Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare to be patient before the well-known rationalist and Communist's murders can be solved. If these reporters cannot distinguish between a murder and a political conspiracy and toe the police line, it is no surprise that we are in such doldrums.

The job of the police is to investigate and solve every case with the same intent. People forget that the Mumbai police is also the most political force. It is far fetched to think the police do not know who killed Dr Dabholkar and Comrade Pansare, two non-controversial leaders who were opposed to right-wing ideology.

It has been two years since Dr Dabholkar was murdered. His death was a setback for the anti-superstition lobby. A strong voice was publicly silenced. Comrade Pansare too received threats and was similarly murdered.

It is worrisome that religion, politics and strong regional biases have pervaded our police force. When senior citizens have requested me during noisy festivals to call the police, I have been told not to complain and bear the din.

Once I was reminded that being a Hindu, I should support such festivals. When I sternly asked for the police officer's name and revealed that I was a journalist, instead of apologising he asked why I did not say so right at the beginning!

Citizens have to fend for ourselves. Our basic right to lodge complaints is denied, forget prompt action. Only with influence and bribes do things move in the police force.

If only the police provide locals the kind of treatment they give foreigners, we may see more people fearing the law and not the police.

Photograph published only for representational purposes.

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