Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Recently we saw on our TV sets disturbing visuals of a uniformed police officer in Balasore district being chased and manhandled by a mob. People vented their ire on the officer concerned as he had arrived late to investigate the alleged death of a boy whose body had been found hanging at the ‘ dhaba’ in which he had been employed. On the face of it it appeared to be a case of suicide but family members alleged murder.

Sources said late arrival of the officer irked the family members who doubted his sincerity. They chased him till he fell to the ground. He was later rushed to a local hospital. Such incidents are becoming increasingly common in Odisha which was once reckoned among the most peaceful states of the country. What is it that makes people take law into their hands? Does the fault lie with the people or with the men in khaki?

While law has to be respected at all costs and any infringement is punishable there is no denying the growing desperation among people because of the failure of police to carry out their duties in an upright manner. Almost everyday we come across cases of police excesses and policemen being accused of taking bribes. Recently the inspector in-charge of Malkangiri Sadar Police Station was suspended for accepting bribe while two sub-inspectors were detained by Vigilance officials.

Such incidents dent the credibility of police as a law keeping force that is supposed to ensure safety and security of people besides giving them justice. Equally worrisome are incidents of custodial deaths which have been taking place at regular intervals. Once the credibility of police force is eroded people stop respecting it and lose faith in its ability to get them justice. This can trigger incidents such as the one that happened recently in Balasore district.

Hence it is important to ensure that policemen respect their own job and behave with a high sense of integrity while dealing with cases. Each case is a test for them and they must come out with flying colours. But for this to happen the government should also do its best to ensure that the morale of the force remains high and their working conditions do not become too taxing.

One of the most important things to do in this regard would be to fill the gaping vacancies in the police department, specially at the lower levels because it these men and women who execute orders at the ground level. A well rested policeman can be expected to be alert. Similarly the force should also be in a happy frame of mind as far as salaries and perks are concerned.

If cases of corruption still take place officers at the top level must deal with them with the severity they deserve. A venal force can be a threat to the society and we will be better off without it. Devising effective ways of curbing corruption should be an integral part of police reforms which should be a continuous process.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are 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.)