The Growing Unrest: Converging Identities of a Policeman as a Citizen

The officer began the lecture by making a statement that citizens are policemen and vice-versa. In a democratic setup, when liberties of the citizens are curtailed they resort to agitations, protest and a state of unrest prevails all around. During such hard times, the policemen are the frontline workers, the first ones to come into direct contact with these masses, even when they have issues with other departments of the state. 

Police officers being an arm of the state try to lessen the agitations by using physical or legal force under legitimate conditions, which is the use of minimum force, justifiable force, and use of a non-lethal weapon. The state authorizes them to use this force legitimately to suppress situations of chaos. 

According to Social contract theorist Jean Jacques Rousseau, citizens and the state both share a relationship, where the citizens must give up some of their liberties for the state to provide them with their basic livelihood amenities and necessities.

We, as citizens, need to be proactive in the functioning of the state. One must hold the authorities accountable for their actions. Constant checking and probing to the government is a must in a democratic setup. 

In this technologically advanced era, the role of misinformation or fake news is rampant. We, as citizens, should be mindful of such pieces of information. 

The most important right and duty that is given to us as citizens is the right to vote, which should be made use of in the right manner. Politicians and political parties till date, use caste and religion as their tools to lure in a majority of their voters. In rural areas, education and awareness on varied issues is lacking, which makes caste a key factor even today. The rural population, therefore, sticks rigidly and religiously to their caste identities. 

Thus, the speaker postulated the responsibilities of a citizen which one should carry out: “Educate yourself” – we should be acquainted with the nuances of governance and policing.

For instance, in many cases, due to the delay in reporting and filing of FIRs and charge sheets, the guilty men are freed. Citizens can always hold the policemen accountable for such actions. This is only possible when we are well informed about the working of such institutions. 

Next, we should not blindly trust the traditional mass media platforms, and preferably use our rational judgement before taking sides. With the influx of knowledge that we receive, we should be able to grasp the factual information rather than mere propaganda.

Lastly, forms of agitation must be made an exception and not the norm. Issues of a core basis must be chosen, for only then will one be able to consolidate huge masses and have the zeal to resist the system. The speaker doesn’t promote violence as a tool but reinforces the point that one should only resort to unrest when the situation demands. 

One of the questions asked was, how should a citizen react to the Hyderabad rape case or the Vikas Dubey case where the policemen killed the suspect? To which the speaker replied, that it is a direct failure of the policemen. In the Vikas Dubey case, due to the laxity of one policeman, the entire system was at a receiving end. As the case had not reached its logical and legal end, it was the responsibility of the state to guarantee the safety of the accused.

Another question put forward was on the relevance of the archaic CrPC (code of criminal procedure) in the 21st century and whether there was need of a new code. The speaker agreed that there was indeed need for a new code as the rate of conviction was low. In most of the cases, the policemen do a good job as they try to collect as much evidence as possible. But the laws are exploited in such a way that justice is not delivered. He explained that in the cases of Panchnama, that is, recording of witness statements, the policemen face a lot of difficulties. Firstly, people are reluctant to come forward with their testimony as they do not want to get into legal hassles. Secondly, even if they do the witness changes it without any regard for repercussions. This way justice is compromised easily. In cases of cybercrime, it is difficult to arrest the accused from a different state. The system would become more efficient if the responsibility of arrest falls on policemen of the accused’s state rather than on policemen where the FIR is registered.

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