Positive change in behaviour of cops Where lies the credit ?


Significant improvement in the behaviour and discipline of the State police, after the BJP led Government came to power. This was Chief Minister N Biren on the floor of the Assembly on February 28. Difficult to say whether the change in the behaviour of the police can be attributed to the coming of a new Government under the BJP or due to some other factors but there has been some significant change in the way police personnel conduct themselves in public. Much before the Supreme Court took up the case filed by EEVFAM and HRA in 2012, it was not uncommon to see police personnel coming out in full strength to ‘impose’ their own version of ‘curfew’ before the shutdown called by different underground outfits came into force on every January 26 and August 15. It was those days when police personnel did not walk but swaggered on the roads of Imphal and barked out orders to one and all to stop for checking and frisking on the eve of every January 26 and August 15. Situation was such that hours before the shutdown called by the different underground outfits on every January 26 and August 15 came into force, it was the sight of gruff policemen on the road which dissuaded many to stay indoors and not venture out. Those who are in the profession of collecting and disseminating information to the people have experienced this and it was not unusual for Editors of every newspapers published in Imphal to caution their staff to ride home carefully after their day’s work in the dead of the night. It was not a word of caution against the shutdown called but the cops who would be out in full strength on the roads.
The scenes just drawn up are recollections of the not so distant past and one wonders whether the improved behaviour of the cops should go to the BJP led Government or the severe strictures from the Supreme Court of India and the passage of time. Before the ‘extra-judicial’ killings case was taken up by the Supreme Court of India, late evening encounters were normal with crime reporters of all dailies hurrying up to cover the incidents and not miss a hot news ! ‘So and so suspected underground cadres opened fire on a patrol team and so many suspected UG cadres were killed in retaliatory firing’ was a standard line and so often did such news items make it to the newspapers that veteran crime reporters could just file their reports and wait to fill up the other details such as the place of the occurrence, the name/s of the victim/s etc. Such an ambience was bound to have an effect on the behaviour of the cops on the road and this is seen in the way they used to throw their weight around, defying the very understanding of the uniformed service. Discipline then only meant the discipline to salute their superiors while the civilians were seen as objects to be cursed, shouted at and barked to stop with a wave of the hand. Such unsightly conduct of the cops may not be seen with such regularity now, and while acknowledging the statement of the Chief Minister that the behaviour of the policemen has improved, one should remember that it was the sense of immunity and impunity granted to them that led to such a behaviour taking deep roots.

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