Before I start this article, let me remind you that it bears no semblance whatsoever to the famous Hollywood Jackie Chan movie, Police Story. This article is rather about a police department riddled with corruption and bribery – The Kolkata Police Department.
It is a common sight even today that a couple of police officers stopping overloaded trucks at night (after 8pm when the trucks are allowed to ply in the city), examining their permits and then satisfying themselves with a petty bribe of 50 bucks. At night after 12am, it is a common practice of the patrolling traffic police to be drunk at duty and coupled with it is their insolent behavior. Walk into any police station after 12 am and you are bound to find at least one or two drunk officers.
Another unexplainable factor is the general apathy of the duty officers in various police stations to take valid FIRs. Rape has increased ten fold in West Bengal. However a rape victim’s attempt to lodge an FIR is normally always refused. On the other hand, the victim is interrogated by the officers in such a manner that tantamounts to a verbal rape. The police, I find, are good at playing a charade of cat and mouse with the hawkers, maybe recovering stolen/snatched mobile phones and of course harassing innocent ordinary citizens.
The detective department Lalbazar was once compared with Scotland Yard in their efficiency to solve crimes. Now, they are complacent with solving petty crimes. I guess they themselves have forgotten the last time they solved a serious crime with brilliant deductions. It is our sheer luck that Kolkata is a low crime zone. Besides, the external terrorists as well as the home bred Maoists use Kolkata as a transit point. Hence, they prefer not to create any trouble here thus alleviating the responsibilities of the police department a lot.
The Narcotics department, I guess, is the most two-faced and corrupted department of the Kolkata Police. One example will make the scenario clear. Even in the year 2000, during the Left Front Government regime, among Kolkata’s biggest drug dealing operation used to take place right behind the erstwhile Kasba Police Station. The police received a fat amount as “protection money” while business boomed as usual. The Narcotics department is good in nabbing small-time peddlers and users. They never touch the big drug dealers because they have political connections and also because they pay a lump sum to the department to look the other way. The Panchanantala rail line slum area is only a stone’s throw from the Lake Police Station. Yet the slum is a haven of drug peddlers, bookies, arms dealers and illegal liquor manufacturers. The Diwali festival is another example when the firecrackers cross the specified 60-decibel limit by many times and the police is unable to do anything about it despite deploying extra forces on that particular day. Only perhaps the cyber crime department of the Kolkata Police deserves some commendations.
The examples of the inefficiency of the Kolkata Police are numerous. Inadequacies exist at every level. However, after the Trinamool Government came in power, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has done her best to revamp the police department, especially after the recent humiliating skirmish with the Maoists in the Jungal Mahal area. The merging of West Bengal Police and Calcutta Police under Kolkata Police is a significant step. The standard issue “bullock cart” Royal Enfields are being replaced with the much lighter Apache RTR 160 cc bikes for the motorcycle cops. The police are now being issued Czech semi-automatic 9mm pistols and semi automatic rifles replacing the 50 year old Webley Scott revolvers and World War 2 relic bolt action .303 rifles. Attempts are being made to oust corruption from the various departments but so deep rooted are the disease that it will take a long time for the police to win back the faith of the masses.
My question is, would you entrust your life in the hands of these guardians of law? Do you really think that they can actually apprehend another Ajmal Kasab from pressing the trigger button wired to 100 pounds of semtex in the boot of some car parked in the parking lot of some glitzy mall?