The Police is perhaps the most vital organization in any country which is required to ensure law and order and for protecting the rights of its citizens. Police personnel are perhaps the only civil servants who are vested with such powers to use physical force against the citizens while discharging their duties for law enforcement.
Having written this much, I would now briefly narrate an incident involving police, media, politicians, innocent citizens, business and the judicial system which happened a few years ago in a newly constituted state of central India. For obvious reasons I would not name any individual or organisation and would use pseudonyms instead when use of name cannot be avoided. I got associated with this quite unexpectedly and was later instrumental in saving the innocent individuals who got entangled in this whole episode quite inadvertently.
The CM took the help of some of his loyalist police officers for this purpose. The police was of great help to him to find the background information about the leaders of the HJP in the state.
By this time the CM was successful in capturing all the cable TV networks run by local businessmen in various cities and towns of the state and making a state wide cable TV conglomerate controlled by a company owned by his young son. The method he used for this involved the police and the stories of those were getting spread as rumours in the state. Such rumours were generating anger against the CM in the minds of the citizens of the state who were otherwise admirers of this intelligent and educated politician initially.
The CM perhaps wanted to know the source of money and income that made the defiant HJP leaders strong. He wanted his secret police to find out this.
This PSU carried out its business in mining and processing of ores to metallic products. It had a subsidiary unit some 250 km away involved with the production of a semi-processed manganese based mineral for its internal consumption. This material was called 'silico-manganese' which was a raw material much needed by the small and medium scale industries located in central India and hence was a commodity which sold like hot cake in the small industry sector.
This material produced by the subsidiary unit of the PSU used to be transported earlier in railway wagons. When HJP came in power in the centre, some strings got pulled here and there that the PSU decided to entrust the transportation of this material by road opening up a huge business potential to the private road transport contractors. Obviously with the right kind of political patronage, the local HJP treasurer's group soon became successful in getting this long term road transport contract for silico-manganese.
As the material was an easily saleable commodity with good industrial market, the contract terms and conditions included such provisions apparently to safeguard possible pilferage of this material en route. The trucks were required to cover the material with tarpaulin and seal it after loading and required to register their weights at the loading and unloading points.
The secret police soon found that the trucks on their way got diverted from the road, opened up and removed of one or two tonnes of the material and filled with an equal quantity of cheap unprocessed manganese ore before proceeding to the unloading area of the PSU.
The police is empowered to prevent this by arresting the concerned and taking up the investigation further. But in this case they were doing this secret investigation for a political purpose. Had they take the action, it would perhaps only make the employees of the trucks arrested and the case would degenerate to that of a petty crime. The political agenda of our intelligent CM was not this. He wanted solid evidence to book his political opponents. The police and the CM now knew the sources of a huge illegal income that goes to the HJP's state treasurer and the latter could be trapped if the PSU officially make a complaint.
But the PSU which handled millions of tonnes of such raw material apparently did not make a note of this small pilferage as they never made a complaint in this regard to the police. It is not entirely true that the officials of the PSU were totally unaware of the pilferage. There were occasional notings regarding the higher consumption of this material. Some members of the top management of the PSU were well wishers of the transport contractor that they did every thing to protect the latter from getting an adverse remark from any corner.
Hence the CM and his top police aids decided to give the PSU authorities indirect clues. The secret police staff were instructed to give anonymous information about the pilferage to the PSU authorities. This they began to do then. They would ring up some department official that they felt as appropriate and would give the information regarding one or two trucks that are entering the PSU premises with adulterated material.
They kept doing this on a regular basis for a few months and were expecting that the PSU authorities would take note of it and make an official complaint to the police.
But nothing of that sort happened. This perhaps infuriated the CM and his police brass against faceless employees and officers of the PSU. The reason behind this inaction from the PSU was due to the type of managerial system they adopted and note exactly due to the complacency of its officers or staff. Besides, there were influences from some individuals occupying top management positions in the PSU who were extra ordinarily interested in protecting the interests of the transport contractor rather than their company's interests.
At last some accidental events happened within the PSU that made the PSU to act on an anonymous call from the police informers. The higher authorities in the PSU entrusted a relatively new officer connected with this system to register an official complaint with the company's own security agencies which happened to be a central paramilitary force. The security officer took over a few trucks in to his custody after formally receiving a complaint from an officer of the PSU and an acknowledgement was given to this effect in paper. As the time was late in the evening, they all mutually agreed to complete all other formalities the next day. The officer who made this complaint from the PSU side was incidentally a friend of mine and I remember him narrating the incident in detail to me late in the night just after he returned.
