WHY POLICE SENSITIZATION IS REQUIRED FOR A PROGRESSIVE INDIA?

In the Gandhi’s present nation where fake encounters, brutalities, torture, corruption, is running in the veins of  the Khaki civil protectors of the law and order who will safeguard the nation’s people against rising crime and atrocities?

INTRODUCTION

Police Force which was once appointed by the State Governments for maintaining law and order and to inspire the confidence of people on them have themselves become the front liners in disrupting the law and order and instilling a sense of fear in the minds of the people on whether to approach them or not. The ones who should be called People’s Police are merely doing their work as Khaki Police. They not only have failed to gain the trust of the Nation’s people whose confidence is important for apprehending crimes in the society and seeking justice but also have miserably failed in maintaining law and order by abusing their ‘AUTHORITY’ as ‘POWER’ and giving rise to fake encounters, custodial deaths, lathi charge, third-degree torture, and abductions.[1]

HOW KHAKI ARROGANCE HAS LED THE POLICE TO HARASS THE PUBLIC?

This Khaki arrogance was recently observed by the Kerala High Court where the insensitivity and lack of humanity on the part of the police officers left the judges disturbed and concerned about the vision of an eight-year girl that whether now she will be able to view the police as people’s protector. In this case (Name Withheld (minor) v. the State of Kerala)[2] the father, a rubber tapping worker had gone out with his daughter to see a vehicle of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The Pink Police Officer was deployed to assist in traffic regulation and upon finding her mobile phone missing block the father-daughter’s pathway and accused them of theft. Despite constant denial by the father and daughter of the accusation the officer and her colleague keep harassing them. The Court was disturbed by the lack of empathy and humanity on part of that Police officer when the girl started crying. The tears of that eight-year-old did not melt the heart of that police officer who despite the humiliation and the harassment keeps addressing her respectfully as ‘Police Aunty’. But what shocked most the High Court was when that Police Officer found her missing phone and not even once apologized to the father and his eight-year-old daughter.

Justice Ramchandran while addressing the hearing of the case observed:-

”It could have been handled in a better manner. She (officer) should have bent down and apologized to the child and bought her chocolate and things would have been over then and there. Instead, she justified her actions. It is not a lack of wisdom; it is pure ego and arrogance.”

KHAKI EGO AND ARROGANCE

It is not the first instance where insensitivity on part of the police officers had these grave outcomes, recently a third-year law student committed suicide when the police misbehaved with her as she wanted to register a case related to dowry harassment and domestic violence. The Court further observed that when the police officers are in their khaki uniforms its responsibilities increases by a million times and the children are taught to address their problems to the police as they are their friends and protectors. The Court was worried whether the child would be able to view the police as ‘Protectors’ in the future after that incident as she was terrified and the psychiatric stress the child has undergone, and in lieu of it appointed a Clinical Psychologist to assess the mental health of the child.[3]

HOW KHAKI GOES IN FAVOUR OF KHAKI

As observed both statistically and in our surroundings, the Police can’t be neutral, their actions are either backed by a leader who protects them or they blindly comply with the order from their political masters.[4] This phrase can be accurately understood when the State Police Chief instead of taking criminal action against the Police officer justified her actions. No case regarding Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act or any other criminal provision was registered against the officer. [5]The Court observed that mere transfer of that officer to Kollam and apology rendered by the police officer in her affidavit does not mean the closure of the case for the child.

The family had filed a complaint with the Child Rights Commission. And after a long wait of three months, the commission directed the DGP to register a case under the Juvenile Justice Act. The Court directed that the police officer should be transferred to the State Police Chief to observe behavioural discipline training for 15 days and mandated that compensation should be granted to the petitioner following the Nambi Narayan Verdict. The Court also noticed the fact that except for psychiatric support for the girl, nothing else was done for restoring her faith in humanity and police, and is now concerned about what steps the Police will take to restore the faith of the child to them and in humanity.[6]

HOW SENSITIZING THE POLICE WILL MAKE IT EASIER FOR WOMEN TO REPORT SEXUAL ASSAULTS

Due to the cult of masculinity and patriarchal thinking running in police organizations, women are often reluctant to report cases of sexual assaults. The presence of women police officers in the Police force if not negligible isn’t satisfactory as well. Only 10.3% women workforce is present in police despite the reservation pegged at 33%.

