Law and order has always been the state government’s prerogative, while the responsibility for maintaining the same rests with the police department. However, our police machinery has often landed into deep trouble, putting question marks over the legitimacy of its actions.
The controversial murder of Ranvir Singh, a 22-year-old MBA student from Ghaziabad, in Ladpur jungles in Uttaranchal is one such case that exposes police brutality and its highhandedness.
On the 3rd of July, some policemen were checking vehicles and people ahead of President Pratibha Patil’s visit to Dehradun. The police party, led by a Sub Inspector, suddenly intercepted three boys riding a bike (which the cops claimed was stolen from Haryana), and frisked them.
During the search, the police party found a weapon hidden inside a bag belonging to them. Then something happened…no one knows….? The three youth overpowered a police SI, snatched the revolver and fled from the scene. A wireless
message regarding the incident was flashed immediately and the police began chasing the young men.
They were later intercepted at a jungle near Ladpur and in the ensuing encounter, a 22-year-old boy was killed while the two others managed to escape. This boy was later identified as Ranvir Singh from Ghaziabad. Ironically, the boy had no criminal background.
This is what the police have claimed to justify its action. However, the theory put forward by the police has no buyers and no substantial proof to support it.
Ranvir’s untimely and tragic death in an alleged fake-encounter has shattered the dreams of his father, a retired army personnel, who was proud of his son’s success and left the entire family in a state of deep shock.
In a bid to save its face, the state government has recommended a CBI probe, which is expected to unravel the mystery behind Ranvir’s alleged encounter in the days to come.
Bringing an interesting twist to the matter, the autopsy conducted on Ranvir’s body has revealed that he was shot from a close range and his body bore several injury marks, which suggested that he was tortured before being killed.
This is not the first time that an innocent person has lost his life due to unmindful police actions. Ranvir’s case is yet another one, which exposes the barbaric attitude with which our police department works and the senseless action of our policemen, who took nearly 50 odd hours with four casualties in killing a single dacoit, Ghanshyam Kewat, recently.
Several reported cases in the past have exposed the highhandedness of police and the alleged excesses committed by them while dealing with a criminal. Every now and then stories related to the third-degree torture of criminals and their custodial deaths have surfaced in the media. But it hardly makes any difference to the functioning of our police machinery.
After much hue and cry, in most of the cases, the guilty police officials are transferred or temporarily suspended, but restored later. It’s only seldom that a guilty policeman is put behind bars. Our policemen believe in the excessive use of force and get violent at the slightest provocation. If not all, then some of them working with the police force certainly derive pleasure in beating and assaulting the accused.
The ruthless behaviour of our policemen, work pressure and poor environment has all worsened the situation in our country. Instead of protecting people from anti-social elements, the policemen have instilled a sense of fear in the common man, who avoids approaching the authorities unless the situation compels. The law protectors have become law breakers.
A number of them take advantage of their “uniform” in getting things done that they desire. They can go at any length while attempting to extract information from the suspects. Here, I do not blame the entire police force as many officers have earned laurels for their distinguished services. There is no denying the fact that a majority of policemen are well educated, sensible and kind human beings.
Use of force and violence is sometimes mandatory to restore law and order and control crime. But that should be done after careful considerations and when all other options are closed. The police machinery is effective enough to deal with a situation in normal condition. In cases like police encounters, prior permission should be taken from higher authorities and the criminal antecedent of the person should also be examined so as to avoid confusion and embarrassment later as in the case of Ranvir.
We need to educate and convince our policemen that use of excessive violence will not always be an effective tool to stem crime. Unreasonable use of force is also not sanctioned by the law governing our society. A policeman needs to learn to double check his facts in every situation, as authority should bring with it more responsibility.
The pro-active involvement of the Human Right bodies against the police atrocities can act as a deterrent and improve the situation. If we follow the UK model, where they have an Independent Commission to look into cases of police brutality and misconduct, it can bring a substantial decline in these cases in India.
In case of Ranvir, only time will tell the truth. But whatever may be the outcome of the CBI probe, poor Ranvir will not return. Only time will heal the damage done to his family.
I sincerely feel sorry for him.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)