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Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s address to the Meeting on Internal Security held in New Delhi on Monday is a clear reflection of the chasm that exists between the reality and what is shown on government files. Going by the address, it would seem that the state government and police have a clear understanding of the situation and have taken effective measures on all fronts to deal with the problems. As always, the refrain is that as long as adequate funds are allocated, the state will deliver on the security front.
As every citizen of the state would testify, policing is at an all time low in Uttarakhand. Although there may have been stark reminders of this in the past month, it has been a long time coming. The reason has been, very simply, a complete abdication of responsibility by the political and police leadership. The address is an example of the flights of fancy being indulged in by those ensconced in the Police Headquarters and the Secretariat. It is significant that no statistics related to crime have been quoted by the Chief Minister, which have stubbornly grown over the years and increased in their heinous nature. It must be noted that a police force that does not have the ability to combat general crime can be in no condition to fight the threats to security mentioned by the CM, such as the Maoists, SIMI, sundry terrorist groups from home and abroad. Quick response to internal security threats and follow up investigations can be conducted only by a police force in a general state of alertness and with high levels of motivation. A visit to any thana or chowki in the state would expose the reality behind the claims.
Bahuguna reeled out a long list of ‘reforms’ undertaken by the state with regard to the police and mentioned the setting up of the State Police Board, Police Establishment Committee (PEC), Police Welfare Board and providing for a fixed tenure for police officers from the rank of Station Officer to DGP; as also the creation of 30 additional Police Stations, 71 Reporting Outposts and 67 Watch and Ward Outposts, with more than 10,000 new posts created in various ranks. There is also a Cyber Crime Police Station (CCPS), for spearheading the specialised investigations related to cyber-crimes. And, yet, in the same breath, he admits that the absolutely essential separation of investigation police from the law and order force was tried in 29 police stations and given up because of the inadequacy of police force. No modern police force can do without this arrangement and it is not an either/or situation – a committed law enforcement agency has to ensure that it works. The dividends obtained from effective investigative work have a multiplier effect, impacting greatly on the general law and order situation, as well as respect for the law among the common people. Backed by a top notch prosecution agency, it can take any police force to the absolute front rank.
It is also laughable to hear about the ‘frontal organisations’ of the Ultra-Left working to ‘discredit’ the establishment. Has he taken the trouble to even hear or read the intemperate speeches of the ‘mainstream’ politicians in the state over the past several years? And that in the Legislative Assembly, alone! Every kind of charge is made against each other by the politicians, which if true, don’t require leftist propaganda to create disenchantment among the public. Such claims show a lack of confidence in the political maturity of the people of the state, who the Chief Minister has, himself, pointed out are 80 percent literate. The left, even that of the radical variety, has a long history in Uttarakhand and not since the ‘60s of the last century, has it advocated militancy of any kind. If it is a bogey to extract more funds from the Centre, no problems, but if it reflects the perception of the intelligence agencies about threats to the state’s security, perhaps they ought to be looking more towards the various mafias that are targeting the state’s resources – land, minerals, government contracts, etc. – in cohorts with elements of the state government and administration.
Both, the Chief Minister and the DGP are new to the wicket. They will need to address the essentials before they can make any claims on the law and order front.