The Andhra Pradesh police department is facing some unique challenges which it has not encountered all these years.
In the endless battle to gain one-upmanship in the political affairs of the state by the principal opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and incumbent Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), the department is getting caught in the crossfire inadvertently.
Following this unsavoury development, Andhra Pradesh Police officers Association (APPOA) has issued statements more than once to clarify their stand and appeal the political forces not to drag the department into unnecessary controversies.
On December 18, TDP national president Nara Chandrababu Naidu alleged that even policemen were not safe in AP.
“A shocking and horrifying picture of what AP has become. This brazen attack on a policemen guarding MLA Velagapudi Ramakrishna’s office shows the extent to which the YSRCP ‘goondas’ have been emboldened,” claimed Naidu.
He shared a photograph in which a man was seen laying his left hand on the head of a policeman and attempted to give an impression that the ruling party workers were attacking the police.
A section of the media also pounced on this matter and publicised it in a similar tone and tenor. However, the police department immediately swung into action and refuted his claims with a fact check post.
“FactCheck: Respected leader of opposition party Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Sir your post is not correct. The allegations are false again. The YSRCP cadre was only helping (the) officer and massaging his injury after a fall,” asserted the police department in a Twitter post.
The department substantiated its assertion, sharing a series of photographs showing how the police officer fell down and a man rushed to his aid.
“Sir, request (you) to please refrain from such falsehood and spreading incorrect news. It will needlessly misguide the citizens and also demoralise policemen,” the department posted.
The police officials requested the TDP supremo to cooperate with them in maintaining law and order in the state.
Later, an elaborate press conference ensued in Visakhapatnam, in which the policemen explained what actually happened on that day.
A few days before this episode, members of the Andhra Pradesh Police Officers’ Association (APPOA) accused Naidu of encouraging the misuse of legal provisions against policemen.
“In a video conference, former Chief Minister Naidu encouraged filing false cases against policemen so that they are compelled to come for a bargain,” said an APPOA statement.
The policemen said a person like Naidu, who served as the Chief Minister for three terms, cannot stoop so low. They said that such statements from Naidu shows his faithlessness in law and related institutions.
The police have also expressed their displeasure over Naidu regularly targeting their chief, Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang.
“Your statements expose the belittling view you have on police and reflects your mental state,” the police highlighted, saying they recall the struggles they were subjected to during Naidu’s regime.
The police categorically told Naidu that his statements and threats will not scare or demoralise them.
Meanwhile, another worrying trend has also emerged in the state which has been immune to communal politics since inception.
A few political parties are politicising the secular nature of the police department, with the intention of dragging the department into these controversies for scoring political points.
Following a Christmas party celebration in a traffic police station in Vijayawada by a few off-duty cops, a few political leaders drew political mileage from it.
“Christmas celebrations by on-duty policemen is an insult to their uniform and oath. Had this been a Hindu ritual, secularists would have started shaming India. People of AP are observing state-sponsored promotion of Christianity. All must condemn this overstepping,” claimed AP BJP co-incharge and national secretary Sunil Deodhar.
He shared a video of the celebration 10 days ago, which was viewed more than 2.4 lakh times.
In a similar vein, AP BJP general secretary S. Vishnu Vardhan Reddy had also questioned the celebration.
However, an APPOA office bearer said the state police are dedicated to serve everybody, irrespective of caste, creed and religion and condemned the attempts by some political forces to communalise the department.
“When we did Ayudhapuja during Dasara, nobody pointed a finger at us but when a small off-duty Christmas celebration was held, some people were politicising it,” the police officer told IANS.
During Dasara, all the police stations carry out elaborate Hindu rituals wherein vehicles and weapons are also part of the ceremonies.
For 2020 Ayudhapuja, like most superintendents of police, East Godavari SP Adnan Nayeem Asmi has also participated in the rituals, wearing traditional Telugu dress.