THE Anti-Corruption Commission coming to prosecute former officer-in-charge of Puthia Police Station on charge of manipulating the first information report of a murder case filed over the killing of transport worker leader Nurul Islam in June 2019 is welcome. The commission was asked by the High Court in December 2019, after a judicial probe had found the then officer-in-charge and four other police officers responsible in the manipulation of the first information report, to take the next course of legal action. The commission, following a preliminary investigation, has filed a case against the officer-in-charge, who is accused of diverting the course of investigation in the murder case by not recording the complaint of the daughter of the victim in the first information report and dropping the name of the main accused, a transport worker leader who was defeated by the slain Nurul Islam in the election of the Road and Transport Motor Workers Union of Puthia. The victim’s daughter, who earlier filed a writ petition challenging the manipulation of the first information report, was reported to claim that the former officer-in-charge had asked her during the filing of the murder case to drop the name of the main accused.
What, however, comes as gravely concerning is that such misdeeds and crimes by police personnel appear to have become common. Dropping names of criminals and manipulating first information report, misdirecting the course of investigation and falsely implicating people by errant police personnel for personal or political gains made the headlines many a time in the recent past. Besides, the involvement of police personnel in crimes such as trading in drug substances, drug abuse, extortion, arrest on false charges and custodial torture and killing, to name a few, also raises grave concern. According to police headquarters data, at least 235 cases were filed against 357 police personnel across the country in 2019. The number of complaints against police personnel has increased too. A complaint cell that was set up at the police headquarters in 2017 has so far received several thousand complaints against police personnel — 14,315 in 2018, 14,558 in 2017 and 13,503 in 2016. Hundreds of police personnel have also faced departmental proceedings since then, but police misdeeds have continued. Experts believe that lenient punishment such as the withdrawal of errant personnel from the place of posting and suspension from job even for major wrongdoings have contributed to unabated police involvement in crimes.
Realising the gravity of the involvement of police personnel, who are responsible to maintain and help to maintain the law and order situation, in crimes, the authorities must ensure regular criminal proceedings, along with departmental proceedings, against the errant personnel. The government must institute an independent commission, as has been demanded for long by rights activists, to investigate and deal with complaints against errant police personnel to make the law enforcers behave.
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