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Gateway to Sikhism

Misra Commission Report



The second terms of reference of the Commission is , “ to recommend measures which may be adopted for preventing the recurrence of such incidents ” that took place during November 1984 riots in Delhi and Kanpur as also within Bokaro and Chas Tehsils.

The Commission has found that the November riots occurred broadly on account of :

  • (i) So far as Delhi is concerned , the total passivity, callousness and indifference of the Police in the matter of controlling the situation and protecting the people of the Sikh community within the Union Territory.
    (ii) So far as Kanpur City , Bokaro and Chas Tehsils are concerned , delay in taking effective steps and the [police not being as effective as it should have been.
  • (I) Delay on the part of the Delhi Administration in calling the Army to stand by and to aid and assist it for controlling the situation :
    (ii) Delay on the part of the District Administration in calling in the Army at Kanpur.
  • Improper assessment of the situation by the civil administration at all the places of inquiry and inadequate arrangements to face the challenging situation at each place.
  • Lack of control over the anti-social elements and allowing them to combine, form themselves into riotous groups and taking over control of the situation at Delhi form almost three days, at Kanpur for one and half days and at Bokaro-Chas for a few hours.
  • Identification without least justification of the entire Sikh community with the two assassins of Smt. Gandhi.
Before the Commission, the Delhi Administration took the stand that it had an inadequate police force; the Kanpur Distt.Administration took the stand that its police strength had been depleted on account of deputation of a sizeable part of it to Allahabad and Hindu Sikh riots being unprecedented, the police and the Distt. Administration were not in a position to comprehend the size and the nature of the riots that followed. The Commission has found that the police at Delhi showed total passivity and callous indifference when called upon to perform its duty. The conduct of the Kanpur police though some what better, certainly failed to reach the professional standard. At Delhi and Kanpur the respective administrations canvassed before the Commission that on account of the strength of the riotous crowds far exceeding that of the police, the police could not rise to the occasion and meet the situation. The Commission has not been in a position to accept this stand as a sufficient cause for the conduct exhibited by the police during the riots. The ultimate conclusion of the Commission has been that what mattered was not the number but the will and timely action. At Delhi this appeared to be totally lacking.

Both at Delhi as also at Kanpur within the cities there are cantonments where Army units are posted. The plea taken by the Commissioner of Police at Delhi was that sufficient number of Army personnel was not available. It is a fact that several brigades from the neighbouring cantonments had to be moved there which took some time. At Kanpur there was no necessity to move more Army men from outside but the U.P. Government as also the Distt. Administration of Kanpur took the stand that the strength of Army personnel available at Kanpur was not adequate. This aspect has also to be taken into account.

The number of law abiding people in the community is gradually getting reduced for reasons which are more than one. It is not possible for any community to have as many policemen as people in the community. How difficult a situation of that type would be can be well imagined if India with a population of 75 crores of people would be required to have an equal number of policemen for the purpose of control. Then who will control the police will be an aspect for consideration. Methods of effective control with the minimum strength of the police have, therefore, to be found out.

Anti -Social content in the community is on the rise. One of the effects of modern civilization and particularly industrialisation, is the increase in the number of anti-social population. During any riot this action of the society jumps into the fray to fish in troubled waters. Once a hestile cutburs begins and people become aware that there is a crack in the social order that is conducive to the expression of hostility, an interesting phenomenon takes place. A rash of hostile action appears many of them motivated by hostilities which are not related to the conditions or strains that gave rise top the initial outburst of hostility. This building up effect in which individuals capitalise on the fact that an outburst has occurred, in a hostile crowd situation generally leads to riotous action. That is exactly what seems to have happened during October-November 1984. The complaint of the victims that the men in the riotous crowds were not mournful but appeared to be in joyful mood and temper while engaging themselves in criminal activity supports the statement. Both effective and efficient control of the anti-social elements is necessary to keep the community on even keel and avoid recurrence of such riots.

