Can suspension of policemen bring about a change?

| JULY 30, 2022, 12:05 AM IST

The suspension of eight police personnel due to a ruckus they created at a Sangolda restaurant brings to the fore the high-handed attitude of men in khaki and the hostile attitude meted to common citizens. It was on Tuesday night that a group of police personnel from various police stations and departments partied at a restaurant in Sangolda and entered into a brawl with the restaurant owner when presented with the bill. What followed was an exchange of abusive language and ‘filthy’ acts unbecoming of civilised humans.

There is no complaint registered till late Tuesday, however, the general diary records of Saligao police station indicate that the proprietor of this famous restaurant did narrate the sequence of events. The police records also mention that the owner reached a mutual settlement with the erring police on the condition that such instances will not be repeated in future. It says that the restaurateur did not want to pursue the matter and requested the police on duty not to conduct a medical examination on the accused. The anger was palpable, but the owner reporting the case and refraining from taking it forward tells the story.

Interestingly, on Wednesday, reportedly after a prominent politician intervened, the eight police personnel were suspended pending an enquiry. The suspension may be a step to send down a message loud and clear against the rampant high-handedness shown by police. But does it change anything? In an era where common citizens are known to meekly submit to the unreasonable demands of such mischievous and rogue policemen for the sheer weight they throw around being law enforcers, there is a need to look beyond suspensions.

Many police personnel, including high-ranking officers, who have been suspended in the past for grave delinquencies, high-degree brutalities and even corruption including cases of disproportionate assets have found themselves reinstated and subsequently promoted.

The internal inquiry may be demeaning to the policemen in question and also blemish careers, but historically it has turned out to be a farce and a complete eye-wash that momentarily deviates attention from the issues at hand. The department is known to go soft on the police under investigation.

The suspension of a group of eight policemen may sound like a big development, but at the end of the day, it hardly makes a difference to the stark reality that society is facing. The attitude and work style of the police cannot change overnight or in one sweeping action because the ills are inherent. Preaching morals and giving talks about stamping out corruption will remain meaningless drills in the larger scheme of things. We have a police force that has been consistently charged with issues of the hostility of attitude, high-handedness and corruption, and probably society has come to terms that these traits are part and parcel of the khaki.

Suspensions cannot bring about a change. It is the entire police system that needs to change, and only then common citizens could see better days.

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