Citing the recent gang-rape of a young girl in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the police to make protection of women their priority and advised them to change their image which is not good among general public.
Addressing a group of IPS probationers at his residence, Singh said there should be behaviourial and psycologial studies to see why people indulge in heinous crimes like gangrape and efforts should be made to "wean" them away.
He said fast-paced urbanisation was leading to increased migration of job-searching youth from rural areas and they could become a "menace" if they do not get "well absorbed" in the processes of development.
"We are in a society where there are growing tensions all around. The police leaders of tomorrow have to be well versed with emerging challenges be they in the form of extremism, be they in the form of cyber crime, be they in the form of crime against our women, be they in the form of left wing extremism, or insurgency or secessionism," he told the young officers.
Noting that in all these matters, police is called upon to enforce law and order, Singh said "one area which must receive more attention is crime against women."
Pointing out that women "are victims of heinous crimes like rape and gangrape", the Prime Minister said "only recently one such crime took place in the national capital. This phenomenon is taking place all over the country... We therefore have obligation to protect our women and children in rural as well as metropolitan areas."
Singh was referring to the gangrape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus here on December 16, an incident which has shocked the nation and triggered widespread protests.
"In rural areas, SCs and STs suffer from various types of atrocities," the Prime Minister said.
Observing that "service to India means service to people", he told the police officers that "protection of downtrodden people, especially SC, ST, women, child and elderly should be priority concern for all policemen of future."
Singh noted that people generally don't have good opinion about police. "This must change. Police should act as friend, philosopher and guide. It is charged with responsibility of law and order which should be carried out in a humane manner."
He emphasised that police forces should master the cutting-edge technologies to be able to meet new challenges while observing human rights of all citizens.
"Law and order is the responsibility of every civilised society and therefore we must ensure our police services are trained, motivated to perform this task," Singh said and asked the police forces to perform their duties while maintaining value systems.
"All have fundamental human rights. In enforcement of law and order, we must never lose sight of protecting human rights of citizens at large," he said.
Advising police to lead by example while discharging their duties, he said "technology is moving at such a fast pace that unless you keep pace and operate at frontiers of technology, law-breakers and criminals will have edge over us. This we can't allow."