Police, in every society, play a very essential role. They represent the coercive arm of the state. Police officers play a central role in the law enforcement system of the society. Their duty is to serve and protect, which is why they are often regarded as the guardians of the society. However in Kashmir this may not be very apt. In our society, the police department instead of helping and serving the common masses, is notorious for creating hurdles. Visiting a police station to lodge a complaint is a nightmare of every commoner in our valley. Instead of upholding the law and helping the people, our law enforcement officers’ are themselves openly breaking and flouting rules. Why is this noble profession disregarded by the society and why are the police officers among the most unpopular people in our society? Team KO asks a few residents of Bandipora. Here is what they have to say in this regard.
My bitter experiences of the past has severed any belief that I had in the police, in particular the Bandipora police. Police has failed miserably on all fronts and shattered the hopes of common man by neglecting all sorts of unlawful happenings in the society. People who have given up anti-social activities like stone pelting are harassed time and again. Their houses are raided by the police during night and their family members are abused regularly. Thefts in Bandipora are a routine, yet I have never seen them nabbing any thieves. Our police department is sluggish and solving even minor crimes takes months. Lodging a report in the police station means days of pleading and paying heavy bribes.
— Waseem Bari , Youth Leader
Police, in any society, have a difficult job which involves dealing with criminals and placing their own lives in harm’s way to protect the people. However most of us believe that their only job is to put away the bad guys. Policemen face tough moral decisions every day. They have to choose between upholding the law and keeping the public happy. In most cases, they are faced with the possibility of conflict of interest. The police officers are given weapons to protect the common masses instead in our society, these weapons for protection are used to harm and kill the people. They have unleased terror on us.
— Bilal Lone ,Student
In Kashmir policemen are losing respect due to their arrogant and rude behavior while dealing with the public. People like smugglers, drug dealers and gamblers are respected while innocent students are harassed. Some four years back, I had approached Mr. Samshair Hussain, the then ASP of Bandipora, regarding the above mentioned issues. Though he was sympathetic, yet he couldn’t take any action due to political influence. How can our town advance when criminals are allowed to roam freely among us?
— Sheikh Aijaz ,Sports Activist
Heroes are the people who do what has to be done regardless of the consequences. J&K police’s role, while controlling the miscreants at NIT Srinagar, is worth applauding. Though we may hold a different opinion regarding how they should handle the local protestors, yet they have saved the image of Kashmir that some fringe elements were trying to malign. The police have to make tough decisions every day. Instead of bashing and criticizing them, the people should appreciate their efforts and remember that these men in uniform continued protecting the honour of our motherland even when the entire Indian media was labelling them as terrorists and hooligans.
— Tawheed Sheikh , Youth President, Bandipora
Policemen are considered as the hope of the people in tough times. They are the weapon used to avoid public nuisance. Unfortunately, the police have lost their credibility in our society. This is because they are becoming less friendly and more arrogant. No doubt some people are responsible for this cruel approach of the police but the society at large believes in peace and wants to be treated well. Surely there are respectable ways to deal with the mob. The police department should adapt a people friendly approach.
— Sameer Dar, Advocate
Police's approach should be based on understanding that most cases of violence are caused by a small number of people rather than the entire population. The police shouldn’t treat the entire community as problematic. Instead they should work on finding and punishing the trouble mongers. Also they should introduce some new and innovative methods to strengthen their bond with the people like the "California police chat”. In California, the police use coffee shops to interact with the locals every week due to which a strong bond is built between the police and the people.
— Muhammad Murshid , Student
Police is providing every sort of opportunity to the youth to develop an outlook and channelize their potential for their welfare and the welfare of the society. Our society is brimming with talent, but sadly the youth are indulging in futile activities and wasting both their talent and time. We are setting up various platforms through which people can directly come in contact with us and present their valuable views on various social issues like drug addiction. We are losing our generation to this menace and it is not only the duty of the police but the general public as well, to eradicate this evil. We conduct seminars on issues of social importance and we want the people to respond. There are youth clubs which are meant for preventing youth from indulging in any sort of anti- social activities. It is our moral obligation and duty to prevent our youth from falling prey to bad influences.
— Mumtaz Ahmad ,Police Officer
Policemen are the reflection of a society and J&K police is the reflection of the society of Jammu and Kashmir. We are amongst the people of J&K and our behaviour is molded by the expectations and treatment of the society. People have developed a convention of spending money to get their work done quickly or get priority over others. But as a police officer, I guarantee you that every work in our department is time bound and no one can haste the process or slow it down by bribing officials. Everyone is equal for us. It is totally wrong to say that someone is getting special treatment or others are being neglected. There are people who don’t want peace to sustain for their personal gains. Everybody is bound by their civic sense to identifying these miscreants so, that peace prevails in our society.
— Syed Gazzanfar, Police Officer
Why is there widespread resentment between the people and the police, is a question that should be answered by the policemen themselves. Simple things are made complex by police intervention. There are policemen who take money and allow you to enter a ‘No Entry’ zone. For a mere signature on a document, you need to pay the policeman. This is why a common man is so afraid to deal with them. You can’t argue with a policeman and everything he says is law and has to be followed.
— Aamir Amin ,
J&K police has lost the trust of its own people and it will take more than a simple effort to regain this lost trust. This tarnished bond of faith and belief can be reinstated only if the police give up their rigid behavior and adopt people friendly tactics. I have seen people protesting in other states like we do here, yet their police uses minimal force to disperse them. Here, they respond with lathi charges, tear gas and bullets.