Of Mafia and Police


Astaid blemish of Indian political scene is the mighty role of money power and the mafia. The obnoxious nexus between the mafia and the rapacious politicians is potent, particularly in States like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Recently, dreaded crime lord of Uttar Pradesh, Atiq Ahmed and his brother were eliminated. He is said to have sent a message to the Lucknow-based builder. In the message, Ahmed said his sons too will join the mafia, and there will be no postponement of settlements (The New Indian Express (Magazine), April 30, 2023). Intimidation, violent booth capturing or day-time murder of rivals–all these are common.

The politicians are blind to all these happenings. Ahmed’s empire remained strong even when he was in jail, mainly because his family is a powerful mafia. The mafia rule continues for decades. There were 100 cases against Ahmed, and his criminal career lasted for four decades. Why a notorious criminal was allowed to thrive for decades? The answer is: such criminals were close to the powers that be. Surprisingly, no politician, at the time of elections, promises to eliminate the mafia.

India has many democratic institutions, but they remain tenuous. It has been rightly observed by Ajit Prakash Shah, Chairman of the 20th Law Commission of India: “In India today, every institution, mechanism or tool that is designed to hold the executive accountable, is being systematically destroyed. It is not just the judiciary that has fallen victim to this. Parliament has already failed people during the pandemic. Add to this list, the Election Commission, National Human Rights Commission, the Information Commission, academia, the press, and even civil society.” (Interview, Seminar, February 2021. P,22).

Considering the situation serious, the Supreme Court insisted that each candidate has to:
1.   Submit a sworn affidavit giving financial details;
2.   Inform the political party in writing of criminal cases against him or her; and
3.   See that the party puts the names and details of such candidates on its website and other social media including newspapers.

The Apex Court further observed; “In 2004, 24 percent of the Members of Parliament had criminal cases pending against them; in 2009, that went up to 30 per cent; in 2014, to 34 percent and in 2019 as many as 43 percent of MPs had criminal cases pending against them”.

The police too are to be blamed. They indulge in favouritism and generally discourteous even to responsible people. The police ignore the complaints of the poor and un-influential people. Very often, the police officials themselves do not comply with laws. They are blamed for fake encounters.

However, the police are in a pitiable condition. As early as in 1979, the National Police Commission had observed: “long and arduous hours of work without facilities for rest and recreation, continuous employment on jobs under extreme conditions of stress and strain, both mental and physical have all had their telling effect on the morale of the constabulary throughout the country”.

Experts say the police should be insulated from political influence so that police is not misused for settling political scores. One should aim at creating and cultivating an institutional character, so that the common man finds a friend in police. Ideally, reforms in police administration and in the criminal justice system should go hand-in-hand.

For political reasons, the police is insouciant to mafia raj. The situation will improve if the police enjoy autonomy. Transfer and suspension are the most potent weapons the politicians to use against the police.

In India, police reforms have not been undertaken seriously. In 2006, the Supreme Court issued a slew of directives on police reforms. No serious attention was paid either by the Centre or the States. Many States have not implemented a single directive of the Apex Court. It is for the judiciary to step in and enforce the diktats it has passed (M P Nathanael: “Still Waiting Police Reform, “The Hindu, October19, 2020).

The courts should support the honest and duty-bound police officials. This would reduce political interference. Also, a strong message should be sent to the politicians by the voters that candidates supporting the mafia cannot come to power.


Back to Home Page

Vol 55, No. 48, May 28 - Jun 3, 2023