New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) Leading professionals Wednesday joined Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to press for urgent police reforms in the country.
"Police reforms are the real need of the hour," Antony said on the occasion of a meeting on the subject convened here by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director D.R. Kaarthikeyan.
"Our policing system must change to be more sensitive and responsible to the people," he said in a message to the organisers.
Stressing that police reforms ought to be an integral part of good governance, Antony said the force must win the trust of the people through more and more accountability.
In her message, Dikshit said people at large had come to realise that "police should be more responsible, proactive and sensitive in order to ensure a sense of security and confidence".
Referring to the Dec 16 gang-rape of a young woman in Delhi who died, she said the outrage "has also made both the public and the government to join heads together to have fruitful interaction in this regard".
She demanded that training should improve professionalism in police forces and enhance their operational efficiency.
In his opening remarks, Kaarthikeyan warned that police would never be effective if they lost the confidence of the citizens.
Former Supreme Court chief justice R.C. Lahoti called for a return to the times when the beat constable was at the heart of the policing system.
Today, he said, ordinary people were afraid of approaching the police. This, he said, had to change.
Wajahat Habibullah, chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, said while minorities were treated better in India compared to many other countries, there were times when they were at the receiving end of police.
Echoing Dikshit's view, he said "proper training" was a must to produce more professional policemen.
Former CBI director Ashwani Kumar, now with the OP Jindal Global University, complained that thousands of cases were pending in courts, puncturing police efforts to bring the guilty to book.
Prakash Singh, former director general of the Border Security Force, called for a bar on criminals from contesting elections if police reforms were to succeed.
Management guru Gurcharan Das said the Dec 16 gang-rape was the first time when a brutal incident had led to a fast-tracking of the entire administration.
"We need to extend this treatment to all brutal incidents," he said.