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Political meddling undermining police moral

Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik — or should we say former Commissioner? — has become the latest in a line of officers shunted out of work on account of political pressure. We had an inkling of this a while ago, when Maharashtra home minister RR Patil referred to the decision being in the hands of the Chief Minister alone. What he also referred to, albeit obliquely, was the decision also being in the hands of the leader of the coalition party keeping the Congress in power.

Patnaik has been promoted as Director General, Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC), but we all know this is more of a demotion than anything else. We know this because it isn’t the first time.

A couple of years ago, in Pune, minister of state for home Ramesh Bagwe was not granted a passport on account of cases pending against him. Naturally, he promised to raise the issue in the state assembly. As a result, the Maharashtra Government transferred Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh (the new Commissioner of Mumbai, for those who haven’t been paying attention) and placed Special Inspector General (CID Crime) Meera Borwankar in his place.

We need to try and understand what this does for the morale of the police force. In an ideal scenario, transfers, promotions and demotions ought to be handled by the Commissioner of Police for Mumbai alone, or the DGP, State Police. They shouldn’t be tied to the whims and fancies of whoever happens to be in power.

Consider, for a moment, why a police constable climbed the podium and gifted MNS chief Raj Thackeray a rose on the day of his big rally. Apparently, constable Tawde has since been asked to go on leave by his department. Should we blame him for recognising which side of his bread is buttered?

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