IIT alumni as cyber crime Inspector!

Recruit IIT students as Sub Inspectors or Inspectors to investigate “highly complex” cyber crimes and those with degrees in social sciences to probe social crimes like beggary and prostitution.

This is what a NITI Ayog report ‘Building Smart Police in India: Background into the Needed Police Force Reforms’ suggests while arguing for reforms in the force to make it strong and efficient to deal with challenges.

The report calls for changes on three fronts – boosting capacity and infrastructure, legislative and administrative changes and technological scaling-up.
It says that specialised crimes require a specialised approach and personnel to deal with them.

For dealing with cyber crimes, the report suggests that students who have done Master of Computer Application (MCA) or passed out from an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) could be recruited as Sub Inspectors or Inspectors under State CID.

The report suggests that such recruits should not wear uniform and work in plain clothes to avoid detection.

It also argues that social crimes like beggary, prostitution, crimes against women, domestic violence and dowry offences should not be handled in a routine manner by a traditional policeman.

“Experts suggest that it needs to be handled by a separate wing with people like students who have graduated in social science/social work,” the report says.

The paper authored by Suparna Jain and Aparajita Gupta also argues for transferring police from State List to Concurrent List.

Flouting of public order at state level often snowball into a national crisis and it has to be addressed through “extreme emergency” provisions. Along with this, rapid increase in inter-state crimes are also cited for the need for bringing it under Concurrent List, it says.

However, the report points out that this measure would require a Constitutional Amendment, “which could be difficult”. An alternative could be declaring certain crimes, which have inter-state or national ramifications like terrorism, organised crime and sedition, as federal crimes.

The report also cites the opinion of experts who argue for the setting up of NCTC, a controversial proposal for setting up an anti-terror agency. Several states have objected to the proposal mooted by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram after the Mumbai attacks, arguing that it weakened federal structure of the country.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Nov 29, 2016)

Rich Beggar!! A short film on a demonetised Indian

Demonetisation has not just provided a fertile ground for social media jokes but a short film too, may be the first on the subject.

The 4:35 minute silent short film ‘The Rich Beggar’ by young Malayali filmmaker Jeevesh Onchiyam, has hit the ‘You Tube’ describing the travails of a middle-aged man who is forced to beg for money despite having wads of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which were demonetised.

Scripted and directed by Jeevesh, the short film starts with the man approaching a restaurant where he was not allowed to eat after he first enquires whether they take the demonetised currency.

It goes on to depict his failed efforts to get the currency changed. A woman even offers him Rs 500 when he asks for money but he rejects it. The film ends with the helpless man counting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

“The decision to make a short film was spontaneous. Initially, I thought of penning a Facebook post. But then I decided to make a short film,” Jeevesh, who has directed two more short films, told DH.

“I met several frustrated people who were not able to change the money. I too had problems,” he said.

Jeevesh’s cameraman Sajit Vista had no second thoughts to wield the camera when he told him about the idea. Sajit also had tough time after he faced difficulty in dealing with a medical emergency.

Asked why the film, in which theatre artiste Prakash Nandi plays the man in trouble, does not have a dialogue, Jeevesh said that was not a conscious decision but the thought occurred after some people who saw it before dubbing felt that it was communicating better.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Nov 28, 2016)

Nabha jailbreak: Focus back on lax security in prisons

The sensational jail break in Punjab’s Nabha, which comes a month after the fleeing of suspected SIMI terrorists from a Bhopal prison, has once again brought to focus the lax security apparatus in such facilities.

Grave manpower crisis and overcrowding are plaguing the jails across the country with Punjab itself recording a worst record in both counts. Over 40% of positions in Punjab jails are vacant at a time 118 prisoners share the space for 100 there.

The prison authorities have not learnt the lessons that it ought to is evident as it comes against the backdrop of official statistics showing that Punjab is among a few states that has reported incidents of jail breaks or prisoners escaping from inside or outside jail.

If one goes by the track record of Punjab police, the chance of re-arresting those prisoners who have fled from inside or outside jails are negligible. Last year, 32 prison inmates fled from custody but none of them were re-arrested while in 2014, 20 of the 42 were captured.

The daring attack on the jail by a group of men in police uniform to free five men, including Khalistan Liberation Front chief Harminder Mintoo, also showed the failure of the security in the jail as well as in gathering intelligence.

