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'Govt wants anti-CAA protests to be suppressed'

February 12, 2020 16:01 IST
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'All political parties have exploited the police. The current government at the Centre is blatant and unapologetic about it.'

IMAGE: Policemen brutally lathi-charge anti-CAA protestors in Uttar Pradesh. Photograph: PTI

"It's not police failure, rather it is heightened emotions which is leading to these shooting episodes at unarmed protesters," Dr Meeran Chadha Borwankar, former director General Bureau of Police Research and Development, India, tells's Archana Masih.

There were firing incidents near Jamia Milia Islamia and in Shaheen Bagh in spite of the police presence. The police handling of the situation has been criticised.
What is your reading of the situation?

The Delhi police works with the ministry of home affairs and it is no secret that the central government wants anti-CAA protests to be suppressed.

I am of the opinion that political interference by the Centre and ill trained policemen dealing with protests have both led to the unprofessional handling of the situation.

Independent, autonomous and well trained police is essential for responding to such large scale protests. We need to spend more on crowd control equipment and training of officers and constabulary.

How has the Delhi police failed to maintain law and order -- that shooters can fearlessly fire at unarmed protesters?

It is not police failure, rather it is heightened emotions which is leading to these shooting episodes.

There has been criticism that no arrests were made after masked attackers assaulted JNU students.

As per my information, the police has identified these masked attackers and is pursuing the case.

A youth opened fire at unarmed protesters outside Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi

IMAGE: A Class 12 student identified as Rambhakt Gopal fired at unarmed proesters, injuring a student outside Jamia Milia Islamia, in New Delhi, January 30, 2020. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

How does the competence of the police suffer when acts of shooting happen in its presence? A case in point is the picture which shows policemen standing as onlookers as the Jamia shooter fires at an unarmed student.

Everyone is talking of police incompetence, but not appreciating the officer who disarmed the shooter!

What are the drawbacks of a police force being subservient to political masters?

The police all over the world reports to public representatives. It is the unethical exploitation of police by political parties for their selfish gains that has been disastrous for police professionalism in India.

What is the way to handle a situation when an impression is created that the police is lenient in dealing with one community/section of society?

Immediate implementation of the Supreme Court directed police reforms alone will be the game changers.

Posting of officers will then be on merit and through well-conceived establishment boards. This would mean officers will not be at the mercy of the political party in power.

The Supreme Court has also directed separating law enforcement from investigation. This would ensure professional handling of crowds/protests and improve investigation too.

Citizens and the media are not pursuing the implementation of police reforms, which they must or this sorry state will continue.

A school teacher and a child's mother have been arrested for sedition in Bidar for a play on the CAA performed by students. The youngest student questioned by the police is reportedly 9. Isn't the action by the police excessive?

Yes. This has been both excessive and unprofessional policing.

Has the police establishment been corroded by its eagerness to kow-tow to political masters whether at the Centre or in some states?

Sure, and all political parties are to be blamed for this. When in power they use us and when out of power they decry the same by the other party.

Do you see this decline in the police adherence to process to implement the law without fear or favour, as a legacy of the current government? Or did this decline begin much earlier and has only become more pronounced in these turbulent times?

It began much earlier than the current government. As I mentioned earlier, all political parties have exploited the police. The current government at the Centre, however, is blatant and unapologetic about it.

Therefore, the independence of the police as an organisation as visualised by the Supreme Court needs to be pursued with full vigour and pressure be built for its urgent implementation.

No political party on its own will loosen its grip over the police.

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