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Blackmailers in Khaki Uniform: Several Unanswered Questions

Dr Nitin Pandey

The collective consciousness of Doonites was jolted this Tuesday, when news of two constables who had been blackmailing a couple in Dehra Dun broke. To recapitulate these two constables under a Dehra Dun Police Verification drive entered a room in THDC Colony to find a boy and girl eating lunch together. Sensing an opportunity and realising that the two were “not blood relations” the duo grilled them and even forced them to kiss while filming with a mobile! Then the saga of blackmail began first with a demand for Rs 3000/-, and when that was fulfilled another for Rs 5000/- or “the girl spend a night with them in a hotel”. The desperate boy sought help of a journalist, who photographed the police personnel with the money in the boy’s room and the story broke. Acting promptly the City SSP suspended and arrested the two policemen, who were later dismissed from service.

Guess Who?

Do you know who the Home Minister of Uttarakhand is?

Only 2 of the randomly selected 25 people in Doon could answer the question correctly!

Almost all of them, however immediately identified Mr. Ramesh Pokhariyal as the Health Minister!

If you are one of those who would like to find out the name of our Home Minister, read on…..
But is this enough?

One question which needs to be answered is how two freshly recruited constables could muster enough courage to black mail people? Is corruption so rampant in our police force that even “freshers” are instantly drawn into it? Or were these two were corrupt even prior to joining the police force, in which case what happened to the police verification which is carried out before anyone joins the police force? Rumours abound of bribes being paid during police recruitments all over our Country. Could they be true in our State as well?

In all probabilities, this was not the first bribe the duo accepted nor was it the first illegal act they committed. After all, such “courage” develops slowly and blackmailing cannot be the first “baby” step. In a Police Station is it someone’s responsibility to monitor policemen under him? Has he failed to perform his duty? Could he have failed in detecting other similar men under him? While dismissing and arresting erring constables is the first step, leaving their immediate superiors scot-free leaves the job half done and does nothing to prevent corruption in future.

The saddest and perhaps the most indicative, part of the whole episode is the reaction of the peers of these two policemen. Instead of being aghast of the activities of their colleagues, there was widespread sympathy for them at being caught. The initial efforts of Patel Nagar Police Station to suppress the whole episode and later the VIP treatment given to the two accused; even allowing the father of one of them who is an ASI in the Fire Department in Doon, to escort them to court, shows widespread sympathy for the accused and not the victims. The treatment given to the victims in contrast is shocking. Police higher-ups need to explain the necessity for Police men to go to the victim’s room at 2 in the night to question him?

Is this widespread sympathy for the accused an indicator of the corruption being accepted as a norm in Uttarakhand’s Police force? Can we deny that there is both internal corruption (money for “plum” postings and other favours) and external corruption in our police? From extracting “hafta” from the street vendors to blackmailing, our police seems to have it all. Probably only the blind or really dumb would miss the difference between the official income and assets of some of our men in khaki especially those in “plum” posts.

Seen in the larger context, corruption in Police is a part of corruption which is all pervading in our society. After all, police men come from our society and therefore reflect its values. Effects of political interference, which is all too evident in Uttarakhand, have been well debated again and again. A quote of Mr. Tharakan, DGP Kerala at a recent Police Conference is worth mentioning: “In today’s India, the police is a victim of the political system just as much as the citizen is a victim of the police system”

Unfortunately, tackling corruption has not been an area of interest for the Khanduri Government. Over the last two years, except for an occasional statement at a public rally, absolutely nothing has been done to reduce corruption in public life. Since our State Chief Minister also doubles up as the State Home Minister, he is all the more responsible for corruption in the police and thus his eerie silence on the whole issue is inexplicable. With as many as 27 ministries under his belt, including important ones like Finance and Home, it must be an effort for Gen. Khanduri, to spend as much time as he would like on each one of them. If such an incident had happened in Delhi, the Home Minister would have found it hard to evade a public response and questions from TV Channels. Fortunately for all, Dehra Dun is away from the electronic media glare and so a lot of things can be brushed under the carpet and simply ignored.

