‘101 things’ – a door to the world of Indian police

New Delhi, Dec 28 (IANS) Why do we need police, what is meant by police powers, if a police officer asks me to go to the police station do I have to go? 101 such questions along with answers about the Indian police in a new glossy pocket-sized booklet bring out unknown facts that one hardly knew about the police force.

The 38-page booklet titled ‘101 things you wanted to know about the police’ answers the simplest as well as the toughest questions about the police. It has been authored by Nawaz Kotwal, police reforms coordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), and Maja Daruwala, CHRI director.

‘Our idea of police officials is confined to pot-bellied cops or those issuing challans at a traffic signal. This booklet answers some of the simplest questions on the country’s police system and organisation,’ Kotwal told IANS.

Emerging from seven years of work in citizen empowerment and police reforms, Kotwal and Daruwala decided to compile the experience in a small booklet.

‘We came across a lot of curiosity and misconceptions that people have about police in this country. Even terms such as ‘remand’ meant a police official beating or torturing anybody who has been arrested. It was about such misconceptions that we wanted to create awareness,’ explained Kotwal.

Among the other questions are: What is the police supposed to do, what is meant by police powers, is there just one police force in india, what are paramilitary forces,

in what cases can one be prosecuted, under what charges can one be arrested, what are the provisions of arrest for women?

One interesting question is: Is a police officer always on duty 24X7? The answer says: ‘The 1861 Act makes it clear that a police officer is considered to always be on duty but that does not mean he is not allowed to rest. It just means that wherever he is, in or out of uniform he must act to uphold the law.’

Another useful question goes: If a police officer asks me to go to the police station, do I have to go? ‘No, it is good to cooperate with the police, but it’s not necessary to go to the station unless the police officer is formally arresting you.’

Can the police do anything they want? Not at all, they can only do what is lawful. (as per their own regulation, and orders given by the Supreme Court and the guidelines of the human rights commissions.

‘It’s after the success of the booklet in Andhra Pradesh and other states that we decided to bring one in Delhi also,’ Daruwala said.

The authors decided on 101 questions – ‘a catchy number’, according to them.

The booklet, supported by the Hyderabad chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), garnered overwhelming response with over 5,000 copies distributed within a month of release in November.

It is now vying for visibility options in Delhi through community radio, schools, and colleges for large dissemination.

‘The booklet is not about anti-police perceptions. It’s fear and corruption that strike one’s mind on hearing the term ‘police’. The booklet can bring police closer to common people,’ explained Daruwala.

It was two months ago that Daruwala sat with her colleague at CHRI over coffee and decided to come up with the booklet.

Both Kotwal and Daruwala agree that the book cannot change people’s mindsets about police overnight. Awareness creation is a long journey, they say.

The booklet also explains what a First Information Report it and cases under which an FIR can be filed.

‘This book will clear the fear that existed about police. But trust can only seep in through systemic changes and organisation,’ said Kotwal, adding, ‘We are looking for ways to distribute it here.’

‘Policing is not lock-up, bail, warrant and all that it is perceived to be. It is a responsible citizen’s right and duty to have proper information about police,’ former top cop and IPS officer Kiran Bedi told IANS.

Rajan Bhagat, Delhi Police spokesperson, asked about the booklet, said he cannot comment as the book is brought out by a voluntary organisation.

The booklet has been published in English, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, and Marathi.

(Madhulika Sonkar can be contacted at madhulika.s@ians.in)

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