Society is like human body, should function in harmony: Ex-top cop Ajai Singh

Rioting and arson ensued during the funeral procession of slain Bajrang Dal activist Harsha in Shivamogga, despite  prohibitory orders.

Published: 27th February 2022 06:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th February 2022 06:27 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Rioting and arson ensued during the funeral procession of slain Bajrang Dal activist Harsha in Shivamogga, despite prohibitory orders. Retired DG&IGP Ajai Kumar Singh says, “Such violence creates an impression about a place and the state, which can be very negative. Whosoever is responsible should be dealt with as per law.’’ Excerpts:

During the funeral procession arson and stone-throwing was reported even when prohibitory orders under Sec 144 of CrPC were in force. How do you think it could be avoided?
If prohibitory orders are in place, no one should organise processions which can result in violence. If it had not resulted in rioting, things would have been different. But there was violence. Legally, the culpability of a person does not change with their position. An ordinary citizen or someone in power are the same before the law. Action must follow as per rules and the law must take its course. I am saying this keeping the situation in mind, and not against any particular person.

In an open letter, you had called for action against those who led the procession in Shivamogga. Can you elaborate what action can be taken?
I have used the words ‘organised’ and ‘led’.  The legal culpability will be the same for anyone who organises or leads. If there is a violation of prohibitory orders under Section 144, then there are penal provisions. If there is violence, rioting or arson, there are provisions to deal with that too. The police force and the local administration is trained to invoke the relevant sections and I need not go into this.

You have asked the Chief Minister and Home Minister to facilitate legal action against the perpetrators. Could they have responded quickly and stopped it at the start?
With all due respect, I feel that the law must apply equally to everyone and it should take its course. It is very important for societies like ours. Why I mentioned the CM and Home Minister in the letter is because they are the top authorities in the state and must create a conducive atmosphere where field level officers feel confident of taking action as per law against anybody. If someone breaks law, the field level officers must feel confident that they can take action. No field level officer should feel victimised. All people have equal protection of the law and ensuring this is the responsibility of the CM and HM.

Can you elaborate what it means to take away transfer and posting powers?
The powers of transfer and posting have been largely taken away from the police top brass. When you say an SP or DC is responsible for the upkeep of law and order, and they have no say in transfers and postings, then it is a difficult situation. Responsibility, authority and accountability go together.  I have heard that under the new policy, sub-inspectors get only one year postings. It takes about six months to understand local issues, and if an officer is moved out in one year, there is a need to review the policy.

It is said that the scars of communal violence take the longest time to heal.
I would say yes. During my time as Shivamogga SP, I had been with former chief minister J H Patel to a 
village near Channagiri where a communal clash had taken place. I could see how both sides were in pain, struggling to reconcile with the event and overcome the scars of the past. Communal clashes may give some a high, but it tears up society which, like the human body, has to function in harmony. A fire is not easy to douse when it has been allowed to spread widely.


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