More important than this and a lasting solution would be to render proper attention to the people at large which would bring them up as ideal citizens trained to tolerate differences , prepared, to accept the philosophy of ‘live and let live ’, respect each others’ religion and foster universal fraternity. Government would not be in a position to undertake the job of training everyone in the community and, therefore, it has to be a people’s movement and the mass media has to be used in a proper way to fulfill this objective.

The forces that order the life of a small community make the policemen’ s task much easier instead of imposing requirements , the policemen has only to lubricate the mechanisms inherent in social relations and police action is needed only when the informal controls have proved insufficient. The bigger a society becomes, the weaker itself policing elements are likely to be . In the first place, when people are involved with those whom they are unlikely to meet again, there may seem to be less reward for honest dealing and if one party feels that he has been cheated, there is a less chance of his being able to bring informal pressure to bear upon the offender. Most contacts are impersonal and since the parties do not meet in other capacities, the informal controls cannot play so great a part. In the second place, in the larger community the man to man level for meeting does not take place and, therefore, personal relationship does not at all counts.

In a modern cosmopolitan city with a large population drawn from different communities with divergent attitudes, customs, habits and way of life there is no social cohesion. Great disparities of education opportunities and wealth exist. The growth of population has made life competitive and there is constant clash of interest. In industrial towns peace is disturbed every now and then on account of continuous friction between employer and the workmen. The new generation have no acquaintance with the great traditions of India. Cultural cohesiveness has become a myth of the past. Social control over the individuals is almost lost. In such a society every differences is likely to generate friction. Friction gives rise to clash an unrest and disturbs social peace and tranquillity. The demand for police attention in such a society has, therefore, increased almost hundred-fold.

This problem is a universal one. Even in a country like England where freedom has prevailed for many centuries, the standard of living is fairly high, education is widespread, the country is not large in size, the population explosion is not unusually high and until only a few decades back economic prosperity prevailed, there has been a steep rise in crime rates. Taking England and Wales together as shown in Ben Whitaker’s .“ The Police in society” (1979 Edn.), there used to be 1,00,000 crimes on the annual average between 1900 and 1919. By 1947 soon after the II World War, the rate of annual crimes had reached 5,00,000. By 1971, the figure touched 17,00,000 and by 1978, 26,00,000. The crime digest shows that figure in 1983 was 31,00,000. As in England so in India, there is a menacing rise in crime rates. Many of these crimes have serious social impact.

From the figures quoted below ( collected from the Delhi Administration ) the position of crime rate at Delhi on annual average is not different:


























The Commission has elsewhere in this Report indicated the rise in the population of Delhi. When analytically compared it clearly appears that the crime rate shows as steep a rise as the population.

Delhi has been one of the world ’s fastest growing cities . The annual rise on an average is about 5% . The city limits have also been fast expanding. As already noticed Delhi had 63 police stations and 25 police posts in November 1984. Proposal for expansion was long pending but no concrete action had been taken. After the riots the inadequacy has been realised and for the present in a phased manner twelve new police stations have been sanctioned and by now all of them have been opened.

The Delhi Police requires both quantitative and qualitative expansion. In a traditional community the auto-lubricating system of policing works. Such is not the position in Delhi. The outlying and less populated areas require more of police attention. The growing population justifies more of police personnel too. The entire Union Territory is getting urbanised . In another decade,or, at any rate by the close of the century,the entire Union Territory of Delhi is perhaps going to have a population of 1.5 crores. 150 police stations on the basis of one police station for a lakh of person may be the sound basis. Under every police station there should be one or two police posts depending upon the local requirements. Where the area of the police station is compact and well-knit,depending upon past experience, one police station for 1 lakh or even 1,25,000 resident may perhaps work efficiently. Where the area is spread out but the population is not dense there should be a police station on the basis of either 8 or population of 75,000. Each police Station should have an Inspector as SHO as at present and there should be another Addl. SHO. , 10 Sub-inspectors, 15 Asst. Sub-Inspector, 20 Head Constables and 100 Constables for every police station. These are details which have to be worked out by the Administration. The posts of ASI and Head-Constables should be filled up by promotion from Constables and at the stage of recruitment of constables full attention should be given for recruiting people of physical ability, mental capacity, alertness, serviceability and the like. Exhibition of a pronounced sense of duty should be one of the qualifications.

