Monday, May 9, 2011

Police Disregard for Laws of the Land

Police Disregard for Laws of the Land


UNDER whose orders and under what compulsions police would not stop loud, blaring, amplified music which continues till dawn and even disturbs citizens at a distance of three kilometres from the site of the noise pollution?
What a common citizen is expected to do when within the jurisdiction of the same police station when a heavyweight builder from Mumbai throws a noisy party at night, disturbs the nocturnal tranquillity of the locality and the high decibel jamboree continues till dawn despite a police complaint? What a common citizen is expected to do when the authorities tell him that ‘there were orders’ for not taking action because the builder claimed alleged proximity to the country’s PM? How a common citizen would respond if the police control room doesn’t remember the geography of the area and jurisdiction of police stations? I am still living in a fool’s paradise called democratic, modern India which is showing vast material and technological improvement. But the rule of law is gradually collapsing.
A Powerless People
The state has spread out so thin that governance has become a purely theoretical function. I really don’t feel it. It doesn’t make me feel secure. It doesn’t touch my life-positively, meaningfully, with quality and substance. When the state doesn’t care for you, you feel helpless, powerless. The trouble comes when the state begins to hate you as you continue complaining. Citizens enjoy power for just one day–the election day. Then they are totally powerless for the next five years.
Within two days of singing the glories of the Indian Constitution and expounding on the vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar in a function organised by MPT at Marmagoa, I had yet another experience of utter disregard of law by the law enforcement machinery which enjoys full, total constitutional protection. The sense of duty, mandate is drilled in the police force throughout their training. A honest, sensitive, caring, watchful and efficient police force is the first and foremost fundamental requirement for laying down the strong, solid foundation of a prosperous and peaceful society.
But in Goa the situation has deteriorated so much that people in general have lost faith in the police and whatever that goes in the name of policing. Even then people like me are diehard optimists and nurse a faint hope that things would improve and not all officers are bad or corrupt. Unfortunately, now I have to change the opinion because the stakes had been raised so high that it offsets the moral, legal compulsions.
The constable from Agacaim police station who took my call at midnight heard me respectfully and in a tone of sympathy and helplessness told me, “I am a small person, what can I do? You know how things are.” Before I had started talking to him he felt amused because I had told him to record the conversation so that it could be later produced before his superiors as evidence. He had made a statement which summed up the current state of credibility of the police in Goa. They have lost the will to act and enforce law. What remains is just ‘residual policing’–areas of action where police are not bribed or pressurised or actions with an eye on cheap publicity.
Under such circumstances, the government would find it increasingly difficult to get any assistance from the people. Having been infiltrated by evil forces from the underworld, influenced by money bags, interfered with by politicians, the police force in Goa today cuts a really dismal, sorry figure.
Regime of Lawlessness
The law on noise pollution and government orders are clear. Amplified music in public space can not be played beyond 10 p.m. The law doesn’t make any exception even for VIPs and religious leaders. So when I had made a complaint that at midnight the amplified sound was disturbing our sleep, the Agacaim police were duty bound to take action. But on previous occasions also they had shown leniency. They would wait till the complainant gets frustrated and gives up. This is the trick which the police control room at Panaji also engages in. They would tell you that they have contacted the respective police station. That’s all. The worst part is their unfriendly and sadist attitude.
On a previous occasion the builders’ noisy party was heard all over Bambolim and Calapur-but the police control room requested me to come out and stand on the road past midnight to indicate to the patrolling squad from Agacaim police station, the source of noise pollution. I knew that they were just playing a psychological warfare. Actually, the Agacaim police and police control room should have clearly told me, “Why are you taking the trouble? Why others are not complaining? Why don’t you suffer silently and just shut up?”
I complain because my law abiding conscience pricks me. My activist nature compels me. My blind faith in the spirit of my beloved country’s constitution pricks me. My upbringing by a self-respecting family pricks me.
I know that in my neighborhood the families of my colleagues are also tormented by noise pollution. But they have reconciled to the situation. But do we really deserve this–a regime of lawlessness?
This is the sad state of affairs of the Goa police today. If this is how they treat complaints from educated people, then one could imagine the plight of the not so privileged people in Goa. This time I phoned the chief secretary, who looks after the Home Department and told him about inaction by the Agassaim police station. He heard me with sympathy and reassurance but couldn’t believe that the police couldn’t act. I also told him that after complaining to the Agassaim police station at midnight, I waited for 45 minutes and had then called the Police control room, Panaji. In fact I had pleaded with them to take action on their own since nothing was done by the Agassaim police. But still nothing had happened till dawn.
The event organisers must have seen to it that they had enough ‘power’ and influence to neutralise the police. It’s a different matter whether they were sensitive to the needs of other people who were entitled to a sound sleep. Noise which one could hear at three kms is not anyone’s idea of organising an event. Only sadists would support loud, blaring, amplified music at night, especially near settlement areas. But this is the culture heavily supported, financed and subsidised by politicians of all colours in Goa.
The chief secretary at the most may order an inquiry but that wouldn’t change the sonophilic culture of nocturnal noise or galvanise the police promptly next time when another violation takes place. So the morale of the incident is, do not complaint, fold your hands, offer prayers and trust in God to save this state from falling further into abyss.

No comments:

Post a Comment