In most cases, the Police either refuse to register crimes against women or misbehave with them or dispose of the victim by giving the accused a light warning. It is said that JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED, but not registering the crimes against women is also justice denied to them and a direct threat to the women’s safety when the accused roam freely without any fear of law and order. The Police Authorities do not behave in a gender-sensitive manner when it comes to a woman being a victim. They are often looked at as being guilty and not as victims when seeking justice. WHY THERE IS DOUBLE JEOPARDY AGAINST WOMEN?

Even when the women victim overcomes the socio-economic barriers to seek justice then why she suffers such gender insensitivities in the hands of those who are appointed as the gatekeepers of the Criminal Justice System? Lack of Behavioral training and gender insensitivity are the two main causes attributed to it. There is a need for change in the attitude of the police organization towards women victims. Asking uncomfortable questions and character assassination has to be stopped. The lack of a safe environment for medical testing and the non-availability of women officers make matters even worse.[7] Lack of reporting crimes are on the rise because of the lack of gender sensitization on part of police officers which if not addressed will hamper the growth of the Indian Justice System.

If Police Personnel is given Behavioral training especially gender insensitiveness training they will be in a better position to understand the condition of the opposite gender and address their problems. We don’t need settlements outside the court when done where the women compromise, and the accused is not punished for its atrocities we need in court settlements where the women can seek justice without any compromise. And this can be made a reality only when the police force, the ground level law maintainer is made aware of the rights of women and gender sensitivity is imparted to them.

CONCLUSION

Both gender insensitivity and insensitivity at the general victim level require immediate action as torture, extrajudicial killings, prejudice and selective persecution against the Dalits, transgender, migrants, and professional misconduct is on a rise. According to Transparency International, Police Organization is seen as the most corrupt people who can hamper the growth of a progressive India. Training on Modern concepts like Justice and Human rights is the need of the hour. There should be zero Human Rights violations and there has to be decency in behaviour while dealing with the Public[8]. They have to be People’s Police rather than Khaki Officers who are mere abusers of power with arrogance and ego of Khaki uniform with no humanity or sensitivity. And for this, every Police officer needs to undergo a Behavior transform and Gender sensitivity program to make this vision a reality where everyone is served justice.

Author(s) Name: Himanshi Garg (UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh)

References:

[1] Vageshwari Deswal, ‘Who will guard the guardians”- Need to sensitize the police forces’ <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/legally-speaking/who-will-guard-the-guardians-need-to-sensitize-the-police-forces/> accessed on 15 December 2021

[2] Gargi Chatterjee, ‘This is where the cover-up starts. Khaki always stands for Khaki: Kerala HC slams DGP’s report in pink police harassment case’ <https://lawbeat.in/news-updates/where-cover-starts-khaki-always-stands-khaki-kerala-hc-slams-dgps-report-pink-police> accessed on 16 December 2021

[3] Press Trust of India, ‘Ego, Khaki Arrogance: Kerala Court On Woman Cop Seen In Viral Video’ <https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/kerala-high-court-on-woman-pink-cop-seen-in-viral-video-ego-khaki-arrogance-2629563> accessed on 15 December 2021

[4]  CD Staff, ‘[Burning Issue] Police Brutalities and the Need for their Sensitization’ <https://www.civilsdaily.com/burning-issue-police-brutalities-and-the-need-for-their-sensitization/> accessed on 15 December 2021

[5] Special Correspondent, ‘Kerala High Court slams State Police Chief for report justifying the conduct of former Pink police officer’ <https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-high-court-slams-state-police-chief-for-report-justifying-the-conduct-of-former-pink-police-officer/article37870899.ece> accessed on 15 December 2021

[6] Rickson Oommen, ‘Khaki ego & arrogance: Kerala High Court slams pink police officer for harassing minor’ <https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/kerala-high-court-slams-pink-police-officer-1882515-2021-11-30> accessed on 16 December 2021

[7] Major Prashant Rai, ‘Can Sensitizing The Police And Judiciary Make Indian Women Less Afraid To Report Sexual Assault?’ <https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/can-sensitizing-police-judiciary-make-indian-women-less-rai> accessed on 15 December 2021

[8] CD Staff, ‘[Burning Issue] Police Brutalities and the Need for their Sensitization’ <https://www.civilsdaily.com/burning-issue-police-brutalities-and-the-need-for-their-sensitization/> accessed on 15 December 2021

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