The Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL, Aug 19: A two-day state level consultation on Police Reforms and Accountability at Khuman Lampak youth hostel, Imphal organised jointly by the Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE) and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) commenced today with justice (Retd) C Upendra delivering a keynote address of the issues of role of police in society in the Manipur context and experience.
The participants observed a one-minute silence in the memory of those who were brutally swept away by the grenade attack in the ISKCON campus on August 16.
Dr. Debabrata Roy Lifungbam, Director, CORE welcome the participants saying that the consultation comes when police performance in India today is under close review and critical assessment by a demanding public in far greater measure than at any time in the past.
The Indian police is still governed by the police Act of 1861, legislated to suit the purpose of crushing dissent and any movement for self-government by the imperial British regime in the aftermath of the mutiny of 1857.
The inherent characteristics in terms of not only guidelines or legal standards but also in implementation are till now essentially colonial or imperialistic, leading to a grave gap between the police and public, he said.
The need for police reform has been felt across the country as not only necessary but also urgent, stated Mandeep Tiwana of CHRI while introducing the consultation which calls for a concerted civil society national campaign to drastic police reforms and new police act.
Resource persons presented views at the consultation`s first day. Dr Dhanabir Laishram, advisor of AMUCO presented his view of trends of the Manipur police in responding to public protests. The public is viewed by the police as their enemies, and the latter uses colonial suppression and violent force. The important socializing role of the police has been long lost.
Ranjeet Sanjenbam, Advocate, Gauhati High Court presented his views of the trends of the Manipur police in arrest and detention. He said that modernization of the police force is not merely new equipment and new uniforms. With great powers come great responsibilities, he stated.
Genile Laishramcha, Human Rights Alert presented his views that the police claim that they were mere humans must be challenged as they had a special role and were armed with special weapons to fulfill their role.
He said that some recent positive steps were observed in the state of lock-ups but these were far too little in the face of the deep malaise in the police force. The police needs to change from its perspectives and behaviour based on retributive justice to the modern trend of restorative justice said Laishramcha.
Representatives of CHRI Mandeep Tiwana and Devika Prasad gave overviews of the present Policing Standards and Guidelines on Crowd Control. The first day`s deliberations concluded with a film presentation of AFSPA 1958. The consultation will end on Sunday, August 20 with recommendations to the National Police Act Drafting Committee constituted in September 2005 and a renewed call for a national campaign for a democratic police force accountability to law and society.