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Custodial death a setback for police: DIG

Special Correspondent

Says police need fundamental structural reforms

KOCHI: Ernakulam range DIG K. Padmakumar has said that the recent custodial murder at the Fort police station in Thiruvananthapuram has pushed the police back by 30 years.

"Just two policemen could tarnish the image of a 50,000-strong force," he lamented at a seminar on Police and Human Rights organised by the Kerala Police Association.

He noted that it was the `court drama' (in which the accused policemen were made to impersonate) that turned the civil society against the entire police force.

Mr. Padmakumar, however, pointed out that the same police force investigated the custodial murder in record time and effectively marshalled all evidence.

The same way, the murder of a youth in Ernakulam, allegedly by a DySP, was efficiently investigated by the same police force. This kind of corrective force within the force was a silver lining, he said.

Outdated methods

Mr. Padmakumar said the police needed fundamental structural haul-up. Mere window-dressing would not do.

The Kerala Police lacked modern training, modern weapons and modern means of investigation.

Even for a theft probe, the force had to rely on antiquated methods. The antiquated laws regulating the police should be dumped. The State had failed to raise a police force that reflected social realities.

Social audit

He said social audit and criticism by society were very crucial for the functioning the police as the police wielded extensive power.

However, he suspected that society kept two standards when it came to police.

P.C. Kunjkunj, general secretary of the Kerala Police Association, said that the seminar was one of a series of such events organised by the association, in the aftermath of the custodial death at the Fort police station, to sensitise the police to human rights and to bring the civil society and the police closer.

Work schedule

He complained that society always turned a deaf ear when the human rights of the police personnel were violated.

An eight-hour workaday would take care of a lot of frustrations of the police personnel which were sometimes being manifested in rude behaviour towards people.

V.D. Satheesan, MLA, said the mob culture in the State was bringing tremendous pressure on the police in their investigation.

It was the mob that was determining who the culprit was and what punishment the culprit deserved, leaving no room for independent and impartial investigation. This was all too evident in the Neyyattinkara Bishop's House incident.

Mr. Satheesan called for an eight-hour fixed working schedule for the police personnel so that they could have a decent family life and socialise with others, letting out their frustrations.

C.R. Biju, district president of the KPA, said the media and society tended to exaggerate even the little faults of the policemen.

Human rights-environmental campaigner C.R. Neelakantan; the former Kochi Mayor C.M. Dinesh Mani and Ernakulam Press Club secretary V.R. Rajmohan spoke.

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