A senior official said the armed men had the audacity of attacking the jail and it exposed the chinks in handling of security. Earlier, Punjab Police had faced flak for not being able to prevent the terror attacks on Dinanagar police station and Pathankot airbase attack.

The attackers knew about the laxity in the security system. That is an area of concern. We cannot afford to have such jailbreaks especially in a border state,” the official said.

The manpower shortage appears not helping the jail officers to keep a close tab on the prisoners. The Punjab jails also have reported one jailbreak, one incident of firing and six incidents of clashes inside the prisons.

According to official statistics, the vacancy in Punjab jails above the national average of 34 per cent. While there are 3,676 sanctioned posts, the government has filled only 2,185.

There is a huge shortage of wardens or matrons – only 1,129 is deployed where the need is 2,182. The Punjab prisons also have no welfare officers or psychologists appointed despite provisions for it.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Nov 28, 2016)

Fighting fake notes: first plug loopholes

Demonetisation may help government in curbing fake currency for the moment but it will be back to square one if enforcement agencies do not plug loopholes in controlling circulation of such notes.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), authorities have seized 4.41 lakh counterfeit notes with a face value of Rs 20.98 crore in the first six months of this year, of which 2.19 lakh notes are of higher denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1000.

The statistics suggested that this year’s seizures may not surpass last year’s figure of 8.86 lakh notes with a face value of Rs 43.83 crore.

The fake currency seizures over the years – only around one per cent of the fake notes in circulation at any given point of time – is just the tip of iceberg, if one go by the remarks of Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju.

Fake notes with a face value of Rs 70 crore are being pumped into India every year and at any given point, there are counterfeit notes of Rs 400 crore in circulation, Rijiju has said. However, on an average, the seizure of fake notes is Rs 40-43 crore annually in the past couple of years.

Fake Note Seizure in 2016 (Till June 30)

Denomination Rs

No of Fake Notes









Others (20, 10, 5, 2, 1)




Officials said the exercise of demonetisation will put a brake on circulation of fake currency of higher denominations but the counterfeiters could find ways to circumvent it. “The question is how we are going to augment our efforts to weed out fake currency from the system,” they said.

The figures also show an interesting trend. Though the government has demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the counterfeiters have not lost interest in Rs 100 notes also, as the seizure shows.

An analysis showed that the seizure of Rs 100 notes (1.44 lakh in number) is higher compared to Rs 1,000 (98,522) fake notes this year.

Same is the case in previous years too. While 2.22 lakh fake notes of Rs 1,000 denomination were seized in 2015, the number of such notes of Rs 100 notes was 2.87 lakh. In 2014, it was 1.94 lakh notes of fake Rs 1,000 and 2.16 lakh notes of fake Rs 500s.

Since 2013, over 18.34 lakh fake notes in the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were seized and it had a face value of around Rs 115 crore, around 78% of the total value of fake notes seized.

(Nov 20, 2016)

Fidel’s bond with India, Indira

Fidel Castro had a bond of friendship with Indira Gandhi better highlighted by the iconic image of the Cuban Communist patriarch embracing the then Prime Minister while handing over the NAM chairmanship to her in 1983.

Castro too had a word of advice for her son Rajiv who succeeded her while warning him about V P Singh, asking him to “not to trust” him. For Castro, Indira was a great leader, great woman”.

The Cuban revolutionary had glowing remarks about Indira while handing over the Chairmanship of Non-Alignment Movement or in his message after her assassination.


“We saw her disappear amidst flames, while her people, her descendants, and statesmen from all over the world surrounded the funeral pyre in respectful silence. And we recalled the august calmness with which, years earlier, she had indicated that one day she also would, with resignation, give up her life in a holocaust for the unity of her nation,” Castro had said in his message after Indira’s assassination.

Castro is a man who never leaves an opportunity to engage in a discussion on India. Whether it was in 1980s when Indian leaders met him or during his 2006 meeting with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

After a discussion on a range of issues, Castro requested for a photograph with Singh, saying “I want this photograph to be seen by one billion people.”

Senior Congress leader Margaret Alva also recalls her meetings with Castro in her autobiography ‘Courage and Commitment’ where she talks about his queries including on Emergency.

