In the past, they have been in the news for harassing citizens, but a recent spate of incidents have seen Mumbai Police at the receiving end of abuse. Yesterday, this paper carried a report of an inebriated 35-year-old model who lashed out at cops at Versova police station.
She attacked several officers, including the women, but the police swallowed the humiliation and did not retaliate. They held back in fear of action against them and the fear of public criticism.
In September, another drunk 25-year-old woman had been taken to MIDC police station, where she had alternated between abusing the cops and sobbing and asking for their pardon. The next month, a traffic constable did nothing as a biker thrashed him in public.
Reeling under criticism for past police brutalities, cops are now feeling the heat from senior officials who have told them to behave well with the public. Male cops are scared of restraining women, who may slap a molestation case on them. The press (no exceptions) is quick to criticise the high-handedness of the police, but does not show the same alacrity very often, when tables are turned.
Human rights activists, who go blue in the face about violations when the public is the target, also need to take up for the men and women in uniform.
Most of all though, it is the people who have to wake up to the call of conscience. To take advantage of hapless cops — who restrain themselves only in fear of being pulled up later — is completely vile.
When the public see a constable being thrashed by a driver or a biker, it sends a heinous message: that the protectors of this city are weak and can be targeted at will.
There has to be mutual respect between the public and cops. For this, the walls of distrust must come down. The police and people are on the same side. Physical and verbal assaults on the police must stop, and in such cases, the cops’ side too needs to be heard and highlighted.