8th November 2018
We are getting not “maximum” but negative governance
On 29 October 2018 I wrote about Ramji Mishra, an autorickshaw driver from Bhadohi district, who was beaten violently in police lockup and died.
I wish to thank readers who have donated to Ramji Mishra’s family as a result of my write-up, particularly since the Yogi government has done nothing for the family. I know at least one reader who has committed Rs.1 lakh to the family after reading my article. At a personal level, I’ve taken the responsibility to provide ongoing moral support and mentoring to Ramji’s children, so they can grow up into successful individuals and even hopefully – one day – join the efforts I have been undertaking for the past twenty years to mend India’s broken governance system.
Ramji’s “crime” was that he went to the police for advice. For that he surely didn’t deserve to die. But this is not the first time that innocent Indians have been killed in police custody (why someone who goes to seek advice is locked up at all is another matter).
The police behave very badly with the poor. When dealing with someone with a higher socioeconomic status they behave obsequiously, but for the rest of us, they are tyrants. Videos of shockingly bad police behaviour frequently show up on social media in which they use unbelievably bad language towards the poor. The British left India in 1947 but far worse specimens have taken their place.
That our police behave so badly with the poor represents a major failure of police governance. Urgent reforms are needed to ensure that police start behaving well with all citizens.
I’ll discuss a few short-term remedies below and briefly touch upon some of the longer-term reforms.
First, there must be a mandatory judicial inquiry into all such cases. As far as I am aware, there has been no inquiry into Ramji Mishra’s case, even by an executive magistrate. This is completely unacceptable. A judge must be appointed to inquire into the matter and his or her report must be published.
Second, legislation must be passed to force government to provide real compensation to the family of anyone killed in police custody. The government is responsible for civil compensation while the concerned police official would take the rap for the crime of murder. Compensation for the government killing any Indian citizen in police custody must be set at Rs.10 crores. Paying out such large amounts of money will force governments to get their house in order to avoid such payouts.
Third, a totally different training program is needed for police officers across the country to sensitise them to their role as our paid servants, not our masters. The police must be taught to treat all Indian citizens with the deepest possible respect, as they would treat their master. All visitors to the police station must be offered a seat, respectfully, and the visitor’s matter dealt with, with civil behaviour.
Fourth, all dealing with the public in a police station must be recorded on CCTV, which must also be placed in the police lockup so that the safety of any Indian who is locked up by the police can be assured.
Fifth, use of a bodycam must be mandatory for any policeman dealing with the public – including outside the police station. All their interactions with the public must be fully recorded. The public must also have the full right to record – for their personal use (including sharing on social media) their entire interaction with the police.
Of course, this is not enough. We need is a full-fledged system of accountability as detailed in Swarna Bharat Party’s manifesto. Our policies are designed to create an independent police machinery that is held to strict account by the people’s assemblies and Parliament. There would be no permanent or tenured positions at any level and only contractual (but very well paid) positions for the senior levels. Police would need to perform or be terminated from the job instantly, with a maximum of one month’s compensation. Obviously, there would be no colonial IPS or other tenured state police service.
Today, the legitimacy of the state is at stake since it can’t assure us basic security – the main function for which we pay our taxes. It is simply not acceptable that those we pay for security end up becoming our killers.
On 2 October 2016 our party sent a detailed letter to the Prime Minister in which we provided a list of fundamental reforms he needs to implement with regard to the police and justice systems. The Prime Minister not only did not respond (did not even acknowledge the letter) but there has been absolutely no change to India dysfunctional governance system over the past nearly five years.
It is high time the Prime Minster starts performing the basic functions for which we pay his salary. Instead of running hotels, airlines, buses, banks and industries, or building big statues from the public purse, or bullet trains while there is not even a single functional footpath in the whole of India, Mr Modi must start performing the basic functions of government. Forget about “maximum governance”, our governments are killing innocent Indians. We are getting negative governance.
Before vikas can occur we need suraksha.
NOTE: TOI Blogs has stopped responding to any of my emails and I’m now certain they have been approached by Modi personally to block my blog.