A week after Apple sales representative Vivek Tiwari was shot dead by a constable allegedly because he refused to stop his car, the UP police has announced a “refresher” course for its lower ranks. The first course starts on Monday and will last 12 days, according to state police chief OP Singh, who called the Lucknow shooting an aberration.
“We need the constabulary to change their mindset,” Mr Singh told NDTV, but adding that “by and large” people felt safe in UP.
“There have been aberrations in our police operations like the Lucknow incident. Training for our force needs to be redefined. Training for the last four-five years hasn’t met expectations,” he said.
Police sources say there will be special emphasis on training constable batches of 2015 and 2016, when the previous Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government carried out mass recruitments in the force. There have been allegations that the thousands of constables were not trained properly because there was no infrastructure to do so.
Prashant Chaudhary, the UP policeman who shot dead Vivek Tiwari in Lucknow, was from the 2016 batch. In his statement to the police, he said he fired at Mr Tiwari out of fear after the executive tried to run him over while trying to escape in his SUV. This version has been refuted by the woman who was in the SUV with Mr Tiwari. She says the constable fired to kill, and from a close range.
In the last few weeks, the UP police have been in the news for the wrong reasons.
Last month, the police in Aligarh in western UP called the media to a place where an alleged encounter was taking place and allowed the filming of the killing of two Muslim boys accused in the murder of a Hindu priest.
In Meerut, police personnel were on camera abusing and assaulting a Hindu woman for her friendship with a Muslim man. The only action has been a VIP transfer for the accused policemen to the Chief Minister’s home-base Gorakhpur and Varanasi.
“By and large we have been adhering to the law – the police engagement with criminals as per law. Our first aim is to arrest a criminal and not go for encounter in a fake manner. In Aligarh, the media got to know and that’s why they came there. Media was never called there, they came on their own. In Meerut, we are doing a departmental enquiry. The cops are suspended. Irrespective of whether they are transferred to Gorakhpur, Varanasi or even a Lucknow, it is for the impartiality of the whole thing,” Mr Singh told NDTV.