One may not have jumped a traffic signal in one’s life, yet when a law-abiding citizen enters a police station for something as mundane as a passport verification, their discomfort knows no bounds. Why is it that the mere sight of a police station, a place we are to visit whenever we have a crime to report, creates panic in us, instead of delivering assurance? When the last thing any citizen must feel when approaching a police officer is dread and yet that is what one exactly feels. Yes, our police forces need a makeover today, because common citizens feel more intimidated than safe in their presence.

Which is why the viral photo of Head Constable Officer Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman trying to console a crying baby outside an exam centre, whose mother was writing her paper inside, appears so surreal. This single picture not only humanises cops, but makes them seem so approachable. The tender expressions on Rehman’s face have put the force that we reckon to be rough and tough, in soft light. But it also makes us question, why are we so awed by this policeman’s act of charity? When and how did we stop associating our police with the word helpful?

This single picture not only humanises cops, but makes them seem so approachable. The tender expressions on Rehman’s face have put the force that we recon to be rough and tough, in soft light.

An interaction with police personnel isn’t supposed to be troublesome or stressful. Yet, most people dread being in a police station. They make quite an effort to avoid running into a police officer if they ever come across one on street. “Keep your gaze low and move past them as fast as possible,” the brain tells you. Filing an FIR or even asking for police’s help is our civic right and we shouldn’t have to think twice before doing so. ‘

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • The viral photo of a police constable pacifying an infant outside an examination centre, while the mother writes her paper is winning internet over.
  • Why do most citizens in India feel intimidated by the police force, instead of feeling safe?
  • Our police force needs an image makeover, so that citizens can approach them for help without any reservations.

Fear of cops keeps many victims in our country from even reporting crimes. Especially when the victim is a woman, and the crime concerns her modesty. Such a woman needs a compassionate ear and a lot of empathy. She seeks justice, but the first step in that is to feel comfortable enough to file a complaint and open up. But if you ask any person, he or she will be of the opinion that a police station is not a place for women. How do we expect women to reach out for help? When the common perception is that cops are hostile and harsh?

We do not perceive our cops to be compassionate, which is why it amuses us that an on-duty male constable lovingly pacified a crying infant.

In fact, in recent times there have been many incidents where cops have won us over with their compassionate conduct. Where they went beyond their call of duty help citizens. Such stories need to be showcased more, so that police force comes across as accessible in India. The positive impact of such stories will benefit both citizens and police officers. Also, our police force needs to ponder on why do common law-abiding citizens find the task of interacting with them so daunting?

Do police personnel in India need sensitivity training? Does the department need a makeover to come across as helpful?

Image Credit :  swapsushias.blogspot.com

Also Read : Kerala Gets Its First All-Women Police Battalion

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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