Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for the development of the police force in the country to meet the needs of the society at the bottom level and for a high level police technology drive led by the Union Home Minister. The 56th Annual Conference in Lucknow which concluded on Sunday was attended by over 400 top officials from the Intelligence Bureau, DGP-IGPs of various states and Union Territories, the Directors General of the Central Armed Police Force and the Central Police System, both in person and online. Key issues discussed at the meeting, where the PM spent 12 hours, include prison reform, terrorism, left-wing extremism, cybercrime, drug trafficking, foreign funding by NGOs, drone issues, and new developments in border villages. He spoke for an hour and a half, emphasizing the need to strengthen the police force in the country. He suggested the formation of a smart police system through continuous transformations and the hiring of highly qualified young men and women to find technical solutions to technical problems through hackathons. He encouraged the police to create a systematic system of learning technology and cited the example of the CoWin Online Platform for handling Covid cases, GeM, the government's electronic marketing system, and UPI, the instant payment system.
But when examining why and how scientific and technological advances are being utilized, one may suspect whether the priority is ensuring the security of the governing machinery, in other words the vested interest of the regime, rather than offering facilities of technology to the public. However, if one asks whether, during the first phase and since the beginning of the second of the Modi government, the police's emphasis has been on maintaining law and order in the country or protecting the interests of the regime, then the answer is surely the second. In the days leading up to the conference, civilians were killed in a mysterious terrorist encounter in the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and police rushed to bury the dead 70 km from the capital. After persistent protests from the relatives, an enquiry had to be ordered into the matter. In the Aryan Khan drugs case too, the son of Shah Rukh Khan was not even given a proper medical examination by the Narcotics Control Bureau nor was there proper evidence for his use of drugs or that he had any part in the conspiracy or deliberate crime, which eventually led to the high court granting him bail. The Supreme Court recently released those who were accused by the police of the Left government, under the UAPA, of propagating Maoism in Kerala. Thus it must be pointed out that the seriousness of the issues raised at the high-level annual meeting of the police is not visible in practice, and it also tarnishes the image of the official machinery.Governments suppress criticism of police brutality on the grounds that it's 'demoralizing', but do not miss the tragedy of the force revealing its own weaknesses through self-serving means and actions.
The Lucknow Conference also became the venue for the paradox of highlighting the police achievements of Yogi Adityanath's BJP government. However, it is not only the Opposition but also people with opinions across the political spectrum and the media, except for the far-right of them, who have been pointing out UP's Jungle-raj which is manipulating Yogi's own people to take law into their hands against with political opponents in the name of tackling goondaism. The meeting, which gave wise sermons to the police, was also attended by the same minister whose son was accused of killing people by driving a car into a farmers' protest in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, and suffered loss of face in the process. Former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, in a noteworthy criticism, has questioned why the conference did not discuss the poor performance of law enforcement agencies. He cited the cases of Aryan and Disha Ravi. This also includes the sad plight of hundreds of Muslim youth who have been imprisoned all their lives and finally released after their innocence came to light. All in all, it can be said that behind the rush to excel in technology is the intent to protect the government rather than the people. What is to be aimed at is not a police raj where everyone, down to the last man, is kept under constant surveillance and hammered down by the rule of law, but a force protecting the rights and freedoms of the people and which works to uphold the democratic rights of each person at the grassroots level in the country.