Analysis by Ex-IPS VN Rai
In the ongoing bitter debate between Patanjali and IMA, the strength of saffron clad Ramdev is not as much Ayurveda and Yoga but the vote bank he commands among the followers of a vast superstitious constituency. That gives him the confidence to pose beyond any political or legal rebuke. He has proved himself a successful businessman all these years by aggressively marketing his pseudo-science and feels entitled to the same guiles in cornering a portion of the huge Corona pandemic loot.
The literal meaning of pseudo-science is a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific. A pseudo-science validated investigation would still reduce the application of law into a legal motion but without the corresponding integrity. Such a policing approach would often portray its efficiency in terms of controlled statistics and not mind measuring its professional impact by political ratings.
Policing in India has traditionally remained a mixture of science and pseudo-science. A combination of professional skill, human element and logical technology on one hand and on the other hand a vicissitude of illogical belief, patronised loyalty and manipulative efficiency. It has been simultaneously served by the best of brains and the worst of brawn.
Though the CBI was conceived to be different but with the Emergency era playing havoc with administrative institutions, it proved only a matter of time and harder push. The rot started in the nineties and there was a throttle effect on display during UPA-2, when it was called a caged parrot by the Supreme Court. And ever since the Modi regime occupied the saddle, those boundaries have been stretched beyond recognition.
The pandemic era policing is courageous but no different. As if working on a time-tested cue, it mostly marches on in tandem with the power politics. The 'sudden' surfacing of hundreds of dead bodies in UP rivers, cannot be explained otherwise.
The public furor was followed not only by intensive riverfront patrolling to choke the desperate abandoning of the suspected Covid bodies but even taking recourse to removing the tell-tale signs of their existence, without conducting autopsies and further investigating into the doubtful circumstances, as mandated under the law.
During the ongoing second wave of Corona crisis the police, by and large, have been spared from copying their brutal indulgence witnessed during the first wave in the name of enforcing lock downs. But, is that sufficient?
It is most confounding that black marketing and cyber cheating of essential drugs, life-saving supplies and medical equipment, and even exorbitant marketing of ambulances, hospital beds and cremation facilities, all visible crimes, have flourished with no effective strategy to check them.
There took place three universally acknowledged super-spreader events in the country contributing to the second Corona wave, each sufficiently highlighted and yet relentlessly prolonged. The no-covid-norm assembly elections in 5 states including the most recklessly contested 8-phases in the state of Bengal, the month long Kumbh in Haridwar attracting uncontrolled devotees in millions and the free for all Panchayat elections involving one lakh villages across UP.
Lurking not far behind is the six-month-old massive Kisan dharna at the Delhi border which has the potential of turning into yet another super spreader, notwithstanding the central government choosing to remain aloof. These super-spreaders owe to the partisan political decisions but their pandemic fall out in terms of law and order are handled by the pseudo-science of policing.
The Madras High Court did castigate the Election Commission of India functionaries as murderers for letting pandemic norms to be flouted at will during election campaigns but stopped short of directing registration of criminal cases. The Allahabad High Court went to the extent of categorizing the deaths due to Oxygen failure as genocide.
These deaths were definitely a result of the culpable mismatch between demand and supply that preyed on its victims in tandem with a hierarchy of access to the medical facilities. There was a strong case for the police to be thoroughly looking into the criminal negligence of the concerned quarters had they followed up in accordance with the science of policing.
In contrast, Allahabad High Court had to intervene and strike down an FIR registered by UP Police against a person for terming Yogi's administration a 'jungle raj' in a social media post. Former Bihar MP Pappu Yadav's is a classic case of kettle calling the pot black.
When he exposed BJP MP's idle hoarding of ambulances in spite of the acute shortage during pandemic times, he was promptly arrested by Bihar police invoking a three-decade old dead FIR. Since then, several instances of hoarding of essential drugs and medical equipment by ruling party politicians have emerged but hardly any criminal investigation worth the name was launched as follow up.
Can a new look CBI take up the challenge? Recently, two of the regime's known IPS loyalists were ignored for the post of Director CBI by the high-profile selection panel by invoking a 15-year-old police reform ruling of the Supreme Court. It barred a person having less than six months of service from consideration as police chief.
It is believed that the Chief Justice of India insisted on this count and the Leader of Opposition supported him, reducing the Prime Minister to a minority in the panel. This development is significant as the CBI stood at the verge of dwelling deeper into a pseudo-scientific profile.
While the fight against Corona has come to a stand-still in urban India due to acute vaccine shortage, rural India is seized with a superstitious fear of vaccination fueled by the lack of awareness. While quacks are having a field day, the inflammatory debate on Ayurveda vs Allopathy has been allowed to take the center stage. With the police looking away, a CBI intervention in the malicious propaganda against the health fraternity would have made the difference. Admittedly, that day is far off.