Shadow Over Credibility of Police and Govt's Secularism, Says Former DGP Prakash Singh
'The number of officers prepared to disregard unlawful political directions is very small'
NEW DELHI: Prakash Singh, who retired as Director General of Police in 1996, is well known as a key architect of police reforms in India. And is a voice that brings in long years of experience as Chief of the Border Security Force, Uttar Pradesh Police and Assam Police. In this quick interview with The Citizen following the murder of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, Prakash Singh says, “ the police force is caught in a terrible predicament. You carry out the diktat of the politicians and you are damned. You disobey them and you are damned. In either case, they face public criticism.”
Excerpts from the interview:
Is the Bulandshahar attack on a police inspector by a crazed mob a sign of worsening times?
The Bulandshahar attack on the police officer was a very unfortunate incident. However, it would be difficult to say that it is a sign of "worsening times". On the whole, I think there has been a distinct improvement in the law and order situation in UP under the Yogi government.
Nevertheless, it is also a fact that the state government has failed to curb the exuberance and the over-enthusiasm of the extreme right-wing elements, who have been going berserk and committing excesses in the name of cow protection.
Did the passive role of the police in earlier incidents of lynching and law and order in UP pave the way for such an attack, generated clearly by an absence of fear?
I am not aware of the police’s handling of all such incidents, but it is quite possible that the police did not take effective action in some such cases. Their half-hearted action may have created the impression that gaurakshaks need not fear the long arm of the law.
Are police reforms still the answer, or are we too far gone now... in UP at least?
Police reforms would definitely create a better environment for the police to enforce the rule of law.
When these reforms will be carried out is, of course, anybody's guess.
The real problem is clearly political control over the police. With yes men now in charge what is the way out – a solution from within the force, regardless of the politician?
The problem is that the politicians are not prepared to let go their control over the police. They have developed a very strong vested interest in the matter. The bureaucracy is also opposed to police reforms as they have become addicted to exercising a hegemonic control over the police.
The number of officers who are prepared to disregard unlawful political directions is very small, and this number is getting smaller with every passing year.
What impact do you think this lynching will have on the police force?
In such situations, the police force is caught in a terrible predicament. You carry out the diktat of the politicians and you are damned. You disobey them and you are damned. In either case, they face public criticism.
Is it taking us towards anarchy?
Anarchy is too strong a word, but there is definitely a loss of credibility for the police, polarisation between the communities, and doubts over the government's commitment to secularism.