Are wards of policemen aberrant? ….Victims of neglect?
By Maxwell Pereira
mfjpkamath@gmail.com

In 2006, sons of two IPS officers hit the headlines - for wrong reasons! In one punished for rape, and in the second for rape & murder. Then a third IPS offspring committed suicide using her father's weapon.

In the first case it was Mohanti, reportedly the son of a senior IPS officer of Orissa cadre, alleged to have committed rape on a 26-year old German colleague on the night of March 20-21 in a hotel room at Alwar in Rajasthan. The conviction came just 22 days later. With the accused sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.10,000.

In the second case, much under media glare and intense debate still, Santosh Kumar Singh, son of a former IPS officer, convicted and awarded death sentence by the Delhi High Court on October 30, 2006, for offences of rape & murder allegedly committed on Priyadarshini Mattoo. In the third unfortunate incident just two days ago Mrinalini Rai - a senior Haryana cadre IPS officer's 18 year-old daughter in Delhi, shot herself with her father's weapon and committed suicide. There may perhaps be more such, but did not attract media attention.

Is there a message here? A disturbing trend? Need for introspection? Are IPS officers and policemen in general neglecting their families?

Without going into the merits of the cases mentioned or being judgemental, one wonders whether officers of this premier Service need to be concerned, for a course correction? True, such cases are not confined to IPS officers and their families alone. So the problem would appear to be more individual rather than generic. Even so by virtue of sheer visibility the IPS attracts, even a single incident is enough to brand and malign with the inevitable adverse societal fall-outs and devastating impact on the families involved.

There are reasons and reasons one can list. IPS officers and their family members do appear vulnerable because of factors peculiar - like the head of the family having little time for wife and children in the 24x7 busy schedule. There are the corrupting influences of pelf and allurements to which officers are exposed - the resultant side-effects making victims/beneficiaries (?) of family and wards. Even though it is believed that an IPS officer may have little time to relax or enjoy life, families on the other hand do get plenty of opportunities - at what cost and compromises is for anyone to guess.

Tensions can come from other quarters too. The increasing tendency among subordinate officers to put the blame on seniors when things go wrong. Police job being such that nobody can perhaps be perfect, there is always room for inadvertence when so much has to be done in so little time. When several important incidents/tasks have to be attended to simultaneously or in quick succession, priority is given to some to the detriment of the other. In an analysis this may attract adverse conclusions. A hundred successes are routine, may go unnoticed or unsung, but a single lapse is enough to mar and tar all the previous good work and reputation just washed down the drain. It is often the efficient one who prevents major incidents that gets ignored, and the one who lets situations get out of hand to be controlled later with additional help that gets more noticed and rewarded. Ask me, I have plenty of first hand experience on this score. Fire-fighting is appreciated more without asking who caused or facilitated the fire.

What about that much-trumpeted bane of all reason and efficiency - political interference and extraneous pressures. Not everyone's cup of tea, to deal with such! High stakes and high interference from powerful people and groups can take a toll too.

There have been reports of some officers having crossed the line in their quest for materialistic gains. And power, which the service provides in ample measure; tends to breed arrogance that can rub off on the family and have a devastating effect on at least some of the innocent and immature minds of the younger lot. Failure to correct early lapses does tend to multiply the problem later when attempt at correction may be too late. Unbridled power also gives rise to animosity, jealousy, broken hearts, disgruntlement, and service rivalry. Making enemies becomes easy, knowingly or otherwise, attracting adverse consequences. In matters of transfers, irrespective of who decides - political masters or a Committee appointed in accordance with the latest orders of the Supreme Court, the charm of some posts usually converts batch-mates into sworn enemies.

Cases involving IPS wards may be few and far between out of a plethora of cases occurring every day within society. It may also be true that the media blows such cases out of proportion due to the police being the visible hand of the state.

Who then suffers? How far have the members of the service gone and to what extent they themselves are responsible for the state of affairs? What are the consequences for the families? Is there need to halt and look back? One wishes one had the answers. The challenge is more important for younger members of the service as their kids are in their formative years where change in behaviour/ attitude is easier; and also because younger members in service are themselves in the formative years of their career.

While it is true that children of some officers have got into controversy, it is also true that children of innumerable IPS officers have done exceedingly well. There are also officers who were very dedicated and successful, whose children have been brought up exemplarily with good cultural values and very high standards of academic achievement. So there are two sides of the coin, with the brighter side far out-weighing the other. It is the endeavour to totally wipe out aberrant behaviour in police wards, which is something worth gunning for.

07.11.2006: Copyright © Maxwell Pereira; 3725 Sector 23, Gurgaon-122002; Tel: 0124-5111026; Available at mfjpkamath@gmail.com or maxpk@vsnl.com & http:/www. maxwellpereira.com

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