LUDHIANA/CHANDIGARH: From rape to murder, custodial third degree to running fake currency rackets and organizing illegal immigration, an RTI document obtained by TOI has revealed that a staggering 1,398 Punjab police personnel, right from DGPs to constables, continue to be involved in crime and, in almost all cases, getting away with it.
While this figure for the 46,000-strong contingent does not include personnel serving in eight battalions of Punjab Armed Police (PAP), seven Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and five commando units, the list includes three DGPs, an ADGP, three IGPs, 19 SPs and 28 DSPs among others. Eight serving DSPs have been accused of murder and an equal number are accused of abduction and kidnapping.
"This may be just the tip of the iceberg. We have to understand that for every case registered, there must be at least a hundred others which the police do not allow to be registered," said Hitender Jain, general secretary of Resurgence India, a civil rights organization, while sharing the data with TOI.
Alleging that most information on IPS and PPS officers was incomplete, Jain said, "The incomplete truth is also good enough to assess how safe we are in the hands of such custodians of law." The data reveals that such policemen continue to enjoy plum postings even as they face serious charges, without a single suspension. This is in gross violation of the Punjab Police Act, 2007, section 13.2, which states that each police station should be headed by an SHO who faces no prosecution in a criminal case, is neither chargesheeted by vigilance bureau nor its own department for misconduct involving moral turpitude and whose integrity has not been doubted for a period of five years prior to taking up charge.
According to section 16.18 of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934, a policeman undergoing departmental inquiry should ordinarily be placed under suspension if it appears that charges are likely to be framed against him. However, it adds, unnecessary suspension should be avoided to check non-effectives. However, rule 16.19, relating to judicial cases, states that police personnel charged with criminal offence should be placed under suspension from the date of trial unless directed otherwise by the DIG or AIG (GRP).
However, officers choose to keep quiet on its implementation. "The Punjab police story is just an example and may be true for other states too. We need to evolve an effective strategy to overpower the monster before it is too late," said Jain.
CHANDIGARH: After The Times of India through an RTI document found out that a staggering 1,398 Punjab Police personnel continue to be involved in criminal cases, on Wednesday director general of Punjab police NPS Aulakh asked ADGP (crime) GD Pandey to personally monitor the progress in these cases.
However, the intention of the police again appears doubtful as Pandey himself is facing a CBI inquiry in the case involving purchase of wireless scam for the police. Aulakh has also asked zonal IGs to list all these 'tainted' personnel and the cases related to them. They have been asked to give the DG detailed reports within three months.
Data in the RTI document revealed that from the DG level officer to constables, cops were involved in cases like murder, rape, attempt to murder, robbery, theft and forgery, but despite this they got promotions and other benefits. "I do not have any magic wand. One has to see the details of the cases individually, and this would take time," Aulakh remarked.
The DGP's order seems to be for policemen other than the IPS officers, as officials told TOI that CBI is already most of the cases involving IPS officers.
The effort of the DG is being seen as eyewash as chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who also heads the home ministry, has chosen to stay away from making any commitment to strengthen the police system.
Talking to TOI , former DG PC Dogra advocated the need for developing a system for policing the police system.
"The situation is getting out of control," said the former DG demanding a detailed study of the personnel involved in crime. Another former DG, Julio F Ribeiro, had earlier said that the recruitment process should be stricter and purposeful.
A leading English daily in Punjab revealed that 1,398 policemen were involved in heinous crimes and exposed the slow movement of wheel of justice in India. Moreover, political patronage further encourages these policemen to involve in such crimes.
THERE ARE tainted officials and politicians in this country, but it comes as a surprise that in major cities of the country, men in uniform are smeared in crime. Thousands of policemen are accused of crimes ranging from running fake currency rackets to murders and rapes. Experts attribute this to the politically divided police force and long years of terrorism.
While it came as a rude shock to the civil society, not many batted an eye lash when it was revealed by a leading English daily that 1,398 Punjab policemen were involved in crimes. The information was gathered through the instrument of Right to Information (RTI) and therefore, there was no room to doubt authenticity of the figures.
Even more shocking was the fact that among those facing criminal charges were three officers of the rank of director general of police (DGP), one additional director general of police (ADGP), three inspector general of police (IGP), 19 superintendents and 28 deputy superintendents. Of these, eight serving deputy superintendent of police (DSP) have been accused of heinous crime such as murder, while an equal number are accused of abduction and kidnapping.
The civil society had hardly digested this disturbing news when during the hearing of a case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court asked the government of Punjab to clarify whether its police was responsible for another Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the state cadre against whom charges have been framed by the court.
During the course of the hearing of petition filed by another IPS officer, the High Court not only stayed the promotion of Sumedh Singh Saini to the post of ADGP, but also put under the scanner his continuance in the current posting as well as force. For the record, Saini has been charged by a court in Delhi under sections 341, 342, 364 and 120 b of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Earlier the Punjab and Haryana High court had asked the state government to prepare and submit a list of all the tainted IAS and IPS officers of the state. This had exposed the rot that has set in the state administration and put a question mark on the ability of the state to administer justice to the people.
This judicial salvo, targetting an IPS officer who is projected as the most influential person of the police department, rakes up not only unpleasant memories, but also points to the slow nature of the movement of the wheels of justice. Saini was in the forefront of the battle against terrorism in the state and was considered to be the most favored blue eyed boy of former strongman of Punjab Police, KPSGill. However, many in society were not comfortable with the methods that he employed and was often accused of masterminding disappearances of people suspected to be terrorists or of being close to them. Since, the accusations and insinuations notwithstanding, the terrorism began to contained but many were inclined to turn a nelson’s eye to his methods. However, things came to light when he was accused of using his brute force to settle his personal scores.
When such a person was chosen as the director of the Vigilance Bureau of Punjab, not many eyebrows were raised for it was obvious that when former chief minister, Captain Amarinder Singh and his family were targeted for vendetta, the current rulers needed a person who was not only ruthless, but who had the ability to bend rules to achieve his goals. Friends of the former chief minister pointed out that this is what he went about doing, though in the process, he forgot that there was rule of law in the land and that the courts in India follow certain laid down procedures before pronouncing someone guilty. Most of the steps that he initiated against Singh have been slammed down by the courts. Close on the heels of those developments has come the list of tainted policemen and the query of the High Court.
It would be unfair to single out only the cops from Punjab, as most of the police forces in the country fail to inspire any confidence among the citizens. But probably, the case of Punjab police has gone too far as well as the fact that for whatever reasons, the masked face has been exposed and hopefully, the first step towards reform might be taken in the near future.
Most of the state governments treat their police force as personal fiefdoms. The archaic laws and brutality of the force is often used to settle political and personal scores and when in a state like Punjab that comes to be ruled by bureaucracy for a long period because of militancy, the cops have a free run, which is difficult to curb at a later stage. Additionally, in Punjab, the margins between political dissenters and terrorists often blurred because of the subjective interpretation of those who were taking decisions on the spot as a result of which after the political process was re-established, the police force too came to be divided in loyalty.
It is in this environment that the cops have been working and it would require a herculean effort on behalf of the politicians to clean up this mess.