Open cases lingering for years, unsolved cases, reluctance to solve petty crimes, not enough seriousness or manpower allotted for theft cases all these accusations have tarnished the image of the executive at large. Repeatedly the higher officials in the force and politicians have reflected on the need of the police to improve their image and be in a more acceptable position to citizens. However, the drives of PR to smoothen the relationship between the common public and police, and attempt at a better perception of the integral force has been met with a lukewarm response. However, an incident took place that is bound to question the accountability of the police once again. The chain of events went like – theft of a car that took place two years ago, the owner filed a complaint, the police couldn’t find the car. But in a parallel timeline of the same incident, the same police force had been using the stolen car for two years.
Omendra Soni, the owner of the car, said his vehicle was stolen from Barra area from a car washing centre on December 31, 2018. He said he had lodged an FIR with the Barra police but the vehicle could not be found. On Wednesday, he got a call from KTL service centre enquiring if his vehicle was running fine after the service a few days ago. He was shocked to be told by the centre that the vehicle had been returned to station officer, Bithoor police station, Kaushlendra Pratap Singh, after servicing.
“I was surprised at the query. I was told my details were with the centre due to a previous servicing of my Wagon R, that is why the call was placed for feedback,” he said. “I went to the service centre and I was told that the vehicle was returned to SO Bithoor, Kaushlendra Pratap Singh on December 22 after servicing,” he said as reported by Hindustan Times, wondering why the police had not informed him about having recovered his stolen vehicle.
Station Officer Singh, in his defense, claimed he had found the car abandoned after which it was seized. However, he did not elaborate on the date when the vehicle was found. As per the procedure, Bithoor police should have informed Barra police about the recovery of the car. However, Barra police confirmed that it did not receive any intimation from Bithoor police. When Singh was asked how a police officer could use a seized vehicle as it was not permissible, he did not answer.
Left red-faced, the police brass has ordered an inquiry into the case. IG, Kanpur range, Mohit Agarwal said using a seized vehicle was against the law. The entire case would be inquired into and anyone found responsible would face serious departmental action.
This is a serious lapse of communication on the part of the police and shows that the system cares little about cases that aren’t high profile or is worthy of media attention. Why the police station under whose jurisdiction the car was stolen would not enquire about the origin of the vehicle, the place it was stolen from, or the actual owner is baffling. Going back to the issue we began this article with, the secret of the lukewarm response of the public to the image improving drive of the police, are incidents exactly like these. To improve their image, more than billboards and PR drives, what is of utmost importance is that the force starts to genuinely follow procedure, rules, and regulations, and care about its citizens.