Alva recalls Castro wanting her to convey to Rajiv his misgivings about V P Singh when she met him in mid-1980s.

I have been a friend of his mother (Indira Gandhi), I have admired her. She was a great leader, a great woman. He must follow in her footsteps – not depart from her policies and programmes. Otherwise, he will have problems. And second, tell him not to trust his Finance Minister (VP Singh). He is conspiring against him. He will stab him in the back. He is a dangerous man. Rajiv must be careful,” Alva quoted Castro in her book.

Alva replied Singh was a “Gandhi friend and supporter”, and Rajiv depended on him for help and advice. “He shook his head gravely and said, That is not good, not good,” Castro said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Nov 27, 2016)

Communal Trouble, Police

Localities having 22-40% population of Muslims are more prone to communal trouble, a retired IPS officer’s study for a government think tank has said.

The controversial remarks are part of the study ‘Précis on Crowd Control’ by retired IPS officer P P S Sidhu, which was submitted to Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The study, which was shared with states earlier this year after BPRD’s Training Division evaluated it, deals with crowd psychology, use of force to control crowds and regulated control of crowds.

“Areas which have a population containing 22-40% Muslims are generally more prone to communal trouble. The situation is compounded further if this area has a large percentage of refugees from Pakistan,” the study says without elaborating in a section “some common perceptible features” of communal riots.

It also points out that interested parties may plan an incident or disturbance in advance due to political or economic reason while warning the police against equating the aggressor and the aggressed while handling the disturbance.

“In most cases of riot, the accused are not successfully prosecuted because of their large numbers and because of lack of proper evidence. Thus, violators are able to escape the clutches of law to disturb peace time and again,” the study notes.

Apart from the “known evil” of Hindu-Muslim differences, differences between Hindus and Sikhs and between Hindus and Christians have also taken root in different parts of the country. The divide within the Hindu community on the basis of caste and language has “gradually been widening”.

The study also put the blame on resurgence of fundamentalism and militancy amongst various communities on political parties which indulge in communal issues. “Issues which in the past remained local, have now started assuming national proportions because of the communalisation of politics,” it said citing Rameeza Bee case and Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.

It cites handling students as the “most difficult task” as they are “unreasonable and will readily indulge in minor acts of looting (usually eatables fruits, etc.) and vandalism on the slightest provocation”.

“Severe action against them by the police only leads to public sympathy for the students. This is so because of the involvement of a large cross section of the public with them as the students are regarded as immature children,” it added.

(Nov 15, 2016)

DMK MP for quota for women in govt jobs

Dismayed at low representation of women in country’s workforce, a DMK MP in Rajya Sabha is pitching for a 30 per cent quota for the fairer sex in government jobs.

Tiruchi Siva, the MP from Tamil Nadu, has moved Women’s (Reservation in Workplace) Bill in the Upper House on Friday for 30 per cent reservation for women in jobs and promotions in establishments owned, controlled, managed or financed by the central and state governments.

The move comes at a time women constitute only 10.93 per cent or 3.37 lakh of the 30.87 lakh central government workforce. Women account for 48.5 per cent or 58.74 crore out of 1.21 crore population, according to the Census 2011.

The situation is very grim in police forces across the country as women count only for 6.44 per cent and in paramilitary a paltry 2.28 per cent though government has announced it is taking measures to have 33 per cent women in forces. The Public Sector Banks are among the very few exceptions where 24 per cent of the employees are women.

“Women in many parts of the country are kept away from active participation in the workplace. The Bill aims to ensure that women find a respectful position in the society by bringing an end to the discrimination meted out to them,” according to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.

The bill notes that the promise of equal opportunity for women have lingered as a “mere promise” since independence and women are deprived of employment opportunities however much they are qualified and deserving.

“The reason why I brought this bill is because it is high time that the women community is unshackled from their discriminatory status in the society,” Siva said.

The Bill expects the private sector may “voluntarily” decide to provide equal employment opportunities to women and Centre could take steps to incentivize private sector.

Though the number of women in government sector has increased over years, activists complain that the growth is slow and they face discrimination at the time of promotions too.

According to Census figures, 67,369 women (2.51%) were in central government services out of 26.99 lakh employees in 1971. The number rose to 2.91 lakh (7.53%) in 2001 and 3.11 lakh (10.04%) in 2009.

