UP police require psychiatric session to refurbish image
Lucknow’s race towards becoming a Smart City has started. Big plans, big money and big ideas are the flavor of the day. But wait: there are some kicks and slaps too which have to be taken care of. And these involve the men in khaki.
Some months ago, a police official of Lucknow had gained instant notoriety when photographs of his valour in kicking an elderly roadside typist were caught on camera by a local photographer. The official was probably riled at the man occupying some space in a no-encroachment zone. But the manner in which the man in uniform reacted to the man’s presence was shocking, to say the least. The act, however, caught the attention of the higher authorities including the Chief Minister and the policeman was punished – besides the photographer being honoured for his presence of mind.
But history, they say, repeats itself. A couple of days ago, a senior police officer lost his cool and slapped a man – again an elderly citizen – for occupying the roadside in a non-encroachment zone. The officer not only lost his cool but slapped the old man soundly – onlyfor a photographer to capture the moment. Needless to say the photograph became viral and the officer was punished soon enough.
But surely, history will repeat itself very soon. Men in police uniform have a tendency not to learn from past incidents. A photograph here and there does not bother them. The slap-happy officer in the second case must have been aware of the fate of the policeman in the typewriter-bashing incident, yet the latter did not think twice before slapping an old man in full public view. He must have been aware of his photograph having been clicked when he was using his hand to touch the victim’s cheek.
But human nature – more so the nature of policemen – does not change with small setbacks. We all make mistakes and most of us try not to repeat it again. But the fact that in this case an officer committed the same mistake which had earned punishment in similar circumstances for an officer sometime ago, indicates two things:
One, it could be because the officer in the second case thought the policeman in the first case was a fool to have been caught in the act.
Two, the officer in the second case thought he was more important than the earlier perpetrator to be punished.
There is also one common factor in both cases: the victim had been sitting there for days, if not years. They had been allowed to sit there probably by policemen on beat duty in exchange of money. Both were unfortunate to have been caught by senior policemen on their round of the street.
It probably never occurred to the officers – in both cases – to inquire from their juniors as to how and why the encroachers had been allowed to continue sitting there if it was in contravention of some rules. And the policemen who allowed the victims to sit on the roadside must have vanished during the seniors’ rounds.
It does not require extraordinary intelligence to come to this kind of conclusion. In both cases, the officers thought they were doing their duty by removing people causing encroachments. They have the courage, aggression and impunity to deal with the common people the way it suits them.
The police in Lucknow have failed miserably to instill a sense of security among the people,especially girls and women. Unsolved cases are piling up of women being killed and dumped on roadsides even within the city. The police have better things to do than go around kicking and slapping old men sitting on roadsides. Only if they had shown the same aggression and toughness in tackling anti-social elements without bothering for their political connections, things would not have to this pass.
In its journey towards becoming smart, Lucknow and its people will surely do whatever is expected of them. But incidents like this will keep emerging like a blot on its image. With smart police cars and modern control room already doing their bit, maybe it is time to organize behaviour therapy sessions for police officers.
The writer is a former Resident Editor of Hindustan Times and a Political Commentator.