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Emerging Challenges


Ajay K. Mehra

POLICING INSURGENCIES: COPS AS COUNTERINSURGENTS
Edited by C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly. Series Editors: Sumit Ganguly and E. Sridharan 
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 362, Rs. 995.00

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 10 October 2014

The volume is an invaluable collection theoretically bound together with a thoughtful Introduction and a concluding chapter that generalizes the findings of the cross national research.  It attends to one of the fiercely debated questions in security establishments and amongst strategic thinkers across the world as to who should police insurgencies, even extremism/terrorism—police, specialized forces, or the Army. The volume brings together ten case studies—the Hukbalahap rebellion in the Philippines, the Malayan Emergency 1948-60, the Mau Mau Emergency, 1952-60, in Kenya, Northern Ireland insurgency, the Colombian insurgency, the insurgency in Pakistan, Afghanistan 2002-11, Iraq 2003-6, the Sikh militancy and the Maoist insurgency in India—through which the authors bring out experiences of taming insurgencies and extremism using the police with innovative strategies. The bottomline indeed is innovation with the use of local resources and appropriate training for the police and their relations with the local community in counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. Increasingly policing in democratic contexts is coming under question both for the function and role of, and the methods used by, the police in polities irrespective of their nature.  While such an interrogation is generally for the police in non-democratic regimes as well as in newly democratizing countries, the police in old democracies of the western world too have been under scrutiny for their undemocratic behaviour in dealing with contrarian agitations of different kinds. A major question to be interrogated is how an institution that is generally claimed to be a product of state formation (hence it becomes an arm of the state responsible for ‘legitimatized use of violence’), though some have claimed its origin to societies and civilizations and not unfairly (the argument then goes on to suggest appropriation of police as an institution by state), should adapt itself to emerging challenges over decades and centuries? With democratic government and governance being the dominant political narrative since the middle of the twentieth century irrespective of the form of government, situating police and tweaking policing to meet the political sociology of democratic behaviour and needs has been a major responsibility of political leadership across the world; the result though has been mixed.  Indeed, not only professional leadership, but also (and many a times more prominently) political leadership, play a prominent (even predominant) role in shaping police organizations and their work culture as well as professional ethics. Obviously, in strategizing responses to insurgencies and extremism, which are political ...


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