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Alarming Developments


Regardless of what the statistics might say regarding the crime rate in Uttarakhand, a number of headline-grabbing incidents have taken place in recent days that give cause for alarm. Whether it is a senior citizen being killed in his home, or men barging in and looting a house by terrorising a woman and her small daughter, there seems to be a rising confidence among law-breakers in an area known traditionally for being relatively crime free. This indicates that professional criminals have not just realised that the state is a soft target, they are gathering here from elsewhere for the easy pickings.
Along with this, crimes of passion and opportunity have also increased. Again, this is because of a disregard for the law and order machinery. It must be noted that it is not just always the actual performance on the ground by the police that counts, a positive psychological impact on the citizenry is also necessary. The cops cannot be everywhere at the same time, but they must seem to be. In the present day and age, technology, strategy and tactics go a long way in making this happen. As such, more than ever, the top leadership of the force has a greater role to play. There are many laws that need to be enforced but, of these, some are the fundamentals pillars and beams of the structure, which must be given priority. It is for the senior officials to identify and prioritise these for implementation.
An example of this principle is of back-up and the force-multiplier effect. This means that no cop should be considered alone by anybody – be it the criminal or ordinary citizen. He or she should be able to obtain almost immediate back-up if ever faced by opposition. If this happens with inevitable certainty, nobody will ever think that it is only one cop whose authority can be challenged. Too often, there is news of people getting into fights with cops and, at least for the time being, getting away with it. This reduces the psychological dominance of the person in uniform in any situation. Once this principle is successfully implemented, although only a single cop may be deployed, in the minds of the people, it will seem an entire force. To paraphrase Mao – ‘Tactically, pit ten against one, making it possible to strategically pit one against ten’.
If just a few of these basic principles are implemented, the Uttarakhand Police can recover lost ground in psychological dominance.