Reforming the police

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Home Minister Gaikhangam’s series of inspection tours at various police facilities including the police headquarters has brought into focus the issue of proper police housing in the state. The history of Manipur police goes back to the days of the British Raj and its forerunner the State Military Police or SMP of Manipur was established in 1891 after the Anglo-Manipur war with Mr. Crawford as the first Commandant of the force. In January 1893, the Civil Police was also organized properly when Imphal Police Station was established having jurisdiction over the entire State of Manipur except hills. This Police Station is still functioning under the same name and is the oldest Police Station. The first Officer in-Charge of this Police Station was Sub-Inspector, Shri A. Ramlal Singh alias Meino Singh of Sagolband, grandfather of the martyred UNLF leader Arambam Somorendra. The constables under him were posted from among the sepoys of SMP. In the year 1916-17, one post of Inspector of Police was created at fixed pay of Rs. 100/- per month, and Shri Rajbabu Sharma was appointed against this post. Earlier, the Imphal Police Station did not have jurisdiction over the hills nor over the Chowkidars posted there. But considering the need for the maintenance of law & order in hill areas, a special Police force known as Hill Lambus was then organized under the Sub-divisional Officers of Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Churachandpur. In the days of the Raj and in the post-merger period the SMP later converted into first battalion Manipur Rifles was deployed in quelling the unrest if the Kuki areas and later in the Naga Hills and as such the Manipur Rifles is till now equipped with weaponry which are not otherwise given to other state armed police battalions. And the rest is history. Coming back to the present, the issue of inadequate housing facilities for personnel posted in the interior areas of the valley and in the hills has to be dealt with. The state police have been charged with crime investigation besides law and order duties and it is a heavy load. The work pressure has been such in recent decades that it is affecting their morale and their attitudes. A negative attitude has developed among the policemen at duty and it is responsible for a suspicious or hostile attitude towards the general population. Among the reasons for development of such an attitude and an emerging criminal behavior among policemen in the state is with regard to lack of adequate police housing and family lines in the police battalions, police stations and outsposts. In a recent visit along the Pallel-Moreh highway, a major complaint from police officers has been the absence of family lines at police stations along the highway. The absence of family lines has led to increase in sex crimes involving police personnel who were otherwise parted from their family for long periods of time due to the pressures of heavy duty at the police stations and outposts. In recent times, the duties of the police and Manipur Rifles personnel has been stretched to the limit with escort and house guard duties of various VVIPs and VIPs including that of the ministers, MLAs and even top ranking officials and engineers citing law and order and conflict situation in the state besides their duties of normal crime investigation and law and order duties. The police organization has become a monolithic organization in recent times and it is affecting the attitudes of the top ranking police officers who had become very arrogant. Discipline and duty had become a thing of the past with political patronage intervening at every level of the organization. The Home Minister and the new DGP has a onerous task before them. The Home Minister had promised a people friendly police force in the state and it is upto the new DGP to lay the framework for building such a force.  

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