India’s internal security is a function of how good is intelligence from the street. And this comes from both the Intelligence Bureau (IB) as well as the local police force.
Now IB is politicized beyond repair though P Chidambaram is trying to do something positive. All political parties have used 1/3 of IB personnel to tap into the phones / movements of their political opponents. Instead of securing India, these IB operatives were sent by the then political party in power to secure “compromising proof” on their political opponents to keep them in their place.
That leaves the police stations. If one goes to any police station in the city, he becomes acutely aware of the rot the whole system is in. The Officer in Charge (OC) of a police station often has to bribe his way to a lucrative posting where he can make easy grease money. Such is the scale of corruption that anyone can smuggle in arms from Bangladesh border and dump it anywhere in India – paying grease money along the way – the consignments never checked. We don’t even have basic infrastructure to check goods while in transit through sophisticated machines.
The police stations across India are not connected through a dedicated network (this from a country that is a supposed software giant) – there are no biometric cards accessible to all police stations across India.
Its as if it is not one India, but different states of India makes up different India. And anyone, trust me anyone, can hold up any local police station to ransom. The arms do not work, the pot bellied policemen do not even know how to aim properly and shoot.
The minute percentage of upright police officers are so much in the minority that they are completely marginalized in the system. Hence, unless India throws up several Serpico there is no end to this malaise. And delink political umbrella from policing – it is the only way forward if India is not to implode from within.
In all this the incident that took place in Sankrail should not come as any surprise. To recapitulate:
At least 24 policemen, including constables, inspectors and homeguards, were present at the Sankrail police station when the Maoists struck at 1.30 pm yesterday. Not one shot was fired in retaliation. While a probe is on into what prevented the police force from "engaging" the Maoists, a preliminary investigation has revealed how unprepared the police force is — and the abysmal state of their working and living conditions. Consider the following:
* There were 13 constables, 5 home guards, 3 national volunteer force members and 3 sub-inspectors at the police station when the Maoists struck. Not one policeman was armed. For, the practice here is to keep the weapons locked in trunks.
Even Officer-in-Charge (OC) Atindranath Dutta, who was abducted, was at his home unarmed. The police station had six .303 rifles, three revolvers, one 9-mm pistol and 180 rounds of ammunition — all locked up in the malkhana (storeroom).
* Why? Policemen say one reason is the weapons are no match to those used by the Naxals — so keeping them locked up is "safer." Until the last Lok Sabha elections in May when they got rifles, the constables here had only lathis.
Said 55-year-old constable Gouranga Mondol: "Two months ago, we told the OC that please take away our rifles. These can do nothing compared to the sophisticated semi-automatic arms and ammunition of the Maoists. In fact, that's why carrying such guns was a highly risky proposition. The Naxals would have attacked and looted us. Therefore, we all felt safer with the guns locked away."
* Result: when the Maoists struck, the police station was a sitting duck. The attackers raided the malkhana and took away all the 10 guns and the ammunition.
Moreover, it was lunchtime, the constables were either eating or taking a nap. "As we heard gunshots, we fled into the forest behind the station. Those who could not flee were killed. They took away our police uniform, our cellphones and cash," said Anil Orang, another constable.
* The barracks, adjacent to the police station, is home to 13 constables and a driver. The ceiling in the barracks has chunks falling off. There's no door and it's open from both sides. The windows are broken. For 14 men, there is one toilet and the kitchen is in the open.
* Three years ago, the state PWD acquired 2.5 bighas across from the present police station. A sum of Rs 5 lakh was sanctioned to erect a new police station. The project is abandoned with only two rooms built which are now used by the OC as his residence.
* Ironically, the Jhargram police station, barely 35 km from Sankrail, is considered "prone to Maoist violence" and has bunkers, members of State Armed Police with Insas rifles guarding it 24 hours. But the Sankrail station has no boundary wall and is situated in an open field, with a forest behind it.
The dilapidated building that houses the police station and the adjacent barracks are rented from a local businessmen. The police station has no door, no bunker to thwart an attack.
Asked about the state of preparedness, state DGP Bhupinder Singh said: "The area has no history of violence of left-wing Extremists. The police station was not designated as affected by Maoist violence and, therefore, the security was not so tight. We are doing what ever we can to improve the situation."
THE SITUATION IN PICTURES
INDIA'S TYPICAL POLICE BARRACKS - PATHETIC
SANKRAIL OFFICER IN CHARGE'S OFFICE RANSACKED BY MAOISTS
WHERE POLICE KEPT THEIR ARMAMENTS - AND WHY MAOSISTS COULD "STEAL" IT
THE OFFICER IN CHARGE IS BEING RELEASED AS P.O.W. BY THE MAOISTS IN FULL MEDIA GLARE
MAOISTS GIVING PRESS CONFERENCE - WHAT AN IRONY !!