Police brutality is not something new that has been introduced as an issue of Human Rights violation rather it goes a way back to the history when India was under the British regime. Almost same conditions have prevailed in many parts of the world.
In today’s context too many of the atrocities, torture, extrajudicial killings, fake encounters etc. are tactics used by the police in dealing with the culprits, criminals, under-trials, suspects or even the alleged. Many of the Human Rights activists, public intellectuals, academicians and even the judiciary has taken keen concern over the misuse of Police power leading to gross violation of Human Rights.
In the British India, Indian Police Act was introduced in 1861. This was done to give free hand to the police to subdue and repress the freedom fighters. This included arbitrary detention, lathi-charge, torture and so on. Some incidents like Jaliawala Bagh massacre could be cited as examples of lethal ambient police made in the country.
Colonel Dyre on 13th April, 1913, killed more than 380 and injured 1100+ people in a continuous firing of 10 minutes. Likewise, torture of leading freedom fighters are well known like Subhas Chandra Bose who was arbitrary compelled to break his fast, same kind of torture also happened to Bhagat Singh and his pals in jails.
Bhagalpur Blinding is one of the deadliest incidents of Police brutality. In a series of incidents between 1979 and 1980, Police blinded 31 people by pouring acid into their eyes; in Hashimpura Massacre on May 22nd, 1987 amid Hindu-Muslim riots in Meerut, PAC jawans rounded up 42 civilians and took them at the outskirts of Ghazaibad, shot them dead and threw their bodies in the Ganga canal.
Later the bodies were recovered floating in the river. One of the prosecution witness and survivor Muhammad Usman in 2007 said “We were sorted out on the basis of our strength and physique, while elders and children were picked up and set free. The youth were grouped together and put in a yellow PAC truck.”…”was pulled out of the truck, shot at twice and thrown into the Ganga stream”; in the Muthanga Incident, while Adivasis were protesting under the banner of Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS) against the delay of land to be allotted to them.
Similarly Gujarat Police on 26th November, 2005 opened fire in which two people were dead; Ishrat Jahan, Kuasar Bi and Sohrabuddin of Gujrat were encountered by the police which raised ample of questions of credibility in the case. In these encounter cases the court also took stern action and even the then Home Minister of the state Amit Shah had to face the trial and went behind bars.
On 23rd June, 2017 in Chatra district of Jharkhand, a 19-year-old man named Mohammad Salman was arbitrarily dragged out of his house and gunned down by the local police; 2016 Bhopal Encounter of the 8 alleged SIMI terrorist has been questioned a lot in lacking clear evidence of truth by many sections of the society.
In Kashmir and North Eastern states of India, Armed Forces Special Power Act is implemented which directly violates the Human Rights giving special powers to police and army to detain and arrest any individual without a warrant. If one is arrested under AFSPA he/she may not be liable to be made present before the magistrate within 24 hours, nor even the relatives may see the prosecute, many of the times the suspect is also kept in a secret prison.
On April 30, 2010, Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Shafi Lone and Riyaz Ahmad Lone, all residents of Nadihal in Sopore, were lured to work as porters for the Army on the promise of high wages.
They were later killed in a staged encounter and passed off as foreign militants. Five army men, Commanding Officer of 4 Rajput regiment, Col. Dinesh Pathania, Captain Upendra Singh, havildar Davender, lance naik Lakhmi and lance naik Arun Kumar were sentenced for life term in 2014 but only to be freed in 2017, Military court suspended life sentence, grants bail to all five accused army men on 26th, July 2017.
No accountability of Policemen or the Army can be questioned under AFSPA. Because of this law many of the innocent civilians have suffered in the Kashmir Valley and North Eastern states of India since decades. This law has been considered draconian and violates basic constitutional rights of a citizen like Right to Equality (Article 14-18), Right To Freedom (Article 19-22) and Right Against Exploitation (Article 23-14). Also this law violates the UDHR prescribed by the United Nations for the security of Human Rights of every citizen globally. AFSPA has been looked upon as a draconian law and numerous activists have been criticizing it.
One of the social activists Irom Sharmila of Manipur was on hunger strike against this Act and barbarism held under the garb of this rule; last year in Kashmir after the encounter of separatist Burhan Wani, military and police used pellet guns against countries own civilian, in that turmoil more than 600 people including children and women were brutally injured and became blind. More than 100 people also got killed in police firing. This incident was strongly criticised by the civil society activists.
Likewise, there have been series of numerous incidents since decades of gross Human Rights violation, repression, suppression and so on where police have played a very crucial role. In general, it has been observed that state generally gives free hand to the police, sometimes under pressure from the top hierarchy of the government to coup-up with crucial matters that is politically motivated.
For the country’s civilians, it’s important to become aware of their rights of arrest and other legalities of detention so that violations in custody may not take place. The supreme court of India in view to the increasing violence and torture in custody (D. K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal, 1997 AIR 1997 SC 610) has laid down 11 basic requirements and procedures that the police and other agencies have to follow for the arrest, detention, and interrogation of any person.
In today’s context, different NGO’s, NHRC, social activists are taking up the issues dealing with Human Rights violation under custody. If proper awareness of rights and literacy is propagated among people such brutalities of Police may be controlled to a greater extent.
Disclaimer : This article is Sole opinion of Author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Irony Of India . The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.