This bus stand in the Capital has been turned into a ‘Police Picket’ for over three weeks now

A most shocking case of policemen apprehending poor young boys on a complaint of theft by a few traders and subsequently not only chaining and locking them up but also of brutalising them has come to light recently. The police brass first tried to cast aspersions on the media house that had broken the story and when they realised that this was one ghost that was not going to go away, a handful of constables have been suspended.

No one in her or his senses is prepared to believe that the guilty police officers will be punished. In fact if you were to interview a large section of the population you would realise that the police have successfully earned the distrust of almost everybody. You would be told that sooner than later the suspended constables will be back at their duty in the same police station or in another nearby. The memory of an Assistant Commissioner of Police slapping a young girl for daring to protest against a rape and the fake encounter killings that refuse to go out of public memory are just two examples of way the police behave and it is not difficult to imagine what they are capable of doing when backed by their bosses in the police system and in government.

The fault lies in the very Acts that govern the functioning of the police; the police have not been taught that they are servants of the people. They lord over everyone convinced that their job is to coerce and repress. No wonder the mentality that governs the functioning of the police and the para-military forces in this country is born out of an attitude of open hostility to the people that the colonial rulers had mastered. Every Indian was supposed to be an enemy of the British, and by and large this was true because those who loved the British in those days were far and few except excluding our cloying spineless royalty, the maharajas who always lined-up to be counted among the loyal servants of the colonial masters.

After the departure of the British there was need for redefining the roles of the police and the others, broadly known as law keepers, but the inheritors of a new India did not think that was necessary and so we have continued with the coercive anti people apparatus and the police continues to function as if nothing has changed, they continue to grab what they can and no questions are ever asked.

A small example of how they lord over all they survey can be had by anyone travelling down Aruna Asif Ali Marg -- the road that connects R.K.Puram Sector 3, Ber Sarai and IIT hostels to Vasant Kunj and Kishangarh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Indian Institute of Mass Communications, the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) etc are located off this road.

There is a DTC bus stand located right outside the main gate of ICSSR that has been turned into a ‘Police Picket’ for the last three weeks or more. Five mobile barricades have been installed here, two before two after and one in the middle of the bus stand, two chairs have been acquired, probably from the ICSSR and three keepers of the law can be seen parked there for most part of the day. They have acquired a large parasol and a water dispenser as well. Keeping the dispenser filled with cold water at all hours has been added to the duties of the ICSSR security guard and he can be seen scurrying to ensure that the keepers of law and order do not suffer any pangs of thirst.

The only keeping of law and order that seems to be happening here is stopping people on motorcycles to pour over their identity cards, driver’s license, pollution under control and other documents. I pass this road every day, I have never been stopped, no one in a car has ever been stopped and I wonder what are they looking for?

To the best of my knowledge there has been no alert for motor bike borne criminals or terrorists and unless motorcycle riders provide the most easily tappable source of easy money I see no reason why this picket should be there for motorbike riders alone. And if a picket needs to be established here, why must it happen after taking over a DTC bus shelter. Where should buses stop and where should those waiting for buses go? And what is the DTC doing?

Incidentally, I have not seen a single policeman in the uniform of a traffic constable at this picket in the last three weeks or more. So, the constant presence of two or three constables hanging around, doing nothing at a bus stop does make one wonder and this at a time when the Delhi police are constantly harping on staff shortages. There is much that needs to improve in policing before we can even think of becoming a world class city.

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