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NAPM calls for policing reforms in Telangana to address surveillance

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Photo by Novikov Aleksey /

The National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM) has strongly appealed to Telangana’s Chief Minister, A Revanth Reddy, demanding urgent reform to curb the unlawful use of surveillance tools by the State police. In a detailed five-page letter, NAPM highlighted significant concerns regarding the states’s current policing practices and their impact on fundamental rights.

The NAPM, a coalition of various people’s organisations and movements established in 1996, has raised alarms about the erosion of civil liberties under the guise of technological advancement.

The letter asserts that initiatives such as Cordon And Search Operations (CASO), the Chabutra Mission, and the TSCOP mobile application have led to invasive surveillance practices, disproportionately affecting socio-economically vulnerable groups, including migrant workers, minorities, and marginalised communities such as Dalits and Adivasis.

NAPM’s letter underscores the pervasive use of facial recognition technology and extensive profiling systems enabled by government programs. One such tool, the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) has been criticised for enabling the creation of detailed ‘criminal profiles’ and tracking individuals participating in protests or expressing dissent.

This approach, NAPM argues, has led to instances of wrongful arrests and custodial deaths, as evidenced by the tragic case of Khadeer Khan for Medak district. Khan, mistakenly identified as a suspect in a gold-snatching case through CCTV footage, died in police custody in December 2023 after being allegedly tortured.

“The recent reported incidents of violence in Medak point out the lack of necessary policing with reported incidents of police officials allowing violent mobs to dictate policing. Rule of law, when enforced by the mob, turns violent with no due process in the enforcement of law and investigation,” said the letter shared by Srinivas Kodali. “We would like your office to note, that policing through the rule of law is a necessary requirement for order and justice in society.”

NAPM has pointed out a glaring lack of transparency and accountability in using these surveillance tools. The organisation highlighted that despite repeated requests, the Telangana Police Manual has not been published, forcing citizens to rely on outdated documents from the Andhra Pradesh Police Manual. This lack of transparency, NAPM argues, has facilitated what they term ‘black box policing practices,’ resulting in unchecked control over ordinary citizens and stifling democratic activities.

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Furthermore, NAPM has outlined several critical demands aimed at reforming the state’s policing and surveillance practices:

  • Human rights evaluation: A comprehensive review of current policing practices by a retired judge to ensure they align with human rights standards.
  • Publication of policing manuals: The Telangana Police Manual will be immediately published, detailing all current policing practices, including those used in intelligence activities.
  • High-level inquiry commission: Establishment of a commission led by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge to investigate illegal phone tapping and surveillance practices and to recommend necessary reforms.
  • Judicial and legislative oversight: Bringing intelligence activities under strict judicial and legislative scrutiny to prevent abuse of power.
  • Installation of CCTVs in police stations: CCTV cameras in all police stations with footage made accessible under the Right to Information Act to prevent custodial torture.
  • Cease specific operations: An immediate halt to the Cordon and Search operations and Mission Chabutra, which violate the rights and privacy of marginalised communities.
  • Digitisation of warrants: Public digitisation of warrants to ensure transparency and accountability during police operations.
  • Engagement of gig workers: Refrain from arbitrarily policing gig and platform workers, instead working with their unions to address their concerns.
  • Police Complaints Authority: The Police Complaints Authority should be operational across Telangana.
  • Force seizure of vehicles: Stopping forced seizures of motor transport vehicles during cordon and search and enforcing Telangana State Motor Vehicles Rules 1989.

Apart from these, NAPM has also requested that the Telangana police stop harassing animal vendors, make the filing of petty cases transparent, and provide legal aid to people prosecuted in courts.

These call-to-action demands are a significant step towards ensuring that technological advancements in policing do not hinder people’s fundamental rights, especially since recently Telangana’s police Hawk Eye app was breached.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: