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Why Do Our Police, The Largest In The World, Struggle To Prevent 'Cow Vigilante' Violence?

The answer to this will be found in Vappala Balachandran’s book “Keeping India Safe: The Dilemma of Internal Security.

Why Do Our Police, The Largest In The World, Struggle To Prevent 'Cow Vigilante' Violence?
Why Do Our Police, The Largest In The World, Struggle To Prevent 'Cow Vigilante' Violence?
outlookindia.com
2017-11-14T16:04:12+05:30

Why should India, ranked fourth strongest in military strength in the world with 1.3 million active and 2.8 million reserve military personnel look helpless in dealing with internal disturbances like the August 2017 “Panchkula” riots? Why should our police, the largest law enforcement system in the world with 3.1 million active policemen, find it difficult to prevent growing “Cow Vigilante” violence? How will this trend play out when India is expected to surpass China by 2030 as the most populous country with 1.5 billion population? Could government’s ambitious aim of accelerating economic development materialize without peace in the states?  Is our internal insecurity inhibiting Chinese tourists from visiting India as reported by New York Times (30 September) even as Indian visitors are preferring China as their No: 1 destination?

The answer to this will be found in former special secretary in the cabinet secretariat Vappala Balachandran’s “Keeping India Safe: The Dilemma of Internal Security” (Harper Collins) which was released in New Delhi on 29 August 2017 by former Vice President M.H. Ansari. Its Singapore release was on November 8, 2017 at the Singapore Management University (SMU) in the presence of dignitaries like Khoo Boon Hui, former Police Commissioner (1997- 2010), who was also INTERPOL president (2008-12), Chung Ying Lin, former Consul General, Mumbai, now with the National Security Coordination Secretariat and Susan Sim, Vice-President (Asia) for the Soufan Group, a leading global strategic security consulting group. Balachandran also addressed the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (7 November) and S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (10 November) on the book theme.

“Keeping India Safe” is a historical analysis why India's internal security has been neglected by all governments since independence as our Constitution makers did not confer a leading role to the Central Government to concurrently deal with serious disorders. This mistake occurred when our constitution makers copied Schedule 7 of the Colonial government’s 1935 Govt.of India Act as our new constitution’s Schedule 7 placing “police” and “Public order” with the states. The author quotes noted Oxford scholar David Steinberg on the real motive of the British government in enacting the 1935 Act:   “By giving Indian politicians a great deal of power at the provincial level, while denying them responsibility at the Centre it was hoped that the Congress Party, the only national party would disintegrate into a series of provincial fiefdoms".

                                       At the book launch.

Our constitution making started under British tutelage from 9 December 1946 with Cabinet Mission’s May 16 directive on a federation of Indian States with a “weak” centre. This was a straitjacket placed on us like how Kenya was treated with the “Lancaster” formula which they later abandoned. The author who studied the proceedings of our Constituent Assembly’s 283 sessions till 9 December 1950 says that this proverbial albatross hung on the Assembly’s neck could have been modified after our independence in August 1947. The founding fathers could have placed some concurrent powers with the Centre especially after witnessing serious killings in Naokhali and Tipperah in October 1946 incited by some nominees in the Interim Government. Alas, even then they failed to realize the danger of placing the entire internal security with the State Satraps. This peculiar system does not exist anywhere else in the world.

Thus the Centre remained a passive spectator in Panchkula although they were duty bound to protect the state from external aggression and internal disorder under article 355 of our constitution. This responsibility was also neglected during the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, 2002 Gujarat riots and the ongoing Cow Vigilant violence. In fact the Central government told the Supreme Court on 21 July, 2017   that the states, not the Centre, are legally responsible for controlling such crimes. In course of time this became the excuse for all central governments to neglect their constitutional responsibility under 355 as Schedule 7 overrode Article 355. This was evident even during the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai. The Centre knew that Maharashtra Government had failed to reinforce their security despite 16 Central intelligence alerts from 2006. Neither the Centre’s National Security Council (NSC) not their Home Ministry intervened.

On November 9 Balachandran also addressed Singapore police officers at the Senior Officers’ Mess on the new problems facing global counter-terrorist agencies now. The meeting was organized by the “Centre for Protective Security Studies” and “Home Team Academy”, Ministry of Home Affairs.

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