Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The policeman deserves a memorial


An old tribal father had lost his policeman son to the bullets of the insurgents. He was distraught with grief. In this hour of sorrow he wanted solace in numbers. He wanted to learn about the other grief-stricken parents. Since he was going to New Delhi he wanted to pay homage to all the other valorous sons and daughters who were part of the policeman’s family.
Innocently, he asked me where he could go in New Delhi to pay his respects to all the departed policemen who had laid down their lives for the unity and integrity of India. I was stumped. There was a no answer to this brutally frank question.
Since the beginning of 2009, every day two policemen have been killed in the line of duty by enemies of the state. No other organisation in this gigantic country even comes close to the supreme sacrifices made by this tireless organisation called the Indian Police.
If patriotism means giving your life for the protection of fellow citizens, taking the bullet in your chest for the safety and security of millions of countrymen, no other organisation does it more often, day in and day out, a daily grind, than the Indian Police.
The prime minister and the home minister have mentioned innumerable times that the internal security threats are the greatest threats that India faces today. It is here that the Indian Police has risen to the occasion, fighting and dying year after year, in the effort to provide the most secure environment in the country.
Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21, in honour of the martyr who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, from the hills of Manipur, to the jungles of Bastar, to the streets of Mumbai, to the unknown hinterland of India.
Civil society should stand up and respect the ubiquitous, hard-working indefatigable Pandu Havildar who is always on the beat patrol 24 hours a day be it Diwali, Eid-ul-Fitr or Dusserah, Cyclone Aila or tsunami. Civil society should help strengthen the sinews of the Indian Police to counteract the enemies of the state and also help to check the cancerous growth that destroys the fair and just system.
Despite the Satyam scam, IT industry is growing. Society is not tarnishing the image of the entire industry because of one misdemeanour including the big wigs like TCS, Infosys and Wipro. Society and even the government are going out of the way to help resurrect the tainted Satyam.
This is being done for the greater good of the nation.Despite the ‘Ketchup Colonel’, society has the greatest respect for the Indian Army. The colonel in a moment of madness created the falsehood of encounters by pouring tomato ketchup upon people, taking photographs to prove a fictitious encounter. The long arm of the law caught him. This one aberration cannot erase the countless admirable acts that the Indian Army does all 365 days. And the civil society does it for the greater good of the nation.
The same respect and the same attitude should be displayed by civil society towards the Indian Police. The police have a tradition going back to 1861; they have seen the valleys of fear and the peaks of glory.
We have to start at the very beginning — Recruitment. Twenty-eight states have 28 different methods and modes of recruitment. If you take in rotten apples, all you get is rotten policemen giving you a rotten society.The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) are the best centres of excellence because the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) is one of the fairest and toughest examinations in the country. A student who goes through the process is an uncut diamond. They are not plain mounds of coal. The IITs can make diamonds shine and sparkle but if they get coal, they can do nothing.
Police recruitment over the years has become peculiar. The bane has to be eradicated. Quality policemen are sine qua non for a professional police force which can counter myriad problems of the 21st century from cyber crimes to human trafficking, from Naxals to narcotics.
It is here that civil society can play a stellar role. Every taxpayer and citizen of the country has the right to get the best service in the world. And to get that service civil society cannot feign ignorance, apathy or simply shout profanities from the rooftops. They have to get into the kitchen and take the heat.
To come to the question of the old tribal father — where does he go in the country to pay his tribute to the unknown policeman who has selflessly toiled and died to ensure everyone has a good night’s sleep?
Sadly, there is no place in this country for the martyred honest policeman. We have no memorial — it is sad but true. It is astounding, but since 1947 the Indian Police has been an integral part of the phenomenal development of Economic India, Nuclear India, G20 World, but has had more brickbats than bouquets. The Indian Police should be made an integral part of the Planning Commission because no development can take place without a conducive security environment.
One day there might be a place, in the 28 state capitals, to honour the dead policemen and celebrate life.
When kids play with balloons on the lawns of India Gate in New Delhi the souls of the great warriors of the Indian Army must be dancing with happiness to see that their supreme sacrifice has given their progeny and that of their countrymen a happy environment. Death is all about peace.
It is time for civil society to pause, ponder and be profligate with praises this October 21. 

(The author is IGP, Tripura.
Views expressed are personal)

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