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Dear Anurag Kashyap, you made Gangs of Wasseypur, you should know that real problem India faces is this

Yes, Anurag, every Indian life matters. But what also matters is that we diagnose a problem properly. Because if our diagnosis is incorrect, we will never solve a problem.

Dear Anurag Kashyap,

I recently came across a tweet of yours on social media where you were quote tweeting someone when they asked you a question about being selective in your outrage and you replied by saying “तभी तो कह रहे हैं क़ानून बना दो लिंचिंग के ख़िलाफ़। नाकोईमरेगा, नाकोईमारेगा।“ (That is why I am saying make a new anti-lynching law, no one will die and no one call kill).

So essentially what you are trying to say is that the reason people get lynched in India is that we do not have a specific anti-lynching law which specifically deals with this crime and the moment a law like this gets drafted we will solve the problem? So as per the current state of affairs are you claiming that people in India can basically lynch each other? So every other act of violence and murder is bad but hey if a bunch of people get together and go and kill someone via lynching him/her that is cool?

Sorry to break it you, Anurag, but lynching is not legal in India. And no the solution to random acts of violence committed by a group of violent thugs no matter what denomination they belong to will not be solved by another law. India does have a problem, I agree with you on that limited point. But what I disagree with you on is about the degree, nature, causes and solutions to the aforementioned problem.

India does not have a lynching issue. India has a law and order issue. So the first thing we need to start with is phrasing the problem in the right manner. Once we do that we get a far better and a more holistic view of India’s problems. India is one of the most under policed nations in the world. To quote directly from a recent article in the livemint “The sanctioned strength of the police across states was around 2.8 million in 2017 (the year with the latest available data) but only 1.9 million police officers were employed (a 30% vacancy rate). As a result, according to Mint’s calculations, there are only 144 police officers for every 100,000 citizens (the commonly used measure of police strength), making India’s police force one of the weakest in the world. India’s police-to-population ratio lags behind most countries and the United Nations-recommended ratio of 222.”

A cursory glance at the random spread of violence across India gives us a clear cut indication that the Northern states (Cow belt) have a disproportionately high level of incidences (West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh being in the same category). The immediate question that one should ask if they saw such a trend would be what is the police to population ratio in these states. And guess what Anurag, these states have some of the poorest numbers for the entire country. Once again as per this article “Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal’s police forces are all extremely understaffed with less than 100 police staff for 100,000 population.”

To add to the chaos as if this story is not depressing enough the overall spending by state governments on police in India has actually gone down from 4.4 % of the total budgeted expenditure (Between fiscal 2011 and 2015) to 4% over the last four years, according to PRS Legislative Research. But yes, we need a new lynching law and automatically all these crimes will stop isn’t it?

India has had a long and detailed history of different committees being formed under different governments that have recommended police reforms. Between 1977-1981 the National Police Commission presented 8 reports on police reforms, this was followed up by the Ribeiro Committee recommendations in 1998 and then we had the Padmanabhaiah Committee in 2000. Each committee dealt with a wide range of issues which included subjects like budgets to be allocated by states, modernisation of the police forces, and interference by the political class in the working of the police forces in general. Last year the Supreme Court instructed all the state governments to execute the directives issued by the court in 2006. But guess what, not even a single state government has done anything about it.

I went through your open letter which you had co-signed with 48 other ’eminent personalities’ in detail. In the entire letter, all I found to my disappointment was political posturing and basically a wrong diagnosis to a recurring problem in India. India did not become violent in 2014 Anurag, India has been a country with huge swaths of land where we have no sense of law and order since 1947. I thought as a creator of the movie Gangs of Wasseypur you of all the people would have actually recognised that.

I do not want to cast any aspersions on you. In fact, I appreciate the fact that you are concerned about the lives of innocent people. But, if you really want to solve this problem of law and order in India what you and the 48 other co-signatories of that letter should have demanded was the immediate implementation of police and judicial reforms in India. By the way, I also want to add that I was equally disappointed by the reply to your letter by the 62 celebrities. It seems as if they also are more interested in countering your arguments with emotions rather than substance.

I guess that is how we deal with things in our society. We are more interested in virtue signalling and faux emotionalism. I wonder how many amongst the 111 celebrities have actually read the 2018 Lokniti report on the status of policing in India. And if anyone of you has read it then it saddens me that in spite of reading the report none of you bothered to mention the words “police reforms” even once in your letters to the Prime Minister. It says a lot about where our priorities lie.

The aim of this letter is not to put anyone down. The aim of this letter is to request all the ’eminent citizens’ of India to start fighting about the things that matter to the average citizen. Yes, Anurag, every Indian life matters. But what also matters is that we diagnose a problem properly. Because if our diagnosis is incorrect, we will never solve a problem. I hope you do read all the links that have been provided in the above letter and convince all your 48 like-minded and 62 not so like-minded friends to write one more letter to the Prime Minister together and many more such letters to the Chief Ministers of different Indian states.

India desperately needs police reforms. And if you really care about these problems (which I assume you do) do the right thing. Understand the problem and then work towards the correct solutions. Otherwise, I would say none of you are really interested in making Indian lives better. These letters were just one of those politically motivated campaigns that we have seen many times before in our past.

Kushal Mehra

An Average Indian who just wants to live peacefully.

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