The National Security Guard (NSG) was set up in 1984 to deal with ‘all facets of terrorism’. However, such have been the circumstances that after the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai, the force, despite its enhanced presence thanks to the hubs, it has not seen any ‘action’ in the over 700 terrorist incidents which have seen over 500 deaths. What does this tell?
No matter what, it is the men in khakhi, our policemen, who inevitably are the first responders. In some cases, like the July 27 Gurdaspur terrorist attack and other low-profile attacks in hinterland, they wrap it up too. And towards their assistance come forces like the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs). This is so on account of the police’s proximity, presence on ground and the manner of attack by the terrorists which ensures that situations are hardly prolonged for outside forces to move, arrive and tackle.
Are we then giving the police personnel what they need?
Remember Punjab Police’s SWAT team going to take on terrorists without as little as even a bullet proof jacket or a helmet? Or policemen after the Udhampur attack checking the slain terrorists’ body for booby traps without wearing bomb disposal gear? Or Mumbai police in 2008, tackling automatic AK47 wielding terrorists with inadequate weapons and protection? This list is endless, actually.
States have seldom seen merit in investing in modern police forces. Collecting political intelligence on rivals, performing bandobast duties and ensuring VIP protection are the traditional roles our political class secretly envisaged and equipped the police for. The very fact that the centre had to step in by means of a Modernisation of State Police Forces (MPFs) scheme launched in 1969-70 and continues to do so even today is what else if not a proof.
To compound matters, contemporary data from the Ministry of Home Affairs doesn’t quite reverse the trend.
Based on the sanctioned strength as on January 1 2014, India needs a total of 22,83,646 cops in its 35 states and Union Territories (UTs). Against this, only 17,22,786 have been actually appointed, leading to a deficit of 5,60,860 or 25 per cent. The MHA says it has been advising the states to implement a time-bound program and fill the vacancies yet not much has changed. Given that ‘police’ and ‘public order’ under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution are state subjects, MHA admits, it can only do so much. Should something be done or let matters rest as they have been is the question then.
While it may be poignant to note that administrative hubs like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra have glaring number of vacancies to fill, it is outright disturbing to see a similar trend in frontline states like Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Punjab.
While many feel that given the present scenario, a re-thinking is in order, the question over whether or not policing continues to remain the domain of the state governments was put paid to by the MHA earlier this year in a remarkable fashion.
Responding to a question by Lok Sabha MP from Bangalore Central, PC Mohan, over the preparedness of police forces with regards to weapons and equipment to tackle ‘terrorist and naxalite activities’, MHA said it had no centralized data of weapons holdings of states!
The way things work is that the state governments prepare State Action Plan (SAP) which includes the weapons purchase component. SAP is sent to the MHA for scrutiny and subsequently, funds under the Modernisation of State Police Forces (MPF) are released. When it comes to weapons, MHA directly pays the ordinance factories for weapon manufacturing.
Before concluding, the MHA response tersely noted, “Equipment to be procured under the MPF depend on the priorities of the state government.”
Back then to square one, aren’t we?
APPEARED FIRST IN DAILYO – http://www.dailyo.in/politics/indian-police-mha-terror-attacks-udhampur-gurdaspur-mumbai-2008-rajnath-singh/story/1/5795.html