The Inspector should be a person with leadership and capacity to rise to the demands of any occasion. He should be fit enough to ultimately bear the en tire responsibility of the residents within his charge so far as law and order is concerned.

The functioning of the Delhi police requires change and improvement. It should have a Metropolitan city set-up and not a State set-up. In 1978, the system of Commissioner of Police was introduced with a view to giving it functional autonomy. But it has not worked up to expectations on account of multiplicity of authorities as also interference and pressure from different sources, particularly in the field of maintenance of law and order. Though multifarious powers are vested in the Commissioner of Police even by statute, he does not have freedom to exercise his authority by taking independent decisions all by himself. Perhaps, if the Commissioner of Police enjoyed the freedom the riotous situation could have been averted or brought under control more quickly.

In the Union Territory the administration is headed by the Lt. Governor. There is a Chief Executive Councillor and there exists a Metropolitan Council . Matters relating to law and order are discussed in the Council; the Chief executive Councillor at his level also looks into the problems . The Commissioner of Police is subject to the administrative control and is answerable to the Home Secretary . As already noticed by the Commission, very often or perhaps always the Home Secretary is a junior officer of the Indian Administrative Service while the Police Commissioner is a very senior officer of the Indian Police Service . This gives rise to a lot of administrative problems and embarrassment . In the Delhi Administration there is also a Chief Secretary . Delhi being a Union Territory and being the capital of the country where the seat of the Central Government is situate , the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Union Government plays a considerable part in the functioning of the administration . The agencies to oversee the law and order situation in the Union Territory thus appear to be too many and if the maintenance of law and order has to be made functional , the number of agencies should be reduced and the effective control should be left in the hands of the Police Commissioner and he should be held accountable to the Lt. Governor directly subject , of course , to the constitutional scheme of being overseen by the Union Government . The problems of law and order require quick attention and the bureaucratic control has , therefore , to be reduced by accepting a functional approach and the personal responsibility of the Commissioner of Police as the administrative and functional head of the police force should be increased .

There is rapid expansion of residential areas within the Union Territory . Several new areas have been coming up like Trilokpuri and Kalyanpuri in the East District . Sultanpuri and Mangolpuri in West District . These new colonies bring in tremendous increase of population and require lot of police attention. Not being fully developed areas for habitation there are several problems which would not exist in developed areas and in the absence of police intervention disturbed situations very often crop up . For policing in these areas special attention becomes necessary .

The Police Commissioner should be left exclusively in charge of law and order and should not be burdened with other duties like attention on dignitaries , of being present at the airport to receive and see off important persons from abroad visiting Delhi , attending meetings not connected with law and order , and the like . For this purpose and other aspects which the Police Commissioner is required to perform either by statute or under administrative rules and directions , an Addl. Police Commissioner should be kept in charge . Every Range or police district should be in charge of an Addl. Commissioner and he should have full responsibility at his level for the maintenance of law and order. Past experience shows that there certain parts where there is always smoke and fire is apprehended any time . That being the situation , greater attention should be given to those areas and the police should be called upon to play their role not only when trouble starts but throughout the year to ensure local coordination and elimination of sensitiveness and continued prevalence of normalcy . The Addl. Commissioners at the Range level should have effective control over the DCPs below them as also the ACPs and SHOs . Apart from the hierarchical discipline , a moral force and impact should be build up to regulate the relationship of the police authorities .

