India formally embraced the values of democracy, freedom, equality when our Constitution came into existence on January 26, 1950. Needless to say that for centuries we were ruled by kings and feudal lords. The concept of 'rule of the people, by the people, for the people' becomes a reality only when the values of 'freedom' and 'equality' make way into society's psyche.
Else, it remains only in books. Is equality practised at home, workplace, communities and society at large? Or do we have a different set of unspoken rules for men and women?
Everyone of us is quick in sheepishly imitating the western lifestyle - their ways of dressing, western food and their ways of entertainment and misconceive that itself to be 'modern.' But have we embraced the same modern and western values of 'equality' and 'freedom'? I doubt. For, if we did, we still wouldn't blame 'just' the girl for any crime committed against her. Keeping in view the recent incidents in Bengaluru on New Year's Eve, we often seem to be confused between 'law' and 'culture'.
Our culture may not approve of girls dressing in short clothes, women drinking alcohol or women moving out on the streets at night. Nonetheless, we are forgetting that our laws don't prohibit women from any of the above said ways of behaviour. Hence, imposing one's culture, one's attitude on the other forcibly is an offence, more so, after the recent amendment to IPC in 2013, wherein a number of undesirable behaviours against women have been codified as 'crime'.
As far as police are concerned, they need to be more professional, proactive and people-friendly, more so, women-friendly. Professionalism implies not bringing their mindset, their attitudes, culture to the job, but, strict adherence to the law alone. It also implies being able to ward off 'interference' from anyone. It also means taking action firmly and strictly as per law without a show of uncalled for sympathy for the perpetrator; not rationalising or casting aspersions on women that they bring it on 'themselves'.
Proactive policing would imply taking precautionary and preventive measures, being able to anticipate or collect intelligence on what trouble would ensue. It also means, if a cognisable offence 'seems' to have happened, taking suo-moto action and setting the process of investigation in motion.
People-friendly policing would imply being receptive to people, especially the women; telling people the do's and don'ts in a situation, building a rapport with people and making them 'partners' in prevention of crime.
Society gets the police it deserves. Police are neither from Mars nor from Venus. They belong to the same planet as any other human being. For police to be effective, role of society is colossal. Likewise, for society to be progressive and robust, role of police just cannot be ignored.
(The writer is a DIG of Police, Bengaluru)