Amaravati: When the nominal strength of a country is represented by its numbers and resources, this muscular development is dependent on the state and its internal organs and nerve system – upon its stability of control, morale, and supply. Should any of these three be disturbed, the very system collapses and chaos prevails.
This is exactly what former Chief Minister and Opposition leader of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu is doing brazenly to disturb the state police force ever since he lost power in the May 2019 elections. During the last 18 months, he has made several attempts – from levelling serious allegations against the police to instigating his Telugu Desam Party (TDP) workers against the state government and police personnel.
While addressing his party leaders and cadres through Zoom conference (a video clip of which is in wide circulation on social media), Mr. Naidu can be heard giving lessons on how to launch a tirade against the police. The translation of it goes thus: "You book cases on police, then they will fall at your feet. We should not keep silent if cases are being booked cases against us. We lodge an equal number of cases. If they book one case against us, we lodge two complaints against them.
If they don't take the complaint, you book complaints online and take acknowledgment. The DGP is talking every day about using technology in the police department, use the same technology. If that fellow does not act on our complaints, we shall reopen all such cases when we come to power in two years. We take action at the first opportunity."
The comments of Mr. Naidu are being viewed as "nothing but a malicious effort to instigate his followers and cadres to adopt wrong and deceitful practices and methods". He will create an issue out of thin air, talk about it repeatedly, make his leaders circulate it and gain publicity from his crony media and create confusion and doubts among the people .
Taking a step further, he had written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August and September this year, and on both occasions, he was spreading falsehood. In a letter to the Prime Minister, he alleged that the state government was "destroying democratic institutions by tapping phones of leaders of opposition parties, lawyers, journalists, and activists". As the allegation was serious in nature, the director-general of police, Gautam Sawang, shot off a letter to Chandrabbau Naidu the same day asking him to submit "such violations" for taking prompt and necessary action as per due process in accordance with law. However, the man with a 40-year-long political life failed to submit any information available with him to date.
In another instance, a street brawl between a vegetable vendor and the brother of a suspended judge was projected as an attack by YSRCP cadres by Mr. Naidu. The police have clarified the issue but the former Chief Minister continues to spread lies. A few days ago, the brother of the suspended judge was arrested by the police for withdrawing money from the account of his aunt who had died some time ago.
Mr. Naidu, who ruled the state for 14 years, is bent upon hitting the morale of the police force by making baseless allegations. It is mainly viewed as mud-slinging and it is the police personnel and their bosses who have to clean up the mess.
Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy has time and again asserted that the police need to work impartially. Cases were booked against several YSRCP leaders, their relatives, and cadres whenever they violated the law. No one was spared. The brother of an MLA from Rayalaseema was booked on serious charges a couple of months ago. However, during Chandrababu Naidu's regime, the then MLA Chintamaneni Prabhakar was allowed to go scot-free though he attacked and misbehaved with a woman MRO when she went against the sand mining mafia.
No action was taken against private money lenders of Vijayawada who, with the support of senior TDP leaders, sexually exploited women who took loans from them. Even senior IPS officer Balasubramanyam had to suffer in silence though he was humiliated in public by the then TDP MP and MLA in Vijayawada. There are scores of such instances where the police were directed to ignore their duties and spare TDP leaders and cadres.
On the contrary, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has issued clear instructions to spare none if they violate the law. Even the police officers were not spared if they were found crossing the line. A couple of officers were suspended and arrested within 24 hours of it being known that they had tortured and misbehaved with a Dalit youth. An officer of the rank of inspector was arrested and sent to judicial custody after he was held responsible for the suicide of a family in Kurnool district. When the accused secured bail, the state government had the bail cancelled and sent him behind bars.
Mr. Naidu's move is a cause of concern for the police force. The online system was introduced to address the concerns of common citizens, the vulnerable, and marginalised sections of the society so that they can access the services of the police remotely, from the safe environs of their homes. Indiscriminate and false complaints online filed with ulterior motives by TDP cadres will only strain the police force.
For the record, Andhra Pradesh police has made long strides in policing by introducing several reforms and through better use of technology. The Disha Act and Disha police stations for the safety of women was a trend-setting initiative and a few other states have adopted the same policy. In the last year alone the Andhra Pradesh police won an unprecedented 108 national awards for the use of technology and for bringing in innovations that transformed the police force and made it more transparent, accountable, and efficient in delivering services. Earlier this week, the state police came second in the country in implementing Interoperable Criminal Justice System.
The DGP, Gautam Sawang, said Mr. Naidu's comments are unfortunate. "It is very painful and disturbing to hear such comments from a senior politician. This is nothing but abusing an important organ of the system. AP Police has won 108 national awards for efficiency, transparency, and accountability during the last one year, which speaks volumes."
Amar Devulapalli is the Advisor, National Media and Interstate Affairs of Government of Andhra Pradesh