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Column: Image of Police Takes A Beating

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: The attack on a Sikh businessman in the city a few days ago in the presence of policemen manning a PCR van that had arrived following his SOS call has not done any good to the image of the men in khaki. In fact, the incident, which has since acquired a political colour, has been a huge embarrassment for the Commissionerate Police.

PCR or Police Control Room vans are meant for a quick and effective response to situations. In this case, however, the response was far from effective. The policemen, who arrived in the van, remained mute spectators to the attack on the man who was beaten black and blue. He sustained multiple bruises and had a swollen eye.

In an apparent damage control, exercise police suspended the in-charge of the PCR van for negligence. But the move instead of satisfying people has left them angrier as this is being seen as an attempt by the Commissionerate police to hide its inefficiency. Now there are question marks even over the utility of these patrolling vehicles which were launched in the steel city of Rourkela on Sunday.

The biggest casualty of the episode has indeed been the image of Commissionerate police which was also under attack recently when a bunch of masked youths unleashed terror in the busy Market Building area of the capital. Law and order situation in Bhubaneswar is widely perceived to be deteriorating with incidents of violence on the increase. Goons appear to have become immune to the fear of police.

While there is an urgent need to intensify patrolling the men in khaki ought to be more protective towards women and senior citizens. And this should not remain confined to symbolic gestures like recruitment of women as special police officers (SPOs) which may have earned the Commissionerate police top brass a few brownie points but are yet to increase the efficiency of the force. Special efforts at enhancing policing should be result-oriented and monitored constantly.

A growing city like Bhubaneswar poses multiple challenges to the police which is called upon to tackle new types of crimes requiring special expertise. There has been a spurt in white-collar crimes, especially cybercrimes for which our force does not appear to be properly equipped. Even traditional crimes like prostitution are acquiring new dimensions with the changing face of the city which is caught in the throes of a transition. The conservative, middle-class Bhubaneswar of the 80s is slowly but steadily acquiring the trappings of a metropolis, more in the negative sense.

For example, the city has seen a boom in the beauty business with a proliferation of salons and parlours but some of these have also been found to be acting as fronts for prostitution rackets. They continue to thrive despite periodical raids by police. The city now seems to have a well-organised sex industry with even foreigners being used to lure customers.

The new face of crime is a challenge that the Commissionerate Police has to deal with in an efficient manner. At the same time, it must ensure the safety of ordinary citizens in order to be able to earn their respect.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

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