In colloquial Nepali, ‘chor-police’ now sounds more like a description of our entire police force rather than a kid’s game.
All of us role played some version of the game ‘chor-police’ (cops and robbers) while growing up. In our minds, there was a clear demarcation of the black (evil) and white (good) in terms of cops and robbers embodying certain values – it was always the good police vs. the bad robbers. Those were much simpler times. Now, if we fast forward to the current climate, it is really hard to tell the good guys from the bad. In every incident of note from the immediate past, whether it is the gold smuggling case or the Nirmala Pant rape and murder case, our cops have been found wanting – in terms of their character, competence, and duty to the public. In colloquial Nepali, ‘chor-police’ now sounds more like a description of our entire police force rather than a kid’s game.
And this description, as much as it is a sweeping and rather unfair generalization of the police, is not entirely unwarranted. Recently, our cops have been left dousing fires from one PR mess after another and the worst aspect of all of them is that none of these fiascoes have been about competence. One can understand incompetence because let’s face it, our police force doesn’t really attract the best and the brightest – just the willing. But these incidents have highlighted something far more insidious – a willingness to collude and aid and abet crimes and perpetrators.
In the Nirmala Pant rape and murder case, the police have been accused of tampering with evidence to protect the alleged culprits who are kith and kin of the high and mighty within the ruling party. This mind-numbing servility to politicians without a sense of morality or duty is quite literally one half of the problem of our entire police force. But can we expect anything more from an institution where appointment to the top post is the sort of farce that regularly plays out in public like a third-rate television soap? If the top leadership is a biennial circus of bargains, barters, and compromises with politicians, I suppose it is too much to ask the rest of the force to grow a spine vis-à-vis their dealings with local leaders.
What does it say about the police that in less than two months they have changed multiple cops in charge of the Nirmala Pant investigation? It has been a merry go round of SP’s, DSP’s and DIG’s – all of whom alarmingly could not or would not be trusted with the investigation. There can be no greater shame for the police force than this lack of trust but I suppose the shame barrier is just for us common folk – not our police leadership. All they have been content to do is suspend the rogue officers as a mark of contrition, to placate the masses and, more importantly, to buy some time to conduct a ‘thorough’ investigation, if that is even possible now.
Their strategy seems to have been twofold – wait for it to all die down or frame someone innocent. Once the first didn’t work out, our guardians of the law decided to frame a mentally ill man because they were too cowardly to stand up to local leaders and political influence. Once that didn’t work out either, it now looks like a case of buying some more time to revert to the original plan – wait for the furor to die down. But now that it has caught the attention of the public, the government hasn’t been able to ignore it.
But as is the won't of this government, there has been plenty of lip service by way of speeches and promises from ministers and the like, but little in terms of actual progress or intent. In our part of the world, the formation of a committee is usually an indication of the government dilly-dallying on an issue and in this rape and murder case we have had about four committees so far. If it takes a national level movement for our cops (and government) to spring into action on this particular case, then one can only imagine the experience of other rape victims in police stations across the country. It makes you wonder why we sacrifice our hard earned money to pay tax so that these reprobates can draw their salaries, only to serve their political masters.
There are widespread anger and resentment directed at the police and rightly so, simply because of this all-permeating sycophancy within the force. There is no black and white anymore, it’s all grey and I can’t remember a time when confidence in our police has been at such a low. Over the years so much black has already seeped into our men in blue that no one plays ‘chor-police’ anymore. They just play police-police. Seriously, who can tell the difference?
The writer loves traveling, writing, and good food when he is afforded an escape from the rat race. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org