People-friendly Police - A Distant Dream?

Florine Roche

Mangalore, Mar 1: Despite the valiant efforts of the police department to project their policemen as people-friendly and trustworthy, there seems to be no let up in their behavior towards the public. While the recent incident of raid on 'Moon Shine' beauty parlour in Mangalore has amply demonstrated the disgusting and cavalier level to which the policemen can stoop to, which has only resulted in their suspension, the following incident (though of not of the magnitude of Moon Shine incident) is an example of how insensitive and unkind some policemen can become especially in adverse situations like the labour strike of February 28, 2012 that had paralyzed normal life all over the country including Mangalore.

File photo of the strike

On the evening of the strike day and traffic jeep was stationed at Nanthoor and the policemen headed by Sub Inspector Sanjeev Naik of Kadri Police station was stopping many vehicles especially two-wheelers and four wheelers as other forms of transport for paralyzed, for checking of documents including pollution certificates. Passing on the Nanthoor one could see hapless two-wheelers and four-wheelers trying desperately to gather documents from their vehicles, as it was getting late to reach their destination.

The sight of one two-wheeler rider who was pleading with this S I was indeed quite pathetic and that is what arrested my attention. While this rider, a daily wage labourer was heading towards his home to Ekkur he was stopped by the Sub Inspector and asked to produce documents. The rider had all documents to show except the pollution certificate, which he said he had left home (which may or may not be true). He said he would bring the certificate and show him but the police were not ready to let him go with his vehicle. The S I asked him to pay Rs 500 fine and threatened to seize his two-wheeler which really perturbed the man as he did not have the money to pay the fine and seizing the vehicle would mean he would be stranded or will have to walk all the way home as there was no auto or bus.

While this man went on pleading, the SI was mouthing platitude on other vehicle owners with his subordinates in the bazaar language, especially on those who were trying to reason it with him. While this poor labourer went on beseeching that he had only Rs 80 and that he would pay the fine the next day the S I was adamantine, and left with no other alternative the poor man finally telephoned some of his acquaintances who brought the money (the S I had reduced it to Rs 300) and left the spot with a big sigh of relief. The SI  and his team issued him a receipt for the money paid.

It has to be agreed that offenders need to be punished so that they don’t take it for granted. No doubt the SI was diligent and was going about his job with sincerity and one has to commend him for doing it. However, one may be obliged to ask whether SI Sanjeeva Naik and his team should have displayed their sarkari duty on a day when strike had affected normal life. Don’t these men in khaki have to show their benign nature depending on the situation? One may be tempted to ask whether the SI would have acted likewise if it was his relative or family member. Could he not show the man the consideration of paying the fine the next day rather than threatening him of seizing his vehicle? While vehicle offenders are often asked to pay fine with a slip pasted on their parked vehicles, why this new rule to pay fine then and there?

It would no doubt be wrong to dub the entire police force as being corrupt, merciless, raunchy, wicked and scapegrace. After all we have to agree that the police are also the product of the society. But the number of those who are sincere and humane is quite marginal and in the face of the flagrant majority it gets masked. Incidents of this nature are surely a big blotch on the entire police force. It is not enough if the police are just asked to be considerate and more humane. What about taking some classes against the erring police in not punitive action?


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