By now the horrific events of last weekend in Noida, UP has shocked and convulsed this largely thick skinned country of ours. The perpetrators of this heinous crimes against innocent children deserve to be severely punished to the full extent of the law for their dastardly acts and should not be shown any mercy whatsoever on any grounds.
But besides those criminals there is another reason why this tragedy was allowed to happen over such a long period of time like a sick saas-bahu serial without the perpetrators being tackled by the law enforcement agencies.
It is the story of the Indian tenured bureaucracy whose priviliged members are not accountable to anyone and is largely thought of as a mere nuisance which needs to be shamed, cajoled, bribed or occasionally threatened into action when needed.
But in reality, as this grisly heart rending tragedy shows, this irresponsible, incompetent and unaccountable bureaucracy can be quite deadly to the wellbeing of the people and our society at large.
The Victims’ families are telling disturbing stories of the Police stonewalling their complaints about their missing children for the past two years. In many of these cases the first 24-48 hours is most critical when the victims can be recovered as the leads are still fresh and the perpetrators might not have travelled too far with their victims from the place of the incident. But that is also the time the Police spend in trying to “convince” the victims’ families to go away and let them hibernate in peace and quiet.
One of the Victims’ “pestering” father was even told by the “irritated” Policemen that his daughter must have eloped and so he should stop trying to “force” them do their work and actually earn their salary. Later one of perpetrators was caught red handed when he started using this particular girl’s cellphone and then confessed to having murdered her.
On the other hand the Marxist dominated Indian media has a vested interest in pushing the line that the Police neglected to take action because the victims involved were poor and that they were far more “active” during the kidnapping of Adobe CEO Anant’s son back in November because he was rich and influential. Which like almost everything they say is absolute rubbish.
The one thing common to both Anant’s and this case is that the victims’ families took proactive action. They brought in all kinds of possible pressure on the irresponsible authorities to act. Infact they went one step further and solved the case themselves. Anant had no hesitation to bring in outside experts and shell out a huge ransom to secure his son’s release and the parents of the missing kids rummaged through the garbage dumps to find the victims clothes and other belongings, surveilled the suspects and caught the perpetrator red handed when he switched on the cellphone of one of his victims.
If this doesn’t show how irrelevant the Indian state machinery has become, one wonders what will?
This also shows why the Indian tenured bureaucracy system, a legacy of the British colonial days should go. The Police personnel in this case acted the way they did not because they were evil at heart but because it was not in their interest to show higher crime statistics for their Police station. It won’t look good in front of their seniors and could affect their career prospects. That is the reason why they are most reluctant to file complaints whether it is stolen or lost cellphones, vehicles or even human beings.
Keeping this in mind there is a need to think out of the box and discard whatever has been held dear and sacrosanct for so long and come up with new solutions to reform the system. The myth of the so called “Steel frame” of the bureaucracy lies shattered and needs to be abandoned for good.
We should start by scrapping the UPSC system and let in lateral entry and exit of qualified professionals and also amend the law to allow firing of bureaucrats for incompetence, corruption et al. There is a need to introduce currently non existent local governance by allowing direct elections to offices of Mayors and Sarpanchs( in villages) and let them have the power to appoint and dismiss Police commissioners (or let the people directly elect district superintendents in rural districts). These reforms will bring in much needed accountability and will end the quasi-colonial behaviour of the bureaucracy and make it more responsive and responsible to the People’s need as it should in a democracy.
There was an earlier talk of Police reforms by seperating the Law&Order and Investigating wings of the Police and “lessening” the Political interference in their working. But it will amount to just rearranging the chairs on the same deck. The real reform needed is to dismantle the colonial era hubris of the tenured bureaucracy as a whole and make it more responsive to the people and the rule of law at large.