Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Citizen's Charter


A few points after the Mumbai terror attacks, just so that the flame is kept alive.

1)The death of Mr Karkare and the19 policemen have indicated the crying need to provide better arms, equipment and training for our police force. Outdated guns, sub-standard bullet proof jackets, poor infra-structure were exposed in the attack and what saved the day to an extent was personal commitment shown by some of these officers and foot soldiers.

2) The law enforcement personnel need to be paid better and the pending demands for salary revisions and more humane working conditions need to be addressed promptly. Fratricide among the CISF and CRP is occurring too frequently for comfort. If casualties in the line of duty were not enough, suicides due to work related stress seems to be the next cause for loss of life among security forces.This needs to be addressed with more headcount and more human working conditions rather than YOGA sessions. The people to police ratio is the worst in this country. Recruitment would help assuage the unemployment issue apart from winning votes.( just in case this has escaped the notice of the establishment).
There are quite a few Commissions that have urged reforms in the working of the law enforcement machinery. Dusting these files of cobweb and getting the likes of Kiran Bedi, Robeiro et al and starting an Action Committee to implement these across the country, would be the right step (or left step- depending on the political leaning)

3). A three tier structure, with a federal police force, a state level force and a district level force, could be looked at. The National “Investigative” Agency is fine, but there is already a CBI. To prevent two “investigating” each others pants off, the NIA should focus on terrorism and law and order problems that are federal in nature. Terrorism, separatism, violent and criminal acts by one linguistic group against another, should fall in its purview, so that it can act where the local force is unable to, though it wants to , or does not want to, though it is able to. The CBI should continue to focus on criminal investigations which are referred to it and which have multi-state ramifications. Recently the rapist son of a high ranking police chief in an Orrissa gave the police in Rajasthan the slip. Till date, the chase is on and even “Times Now” , with its always indignant, holier than thou, Arnab Goswami, in spite of his inquisitionary zeal has lost stamina and interest and has moved onto other juicier stories for the “nation is watching” hour at 9pm! An intra- state police force would have saved the day, or would have found it difficult to come up with excuses for the lapse!!
The recent investigations into various frauds have thrown up the need for specialized know how and skills. Cyber crime is another area where know- how needs to be augmented and specialized teams set up. Use of CCTV’s etc would anyway call for IT skills to be enhanced across the forces. White collar crime is on the increase and investigations and recovery of assets is a tricky business. Unless the skills on the law enforcement is as good as that on the other side, it will be a game of catch me if you can with the law enforcement beginning to resemble the famous Inspector Clouseau of the Pink Panther fame.

4) Life would become simpler too, if criminal investigation and implementation of the criminal procedure code is separated from crowd control and public safety. The Police Act is an anachronism and a British legacy. It needs to be made contemporary. The criminal procedure code needs review. Incorporating technological progress into the Evidence Act needs to be implemented. The number of courts and platforms for the judiciary to deliver justice needs to be enhanced significantly. "Justice delayed is justice denied". It is delayed decisions and the dilatory tactics (tareek pe tareek), that encourage crime. There is a feeling that one can get away with anything if one has the right connections. The law is not only blind, it is beginning to look as if it is deaf, dumb and handicapped!!!

5) People and politicians have mentioned the undue importance to “lal bathis”. There is need to augment the investments in safety/ security of public transport systems too. This is felt even more with the railways and road transport operations. While there is some improvement, a lot still needs to be done.

Separation of VIP security from the routine law enforcement functions needs to
be looked at. The option of a "protection tax" should be levied on politicians
and elected representatives who avail of it beyond a certain level. While “positional security” is a must for people who hold public office, we need to be rational in its implementation. Where the travel is not for fulfilling the requirements of the public office and is personal in nature (party work), the expenditure must be debited to the user of the security. There should also be reasonable restrictions on movement of such V.V.I.P’s so that the externality to the common citizen is reduced.

6) Licensing and monitoring of security agencies should be made stricter and they should be provided greater powers like permission to use sophisticated firearms to ensure protection of private property. Private parties then can afford to arrange for their own safety. With kidnapping becoming an industry in itself and a popular means of earning a livelihood among the vast unemployed in the Northern States, private security may become a necessity for most people in the upper income groups. Not everyone is an Adobe CEO , to cough up lakhs at short notice and throw it from running trains! If the law enforcement cannot deliver, the ‘potential ransom’ is better utilized as security costs. At least children are prevented from going through the trauma of a kidnap!!

7) Implementation of "bio metric smart cards' and integrating the electoral
rolls, ration cards, passport documents should be undertaken and monitored.
Public sector outlays in this area should increase the money flow and provide
sucour to the economy that is slowing down. Apart from ensuring that welfare projects and funds reach the right beneficiary, it also helps in monitoring and managing law and order problems. Linkage with other documents also ensures speedier investigations/ verifications of identity and less likelihood of infiltrations/illegal migrants and impostors.

8) The armed forces need substantial outlays to obtain better equipment and know how. This needs to be addressed. The condition of the air force is well known and has been the theme of a popular movie also (Rang De Basanti). The navy's inability to protect our rather long coastline has been exposed with the Mumbai blasts.

9) I think there is a need to ensure corrective action. As the saying goes "if
you wrong me once, shame on you, if you wrong me twice, shame on me"
The US never allowed a repeat of 9/11. UK ensured that the blasts there were
history, we seem to be impotent when it comes to the safety and dignity of our
people. The 1993 bomb blast accused and those who abetted them find supporters and sympathisers and seem to be walking around free. This includes an underworld don who was extradited from Portugal! The law should be the same for pick pockets and mass murderers, as well as those who aid them in any which way, never mind that they are popular film stars who enact national heroes in movies. People who lost their near and dear one's are also human beings and have rights.

10) Perversely and I hate myself for saying this, the only positive aspect in this
blast is that it is the powerful and the rich that was under attack and
therefore there is likely to be corrective action. If it had been another
suburban train where this had happened, things would have gone back to usual
with the usual platitudes about the "Resilience" of "Mumbai", the "Spirit of
Mumbai" and the followers of La Dolce Vita would have been partying this weekend with abandon. They would probably then make noises for stray dogs to be protected better, never mind if another construction labourer's child is
mistaken for garbage by these canines and pose for PETA with no clothes on. To add insult to injury, they would probably do a "fashion show" for the “poor accused” under POTA, who were accused “without proof “and whose "human rights" were violated!

Well now it is different, "enough is enough" is the headline among the voting public and Thank God for that!!

Post Script: 16th December 2008
At the time of sending this there is legislation being filed to handle the possibility of future terror attacks. One hopes that it does not take another 26/11 to get the political establishment to ensure that the right to life and liberty,to own property, to move freely in the country are fundamental to the citizens and it is their responsibility to see that it is not violated. The laws and the ways to implement them, should be updated and made relevant to the times that we live in. We seem to be living in an era where the “underworld” is the dispenser of “instant justice” and an extra constitutional authority instead of the democratic institutions!
This is the only explanation for the huge resources, network and consequently, clout, that these “anti-socials” seem to command.

We need to move to a status quo where we need not worry about our children being kidnapped, our women being teased or molested, our land and assets being seized from us without due compensation or consent, or life being taken simply because we were born into a place or to people whose religious faith we could not have decided.

As Tagore said,

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake


1 comment:

Jeremiaah said...

Vinod...agree with you on some points and disagree on some..but full marks for making an attempt