Protection of individual liberty and freedom of expression most important in democracy, says Home Minister Amit Shah

Protection of individual liberty and freedom of expression most important in democracy, says Home Minister Amit Shah, the vie

Democracy is not just elections, but protection of individual liberty and freedom of expression that police ensure by maintaining law and order, Home Minister Amit Shah said Saturday. He was speaking at a function organised to commemorate the 51st Foundation Day of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D).

“Democracy is not just elections. In democracy, the most important thing is protection of individual liberty and freedom of expression. It is the idea that India’s 130 crore people should be able to realise their potential according to their ability. Its cumulative benefit goes to the country. If law and order is not proper, democracy cannot succeed. Law must protect people’s rights given by the Constitution. That will lead to the progress of the country,” Shah said, pointing out that it is the police which provides that protection.

The minister said democracy did not come to India in 1950, but was part of the nation’s nature. “When I see the debate on democracy people mention parliament, judiciary and other institutions, but I feel that it is the beat constable who has made democracy successful. But for some reason there has been a campaign to malign the police. Only bad news gets coverage, while the good work done by the police is ignored,” he said, adding that the BPR&D must work to improve the image of the police.

At the event, Shah also felicitated weightlifter and Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Saikhom Mirabai Chanu who was present in her capacity as Additional Superintendent of Police in Manipur. “When I heard that you took lifts from truck drivers (to go for training), I realised how much more we need to do for sports,” Shah said.

Protection of individual liberty and freedom of expression most important in democracy, says Home Minister Amit Shah, the vie

The minister said policemen have the most difficult work and when people celebrate festivals cops get busy maintaining law and order. “There should be documentation of all the good work and sacrifices made by the police. Documentaries should be made and shown to children by the BPR&D. More than 35,000 policemen have sacrificed their lives for the country in these 75 years. This is our work and the BPR&D should do it,” Shah said.

The home minister said without the BPR&D there could be no good policing. Law and order is a state subject. “All states have different political dispensations, with different ideas and thoughts. Different states have different laws and different challenges because of their geography. BPR&D is the link that binds all the police forces together. If this link is not there, the law and order of the country will disintegrate,” Shah said.

He advised the organisation not to get stuck in routine, but to re-imagine itself based on emerging challenges. “Cyber and drone attacks are the biggest challenges today, along with drugs and hawala rackets. We must study the best practices in the world and prepare our police forces. Sharpen yourself. Speed it up,” he said.

Reminding officers of the new challenges on the border, Shah said the BPR&D must work on modernising the central armed police forces and improving their efficiency. He asked the agency to come up with an institutionalised system to ensure that police reforms reach the ground.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, who was also present at the function, said the police had to learn a lot to fulfil the expectations of people. “When the force is big, there are all kinds of people there. This is where leadership matters. We need to shape public dealings in a way that perception improves,” he said. CCTNS has been implemented in 16,276 police stations across the country and all kinds of data from the police to the judiciary is being added to it, Bhalla added.

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