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Misplaced priorities-the bane of governance!

In the wake of increasing Railway mishaps,sometime back ,a newly appointed Chairman of the Railway Board,in a closely monitored survey, had found out that  most of the staff meant for the maintenance of rail tracks, signals etc ,was actually working at the residences of the officials.One of my friends,who recently became Director of a very important government department when counted his class D employees,he was astonished to find out that 25% of them were working at the residences of the retired senior officers of the department.It may be true of many government departments,but actually i was reminded of such an incident,which happened more than three decades back.

In the police magistracy meeting being  held  at the police lines, in the aftermath of killing of two innocent citizens at the hands of the terrorists,an elderly deputy commissioner said with visible concern on his face,''Since such incidents have increased in the area,we should increase the patrolling and the number of barriers in the city, as well as in the rural areas.''The SSP said that he had already taken up the matter with the DGP for providing  more number of para-military forces and in whispers he also asked the deputy commissioner to speak to the Home Secretary  for expediting the matter.The concerned SDM wanted more policemen to be deployed in the town , it being highly volatile communally . He had also apprised that the town had also been placed  under curfew twice in the last 2 months .The SSP looked at the DSP of that sub division,who seemed already prepared with the answer,''Janab saade kol ttan nafri haini(sir, we do not have  the force) .The SDM was a very outspoken person and would not be satisfied without going into the details.He wanted that very tall and heavily built DSP should give him the details of deployment of available police strength in the sub division.That triggered the bickering and rise in temperature  in the meting hall .The deputy commissioner controlled the situation with overt embarrassment and perceptible difficulty.

Quite substantial portion of that area  situated in the foothills was suitable for plantation of fruit trees particularly Kinnus . The throw-away prices of the land had tempted many higher-ups to purchase land there as the construction and commissioning of Dholbaha,Chauhal,Mehngrowal and Janaurhi dams had  ushered in an era of assured irrigation to that perennially barani land.SDM had seen  police tents pitched at some places, but  he had not till then made inquiries as to  whether some people were actually living in the tents in those deserted areas and  in such colossally  dangerous times. He  started to  collect their details through the Nambardars, Chowkidars  and some trust-worthy Patwaris.He was astonished to know that the DSP, who was very vociferous in saying that sufficient number of police force was not available had purchased 25 acres of land and kept ten policemen in that land for its leveling and plantation of orchard. High ranking Civil officers, some even posted at Delhi had also invested in land purchases and through their contacts  had also got such tents pitched in their lands  for the same purpose.It was surprising that when it was considered unsafe to invest  in the state , so many people were investing here.SDM noted down the ownership details  and the number of policemen and civilians working at  6  such places .

In the next meeting of police and magistrates, it was proposed that at each police barrier a duty magistrate should be deployed.The deputy commissioner did not agree to the proposal on the plea that number of magistrates was limited and a magistrate would be put  only where  a DSP was performing law and order duty.Some police officers raised the issue of magistrates not being co-operative in detaining the accused under 107/151 Cr PC.Most vocal was the DSP, who had deployed his subordinate force at his newly acquired farm- house.The daring SDM then ,very politely explained that he had requested for a gunman for a number of times, but each time  it was turned down with the excuse that there was no Nafri. Deployment of sufficient force at crucially vulnerable places was  always being denied for the same reason Then he divulged the details of the Nafri ,which had been deployed at the farm-houses of the officers at different places.The meeting  room momentarily witnessed pin drop silence,before SSP said that he would look into it.The  revelation of nafri deployed at private farmhouses  was apparently surprising and eye opener for many.Improper assignment of jobs has increased over the period to make it a  regular visible feature and spectacle of misuse of power.

Recently,the Punjab govt has ordered that the police would provide food to the needy families of Covid patients at all hours.Is not the maintenance of law and order,the most essential duty and will not the duty of policing for citizenry,suffer colossally,if the police is deployed to serve food at all hours, though to the needy families of the Covid patients.Earlier the deputy commissioners had been ordered to start 'Sasti rasois' for the poor people.Who will govern, if the mainstream administration remains busy in cooking and serving food.Misplaced priorities of govt, have already made the administration hang in the mid-air.

Surinderjit Singh Sandhu

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