There should be more frequent meetings between the Addl. Commissioner at the Range level and his officers up to the SHO so that every development of any consequence should be within the direct knowledge of the Addl. Commissioner . Such meetings where the problems are discussed would not only help briefing the Addl. Commissioner in every important matter but it would also help the SHOs , ACPs and DCPs to be aware of the problem as also the reaction of the authorities. Keeping up such constant touch would generate a feeling of acceptance of the leadership of the Addl. Commissioner and a rapport between all the officers of the different grades and levels so as to bring about the right atmosphere for effective working . The experience of 1984 riots shows that there was almost total lack of communication in many areas . Though every police station had motor vehicles at its disposal which were fitted with wireless sets for contacting the police control room , there was very poor feeding of information and the higher officers who were away from the places of occurrence had no knowledge of the incidents. The Commissioner has found that this situation brought about a lot of difficulties in monitoring control . A more effective system of communication should develop and the importance thereof should be emphasised so that it may not at all be overlooked at the appropriate time . Since the Union Territory is not a very large area and is smaller than many districts in the States , in the event of outbreak of trouble of any intensity , taking of rounds in protected vehicles, if necessary , should be introduced .

In service training should be insisted upon and made compulsory . It should be strict , practical and utility-oriented . Acquaintance with modern and up-to-date gadgets as also handling of new arms should be developed during such training . For that purpose Delhi police should have actually a model Police Training College as also a Police Training School . Up-to-date facilities should be available in these institutions and greater emphasis should be placed on not only the essential training but also equipping the officers with developed means of control and policing . New techniques of controlling riots and the anti-socials should be brought honour to the police officers . Frequent exercises should be conducted to test the efficiency of police men . All types of new equipments and weapons which are found suitable should be placed at the disposal of the police officers while discharging duty at sensitive points . The Administration must not grudge expenditure. Security is the sinequa non of good government and is also the foundation of all development .

The police throughout the country , and within the Union Territory of Delhi in particular are called upon to do a lot of miscellaneous jobs . It is a fact that during the British regime the police were an instrument of oppression of the colonial power and traditionally were loyalists of the British masters . When independence came , the police force in India practically became the servant of the people . Its task ceased to be that of ruthlessly maintaining law and order for the benefit of the foreign ruler . While maintaining law and order as servant of the democracy , the police in free India have to be friends and guides of the people . They have to counsel for better and responsible civic life and have to monitor social activities keeping with the taste of the nation . The police have not only to ensure punishment of offenders but have also to help live , guide and counsel the offenders so that today’s offenders may be good citizen of tomorrow . These are challenging problems and the police as a service have got to be tuned to these requirement.

Experience shows that place like Delhi and Kanpur should have adequate reserves not only of armed police but also para-military forces. Even the strength of manpower in the cantonment may require to be increased. Recent experience shows that the disharmony in society has become the order of the day. Social tension has increased and every now and then problems of great magnitude occur which unless immediately attended to and contained are likely to have nation-wide reprecussions. Like fire, unless controlled at the earliest, such disturbances are likely to spread and devour every part of the country. Without any loss of time additional force available near about may be commissioned and made effective. The Commissioner agree with the principle accepted by the Union Government that the Army should not be deployed too frequently in civil disturbances and, therefore, more of CRPF and BSF personnel should be posted around Delhi as also cities like Kanpur. Riot squad with modern training should be available in riot-prone areas.

The beat system should not only be re-introduced but strengthened. Under the direct control and supervision of a Sub-Inspector attached to the police station, two or four constables in a group and properly armed should be on their regular beats. Several offences take place in broad day light. Taking advantage of the fact that the male member of the family is an office-goer, even in crowded areas where there is a lot of movement serious crimes are committed. Beat system, therefore, should not only be resorted to at night but in certain areas it should be continued even during the day. The Constables on beat duty should be kept under watch and there should be proper monitoring. The Commission has recommended separately for building up of a civil protection force in every area. The beat constables must develop proper rapport with them so that they gather information of incidents taking place in their areas and with the help of the local residents they are in a position to exercise their authority in an effective way. The information so collected should be passed on to the police control room in due course for such attention as the information may deserve.

