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Police system needs reform: HM
Published on 28 Oct. 2009 12:10 AM IST
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Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said “overdependence” of state governments on central forces was “not a good sign” and that policing in the country has been “neglected”. He underlined the need to upgrade and bring “urgent reforms” in the police system. “The massive expansion of central paramilitary forces is indicative of inadequacies of state police,” Chidambaram said while speaking at a meeting of the Consultative Committee for the home ministry on the National Police Mission. He said a large number of vacancies existed in state police at lower as well as higher levels. According to the home ministry, a majority of the country’s police stations that fall in the category of “rural” stations, are understaffed and under massive strain of having to combat insurgency in addition to their law and order duties. Out of 14,000 police stations in the country, nearly 8,000 are designated rural stations. “The police-population ratio in the country is much lower than the desired level of 220 and there is also wide variation among the states,” Chidambaram said, while drawing the attention to other problems like outdated equipment and lack of training. According to some estimates, police forces in the country are understaffed and for every 100,000 people, there are only 142 policemen to maintain law and order. “Inadequacies of police in the states and their over-dependence on the central paramilitary forces is not a good sign for the federal structure.” The home minister said the strength of central paramilitary forces in the country comprised over 800,000 personnel. The states are now realizing the gravity of the situation and concentrating on recruitment, training and modernization of their police forces, he said. In a proposal sent to the Finance Commission, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai has said that the money will be needed to recruit 340,000 policemen for rural police stations. Chidambaram said that the ministry has approved building community counselling centres to facilitate an integrated approach towards resolution of conflicts, affecting women, children and other vulnerable sections of the society. He said the ministry will also develop soft skill training modules for police personnel for improving their attitude and behavior to make them “citizen-friendly and service- oriented”. There would be a “fair, impartial, transparent, objective, tamper-proof, scientific and merit-based transparent recruitment process, he added. Rajdhani secured A New Delhi-bound Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express was released from Maoist clutches by security forces Tuesday evening , after rebels held it and its 667 passengers hostage for over four hours in West Midnapore district. All passengers are safe, the union government said. Demanding withdrawal of the joint security forces and release of some of their arrested leaders, around 500 members of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) held up the 2443A UP Express train by squatting on the tracks and forced out the drivers around 2.45 p.m. at the Banstala Halt station, near Jhargram station close to the Antapani jungle. Jhargram is 155 km from Kolkata by train. After several tension-filled hours, that saw a police team rushing to the spot ambushed by the Left wing rebels, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers and state policemen finally took over the train around 7 p.m. Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced the end of the security operation in New Delhi. “The CRPF and the state police have reached the spot and the train has been secured,” Chidambaram told reporters. “The relief train will move in the next few minutes. The train is safe and all the passengers are safe,” he said. Chidambaram denied reports that there was any exchange of fire with the guerrillas. “I would like the media to show some restraint. Don’t report rumours. A civilian driver has been injured. There was no exchange of fire. No CRPF person has been injured,” he said. State Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh told IANS in Kolkata: “My men have reached there. They have entered the train. There is no sign of the Maoists now”. The drama started soon after the train left the Jhargram station. “A group of men stood on the railway tracks and stopped the train. They asked all of us in the driver’s cabin to get down and wait near the engine. They did not beat us up, but asked us not to run the train till they gave the green signal,” said K. Govind Rao, the assistant driver of the New Delhi-bound Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express. The PCAPA has called an indefinite shutdown in West Midnapore district form Tuesday in support of its 33-point charter of demands. “There were 667 passengers in the train,” a railway spokesman said. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said some of the passengers were injured by brickbats hurled by the agitators who held up the train. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was in constant touch with Chidambaram and his counterpart in Orissa, said a police force, which started off for the spot, was ambushed and one police driver injured by the Maoists. “But we told the police party they have to reach the spot anyhow,” Bhattacharjee said. To another query, the chief minister said: “The PCAPA may have stopped the train, but later on it was the Maoists who controlled the situation”. Earlier, PCAPA spokesman Santosh Patra, speaking from an undisclosed location, told a private television channel that the driver has been kept confined “among our people” at the incident spot itself. “More than 5,000 PCAPA supporters are there. We have called a shutdown from Tuesday. How can we allow the trains to ply? The railway minister (Mamata Banerjee) should intervene to ensure that security personnel do not fire on our supporters. Also, our supporters should not be tortured by the security forces on the ruse of flushing out Maoists,” Patra said. Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist) leader Koteswar Rao alias Kishenjee also demanded the release of PCAPA leader Chhattradhar Mahato and alleged that the situation took a serious turn as the police fired on the PCAPA activists. Tuesday’s incidence is the latest instance of stepped-up Maoist activity in the tribal areas of central and eastern India. In recent days, the Left-wing extremists have attacked police stations and killed cops, even as the central government was considering a major offensive to crush them.

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