Mangaluru Cops are Much ‘HUMANE’ than Cops of Other Indian Cities!
Mangaluru: India’s police officers are more feared and hardly trusted by common citizens. But coronavirus lockdown has brought out a less seen, compassionate side of them. The COVID lockdown has shown Indian police all aren’t brutal. Some officers have been Good Samaritans, been COVID Warriors, have provided food and shelter for the poor and so on. However, there are quite a few of them who are harsh and rude when they deal with criminals or rule violators. But compared to the cops in India, I can say that Mangaluru cops are much more HUMANE than the cops of any other cities.
The nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on most citizens’ physical and mental health. And the personnel of India’s police forces, especially those on the ground, are no exception. Besides viral videos of brutal lathi-charge on migrant workers and the use of force to keep citizens indoors, we have also witnessed the human side of India’s police. We have seen police taking care of migrant workers by providing them with “food, water and shelter” until they are able to leave for their respective states. Many police have been helping out during the pandemic in many ways. When officers aren’t involved in assisting the needy or busting motivated fake news intended to spread hate and bigotry against certain communities, or misinformation related to coronavirus, they are showing their creative side in the battle against the pandemic.
MEET OUR ‘HUMANE’ KUDLA POLICE PERSONNEL HANDLING LOCKDOWN SITUATIONS…
India’s police are mostly criticised for their high-handedness and bribery. It generates little trust in the eyes of the common people. But the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent lockdown have brought out a less seen, compassionate side of them. It is this combined image of the personnel in uniform singing and dancing for the troubled public that can help change people’s perception of them. And for that matter, our City cops are far BETTER than the rest of the cops in our Country. But it is shocking to see young policemen of major cities in India mercilessly lathi-charging the violators of COVID rules. These policemen themselves must have been youngsters until a few years ago and here they are completely immune to these Covid rules violators. anger and frustration of people grieving and demanding justice over a brutal crime.
But these troubled times have brought to the fore the dual character of police personnel. There’s the tough, indifferent side in the face of people breaking rules or crimes; and then there’s the softer, kinder side that is willing to take matters into its own hands to achieve the common good. Senior police officers have tried their best to erase the bad public image, to make the officers look more human than machines on standby waiting for an instruction from the political class. On 10 may a few print and electronic media had highlighted that police had resorted to lathi-charge customers who were flouting Covid-19 guidelines, by not following social distancing at the HOPCOMS outlet in Mannagudda in Mangaluru, to prevent crowding.
But later after clarification from the higher police officials, it was learnt that the police had just whisked away customers for not following social distance, and there was no such brutal lathi-charge as publicized in media and on social media. Later police commissioner N Shashi Kumar clarifying this issue said, “Police are adopting a humane approach enforcing the guidelines. There were clear instructions from the top brass of the department not to use force, and our police personnel have been following those orders. I cannot go into specific instances of the use of force to clear the crowd gathered at a public place. Please do not create circumstances that force us to make use of lathis. I have full confidence that our police personnel are very humane while dealing with violators, and there is no doubt about it”.
….AND LOOK AT THESE ‘INHUMANE’ COPS FROM OTHER INDIAN CITIES HANDLING THE LOCKDOWN SITUATIONS
After the videos of Bengaluru policemen using lathis to beat the violators has gone viral on social media, and also the use of brutal force by police had drawn objection from citizens, Bengaluru city police commissioner Kamal Pant has asked police personnel not to resort to lathi-charge against violators of lockdown. Reacting to the complaints, police commissioner Kamal Pant in a tweet has ordered police personnel to take suitable legal action against violators instead of raining lathi blows on them. He further advised people to obtain permission from DCP Santhosh Babu in the event they need to travel for emergency reasons.
While compared to our Mangaluru police personnel who are absolutely not harsh nor use brutal force on violators, whereas cops in bigger Indian cities don’t understand that coronavirus cannot be beaten with a lathi. To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. To the Indian Police, every situation can be solved with a bit of violence. That seems to be the dictum of police authorities around the country, including Bengaluru police during the lockdown. Pictures and videos have emerged from around the country of people being brutally hit by lathis, of doctors being assaulted and of vegetable vendors being slapped around.
As the country faces a potential rise in the number of coronavirus cases and as millions worry about how they will access basic needs like food and water during the shutdown, Indians have added an additional worry: the fear of arbitrary state violence, even for those who are out on the streets for a good reason. This is no doubt a challenging moment for the police. Surprisingly this lockdown was done with seemingly little planning. Moreover, getting the message across to people was hard. Those with some experience of curfews may think of the restrictions in the older sense of staying indoors for a fixed period and then being allowed out during a relaxation period in the evening. Many others may not understand the reason for a lockdown to combat an infectious disease, the actions of a foolhardy individual or group could harm a much wider community.
But this is no cause for the state to pull out its lathis and start hitting everyone in sight. One police officer even posted a video online of him sanitising a lathi, only to delete it later. Public health emergencies are complex situations, yet they are ultimately for our own good – they are not meant to be a punishment. Police departments around the country have attempted innovative ways to shame people about their violations, from handing them a rose to making them pose with placards that say “I am endangering everyone.”
But persuading people rather than beating them into submission requires thoughtful, compassionate leadership that understands how to convey that they should be staying indoors for their own good. And we are severely lacking in compassionate leadership right now. State violence is unacceptable. It is simply wrong. The state cannot arbitrarily exercise violence on people. It is counterproductive. Beating up delivery personnel and vegetable vendors endangers the supply of essential goods. People are going to need to make their way out of the house to buy food and medicines. But if stepping out could lead to violence from the state, people might stop listening to official directions and look at other means. Above everything, the state needs cooperation right now. Arbitrary assaults will not help make the case.
It tells us that authorities have not planned. This is yet another example of how little preparation went into the State’s extended lockdown. The government could have worked with the states to discuss best practices when it comes to keeping people indoors, innovative police departments might have passed on methods to others, police officers everywhere should have been trained. Yet all this is happening after the announcement and in a haphazard manner. To end such police brutality on Violators of Covid-19 guidelines, the Indian authorities – politicians, bureaucrats and the heads of police departments – need to immediately move to make their staff aware of why violence is impermissible. Karnataka state should be hoping to make it out of this lockdown as unscathed by Covid-19 as possible – and without any bruises from police lathis.
The lockdown suggests this can be achieved somewhat without institutional reforms. There should be means for police officers to display their passion and creativity. Senior officers should encourage their subordinates to be expressive, even participate in cultural and social events. Like the police officer in Mumbai singing for the lockdown violators ‘Zindagi Maut na Ban Jaye, Sambhalo Yaaron’, perhaps it’s time to save India’s police personnel/officers too. But we Mangaloraens should be glad and thankful that we don’t have such cruel police personnel who does not know how to deal with a violator in a HUMANE Way. Thanks to Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar, Superintendent of Police Sonawane Rishikesh Bhagawan, DCP’s Hariram Shankar and Vinay Gaonkar, and other higher police officers who have motivated and trained their police force to adopt a humane approach enforcing the guidelines.