Four Steps needed urgently to control Police corruption in Uttarakhand
  1. Set up a 24hr toll-free State wide Central Police Corruption Complaints helpline. Publicize the number and ensure complainants anonymity if requested. Staff should be well selected.
  2. Ensure accountability of immediate seniors of staff caught in corruption.
  3. Implement Police reforms. The State Police Board is still to be constituted. Improve working conditions for policemen, augment their strength, increase their salary and increase their interactions with the society around them.
  4. Both the National Police Commission and the Padmanabhaiah Committee have proposed the establishment of an Independent Directorate of Police Evaluation in each state. The Directorate would carry out annual inspections of the district police forces, as well as of the specialised units operating as part of the state police forces. Most importantly, the Directorate would be vested with the responsibility to produce independent inspection reports, detailing the areas of weakness in police performance and ensuring that standards are maintained. Depending on LIU to check corruption in police may not be effective as both work together on a day to day basis and often have good personal relations.

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From: The powers and duteis of conservators of the peace exercised by the sheriff are not strictly judicial, but he may be said to act as the chief magistrate of his county, wielding the executive power for the preservation of the public peace. It is a public
The powers and duteis of conservators of the peace exercised by the sheriff are not strictly judicial, but he may be said to act as the chief magistrate of his county, wielding the executive power for the preservation of the public peace. It is a public duty, for neglect of which he is amenable to the public, and punishable by indictment only. By statute in New York a sheriff is now made liable for damages to property destroyed by a mob or riot, where notice has been given him of the intended mob or riot, and he fails to take steps to prevent it. That statute fixes the liability, which did not exist at the common law, but his duty as conservator of the peace was the same. Schiellein v. Board, 43 Barb. 490. The inquiry is pertinent whether a sheriff, upon notification that a breach of the peace has been planned **1065 and is ready for execution, can perform his duty by inquiry of one of the leaders in the proposed breach of the peace, and receiving an assurance from him that he and his fellows would not accomplish the offense without notifying him of their intention. If this can be interposed as a defense, in what classes of crimes or misdemeanors would it not be a defense? In case of a mob, would he be justified in taking the assurance of a supposed leader that they would not accomplish the act without notifying him? If an attack is threatened upon A.'s house at night, and A. notifies the sheriff, has he performed his duty when he has seen the supposed leader of the attack, and received his assurance that he will desist? Perpetrators of these breaches of the peace will always take steps to put the officers off guard, as they evidently did in this case. Section 11,337, Comp. Laws 1897, expressly makes it the duty of the sheriff to suppress every unlawful assembly, *323 and to arrest and secure the offenders; and any neglect upon his part to so do is made a misdemeanor, punishable by fine not exceeding $300. Mr. Parshall testified that he asked plaintiff, What would be the trouble if we played? and that plaintiff replied, He would have to serve any warrants, if any were issued. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that this has been a common excuse of sheriffs and other police officers for not enforcing this and other laws. It is the duty of the sheriff and police officers generally to enforce those laws which the people have enacted for the protection of their lives, persons, property, health, and morals, including the laws for the observance of the Sabbath. White v. East Saginaw Twp., 43 Mich 567, 570 (1880) (Graves, J) also cites an older California case explaining the basic, pre-existing common-law duteis of the County Sheriff. I am assisting Sheriff Christopher as well. I believe the Leet decision that you cite was a dissent, or it has been overturned. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has basically done to the Sheriffs in that state what the Delaware General Assembly is trying to do. Trying to work with the Pennsylvania Sheriffs Association on this issue as well with Sheriff Robert Wolfgang from Erie County. Thanks for your comment. CarsonThanks for your comment. Carson

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I simply codlun't leave your site prior to suggesting that I really loved the usual info an individual provide in your visitors? Is going to be back often in order to investigate cross-check new posts