Friday, April 04, 2008

No killer instinct: Why cops run low on morale

Patna/Raipur: Allauddin Khan was a fierce police officer in Bihar police. Five years ago, he shot dead four suspected Naxals in Bihar, even as a bullet ripped through his spine. Since that day, he's been on a wheelchair.
"I have an eight-year-old son, who asks me, ‘papa, why did you go to kill the criminal? Why did you not run away when all other policemen ran away?," he says.
Khan got Rs 2 lakh from the government and a bravery medal. Today, his family is left with medical expenses, debts, and regrets.
Says his son, "I want to fulfill my father's dreams. But I'll never become a policeman."
In the Naxal-dominated areas of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, Naxal-police confrontations always lead to heavy casualties and it's the lowest rung officers who pay with their lives.

They train hard to survive in the jungles. Yet, the Naxals are always a step ahead.
In the long bloody battle against a highly motivated enemy, all that the police have in mind is survival.
"If he is not motivated he knows he will die. So the men in the police stations inside the jungles surrounded by Naxals from all sides are motivated because they know that if they don't fight they will die,” says DGP Chattissgarh, Vishwa Ranjan.
On November 13, 2005, over 400 Naxals attacked Jahanabad town in Bihar. Police stations were directly targeted, and over 100 inmates escaped from the Jahanabad prison. Only a handful of policemen dared to fight back. Most ran for their lives.
The incident of Naxals taking over entire Jahanabad town and freeing inmates from the prison shocked the entire country.
It also showcased how Naxals could bring the entire police force on their knees.
In the last 4 years, the rebels have carried out 310 attacks in Bihar. In these, 34 Naxals and 55 policemen lost their lives.
Says Arvind Kumar, a constable, "When you know your family will not be supported, or no one comes to help you, you lose any will to fight. I don't feel like laying down my life for this job."
Poorly trained, unmotivated, and yet expected to lay their lives down to uphold the dignity of law – but who will uphold their dignity when these policemen lay down their lives?
(With inputs from Hemender Sharma)

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