But to my surprise, the newspapers in the next day morning came with headline news covering the details of the police unearthing a big scandal involving massive theft of silico manganese. There were detailed stories in the newspapers and an interview given by a minister of the state accusing a large scale conspiracy involving a criminal nexus of politicians, contractors and the PSU officers.
I was too surprised by the high efficiency of the news reporters. Here is an incident that was officially reported late in the previous night and the formalities are yet to be completed. But it seemed the newspapers were printed with all the details even before hand. How was it possible ?
That day itself, the top management of the PSU issued an order transferring about seven of its employees from various departments. That included my poor friend who made the official complaint to the security the previous night. Now the police seemed to be in full action and there was no mention anywhere regarding the complaint made officially to the security agency.
The next day the PSU suspended all these seven people who were issued with internal transfer orders. The newspapers and the local TV under the control of the CM carried detailed news coverage on the episode. I felt something fishy about the whole thing. I advised my friend to immediately leave the place to some other state, which he did, though reluctantly.
In another few days time the police arrested the HJP treasurer by making maximum publicity and through enacting a high drama, with the police team flying out of the state to arrest the person from a metro city and bringing him back to the state. Quite unexpectedly the police also arrested all the suspended employees of the PSU branding them as all criminals involved in such a national level theft of 'valuable resource' of the country. Involvement of suspected foreign hands were also publicized apparently from the police side. It should be remembered that the media in India gets its crime related news first hand from the investigators. Incidentally all the employees who got arrested were totally innocent and were quite unaware of the reasons behind the police being so cruel to them. At that time no one knew the political game plan of the CM in this and the support he was getting from his loyal police officers. They had nothing against these poor PSU employees. They were mere scapegoats of the bigger political game.
The police was yet to tell the involvement of the arrested persons and their crime. They did not. Then all of a sudden the police, through the media, informed the public that the kingpin of the whole crime was my friend who by the time had gone out of the state, though taking permission from his superiors. The news informed the citizens that the police would soon arrest the absconding PSU officer and then the details of the crime would be fully made known.
My friend belonged to a family of reputed lawyers of the country. They were having contacts in judiciary, politics and the like. But for the first time they felt the real helplessness in protecting one of their kins from the clutches of the law enforcement authorities for a crime in which he was not a part. In reality he was the person who officially reported the crime.
I was a silent observer of the events. When I applied my rational mind, I found the possibility of the CM and the police the way I explained earlier. I explained the situation to the desperate relatives of my friend. With their efforts a political leader from another state was arranged to meet the CM together with me. My job was to explain the things to the CM in a convincing manner.
We met the CM indeed. I found him very shrewd. He did not gave us much time to explain. But in the short time I could somehow made him feel that my friend is indeed innocent and also a hint that I know about the game plan of the CM.
To my surprise, in a short time we were directed to meet the police chief in the rank of an Inspector General who supervised the case. The officer was furious and reluctant to hear me initially. Had not the presence of a political leader from another state representing HNC by my side, he would have perhaps put me also behind the bars accusing a link in the case !
Then when I showed him a copy of the complaint which my friend officially made to the para military security officer with the security officers acceptance sign he was shocked. In their enthusiasm to proceed with their cooked up story, they forgot the possibility of such a document in existence !
He did not hide his frustration on the possibility of the police story going to burst to naught. Immediately he was eager to make a compromise with us. He admitted the failure made by the police in this by projecting innocent persons as criminals.
He instantly knew the advantage the HJP would gain if the story in this fashion goes to the public. It was better for the police now not to pursue the case the way they made up the case diary so far.
The IG promised us that the police team would not now go to arrest my friend and that the police would not make efforts in publicizing the case. He also hinted the possibility of the state police getting out of the case by handing over the case to the federal investigation agency.
My friend got saved from the arrest. His colleagues who were arrested earlier and were languishing in the jail as under-trials, got bail after three months to come out of the jail as the police did not file the case with the judiciary within the stipulated time frame of three months. Why they were in the jail could be a mystery for them even now.
No one can compensate my friend and his colleagues who faced such an ordeal for no fault of theirs. No one can compensate the agony and the financial losses their family members suffered.
Who is to be blamed for such kind of events in a democratic state of civilized citizens ?
Is there any hope for us to improve our systems of police, administration and judicial system so that they function in a manner that is suited to humans and not to barbarians ?
We need human minds for that and not barbarian minds !