As the comments on the Jamia encounter pieces have flooded in, what has been amazing of course is how the defence of the police establishment comes often from the very same discourse which can’t stop crying itself hoarse about the corruption of the government. I am pretty sure many of those who have jumped to make us doubters and naysayers feel guilty about failing to support our boys in khaki would be wringing their hands at India’s sliding down the scale on Transparency International’s rating. What is required? What are we doing wrong? Does everybody in this country who can read and write need a Poli.Sci 101 course on what the Indian State is, and how it includes the elected and the non-elected arms, and how the ‘corrupt politicians’ are part of one large material and ideological whole that includes bureaucrats and internal security establishment?
About the call to stand behind the police ‘at a time like this’, let me get this straight – is this the same police that covered itself in glory during the Arushi-Hemraj case, the same one that has still failed to fix a proper conviction on the Nithari case, almost two years after the expose, and nearly five years since the first child disappeared from that village? The police force that, when parents of the Nithari children went to file FIRs when they first disappeared, told them their daughters were ‘randis’ (prostitutes) that had run away with the boys they slept with (I was at the NOIDA sector 20 police station when this was said, not once but repeatedly, over a year)? The same police force which in all probability knew exactly what Pandher was up to during the two years those children kept disappearing?
And the same police force that surely has one of the worst custodial death records anywhere in the world? All during peacetime, without a single terrorist or bomb on the horizon? On that matter, I wanted to post a report which appeared on the inside pages of the city supplement of our current favourite newspaper. What is interesting is how this report sits on the inside pages of the same paper that on its editorial side bays for the blood of the Jamia boys.
‘Court raps cops for falsely implicating detainees in chain snatching cases’ is the title of this report that appeared in Express Newsline on the 3rd of October. The report goes on, “Unable to rein in the menace (of chain snatching incidents in the capital), the Delhi Police seem to be developing their own way of keeping criticism at bay, while simultaneously improving their records by claiming to have cracked the cases. How? Detain a few persons who are already in custody in connection with other cases, and extract confessional statements regarding their involvement in the chain snatching incidents.”
The report says “The revelation came (sic) during a recent hearing before a magistrate when an investigating officer of DBG Road police station produced before it two accused, Monu and Suraj, in connection with a chain snatching incident that had occurred on June 10…The police claimed that Monu had disclosed his participation in the crime while in custody for an Arms Act case registered with a different police station, and also told the investigators that Suraj was the pillion rider. The cops added that their complicity was also indicated by their refusal to join the test identification parade (TIP).”
The report added, “while the chains had not been recovered on any of them, the officers pressed charges only on the basis of their refusal to participate in the TIP.”
This ordinary Newsline reporter had the good sense to conclude that “For obvious reasons, the accused would refuse their Test Identification Parade (TIP), which could very well be made the ground for filing a chargesheet, amounting to prima facie evidence to make them stand trial.”
But somehow, the same police force that under the routine pressure for the rising incidence of chain-snatching in the capital can criminally abuse the law, becomes a paragon of virtue, tactical brilliance and cutting-edge intelligence input when it comes to the War on Terror. Where the pressure from the political and bureaucratic establishment, and the media-soaked middle and upper classes must be lethal. Such touching faith we have in The Force!
P.S – The Indian Express for this morning (Oct 04) has just come in. Its headline “They can do this to a Member of Parliament, too” is about cops brutally beating up an MP from Sagar when he attempted to stop a demolition of illegal structures. The pictures show him covered in blood after the police are through. He is in a critical condition in ICU.
P.P.S – The Times of India has a front page story for Oct 04 about the Orissa government admitting that the police watched when a Catholic nun was raped in Kandhamal during the atrocities against Christians.