Nagaland police seeks to revive waning public trust by reaching out to school students
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Sep. 9: In May this year, a non-profit Indian research institute for social sciences and humanities, the Common Cause and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), released a significant report titled ‘Status of Policing in India 2018.’ It set out to examine how the population perceives the police in India.
The report highlighted the gaps and systemic inefficiencies that have become endemic in almost all the states even though these have been flagged by successive annual reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
The Status of Policing in India 2018 ranked Nagaland low on most indicators; the state fell short on the perimeter of trust, of the people, in the local police.
“On analysing trust in different hierarchies of police by states we found that trust in local police was greatest in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Telangana, and Kerala (in that order). On the other hand, Rajasthan reported the lowest levels of trust, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Nagaland,” the report read.
Nagaland was ranked a lowly 19 out of the 22 states that were surveyed in both performance of the local police and the communities’ trust in them (see graph).
It did rank 27.7% in locals showing ‘no fear of the police’ but 24% of respondents from the state did say that they were ‘somewhat fearful’ of the police.
Nagaland ranked fifth in willingness to let their child visit police stations alone, although the number of respondents, unwilling to do so, was also high.
Programme to dispel students’ perceived ‘fear’ of law enforcers
Minorities often get a harsher deal from law enforcement across the world. India, and particularly Nagaland, is no different. With the state’s long-running armed conflict, drug trade, and reports of police brutality, the low trust in the law enforcement hardly comes as a surprise that when the residents think of police, they get scared.
To change this perception among the younger generations of Nagas, the Nagaland Police has started a programme called the ‘Police Ke Pathshala’ on Aug. 31 as an initiative of the Inspector General of Police (IGP; range) Sonia Singh. It is an outreach programme that seeks to bring the police and students’ community closer.
The initiative envisages enlightening students about Rule of Law and impressing upon them the necessity of maintaining law and order ‘for development of the society.’
The project aims at schools and educational institutions. The institutions can be the main platform to educate students about various topics and subjects concerning policing. Singh told Eastern Mirror that the focus of the programme was to eradicate the ‘misconception’ the students’ community had about the police in Nagaland. “Every police (sic) struggles day and night to ensure security for the society. But despite our efforts, the students think that the police will scold them and they hide away from us. So my first and foremost point is to change that perception towards the police,” Singh said.
“My second target is to let the student see the police as their mentor and their protector,” the officer said while asserting that students should be a channel to help the police detect crimes in the society.
According to Singh, the ‘Police Ke Pathshala’ programme will consist of three phases. In the first phase, Singh said, she will be visiting 30-35 schools to conduct seminars about how the police works and to educate people about the procedures of law; and criminal acts like domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment; cyber crime, cyber stalking; voyeurism; and defamation, and revenge porn etc.The IGP said she will have interactions during which students would be allowed to share opinions and offer suggestions. “Through these interactions, we also hope to instil a sense of confidence among them. This is about building trust with them so that they can share any vital information with the police without any hesitation,” she said.
In the second phase, she said that a group by the name ‘power angels’ would be created. Application forms will be distributed to every school for students willing to apply to be part of it.
IGP Singh explained that the ‘power angles’ shall be a team of active students that shall have a close contact with her or with police personnel around them. “They will be the one to respond quickly if they sense any crime in their school, town, or village,” she explained.
In the third phase, self-defence classes shall be imparted to the ‘power angels.’
The officer said that the programme had been conducted at Little Flower Higher Secondary School and Holy Family School, in Kohima. She said that teams will be created to conduct similar seminars in every school in Nagaland.