In its report submitted to the Assam Government recently, the Committee on Revamp of Assam Police (CRAP) has made several suggestions for tackling corruption in the appointment process pertaining to lower-level posts like constabulary and assistant sub-inspectors and for making the police a humane force. The CRAP has recommended steps like making higher secondary-passed the minimum qualification for constabulary and declaring the results of each stage of the selection process instantly. The panel has argued that if the results of physical tests are declared within hours of the tests, the candidates could get a transparent view of things — that is, there will be less scope for corruption. If any written test is needed, the CRAP has suggested, objective-type questions should be set so that the results can be declared within hours on the same day. If this formula is followed in totality, according to the CRAP, favouritism in viva-voce can be minimized, and if there are any serious malpractices in the viva-voce, the candidates can find them out through the RTI Act route. The committee has further suggested that selection of candidates should not continue round the year, and a particular period of the financial year should be chosen so that the government can get sufficient time to get prepared for selecting candidates in the right manner. The CRAP has also dwelt on other areas like reforms in the existing training system and need of adequate manpower. Guwahati alone, according to the committee, needs an additional 1,200 traffic police personnel.
These are all welcome suggestions. But what will ultimately matter is strict implementation of the recommendations and willingness of the police to transmute to a people-friendly, humane force. This applies not just to Assam, but to the rest of the country as well. The image of the police in vogue is one of a brutal force that derives sadistic pleasure by harassing ordinary citizens and whose commitment is neither to the uniform nor to the needy lot, but only to the political masters. This image — symptomatic of colonial hangover — must change if the police were to evolve in sync with the flourish of democracy. There could be recommendation after recommendation towards making the police a responsible and accountable force at the service of the hoi polloi, but will such exercises yield anything if the police personnel are themselves reluctant to effect a course correction in their mindset? Stipulation of a minimum educational bar for constabulary, as the CRAP would have the Assam Government believe, could prove to be decisive in making the constabulary a sensible entity. Yet, when the very police system is so full of aberrations, anti-people and given to the perverse cult of appeasing the political masters for undue favour while completely ignoring the needs and security aspects of the man on the street, one wonders whether a minimum educational qualification would prove to be anything decisive. As this newspaper has iterated in this column for long, it is only the police that can help it refashion its system. This calls for a psychological revolution within the police. THE SENTINEL