Good Samaritanism is the cornerstone of societal support and safety. It’s an unspoken commitment within a community, nurturing trust, empathy and a shared duty. In the domain of policing, the absence of this Samaritan ethos significantly complicates law enforcement. The lack of inherent concern for the other’s welfare or a willingness to assist those in need hampers the vital cooperation between law enforcement and the public. Policing depends heavily on community engagement and active support from bystanders or witnesses, and the absence of a Good Samaritan culture poses a substantial obstacle to ensuring public safety and preventing crime.
It’s a matter of pride that in our region, selfless service is a treasured attribute. Bystanders rushing to help those in distress and the community food traditions are commonplace. Yet, there are incidents that rattle our collective conscience.
In a span of a few days, two incidents have sharply highlighted the distressing erosion of societal values and underscored a growing prioritisation of individual interests over collective responsibilities. This change poses a significant challenge not only to law enforcement, but also to the cohesive fabric of society. It emphasises the urgent need to restore a culture of compassion and communal responsibility for the greater good.
A 12-year-old girl, partially unclothed and bleeding, was observed wandering the streets in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. She was in search of help after reportedly being sexually assaulted and abandoned. Bystanders watched but turned a blind eye to her plight. Shockingly, one man callously dismissed her plea for help, shooing her away. The heart-wrenching scene, captured by a CCTV camera, showed her knocking on doors in a desperate quest for aid. Fortunately, the police found the injured girl and rushed her to a hospital. This distressing account exposes the unsettling reality of societal indifference in the face of urgent distress.
For an excruciating hour, a 30-year-old filmmaker remained sprawled and bleeding on a bustling Delhi street following a severe road accident. Instead of extending a helping hand, indifferent passersby and onlookers callously filmed videos and took selfies as his life hung in the balance due to critical head injuries. The appalling lack of empathy among citizens was made worse by the theft of his laptop and mobile. Despite his home and the nearest hospital being a mere 4 km away, a haunting silence prevailed as numerous individuals opted to document the tragic scene rather than offer any aid.
These incidents mirror a widespread societal trend. They serve as poignant tales of the pervasive apathy among individuals towards fellow citizens, depicting a disheartening absence of a collective sense of community and empathy. Self-absorption and indifference seem to overshadow the essence of compassion and communal support.
The incidents cannot be relegated to being mere law and order issues. It’s crucial to acknowledge that police personnel, while in uniform, are part of the public and cannot be solely burdened with all responsibilities. There are certain obligations and duties that the public cannot relinquish, no matter their inclination, to the police. They need to take these responsibilities upon themselves as an integral part of their broader duty towards humanity.
Societal well-being necessitates active public involvement and conscientious action.
— The writer is DGP-cum-MD, Punjab Police Housing Corporation
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