Mutiny in Indian LEAs
As reported by Indian media, 175 police personnel were dismissed from service with immediate effect and 30 placed under suspension after their rampage inside and outside new police lines in Patna recently. Agitators had tried to lynch DSP Mohammad Mashluddin and also manhandled other senior police officials over the death of a colleague. The perpetrators of violence allegedly attempted to lynch DSP Mashluddin for denying leave to female recruit who had contracted dengue. She died later, following which the agitation began. Civilians and media persons waiting outside were also assaulted in the chaos. It was only after the Bihar Military Police, an armed division of the state police, arrived at the scene that the situation was brought under control.
Why are Indian Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) so much ill-disciplined having no self-control and why is international media so quiet about it?
Indian civil services, police, paramilitary and even military forces are becoming increasingly disgruntled due to a host of reasons. Some of these are discussed in following paras:
It may be if interest for Pakistani audiences to know that India faces active insurgency in more than 200 districts, which form almost 50% of India; from the simmering North East aka Seven Sisters, to the Occupied Kashmir and from Gorkhaland to Indian Eastern seaboard affected by Naxalites, India is a war zone. Frequent and repeated deployment of Indian LEAs in conflict zones have badly affected their psychological condition and morale, no wonder the trend of suicide and murder is becoming very common in them.
BIMARU states: BIMARU is an acronym formed from the first letters of the Indian states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. It was coined by Ashish Bose in the mid-1980s. BIMARU has a resemblance to a Hindi word “Bimar” which means sick. Poor law and order situation in these states coupled with rampant corruption in Civil Services and LEAs and rise of Hindutva in Indian politics has made a combustible mix, negatively affecting the performance of LEAs.
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In a research paper PS Bhat and Kalpana Sriwatava argue that stress among the Indian Armed Forces and LEAs is a serious concern for politico- military leadership. Increases in the rates of suicide, fratricide, stress related physical disorders, psychiatric illnesses, and drug use have been regularly appearing in the press and these figures are viewed with concern by the law makers.
Politicisation of LEAs: Even military, which should be above board as far as politics is concerned, is being gradually politicised. Gen Bipin Rawat has become more of a RSS mouth piece than a four star General leading 3rd largest Army in the world. Cronyism and patronising of favourites in promotions has adversely affected the performance of Indian military, especially in insurgency affected areas.
Another factor is the low pays and financial position of LEAs as compared to private sector. Officers of the level of Colonels have regularly refused further promotions, so that they can join the private sector and leave the suffocating environment of the Army.
Class discrimination and lack of representation of disenfranchised classes like Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Tribal Indians in LEAs has also brought in an element of class in these services. The officer cadre of police and Army has displayed apathy to carnage of minorities during riots conducted by Saffron bandits. A book titled ‘The Sarkari Muslaman’ by a retired Lt General Zameruddin Shah raised lot of storm in India. While explaining the title of the book the General said, “I faced this phrase when I was a young Second Lieutenant in Dehradun. I saw a few excellent riders from Aligarh Muslim University playing Polo. I was immensely impressed by them. I went to them and asked, “Please join the Army. We need good riders. You will also get to play Polo.’ As they were leaving, I asked them again, “Will you join the Army. This is the last bastion of secularism. You will never be discriminated for being a Muslim.”. No answer came from them but one of them said, “You are a Sarkari Muslaman, so you will say that.”
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Armed forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) and indiscriminate use of force against innocent civilians in Kashmir, Indian Punjab, Nagaland and Naxal dominated areas like Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh has also increased the stress level and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Indian Armed forces and LEAs. Lack of tolerance in Indian Law enforcement Agencies has hit new high with rise of RSS/BJP and extensive Saffronisation of the Indian Union under Doval-Modi-Yogi circus
An India Today report in Aug this year with the title, ‘Exposed: Uttar Pradesh’s cash-for-encounter Raj’ talks of this creeping phenomenon in Indian Police under the nose of CM,Yogi Aditya, “Staged shootouts appear to be a shortcut to promotions, bribes and fawning publicity for some Uttar Pradesh police officials, if not all, as the number of people killed in police encounters climbed to over 60 under the Yogi Adityanath government, an India Today TV investigation has found”. According to official data, nearly 400 people have been injured in around 1,500 police encounters that have taken place since March 2017. India Today TV’s special investigation team has found that some members of the state police force could be implicating innocent civilians in false cases and shooting them down in staged confrontations in exchange for bribes and promotions. In the Agra zone, which has accounted for 241 encounters since the Bharatiya Janata Party government took charge in Uttar Pradesh last year, a sub-inspector of the local Chitra Hat police station offered to gun down an innocent civilian for around Rs 8 lakh.
A detailed research conducted by G Ragesh, Mariamma Philip and Ameer Hamza on ‘Occupational stress among police personnel in India’ was published in Journal of Psychiatry & Allied Sciences last year. The research pointed out that almost 70% of the high stress level being experienced by police personal was due to Operational and Organisational stress. Main reasons included; staff shortages, Bureaucratic red tape, lack of resources, lethargic court system, constant changes in policy/legislation, inconsistent leadership style, excessive administrative duties, the feeling that different rules apply to different people (e.g. favouritism based on class and creed), not enough time available to spend with friends and family ,fatigue, risk of being injured or killed on the job, negative comments from the public, shift in work and traumatic events(lynching mobs and riots).
Could one imagine a mutiny in Pakistani police and sacking of 200 police personnel in one day; the domestic and international media would have gone capricious by repeatedly running this story for weeks.
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With general elections looming on the Indian scene next year, it can be assumed that politicised LEAs with a low morale will become a catalyst in further deterioration of law and order, adding miseries to the lives of the poor Indians.