At the police control room a computerised system should be introduced and a set of capable people competent to give instructions and directions must always be available to immediately react to information received from different areas. A squad should be available at the police control room with proper transport arrangement to reach any support without loss of time to meet any emergency. The police today are called upon to discharge very hazardous jobs. In the seventies, as Whitaker mentions, on the average 700 policemen per year received injuries upon assault by the people in England and Wales. In India the figure must be very high. In recent times, hundred of policemen are killed while engaged in discharging duty. One of the demands of the police everywhere is provision of better conditions of service in recognition of their occupational hazards. The Commission is inclined to agree that there is merit in the stand and Government should consider this aspect favourably so that a better outturn of performance can be obtained.

The Commission is of the view that to keep up the efficiency of the Delhi Police, provision should be made to transfer officers of all cadres of the Police Service excepting Constables, Head- Constables and ASIs. In the case of these three categories, transfer should be permitted only when delinquency justifying posting out is established. In order that transfers may be feasible, steps have to be taken to change the Service Conditions and perhaps a combined card for the police in the Union Territories may be made. In order that the national capital may have an efficient, effective and model police force, good officers from the State cadres should be brought into it either on deputation or on permanent basis.
The police should enjoy a considerable degree of public confidence as also a measure of real popularity. As Dr. Michael Banton has pointed out :

“ A policemen is a kind of professional citizen, administering the moral standards defined and accepted by his community . . . . .He earns public cooperation and esteem by the manner in which he exercises good judgement in performing his duties, and the foundation of his good judgement is an awareness of the public’s point of view. He is a Defender of the Peace, more than an Enforcer of the Laws, possessing authority as well as power. His authority gives him the willing obedience of the public, thus including a moral element which compels obedience which is not necessarily rightful . . . . He will suppress his personal feelings in disintegrating troubles to identify with his Department if it is committed to professional policing and has a morality of its own . His role should be based upon the moral authority of his office rather than its legal powers. ”

This would be possible only if the police is free from political interference . Government must realise that the police are meant to serve the community and are not intended to be used for serving the political cause of the party voted to power . The delinking must take place so that the morale of the service may increase and the police man may become and remain accountable for discipline of the force to its authorities and to no other agency.

Better control over anti-social elements is an absolute necessity. Surveillance over bad characters and anti-social elements in Delhi is very out- moded and ineffective . Though history sheets are required to be maintained police-stationwise and each District is supposed to keep a watch over the bad characters living within the district , the system has remained ;more on paper and there is hardly any effective surveillance . Many of the bad characters live in one district and operate in another ; others even live in the neighbouring States and taking advantage of the geographical location they find it easy to operate here . There are several known sensitive spots where almost every day there is some incident . Surveillance at the police station level is totally ineffective when the anti-socials operates within another police station. The anti-social also keep changing their residences with a view to avoiding the police eye as also for exploring new areas of exploitation . In such circumstances unless control is centralised it is difficult to meet these situations . The police should try to keep the capital of the country free from anti-social elements to so far an extent as possible . Real and adjudged bad characters should be externed from the capital by appropriate legislation and by exercise of statutory authority . Instances where the police are found to have joined hand with anti-social elements should be drastically dealt with and no mercy should be shown to such police officer—high or low—and repeated conduct on more than one occasion should bring about dismissal of the police officer from service . The Commission has found several instances of police joining hands with anti-socials to be more or less true and its Investigating Agency has also recorded similar conclusions . The reputation of the police at the national capital cannot be of such low order.

The Commission is alive to the situation that the police are often accused of aggravating and inciting tension . These accusations are often untrue ; however , they probably arise because the police are necessarily constantly involved in incidents relating to public order . Ordinarily , they will be blamed by certain segment of the society for what they have done ; and they will be blamed by another segment for what they have not done . Yet , there are occasions when both or all segment of the society do join in recognising their good and timely act.

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