Return of People’s Police Scheme feared with LDF’s comeback

via published on May 12, 2006

Pioneer News Service | Kochi

With the LDF capturing power in the State, the People’s Police Scheme (PPS), which many allege as a move to politicise the police and use them for political vengeance, is bound to make a comeback.

The People’s Police Scheme (PPS) was brought forth during the LDF rule in 2000, when EK Nayanar was the chief minister, and the scheme came under heavy fire from the then Opposition parties, who stated that it was intended for targeting opponents in panchayat/ward level.

Under the PPS, a vigil committee consisting of citizens (read CPM activists) would be formed in wards or panchayats under the leadership of a police head constable, and this committee would investigate petty crimes and ‘ensure’ justice.

Police officials point out that an experimental implementation of PPS proved to be more harmful than good. When robberies became rampant in Kochi, citizen groups were formed to guard neighbourhoods. Later on, police officials themselves admitted that the groups themselves were creating law and order problems.

A police official said, “We are short-staffed as it is and have difficulty in effective patrolling. When the citizens’ groups came to help us, they became more of a burden than help. We were forced to concentrate on controlling them as members of such groups began to behave as super-police.”

There were also media reports of people being manhandled by citizen groups engaged in night vigil on suspicion; and in a recent incident, an employee at the Port Trust was severely beaten up while he was returning from office early morning.

While the citizen groups in Kochi were authorised only to detain suspicious persons, think of a PPS group, consisting of CPI(M) activists and sympathisers, confronting a political opponent at midnight. A senior police official said, with strict direction to avoid his name, “If PPS is brought back, it will result in misuse of the powers of police. They (CPI-M) already create law and order problems. If they are given authorised power, the people will suffer. A people’s police organised by the government will be that party’s police.”

The schemes implemented by the CPI(M) often benefits only its cadres and PPS will not be different, said another police officer pointing out that the grants given out in the People’s Plan scheme during Nayanar regime were so. The PPS will be controlled exclusively by the CPI(M) and manned by subsidiary organisations like DYFI, SFI and CITU, he said.

Even smaller constituents of the LDF opposed the move to introduce PPS in 2000 stating it was CPI(M)’s attempt to politicise the law and order machinery. They also voiced their concern that PPS would be used to wipe them out and establish CPI(M) as the only Communist Party in Kerala. CPI State secretary Veliyam Bhargavan had said, “We are opposing to the People’s Police Scheme as we are not convinced of how it would help the people.”

BJP former State president CK Padmanabhan had also opposed PPS describing it as CPI(M)’s agenda to gain control of police functions. The implementation of PPS would lead to the handing over of police administration to local leaders of CPI(M), he said.

The BJP alleged that it would bring back the cell rule, which was existent during the rule of the communist ministry led by EMS Namboodiripad

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