No FIRs in toothless thanas

India on 08 November 2013
Location : Jharkhand | Source : The Telegraph

Want to report crime? Sorry, we don’t register FIRs.

At a time when everyone is ruing lack of basic policing in Jharkhand, which has activated sleeper cells of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) that orchestrated the Patna blasts, four police stations in capital Ranchi do not have the authority to lodge first information reports. Reason: a lazy home department did not find enough time in over half a decade to notify their powers.

The toothless four — Hindpiri, Daily Market, Sukhdeonagar and Gonda — exercise jurisdiction over high-security, VIP and minority areas (see chart), but have to run to their two parent police stations to file FIRs on a daily basis, an obligation that is time-consuming as well as nothing short of harassment.

While Hindpiri, Daily Market and Sukhdeonagar came into existence five to six years ago after authority of Kotwali police station was split, Gonda thana was carved out of Bariatu police station.

“A police station is created when an area gets bigger and deeper. After Ranchi became the capital, certain areas became more populated and commercialised. So, new thanas were made for better policing and speedy disposal of cases. We have sent several reminders to successive governments through the SSP for notification of powers of the new thanas, but to no avail,” a senior police officer said, requesting anonymity.

Candid Hindpiri thana in-charge Pramod Kumar Singh spelt out what existence meant without FIR authorisation. “You are like a head on a powerless body. If you don’t have the power to lodge a report, you can do little about investigations. The whole case goes for a toss,” he said, adding that the police station also lacked basic infrastructure and was being run from rented space.

A policeman at Sukhdeonagar couldn’t agree more. “Shuttling between thanas takes most of our time. There is already scarcity of resources and manpower, and with no FIR power, our job gets even more difficult,” he said, adding: “It also hampers probe. For example, when you redirect a person in trouble to another police station, chances are that he or she may take it as harassment and drop the idea of lodging an FIR altogether.”

V. Ram, the in-charge of Daily Market thana, said that though they try to initiate investigations as soon as a complainant approaches them, their flexibility and independence were limited. “One gets an FIR number only after it is filed. At times, owing to heavy pressure on Kotwali police, paperwork gets delayed and you can’t prepare legal documents such as a charge sheet,” he pointed out.

For overworked Kotwali and Bariatu, all this is more than just parental burden. It is chaos.

“We have to register FIRs for five thanas, including our own and the Pandra outpost. This naturally puts everyone under tremendous stress. As it is, we are under-staffed,” said Kotwali thana in-charge Arvind Kumar.

Special secretary (home) Sadanand Sahay feigned ignorance. “These were OPs (outposts), which were converted into police stations later, but I don’t know if FIR powers were allotted or not. I can tell you why the delay only after looking at the files,” he said, jotting down the names of the four police stations.

Do police outposts serve a purpose ?

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