About six months ago, soon after D Sivanandan took over as Mumbai police chief, about 30 builders pooled in Rs 1.5 crore towards the purchase of bullet-proof jackets for the police force.
Our police chief says the money will be returned. If a loan was required, there are agencies specifically for this purpose. Builders constitute private parties and this was done in a hush-hush manner. It is appalling that builders were told to “do something for the city”.
This is not like planting trees or starting a cleanliness drive. Who chose the manufacturing company? Did the builders recommend any? Was the entire amount paid by cheque? Even if it was, is it not possible that the firm would agree to pass on some bucks for tangible benefits in the future?
Former IPS officer and activist-lawyer Y P Singh termed this a gross violation of government directives...
“…to accept charity from builders defies the principles of the Constitution. There could be cases where the police may have to investigate complaints against them.”
Not only is this an issue, we have to consider how it buffers the image of a slow-moving bureaucracy and a police force in desperate need. Builders are known to flout several laws; some are from Thane and Navi Mumbai – the burgeoning satellite areas of Mumbai where rampant construction has been going on. What would they have to do with bullet proof vests? Is it customary for them to indulge in such charity work? Why were these particular builders chosen? We do not have the very prominent handful. Does that convey something?
Another point is that with almost everyday something fresh appearing on these bullet proof vests, the main issues are being sidelined. It appears to be a shield in many ways.