After several instances of policemen being assaulted by members of the public were reported recently, city police commissioner Shankar M Bidari issued stern warnings, saying stringent action would be taken against those attacking his men.
But is that the best way to approach this problem? Is there some underlying problem of which the attacks are merely a symptom?
Home minister VS Acharya admitted, in an interview with DNA, that policemen too need training in dealing appropriately with the people they are meant to protect. Those misbehaving with police personnel, however, will get the ‘treatment’ they deserve, the home minister said.
What have you planned to bring those who attack policemen on duty to book? And how would you explain the recent spurt in such instances?
There need be no leniency shown to those who feel free to attack policemen on duty. We will take measures to ensure that such attacks do not happen. Most of the assaults have happened late in the night, and the attackers are mostly people driving home drunk, who have been hauled up. These are miscreants who ought to be taught to cooperate with police personnel who are only doing their duty. We’ll take strong action against them.
These incidents are cause for concern. Do you think they have an impact on the morale of the police force?
If people who attack policemen are let off easily, it would send out a message about the police force being bullied. People will begin to look with contempt at policemen if we fail to deal with these miscreants sternly. We cannot ignore such attacks, as it would be detrimental to the image and morale of the policemen.
Are you implying that the policemen are never at fault?
Policemen are not saints. They too are human and sometimes make mistakes. What I am saying is that all instances of attacks on our men in uniform will be scrutinised. Corrective measures will be taken.
Do you have a notion of what the solution to this problem might be?
There should, as far as possible, be no lapse on the part of the policemen. To train our men adequately, we will be bringing out miniature police diaries for people in each district. The diaries will contain phone numbers of police officials. If anyone faces harassment at the hands of a policeman, he or she should know how such misbehaviour could be reported, and the right channels through which action can be taken in such cases. Officers will be available on phone round-the-clock.
Has something like that ever been tried?
We launched an initiativein Dakshina Kannada. Soon, all districts will have it. We have also started orientation programmes for police personnel.