Here’s some food for thought:
Are Remanding Judges and courts morally and legally responsible for the safety and well being of persons in Judicial Custody? Are they under any obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of persons held in their Custody? Should they be held accountable for lapses committed by others acting under their direction? Is there such a thing as ‘Judicial Conscience’?
There are several incidents of police ‘encounter’ killings occurring as part and parcel of routine Indian police work (just google it if you wish to verify); case(s) in point: the recent custodial murders at Nizamabad, Miryalguda, Ranga Reddy, and Sangareddy …Sporadic reports of crowd control gone haywire and the stifling of dissent through use of deadly force by the police. Incidents of police baton-charging and firing indiscriminately into political protesters (including those who were fleeing). ‘’Enhanced Interrogation’’ practiced routinely in police stations (i.e., torture, mutilation, and sometimes death) … Racial profiling, arbitrary Cordon and Search operations zeroing in on minority communities, illegal detentions, vendetta killing of under-trial prisoners, ‘‘encounter killings’’, i.e., extra-judicial execution of those labeled as ‘’hard-core criminals, gangsters, dacoits, extortionists, and those Others placed in the ‘’miscellaneous category’’ of soon-to-be deceased’.
What’s surprising is, many of these ‘encounters’ involve the killing of Under- Trial suspects who are in judicial custody, i.e., purportedly under protection of the remanding judge while awaiting the grant of bail.
What’s even more surprising is, there’s hardly any suo moto inquiry from the honorable court who assumed responsibility for the safety and well-being of the person(s) held in their charge; consequently, no accountability for use of deadly force against Under-Trials by the police – unless, of course, the incident has gained some notoriety or (short lived) publicity. Even then, such is the workings of our criminal (in-)justice machinery, the incident defaults to justifiable homicide or, more commonly, fades off into oblivion along with the puppet ‘Inquiry’ Committee appointed to oversee such matters related to police death squads.
‘Any public outcry …,’ you inquire anxiously? What damn ‘outcry’ can one expect from a programmed, borderline intellectually dysfunctional citizenry that glorifies government-appointed extra judicial executioners who publicly flaunt a celebrity image as ‘Encounter Specialists’?! And celebrities THEY ARE, what with their extravagant lifestyles and investigative dossiers with the Anti Corruption Bureau!
One of the allegations is that encounter specialists, under private contract, helped organized crime by eliminating members of a rival gang for a hefty price. The rival gangster would first be detained, and then summarily dispatched on one pretext or another under color of the Law. At least two prominent attempts at prosecution for ‘alleged’ corruption, assets disproportionate to their known source of income, extra judicial executions, racketeering, etc., were flushed down the commode by the Director General’s office who found no incriminating evidence against the Accused. In a related case, the Supreme Court pronounced acquittal. One wonders just how far up does the Chain of Corruption (or Ignorance, or apathy) reach …..?
Do you remember the abduction and vendetta killing of extortionist Sohrabuddin Sheikh on November 26, 2005 by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS)? He was later fraudulently labeled a member of the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba. Shortly thereafter, they murdered his wife Kauserbi and an uninvolved traveling companion torching and disposing of them so as to purge evidence.
Several senior police officers from different states, including Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, as well as high placed politicians are suspected to be involved in the murders. As the investigation unfolded, we are told that D.G. Vanzara of ATS was paid to kill Sohrabuddin Sheikh by Rajasthan’s influential marble lobby! Vanzara was himself moonlighting, running a successful extortion racket staffed by Rajkumar Pandiyan, KM Vaghela, GL Singhal and other policemen. Sources in victimized families indicate that Vanzara and his associates would release from custody, criminals accused of serious crimes, including murder, when the right price was paid to Vanzara’s syndicate.
Among other notional arrests of select fall guys in the ATS, the CBI arrested the then Home Minister of Gujarat State, Mr. Amit Shah, for ordering the triple murders. Apparently, CBI’s ‘conclusive’ evidence didn’t hold up to much in court. Mr. Shah, who happens to be the closest aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and head of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was forthrightly cleared of all charges by the courts.
If ‘’time heals all wounds’’, serious incidents of gross Human Rights violations become a fleeting memory replaced by ’’more interesting’’ human interest stories in the media or Bollywood’s serials/naach-gaana on TV. There is little or no perseverant follow up to hold officials accountable. Citizen apathy facilitates the making of a Police State. We’re pretty damn close to it right now with the random, warrantless searches/seizures/arrests going on merrily before the eyes of our intellectually paraplegic citizenry. Do we see a light at the end of the tunnel or is it a freight train heading in our direction? ‘Investigations’ have a way of fizzling out by the powers that be.
Two other incidents of law-enforcement gone berserk come to my mind:
Early April morning, Telangana police shot dead five Muslim youths, accused in terror cases (but were to be acquitted), while they were under judicial protection and being shifted from Warangal Prison to Hyderabad Criminal court in a running vehicle. As expected, Police resorted to the usual justification, that they fired in ‘self-defense’ responding to a prisoner attempting to snatch a rifle; so, they shot them all! But thee was no sign of revolt and not a single cop had been injured. There was no evidence of a struggle in the transport vehicle, no forensic disposition relative to the line/angle of fire, distance of the purported confrontation, etc., and photographs released by police themselves show the deceased prisoners to be handcuffed to their seats; securely confined!
The public has not as yet woken up to the fact that these photographs are a façade, an insult to our intelligence, and, in fact, incriminate the police! Judging from the images, the handcuffs would allow perhaps a 3” reach with the armrest blocking any free movement sufficient to wrest the rifle away. Besides, if the deceased prisoner was in full control of the firearm and presenting a clear and present danger to the escort personnel (as the photograph is supposed to suggests), it would have instead been pointed toward the aisle to his right.
You may recall a similar incident occurring in December 2008, where a bunch of scum bags accused of spraying acid on girls who rebuked their advances, were being transported under judicial protection from Hyderabad Court to Warangal Prison. They were all shot dead by escorting police personnel under very suspicious circumstances.
According to Police, those cowardly villains, under heavy armed escort, made a courageous break for freedom, barefoot, from a running vehicle but were conveniently cornered in a desolate forested area (away from eyewitnesses and the sound of gunfire). One of the ‘escapees’ conjured up a handgun; so, all three were summarily dispatched by well placed shots to their vitals (guilty be association?).
In line with the theme of a B-Class Telugu TV detective serial, a photograph showed a deceased suspect curiously still holding the handgun; his dead companions were unarmed. But in most all real life shootouts, the impact of the slug on a suspect’s body jerks the weapon loose long before he hits the ground! Hmmm… There are several loose ends in both scenarios that reek of murder: like, for instance, no formal inquiry by police brass – and not a whimper of indignation from the judiciary.
What we’re witnessing is rampant, untethered lawlessness in government. We’re witnessing a polarization between the common man and his chosen representatives who are supposed to be accountable to him. But how are they to be accountable when we do not hold them accountable?
Obviously, our police need training on how to create a halfway credible crime scene after the fact. But perhaps, this is not really necessary in view of our brown-nosing media, a gullible public whose interest and attention span is easily manipulated, and a seemingly cooperative judiciary.
‘’When injustice becomes Law, resistance becomes duty’’. Thomas Jefferson. Question authority! It is still our Right!
Copyright 2015. Carlisle Collins. havepenwillwrite. All Rights Reserved.