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PM calls for police reforms, says: ‘Be soft on society, strict on those instigating it’

Attending the first convocation of Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU), an institution specializing in national and internal security, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday spoke about the need for radical reforms in policing, which he said had not been done since Independence, and sought a change in the negative portrayal of the force.

“The mool mantra (main goal) should be that in a democracy, one should be strict against those instigating society and soft towards society in general,” Modi said.

Addressing students of RRU, designated an institute of national importance, in the presence of members of the police, Armed Forces and paramilitary, Modi said, “Maybe a thought would have come to (your) minds today that once you wear the uniform, you control everything. Please don’t make this mistake. This will not improve the prestige of the uniform. Respect for the uniform will come from humanity within and an aspiration to do something for the oppressed, Dalits and women.”

The PM was present along with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and Governor Acharya Devvrat. Over 1,000 students were awarded their degrees.

Modi added: “Since the British era, the security domain in India has been part of routine law and order. The British, in order to continue their regime, used to recruit men who were tall, well-built and knew how to wield a baton. They used to organize challenges among the martial races in order to recruit and police’s job was only to wield the lathi against the Indian population so that the British could run their regime efficiently.”

Nothing had been done to change this negative perception of police, the PM said. “After Independence, a lot of radical reforms were needed. Unfortunately, we lagged behind. Because of this, even today, the common perception is that one should stay away from the police. Even our Army wears the uniform, but the perception about it is different, people feel relieved seeing Army personnel whenever they are in distress,” Modi said.

He added that it was “the misfortune of India” how police were portrayed in the media. “The most obscene caricature done is that of a policeman. Similarly, newspapers are filled with cartoons where the most obscene caricature is of a cop. Because of this, the truth is not reaching society. During Covid, we saw on social media several viral videos of how police in uniform served society by providing food and medicine. A humane image of police came out… However it stopped after some time. It was not that police stopped doing good work but due to the narrative set by some people, a negative environment has been formed,” Modi said.

Modi called for modernization as well as a humane approach. “We need to train and prepare such manpower who invoke trust among people. There needs to be a change in the training module. Brainstorming over such ideas ultimately led to RRU,” he said.

RRU was initially founded in 2009, as Raksha Shakti University, when Modi was the Gujarat CM. In 2020, the Center took over, and changed its name to RRU, apart from deeming it an institute of national importance.

Emphasizing the need for modernisation, he said news travels fast now and hence it is not possible to maintain order at one place and gradually move to another. “More than numbers, we need trained manpower which is aware of technology, human psyche, knows how to talk to young people and has negotiation capabilities during agitations.”

The PM said such capabilities meant those recruited need not be only physically fit. “I believe even our divyang (differently abled) brothers and sisters can become cyber experts and serve towards strengthening our security.”

In his speech, Shah said, “From 2002 to 2013, when Modiji was the CM of Gujarat, he took a holistic approach towards law and order and introduced modernization in policing. Under his tenure, Gujarat became the first state in India where all police stations were computerized. We want RRU to open its campus in every state of India.”

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