Can a system be held culpable of homicide? If not, it should be because what happened in Kanpur is much more than some policemen getting killed by a goon. Our policing system was devised by the British to be a force that can crush unarmed peasants not just literally but also psychologically by brutalizing their psyche and making them (peasants) feel like mere vermin in front of the mighty “Raj”.
Even after gaining independence, police continued being the same studded boot that was either to be licked over or to get crushed under all the while the wearer of the said boot was busy licking something entirely different.
Much can be written about the police-mafia-politician nexus in India but that would unnecessarily make us digress from the topic at hand: Police training. Were the policemen sent to “arrest” Vikas Dubey trained, disciplined or organized enough to carry out such an operation? Or were they just a motley group of personnel who happened to be on duty on that fateful night? Encounters, specifically the genuine ones, are a job for a highly trained, motivated and swift force not to mention one that is an epitome of physical fitness. Instead, the raid was, in all probability carried out by barely trained, overworked, pot bellied and waiting-for-retirement personnel.
Did any one of them have any real combat experience? Did they know about squad formations, communication through hand signals in the dark, stealth and other tactics necessary to face a real adversary? Were they ever trained on how to avoid an ambush and if ambushed, how to respond when being fired at from an elevated position? Was any one of them ever trained to feel the reducing weight and increasing recoil of a weapon as its magazine progressively runs out of ammunition? Were they ever trained to evacuate a brother combatant if he gets hit? One might say this kind of training is only required for the army and paramilitary who have to deal with terrorists on a daily basis. True, but only upto the extent that police do not encounter terrorists that frequently.
But can we be absolutely sure that they never do? Once every 100 times a police encounter may be real (allegedly) and 1 time out of such 10, an adversary could be as deadly as we saw in Kanpur. Are we ready to sacrifice our uniformed men based on a statistic? Have we forgotten 26/11 where if our first responders aka Mumbai Police were well trained and armed, we would have suffered a lot less civilian and uniformed casualties and also avoided the proverbial “egg in the face” on an international level.
We need specialized divisions in each police precinct whose only job is to fight deadly force with deadly force. We cannot have our constables working as part time cooks keeping notes of Saheb’s low sodium diet and Memsaheb’s sugar free black coffee. We need jawans who can count the number of rounds fired from his sidearm and not the “hisaab” from grocery shopping. We need drivers who can run their vehicles in reverse out of sustained gunfire in a tactical retreat not those who drive saheblings to and from birthday parties.
It is high time we review our policing system and make police a force that does what it advertises: Protect and Serve.