The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parallel centre in power ploy

Parallel centre in power ploy

Each week, Metro will ask its readers a question on current events. A selection of the responses will be published every Wednesday. Todayís question: Should the police empower local citizen groups with law-enforcing powers' More letters will be carried next week

Sunita Wadhwani,
S.R. Das Road.

No, because thereís no point in creating a parallel law-enforcing authority. Our beleaguered police force should, instead, encourage citizen groups to help them in discharging their duties.

Santosh Chakravarty,
Unique Park.

The suggestion seems ludicrous, as we are yet to grow up into mature and responsible citizens. If we are empowered with law-enforcing powers, more problems will crop up.

Naren Sen,

It is a queer proposal with an undercurrent of mockery. The police are entrusted with the duty of maintaining law and order. Is the force so incompetent that it requires public help' Local groups can be constituted to help the police in its work, but never to replace the force. The suggestion is unconstitutional.

Piyal Mukherjee,
Lake Town.

Itís an undesirable proposition, as the move may drag citizens into hazards in one form or the other. With people being sharply divided in political allegiances, local groups are more likely to work towards self-aggrandisement rather than for the common good.

Saswati Mukherjee,
Picnic Bypass Park.

In a way itíll be good if local citizen groups are empowered with law-enforcing powers. At least, they will be able to take care of their area by curbing hooliganism. But given our social set-up, where people are too willing to take undue advantage of their powers, it will be a real challenge. The police will have the added responsibility of monitoring these groups to see whether they are actually abiding by the law themselves.

Kaberi Ghosh Roy,
Dum Dum Park.

It is not a bad idea at all. The spurt in criminal activities and the inadequacy of police personnel have necessitated the formation of such self-help groups. But the authorities should ensure that the law-enforcing bodies donít have any political affiliation. Misuse of power will have to be checked.

Diptimoy Ghosh,
Salt Lake.

Yes, the move is necessary to some extent. Citizens lose the power to fight back against illegal activities when the police fail to provide them with security and protection of property. Hence, eve-teasing, rash driving and misdemeanours in public places are on the rise. Our law-enforcing agencies prefer to remain aloof and avoid interaction with common people. If such a situation continues to prevail, who would want to risk his life and guard othersí life and property'

Sunil Banerjee,
VIP Road.

The police should not empower local citizen groups with law-enforcing powers. This will create more law and order problems than it is expected to solve. Besides, maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the police, which they cannot morally shift on to the shoulders of the citizen groups. Common people know nothing about haw to tackle law-and-order problems and might misuse powers if they are entrusted with them, for which, again, the police will be held responsible.

P. Pramanik,
Santoshpur Avenue.

Yes, the police should empower local citizen groups with law-enforcing powers. Members of the group should be selected after proper scrutiny of their antecedents from amongst the eminent residents of the locality. This group will monitor the activities of the goons of the locality. If they do not pay heed to warnings, the local police should be alerted to keep a watch on them. The group members and their families should be given proper protection.

Saadia Sitwat,
Linton Street.

I see no harm in empowering local citizens with law-enforcing powers within limits. Not every cop is Sergeant Bapi Sen, who will risk his life for a stranger. Nowadays, the protectors of law are turning out to be the law-breakers. There is no option left for citizens except to take steps for their own protection.

Pritam Chakrabarty,

The police must never bestow their authority on the common people. There is a high chance of misuse, leading to corruption. People may take out their personal enmity on neighbours by making use of the authority vested in them.

Seraj Alam,

The move is highly commendable. It will help solve disputes locally, bypassing the law-enforcing authorities, who only delay the proceedings. But the empowered one must be cautious, highly esteemed in the locality and, of course, educated.

Asif Nadeem,

It would really be a great idea if law-enforcing powers are bestowed on local citizen groups. I think, this power should especially be given to all the senior citizens of the locality. Disputes can be resolved amicably, instead of going to the police station.

Tapan Pal,

For every Bapi Sen, the police maintains seven eve-teasing ruffians on its payroll. No gentleman would touch a group of people with such a numerical composition with a bargepole. Ultimately, ruling party-sponsored goons will be empowered by the police. That will not be a happy thing.

Kanai Saha,
Gauri Bari Lane.

Yes. Our society is now in the grip of criminals, where killings, robberies and eve-teasing take place in daylight. Under such circumstances, the police can form local law-enforcing bodies if they feel they are incapable of tackling the situation. Youths should be trained, if necessary, to ensure that the power is not misused by unscrupulous people.

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