Is it right to hit Police?

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Police Image: The weak link in Law Enforcement.
"Police is a service of Pride and Respect and the people in this position are giving their all for the safety of its people"
​When I saw the images on the regional news channel of the incident in Dera Bassi where a Police officer was brutally assaulted by a woman and her two relatives in full public glare abusing him and daring him to open fire. They tried to snatch the service revolver from him while attacking him and in this melee a short was fired in self-defence or accidently. I do not have an actual account of the events and neither was it shown on the videos circulating on news channels or social media. In the aftermath of this incident the said policeman was suspended and an FIR was registered against him under various sections including for outraging the modesty of a woman. If the officer had committed any such act and there was an evidence to prove it, it should have been shared with the public so that the perception of justice served would have gone in the eyes of the public. With the news shown in the present form the message has gone to the public that it is okay to take law into your own hands and assault police officers in full public glare and you will get away with it. And the entire episode has demoralised the rank and file of the police force and this could be one of the reasons why the other police personnel present on the scene did not act in support of their fellow officer when he was being attacked.
​This is not an isolated incident where the Punjab police was attacked or the public has shown no fear or respect for the law. A group of Nihang Singh's had attacked and chopped off the hand of a police inspector in Patiala during corona regulations. Videos of incidents involving a policeman being attacked by civilians or ruffians at petrol pumps or markets have become common on the social media. The Jail superintendent of Bathinda Jail was beaten up by 8some inmates a few days ago. Who can forget the recent scenes of Patiala  when the police were firing in the air using assault rifles to disperse an unruly mob and the people in the mob were dancing with swords in their hands instead of running helter skelter in fear. There have been incidents where the police party on a raid in some village or locality were attacked and chased by the people of the area and had to return empty handed. All these incidents show that the fear of law is no longer there in the public and the presence of  police force on the scene does not act as a deterrent to stop the crime on many occasions.
​Punjab Police is a very seasoned and battle-hardened police force which has overcome a lot of difficult circumstances. It is actually very sad to see such a proud force in this pitiful condition. How did the slide happen and how did the force get so demoralised that it has become a mute spectator to the happenings all around? Let us talk about the case of FIR number 192 dated 14-10-2015 and what the high court had to say about its facts. Once again, I am reiterating that I am not passing a judgement on who was right and who was wrong in the entire incident but I am just asking about the question of fairness to both the parties involved. Now the civilians killed in the incidents Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjeet Singh were awarded a compensation of 1 crore each by the government while giving 50 lac and 60 lacs respectively to Beant Singh and Ajit Singh who were injured. On the other hand, 47 policemen were also injured, some grievously in the entire incident. One of them Rachpal Singh was hit on the head by a sword and had 32 stiches on his head. He suffered from paralysis and on his medical examination at 55 years, he was declared medically unfit and sent home losing his job and source of income. I have just named one case of a policeman to compare the difference in treatment between both the parties. The high court has asked why there is no mention as to why and how so many policemen were attacked and injured and who was responsible for them. While a number of policemen including high ranking officials are in jail in this case, no one has even been identified as responsible for attacking and seriously injuring the policemen.
This was perhaps evident in the unwillingness of policemen to react proactively in many cases which followed including the attack on a BJP MLA where he was beaten and clothes torn by a handful of farmers despite the presence of a huge police force which easily outnumbered the protesters. This kind of attitude by the policemen where they are not proactive due to the fear of lack of support from their superiors and government is a very dangerous situation for any state. The daily snatchings of chains and mobile phones from hapless women have transformed into lootings at gunpoint in broad daylight. No day passes without the news of a robbery or shooting while attempting to loot in our newspapers and T.V. channels. If no remedial measures are taken at the earliest the situation can take the turn for the worse in no time. The calls for ransom and extortion are increasingly becoming common and with the shrinking incomes and desperation in society, this could quickly turn into a civil war like situation which will be very harmful for our state.
It was no surprise when after the killing of popular singer Sidhu Moosewala, a section of the people started circulating messages calling for the U.P. CM Yogi Aditya Nath style of governance. While I am not endorsing anything and everything which happens in Uttar Pradesh, the fact remains that the lawlessness which prevailed in the state before his term is now a thing of the past. Perhaps the tactics he employed to control such a high crime rate have paid off and the result is for everyone to see. It is also a fact that the people either follow the rule of law out of respect (coming from education or behaviour of peers) or due to the fear of law. We are very much aware of the moral compass of our society and if the fear also goes away ,god forbid, what will happen to us. So, it is very important that the morale of the forces who are deployed to maintain the law and order is always kept high and the pride of serving the people is not lost to optics.
Two major aspects of the entire ecosystem are the training to keep the personnel updated to the changes in our own society and discipline to adhere to the time tested well formulated standard operating procedures. Sparing police personnel to undergo centralised short term refresher and upgradation courses with due emphasis on professional learning and physical fitness will hold the police force in good stead and help improve the deteriorating public image . SOPs are reference toolkits to benefit all ranks of the police force while enforcing law and order; More they stick to it more will be the operational efficiency especially when chips are down.
Punjab police is an advanced police force equipped with reasonably good machinery and weaponry, it not only needs to use more advanced technologies to help prevent and investigate crime but needs proper training in the changed techniques of handling crowds and also even when dealing with members of our society who are now educated and more aware of their rights. While there is still a high level of incivility when it comes to dealings within the department, the youth and educated people on the streets do not tolerate such behaviour anymore. So, it is highly imperative that the high officials both in the government and department take a cue and help to bring the behavioural aspects of the force at par with the expectations and realities around them so that a balance is achieved at the earliest .It is high time to make an attempt to start implementing well awaited police reforms. I sincerely wait for a day when people will build trust in police force to say " Keep calm, let police officer handle it."

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