Citizens group seeks police reforms in letter to Telangana CM: Full list of demands

NAPM highlighted violations of constitutional and human rights, citing incidents of police excess, surveillance, privacy breaches, and abuse of power by the Telangana police.
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A citizens group on Tuesday, June 18, wrote a letter to Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy seeking a critical review of policing practices and unlawful surveillance. In an open letter, The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), highlighted police inefficiency to prevent the recent communal violence in Medak and expressed concerns regarding senior police officer P Radhakishan Rao’s confession of being involved in the phone-tapping case during the previous Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) government.  

NAPM highlighted violations of constitutional and human rights, citing incidents of police excess, surveillance, privacy breaches, and abuse of power by Telangana police. “With no details of policing procedures in the public domain, the police department has always been enforcing rule by law, resulting in the police becoming law unto themselves. We think it is high time there is a critical review of policing practices and unlawful surveillance practices including the infrastructure that was built over the last 10 years, considering its grave implications for civil liberties of common people, especially those from diverse vulnerable and marginalised communities,” the letter reads.

NAPM heavily criticised the use of digitalized policing practices, such as facial recognition and phone tapping, which have led to widespread fear and suppression of democratic activities like peaceful gatherings and protests.    

The citizens group has proposed several reforms to counter these problems, including a human rights evaluation of current policing practices, publication of an updated Telangana Police Manual, and the establishment of a high-level inquiry commission to investigate illegal surveillance activities. They also demanded the operationalizing of the Police Complaints Authority across all districts and installation of CCTV cameras in police stations to prevent custodial torture. It also called for the immediate cessation of the practice of Cordon and Search operations, stating that the military practice had no place in the societies of the state, they believe that the practice violates a citizen's dignity and privacy. 

Full list of demands:

  • Conduct a comprehensive human rights evaluation of various policing practices employed in Telangana by a retired judge. 

  • Publish the Telangana Police Manual, including all current policing practices, with a particular emphasis on intelligence activities. 

  • Appoint a high-level enquiry commission under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge, to investigate illegal phone tapping cases, issues of illegal surveillance, the surveillance infrastructure (360-degree profiling program), and the aforementioned policing practices. The commission should issue recommendations for reforms to make policing effective and compliant with constitutional and human rights standards, aiming to control crime while protecting the interests and rights of the public. 

  • Bring intelligence activities under judicial and legislative oversight to prevent the abuse of policing against democratic opposition. 

  • Conduct an enquiry into the police officials responsible for the custodial torture of Mohammad Khadeer Khan by Medak Town Police, leading to his subsequent death. Provide all necessary aid to his widow, Siddeshwari alias Farzana, and dependents, whose lives have been severely affected. 

  • Make the Police Complaints Authority operational across all districts of Telangana. 

  • Install CCTV cameras in all police stations and provide access to footage under RTI to prevent custodial torture, as ordered by the Supreme Court of India. 

  • Cease the temporary preventive detention of individuals involved in peaceful protests and provide more physical and democratic space for protestors. 

  • Take necessary steps for initiating appropriate penal action, as recommended by the report of the Commission of Inquiry led by Justice V.S. Sirpurkar, dated January 28, 2022, against police officers involved in the extrajudicial killings of four suspects: Mohammed Arif, Jolly Naveen, Jolly Shiva, and Chinthakunta Chennakeshavulu on December 6, 2019. 

  • Stop the targeted harassment of animal vendors by the police department, ensuring that all rules are followed. 

  • Cease Cordon and Search operations that violate the dignity and privacy of marginalised communities across Telangana. 

  • Stop the forced seizure of motor transport vehicles during Cordon and Search operations and strictly enforce the Telangana State Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, during any vehicle seizures across Telangana as ordered by the High Court of Telangana. 

  • Digitise warrants and upload them publicly. Ensure that no warrants are used without being produced by the police during Cordon and Search operations and other policing activities in the state. 

  • Cease Mission Chabutra and the excessive policing of teenagers in the old city, who are being indiscriminately targeted. 

  • Make the filing of petty cases transparent and provide legal aid to those being persecuted in courts. Ensure that the police do not resort to corrupt practices under the threat of court filings. 

  • Sensitise the police force by conducting fact- and law-based training on various issues, including human rights, privacy, community policing, and the rights of vulnerable groups such as Dalits, Adivasis, NT-DNT communities, sex workers, transgender, queer persons, and religious minorities. Provide modes of engagement for the community. 

  • Stop the arbitrary and excessive policing of gig and platform workers performing delivery duties at late nights. 

  • Address the KYC of cab drivers and auto-rickshaw drivers by the police department, ensuring that procedures and rules are followed without undue focus on surveillance. Include safety training for drivers in scenarios like customer harassment. It is demanded that the police department engage with the drivers' unions to understand and address their problems rather than imposing increased surveillance. 

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