Distrust, fear among public about police in India: HRW

Unprecedented level of fear and distrust among public-HRW

In the report on the functioning of Indian police, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed that only people with powerful connections can be confident of getting police assistance in the present system.

"Decades of partisan policing -- politically motivated refusal to register complaints, arbitrary detention, and torture and killings sometimes perpetrated by police at the behest of national and state politicians -- have resulted in an unprecedented level of public distrust and fear of police," it claimed.

Active in more than 80 countries, Human Rights Watch monitors rights violations and issues detailed reports. The rights body claimed in its report that police in all ranks in India say that they fear "reprimand or punishment" if in course of doing their jobs, they act against individuals with political connections.

"In a culture of shifarish (favouritism), only Indians with powerful connections can be confident that they will obtain police assistance," the report said. State and local politicians "routinely" ask police officers to drop investigation against people having connection with them and harass their political opponents on "false charges", it said.

The Human Rights Watch said in its report that Central and state governments have failed to take initiatives for police reforms in the country even as the Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, had directed them "to enact new police laws to reduce political interference" in 2006.

"This suggests that key government officials have yet to accept the rule of law or the urgency of undertaking police reforms including the need to make police accountable for widespread human rights violations," it charged.

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