A Police Station is not just a building which accommodates Police personnel and custody of various properties of the District Administration they are also the first line of contact with the general public for the Execution and Protection of the Government policies and interests. The incident leading to the irate mob to burn down the Resubelpara Police Station, ransack two barracks in the PS premises, burn down two police LMVs at a health centre and mini truck at the police station as a mark of protest against the Police Firing injuring three civilians at Resubelpara, the District headquarter of North Garo Hills is indeed unfortunate.
Senior Congress legislator Salseng C Marak, who is also a representative from Resubelpara constituency and other Opposition Members have demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident, while NPP legislators James K Sangma and Nihim D Shira also strongly demanded that judicial inquiry should be set up and ensure responsible police personnel, who are trigger happy are taken to task, a demand that has been agreed to by Meghalaya Chief Minster, Dr Mukul M Sangma.
Earlier in his Suo Moto statement, the Home Minister H Donkupar Roy Lyngdoh assured that a magisterial enquiry will be conducted into the incident. He also informed the August House that the incident took place at Resu-Khaldang at around 10.30 PM when police was conducting a Naka checking based on inputs about movement of an armed militant William Sangma. He however said that one Bolero pickup truck was coming from Khaldang side and despite the checking party signaled to stop at three different points the said vehicle sped away.
Lyngdoh further justified that while suspecting them to be militants, it was fired upon and as a result three persons were injured. The victims have been identified as Milseng Sangma (35), Tubal Sangma (29) and Janrak Sangma (27). He said they have been referred by the CHC and were shifted to International Hospital, Guwahati for better treatment. According to him, all the three were admitted in ICU and were in stable condition as per the hospital authorities.
However, the mob attack on the Police Station is nothing new as in the past Jaintia Hills too has experienced the same. The same was also seen in the state capital in Jaiaw Outpost, then Motinagar Outpost and Mawlai Police Station which have experienced the same where the mobs have burnt down the station. In the case of Lumdiengjri Police Station, crude petrol bomb were thrown inside, however not much damage was done.
The State Police Department does not seen to have taken any precautions from all the past incidents on how to protect the station, at the same time making it more public friendly to visit for complaints or other official works from police verification to seeking police assistant.
At every dawn, the first General Diary entries reads that all Government buildings and properties within the jurisdiction of the police station are safe, while the very station has turned into a soft target for the miscreants and angry mobs who at the drop of a hat can set the whole building on fire. This has not only exposed lack of manpower to protect the properties of the government, it also means that the general masses are not happy with the policing methods.
It is time for the Home department to take the services of North Eastern Police Academy (NEPA) to revamp the department, keeping in view the militant activities and the growing resentment of the masses, hence mob control needs to be stressed.
Also, it is time for the State Police Department to encourage research and drafting a modernized Police Manual, which will not only lead to revamping the Police forces from the region to fight against terrorism, but also prepare the personnel and officers to be more equipped not just with weapons. Under such circumstances, there is a need to use “Psychological Operations” or “Psy Ops” in North East Region even as only Manipur and Assam are receiving special funds to combat militancy under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP), which is part of the Psy Ops, NEPA needs to co-opt such training which cater to the Police forces from the region.
There is no denial that the existing Police Manual from almost all the states in the country, are simply co-opted from the colonial drafted manual, hence the policing too is still of the same manner. It is time for NEPA and respective state police departments to be the torch bearers in conducting research to help the forces to tackle stress, improve Police-Public relations, equip the police officers with much more modernized tools for investigation with scientific approach, and not to forget the methods of tackling cyber crime which is on the rise.
Talking about revamping the Police forces, there is no other better institute than NEPA, where then entire officers and personnel from the North Eastern states are being trained, who in return can assist their respective state in modernizing the department. Keeping in mind of the Central government interest while considering the nuisance and the atrocities made by the Naxals in the past two decades, the central government in February 2009 announced IAP for all the Naxalite affected areas, which is in fact part of the Psy Ops.
The operation was aimed at dealing with the Naxalite problem in all affected states, namely Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. Importantly, this plan included funding for grass-roots economic development projects in Naxalite affected areas as well as increased special police funding for better containment and reduction of Naxalite influence in these areas.
The State government from North Eastern States must also adopt Psy Ops or Psychological Operations under IAP to tame militancy activities; by diligently understanding the emotion of not only the militant outfits so also the mind of the masses. Infusing a sense of security across the society by erasing the fear psychosis should be the first step and then only can the youth who have taken up arms be brought back to mainstream society.
Regarding the authorities we need more transparent and accountable politicians and bureaucrats who have a political will to change the psychological attitude of the masses. The question is who will bell the cat, such that Police personnel can have more autonomy in performing their duties with improved Police – Public relation.