TODAY -

Moral Policing the Policemen

Jeremiah Amai Veino Duomai *

Manipur Police Commandos patrolling as seen on  Aug 6, 2009
Manipur Police Commandos patrolling as seen on Aug 6, 2009 :: Picture - TSE



Few years back I was walking in the foothill of Langol Hill, near a village. Then appeared on sight a team of policemen on a Gypsy led by an inspector. The Gypsy halted right in front of the village, and the inspector came out to talk with few of the villagers. Since I was not quite near the scene I could not hear the conversation, but could only watch the action.

Then a man went over to the garden to pluck a big ripe papaya and gave it to the police officer. The police officer took the papaya, got into the Gypsy and drove away. There was no exchange of money. The police officer, shameless and politely, had asked for the papaya, and without any audacity refuse, it was given away freely, though bitterly perhaps.

Not too many moons after this episode, I witnessed a similar case at Khuyathong. A man was on a rickshaw when he was stopped by a policeman. The policeman frisked him. With him was a bag that contained yongchak. From the look, one cannot miss the fact that he arrived from a neighbouring district. The policeman asked him to part some of his goods. The man obliged.

The policeman asked for more pieces. Reluctantly, the man obliged again. The policeman, whose reporting station and place of origin could not be ascertained, then shifted position and faded out of sight with yongchak pieces dangling in his hand.

These incidents are not rare ones. So many people have stories to tell about many policemen grabbing and snatching from shopkeepers and travellers as part of their daylight 'robbery' operations. The thieves loot at night; these policemen loot during the day, goes the saying. The worst part is that one can arrest the robber who comes at night, but one cannot arrest the robber who appears at daylight in a khaki coloured uniform with a baton or a gun in his hand.

Not only being notorious, the police department has been hardly helpful in preventing crime in the society. Drug paddler, money swindler, bike lifter etc abound. Yet police department seems least bothered by these ever increasing crimes. Senapati town has multitude of drug users. The heroin did not drop down from the sky, but is supplied from certain sources by certain people.

Had the police department shown an iota of interest to smash this wicked 'drug' business that destroys families and society, it would take just a week or two to put an end to all this. However, there is no indication that they are keen to destroy such wicked business.

The moral decay in the police department has hit the bottom! If there are those who maintain a strict vigil on drug paddling or drunken brawl, more often it is the local NGOs or the womenfolk. And these folks sacrifice their time for their kids or household chores to maintain peace and order in their locality or town.

All citizens pay taxes in the form of direct and indirect taxes. Direct taxation is exempted for many; whereas indirect taxation is paid by all. The goods sugar, salt, truck, lipstick, cigarette, television etc. generate revenue for the government. From what customers pay to the shopkeepers who would have bought the goods from the manufacturers, part of the money goes to the government as tax. This is indirect taxation. The government collect such taxes from all the citizens, besides direct taxation, to pay as salary to the government employees and for other purposes.

Thus it is all of us, the citizens rich or poor, who contribute to pay as salary for the government servants, including the Chief Minister and his Ministers. The collected money is also supposed to be utilised for public goods roads, bridges, street-light etc. If the police department is corrupt and fails to do its duty, then the money that the citizens have paid as taxation is not being efficiently utilised.

Because we pay money for their salary in return for their service, when they fail to perform their duty, they are not fulfilling the moral obligation that they have towards us, the citizens. Asking them to arrest, say, drug paddlers are to ask them to fulfil their moral obligation towards us. It is not asking too much when we ask the police department to fulfil their moral obligation.

'Police' comes from the Greek word 'polis', which means city-state. Policemen are required in any given city or a state for the proper functioning of the society. Just as much as being polite whose root word is also 'polis' is required for a city or a state to flourish, so much so is policing of the citizens required to maintain law and order, which is a requisite for human flourishing.

Thus, when the department of a given society which is to maintain law and order is hitting the rock bottom with respect to its moral and legal conduct, human flourishing is going to be a distant dream.

It is no wonder that Aristotle regards shame as a kind of virtue. Shame is required for healthy living. A normal person will feel and experience shame whenever it is required. A person who cannot feel shame requires admission in mental hospital. A society that regards robbery or bribery as shameful deeds will eventually progress towards growth and prosperity. Whereas a society that cannot feel shame of such deeds will eventually self-destruct.

Policemen who shamelessly harass citizens and fail to do their duty in tackling crimes, a moral obligation embedded in their being a government servant, are gradually descending into hell. And hell is more of a state of condition where you lose your true state of humanity a state where you cannot feel shame, guilty and repentant.

It is high time that the police department undertake moral reform, individually and corporately, before it is too late for their own sake and for the sake for the society at large. And perhaps learning to feel shame of its past sins is the first stepping stone to a bright future.


* Jeremiah Amai Veino Duomai wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on June 20, 2014.


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