There is all-round appreciation of the force as they have displayed exemplary tact, raw courage, forbearance and unique presence of mind.
Current duties of police are unpredictable, most demanding and often in the realm of the unknown; there is hardly any field of human activity wherein they’re not called upon & expected to intervene effectively.
Policing has always been a very demanding task with multifarious and demanding duties. The Covid-19 outbreak has thrown innumerable challenges before the police and the public alike. It is to the credit of the nation, that almost every segment of society and the government have risen as one and given an excellent account of themselves in every sphere of community health and beyond.
India has the largest densities of population in many areas, and its medical infrastructure and the doctor-to-people ratio is rather unfavourable when compared with advanced countries like the US, UK, Italy and Spain. India can be justifiably proud of itself when the pandemic situation and its handling are viewed in this context and in totality.
Police have seldom been imparted elaborate training to address the delicate and unpredictable problems that erupt by the dozens, without forewarning in the present situation.
No doubt there is rudimentary training in matters pertaining to disaster management but they are essential to address natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, fire, industrial disasters, etc, that have set patterns and established standard operating procedures to address them.
The current duties of the police are unpredictable, most demanding and often in the realm of the unknown; there is hardly any field of human activity wherein the policemen and women are not called upon and expected to intervene effectively -- whether it is managing the colossal migrant labour population, or aggressive mobs pelting stones and threatening men and women in uniform and our corona warriors.
There is all-round appreciation of the force as they have displayed exemplary tact, raw courage, forbearance and unique presence of mind. The police till date has resorted to the minimal use of force, in spite of grave provocation on many occasions. It is to their credit that the police did not use excessive force in the present crisis, although there were serious provocations at Nizamuddin, Kolkata, Moradabad and many other parts of the country. But the police handled these disturbances with exemplary tact and professionalism.
The police have suffered extensive loss of property, damage to equipment and serious injuries of their personnel, but they have never retaliated vindictively. This is in the face of unheard of and unprecedented challenges, like managing the biggest lockdown in the history of mankind, catering to patients, elderly, migratory students, hospital paramedical staff and all government officers on duty.
There were unexpected scenes of marriage parties, that out of ignorance had ventured out and had no place to go as they found themselves in the middle of nowhere. There were emergency delivery cases that happened at police stations! Indian police have displayed exemplary social sensitivity and professional competence and handled these unforeseen situations with remarkable maturity and innovation, winning the gratitude and praise of one and all.
Whereas there is all-round appreciation for our corona warriors, there was a knee jerk and uncalled for observation from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Michelle Bachelet, the UN rights chief, expressed her “concern” over the plight of thousands of internal migrants and the alleged poor treatment like dousing them with disinfectants, using inappropriate and disproportionate force on them by the police.
Bachelet has sermonised further by asking the government of India to abide by the international standards for the use of force and display restraint and humane behaviour! This after many states have issued clear instructions to the police to avoid the use of force.
Not only are these observations one-sided and perverse but they have failed to recognise the pioneering work being done by the police force in India. There are thousands of constables, head constables and sub-inspectors apart from many senior-level officers who are running the extra mile to feed five or more families daily from their meagre personal resources.
There have been at least eight unfortunate deaths of police personnel In Maharashtra alone; apart from this more than 1,000 police personnel have tested positive for Covid-19 in this state. In Uttar Pradesh as well, policemen have died of the dreaded Coronavirus.
This speaks volumes of the tremendous pressure and consequent stress that the police forces and paramilitary forces are going through all across the country -- the enormity of the problem is greatly enhanced when there seem to be no positive signs of normalcy returning in the foreseeable future!
The Bureau of Police Research and Development has often been accused of being over bureaucratic, but in the current crisis, this New Delhi-based agency has come up with excellent proactive and path-breaking innovations. The first being a webinar hosted on 29 April, attended by no fewer than 2,300 officers and men from across the country.
The participants were educated on the latest developments on personal safety measures, medical interventions, laws on the subject, soft skills and the international best practices on policing in the current scenario.
In another major contribution, the BPRD has issued clear step-by-step guidelines to identify fake news and videos that are maliciously circulated to spread panic and hatred. This has been greatly appreciated by the end-users, as this resource fills a void and will facilitate prompt action against mischief-mongers.
The police force has been a victim of the traditional negative perception about them, so carelessly fabricated by the film industry, the so-called sensitive armchair activists and some poets and writers. That is now history. The police are today regarded as an embodiment of selfless service and true nationalism.
The doubting Thomases would do well to look at the social media accounts of the legendary Amitabh Bachchan. The icon has included the Maharashtra Police logo in his Twitter and Facebook display pictures -- and tweeted the fact with a great sense of admiration and gratitude!
The police leadership must be congratulated for leading from the front and exposing themselves to all the hazards as frontline warriors. The policewomen have been second to none for enduring the long and difficult hours of duty, and facing stressful and unprecedented pressures and demands. They responded positively, with a smile, and yes often trying to bravely conceal moist eyes!
(Author is former DGP of Uttar Pradesh and a guest contributor. Views expressed are personal.)