“The proportion of women employees has been steadily increased till 2006 and thereafter remained static as it stood around 11% in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011,” the Census 2011 report said.

(Nov 19, 2016)

‘Death penalty unimaginably evil, sovereignly stupid’

The death penalty is a “macabre folly” whose continuance is “not just unimaginably evil but sovereignly stupid”, writes Gopalkrishna Gandhi in his new book on capital punishment.

Gandhi says abolishing death penalty is about doing away with the “most sullied symbol of a sullied system” that “mimics and perpetuates” medieval blood sports in crime and punishment.

In ‘Abolishing the Death Penalty: Why India Should Say No to Capital Punishment’, he acknowledges that the surge in popular calls for “collective retribution.

He argues that that the prevailing social attitude to death penalty, “coloured by a revulsion” over Nirbhaya case and rage over terrorist attacks, should not influence the State and those at the helm.


“The death penalty is a macabre folly that swings between tragedy and idiocy. Its continuance is not just unimaginably evil but sovereignly stupid; its termination will not just be nobly element but wholly and supremely and incontestably intelligent,” the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi writes.

“To abolish the death penalty is end the mentality that treats the convict as a toy passed by a public’s insatiable appetite for retribution to a power that indulges that macabre trait,” he says.

Arguing that India has an abolitionist trend, Gandhi feels the opposition to the hanging of Bhagat Singh suggested it. However, he argues the tide changed with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi as it might have “militated against abolition”.

Several private member bills and resolutions moved in Parliament during the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru, who favoured abolition, failed and cites the one moved by actor and Rajya Sabha nominated MP Prithviraj Kapoor in 1958 among others.

Mocking India’s reluctance in doing away with capital punishment, Gandhi says abolishing death penalty and shaming torture into retreat are, “by the state’s light”, not masculine steps. “A state that wants to be in the (UN) Security Council thinks it should be seen as tough on terror, no matter if it is rough with rights,” he adds.

Lamenting that terrorism has taken execution debate to a “margent hazy with smoke of hellfire”, Gandhi believes that there is a “social sentiment, political compulsion and above all, the state’s izzat (prestige)” that compels it to retain it.

Public is always “death-penalty minded” and the acts like the Dadri killing and the lynching of a prisoner in Nagaland “show a mindset that is entirely comfortable with the death penalty”, he writes.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Nov 17, 2016)

Speak up before next bullet hits you

…when we kill people we feel compelled to pretend that it is for some higher cause. It is this pretence of virtue, I promise you, that will never be forgiven by history – Sea of Poppies/Amitav Ghosh

India appears to have transformed into a country where people have selective visual and hearing impairment. They have developed a special knack for listening only to what they want and see what they want to. Nothing could propel a collective outrage even if the very idea of their country is challenged. They would love their macho policeman to shoot the unarmed at point blank because they believe he is a criminal, like in Bollywood flicks Singham or Ab Tak Chappan. It was no different for the recent Bhopal encounter too.

(Videograb of the encounter)

Tapes – both video and audio captured by eyewitnesses – on the encounter killing of eight men accused of being SIMI terrorists have surfaced, questioning the intentions and genuineness of the operations. The eight men scaled the prison walls after killing a 57-year-old Head Constable and walked into the darkness. Then came the information about an encounter 12 km from the jail. The undertrials fired and policemen responded in “self defence”, police claimed. Jubiliation followed but the script changed soon after TV channels aired visuals captured on mobile phones, whose authenticity has not been verified.

Two-three videos made its way to TV channels that contradicted the police version. One of the videos showed the SIMI men, who were unarmed, waving and policemen firing at them. A second video showed a policeman firing at a prisoner, who was already suffered bullet injuries, in cold blood while another was seen taking out a knife-like weapon from the body of a dead prisoner. Days later, audio of exchanges between personnel and senior officials on wireless sets emerged. From what transpired it was clear that police did not want to catch the undertrials live. Contradictions and unanswered questions also galore as days pass. How did the SIMI terrorists get out of the prison, who gave them the arms, why they could reach only 12 km from the prison even after 12 hours of their escape and how locals were allowed to gather at the encounter site? Perhaps, it would be the first encounter where locals merrily shoot the operations while firing was on. More questions would follow like why the CCTVs were not working in the ISO certified prison, which does not have adequate staff.

