With the Supreme Court having taken suo motu cognisance of a police officer of the Delhi police slapping a young girl while she was protesting the rape of a child, the issue of police behaviour has been highlighted. The young girl was slapped so hard that she began bleeding from the ear, which was hardly the way to deal with her non-violent protest. This incident follows another in Uttar Pradesh where a DSP brutally pushed a 65-year-old lady protesting another alleged rape and murder involving a six year old. The Supreme Court has been shocked and pained by the disrespect to women shown by the police. It has been further mortified by the lack of fear of law among police as these two recent incidents in Delhi and UP happened despite the wide media coverage of the adverse view the Supreme Court had taken of two earlier incidents - one at Tarn Taran in Punjab and another in Patna. In Tarn Taran, police assaulted a woman who was complaining about harassment by a taxi driver while in Patna they attacked the non-violent protest of some women teachers. This sort of police behaviour is indefensible.
Assaults on unarmed and non-violent women who may be protesting some cause or the other or filing a complaint is just not called for. These violent attempts at crowd control not just show a lack of training on the part of the police but a systemic flaw, as such behaviour shows up again and again. These incidents of police brutality reveal a mindset which seems to justify police violence towards citizens which is perhaps a legacy of our colonial past and which has to be rooted out. Surely there are more polite and civilised ways of controlling a protest organised in a democratic manner. These particular instances of violence were caught by the camera and have therefore won the attention of the Supreme Court and the people of the land. There are numerous other similar incidents of police brutality, minor or major, that take place daily and which do not take into account the gender of the persons involved. The police seem particularly harsh on vulnerable sections that includes not just women but also the economically disadvantaged. These earlier incidents had led to the apex to monitor the implementation of the police reforms on which it had issued notice seven years ago. It is time that these reforms are taken up seriously and police training incorporates greater sensitivity towards citizens.