Mangaluru, Dec. 22, 2015: Do honest and dedicated officers have no place in the recent times when corruption, nepotism, high-handedness and favouritism are ruling the roost? Are honest officers finding themselves isolated and vulnerable? Is it true that doing one’s job honestly always earns powerful enemies to an officer? Is political interference in Police Department rampant in the district?
Well such questions have naturally cropped up following the recent episode involving Pramod Kumar, Inspector in Mangaluru Rural Police Station. It was probably the first time in the history of Mangaluru that police personnel of a station stood in unison in support of their senior officer who was reportedly sent on ’forced leave’ over the issue of the arrest of an accused in a case of clash and sexual assault during a disturbance at Ulaibettu last year.
It were not just the colleagues of Inspector Pramod Kumar who came out in support of him, but several organisations and members of the general public too stood by him and demanded that he be called back to duty. Finally, it was public demand that had its way and the Police Commissioner who had claimed that the officer was not sent on leave, had to yield to pressure and the officer was back on duty amidst applaud.
But, what actually made the public stand by a police officer, an instance so rare in Dakshina Kannada these days? All that Inspector Pramod Kumar known for his tirade against illegal sand mafia and anti-social activities did was to arrest a person said to be an accused in the Ulaibettu clash case. The allegation was that the Department had sent the officer on leave due to pressure from politicians and sand mafia. It is no surprise that this officer has been transferred several times in the last ten years of his tenure, something not surprising and mainly because of his ’pro-people’ approach, points out BK Imtiyaz, DYFI leader. He even adds that Inspector Pramod Kumar has still not been given regular charge and was in deputation .
Sources even revealed that Mangaluru North MLA Moidin Bava had indeed pressurised the DK District in-charge Minister Ramanatha Rai to transfer the officer, as Bava believed that the arrested person was innocent. He even claimed that as an MLA it was his duty to see that no innocent was arrested. He however contended that he had not exerted any pressure to send the officer on leave, but had only spoken to the DCP seeking a thorough probe into the case.
Even as there was a clamour that Inspector Pramod Kumar who was however back on duty the very next day of his being sent on ’forced leave’ had arrested the wrong person, the complainants in the case came out in the open to claim that Inspector had actually arrested the right person. Even a girl who had earlier lodged a sexual harassment case, claimed that she identified the accused in the station and there was no doubt that he was the accused who assaulted them when they were returning from a Mehendi function on December 5.
In the meantime, an organisation named Ulaibettu Nagarika Samithi too had made its presence felt to state that the name of the accused was not mentioned in the FIR and that he was arrested in a case of mistaken identity. However, the complainants in the case argued that this Samithi which was non-existent earlier, had emerged from nowhere.
Though the matter is now settled with Inspector back in saddle, there remains little doubt in the minds of the general public that the Department had indeed acted under ’political pressure’ to send him on leave.
Political pressure and interference in the functioning of the Police Department is neither new in the coastal district nor in any other part of the nation. There have been umpteen such instances when politicians tried to have their way, no matter what. But at the same time, it is equally true that the Police Department too is not free from corruption and favouritism. If during the BJP rule in the state, there was an allegation that the police stations had turned into BJP offices, now it seems vice versa, stated a social activist.
But, as if a silver lining in the dark and light at the end of the tunnel, there are still sincere, dedicated, honest, committed and upright officers who discharge their duties without any fear or favour and thus proving a nightmare for the corrupt and the anti-social elements. At the same time there are instances wherein such officers have been victimised as in the case of Durga Shakti Nagpal who took on the might of Noida’s illegal sand mafia but was suspended for allegedly inciting communal tension by breaking down the boundary wall of a mosque in Noida.