The genuineness of the operations came under cloud with opposition, activists and the National Human Rights Commission raising doubts. But Central and state ministers believe that questioning the forces is an undemocratic and unpatriotic act. A central minister felt that questioning the encounter would affect the morale of the force. The Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Sanjeev Shami feels that his men can shoot anyone even if they are unarmed. The ‘SIMI men were unarmed, so what’ was his retort. What does it mean to a citizen when a policeman is overheard saying in an audio clip that the senior officer has approved the killing and that it is a blessing that we have such superiors? A lie perpetrated by prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who handled the Ajmal Kasab case, has been used by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan (terror suspects are fed with chicken biriyani in jails) to give a clean chit to police. He conveniently forgets that prisons in his state do not serve non-vegetarian food. Chauhan also easily sidesteps the question of Rule of Law.

(Bodies of SIMI terrorists who were killed in an encounter after they escaped from)

A new trend appears to have swept the country where it is an unwritten dictum that police and military are above criticism. When the civil society points fingers at the forces, if they question how police can shoot an already injured suspect as seen in one of the circulated videos in blatant violation of every international conventions, they stand the risk of being isolated and branded anti-national. However, police and public conveniently forget that it is the same civil society, which took on political leadership when policemen came under pressure, be it in Karnataka or elsewhere. It is dangerous if civilian supremacy is eroded by insulating the forces from accountability and criticism for their unlawful actions.

Question here is not whether the undertrials killed are terrorists or not. The courts will decide it. Even if they are terrorists, the question is, can police kill them when they are unarmed. Can the civilian leadership turn a blind eye on the pretext of boosting their morale? One should not forget that several terror suspects had walked out of jails for want of proof or court castigating police for planting evidence. Only in 2013 Delhi Police had egg on its face when they tried to frame a former Kashmiri militant Liyaqat Ali who returned to India to surrender. One should not forget that it is not terrorists alone who are undermining the country but those in seats of power also do the same when they ignore Rule of Law. Indians should never forget what Russian writer Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote ‘whenever truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie’. Because your silence may be the licence for the police to aim at you.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald’s Spotlight on Nov 13, 2016)

One-tenth of medically certified deaths are of infants: report

Around ten per cent of medically certified deaths in the country are those of infants who have not celebrated their first birthday, according to a latest government report.

In this age group, the maximum incidence of death has been reported to be caused by certain conditions originating in the perinatal period, including hypoxia and birth asphyxia, at 73 per cent.

These findings are part of a ‘Report on Medical Certification of Cause of Death 2014’, prepared by the Registrar General of India. It is based on the analysis of 10,66,221 total medically certified deaths by 33 states and Union Territories. Of the 10.66 lakh deaths, 1.05 were those of infants.

The shares of male and female infant deaths to the corresponding totals of medically certified deaths are 9.8 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively.

This is followed by other conditions originating in perinatal period (15.3%), other infectious and parasitic diseases (6%), congenital abnormalities (4.3%), septicemia and heart diseases (4.1%) each, Other Respiratory Diseases (3.8%) and  Pneumonia (1.9%).

In the age group 0-4 years, it is 11.4 per cent. If one takes the cases of death in the age group of 1-4 years by excluding those below one year old, it is only 1.5 per cent. In this age group, heart diseases were the main villain with 17.9 per cent deaths followed by other infectious and parasitic diseases 14.8% and unintentional injuries and Septicemia  (7%).

The report also showed injury and poisoning are the leading causes of death among youth in the country. The age group of 15-24 years accounted for 4.8% of the total while it is 6.9% in the 25-34 age group.

In 15-24 years, the major cause of death was due to injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes at 26.4%. Similarly in the 25-34 age group, it was 20.7%.

According to the 215-page report, death due to diseases of circulatory system topped the list with 31.6% followed by symptoms signs and abnormal clinical findings not elsewhere classified (13.2%) and Certain Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (11.9%).

Other major causes included diseases of respiratory system (7.8%), certain conditions originating in perinatal period (7.2%), injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (7.1%), neoplasm (5.4%) and diseases of digestive system (4.4%).

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Nov 11, 2016)

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