Search This Website


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Police brutality: Truth of an encounter in Manipur

In all 'encounters', the version is almost same:

The police cornered the person and asked him to stop, but he didn't and instead fired at police. While no jawan got injured, the person died in the exchange of fire.
Chongkham Sanjit, 27, was killed near Assembly in Imphal, and that was the version of the police commandos of Rapid Action Force until a lensman, who had shot the entire sequence of events, exposed the lies.

Initially, News weekly Tehelka published these photographs. Such encounters are common in North East, though they always don't make news, as they can't be contradicted and the citizens don't resent as long as the person killed is not 'related to us' or unless they can 'relate to him'.

The magazine tells us that Salam Ajit Singh, Okram Ranjit Singh, Taslimuddin, Laishram Dipson and Ningthoujam Anand were also killed in similar encounters. One of them was a mason, the other was lorry driver, another a labourer and one of them was a rickshaw driver.

Naturally, their kin can't be in a position to fight. The question is that why cops do it? There are numerous reasons ranging from personal rivalries, need to 'show' work by eliminating 'goons', the desire for rewards and gallantry medals, instilling sense of fear among others for easy 'earning' (extortions) and often just the urge to do it because they have tasted blood.

Less than a month ago, Ranbir Singh, an MBA student, was killed in an encounter in Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand. A probe was ordered after much hue and cry though the news channels had initially accepted the police version and termed him a militant. Had he been Shabbir instead of Ranbir, there wouldn't have been an inquiry either. In that case, the degree would not have come to his help, as stories like 'techies taking to terrorism' would have been planted intelligently.

We have one of the most inefficient, most corrupt and most brutal police force. The police force can't change. It can't become sensitive because it is governed by the same law and code that were devised in 1861 by the British to govern the 'natives'. There are castes, tribes and communities who were called 'criminal tribes' before independence and though they were de-notified, the police still treat the tribes like Pardhis as criminal. Children born in these housholds are seen as suspects from the day of their birth.

And our polity & bureaucracy have failed to form a new police act. When recruits get into force, within months they understand that they are not in the force to solve cases of thefts or murders and keep the area's lawlessness under check, but they have to 'manage', 'sort out' things, keep working relations with gangsters and gamblers so that they keep paying 'hafta', keep musclemen in good humour and ensure that everybody who matters among the political class and well-to-do remain happy.

If an offender wants to mend ways, he can't. Even if he is living a peaceful life, he would be arrested and interrogated every time for each incident of major crime, despite knowing that he is not involved in the crime. That happens because that's how the 'system' works. It doesn't treat poor [those who don't have connections] Indian citizens fairly. Justice is not delivered unless you are well connected.

State governments belonging refuse to act on this issue. Every time the Supreme Court asks them about the model police code and the implementation of the recommendations for change. Politicians don't want a change. Bureaucracy doesn't want police to get out of its hand.

The police remain an anti-people brute force in this country. It is not to serve the citizens as jan-sewaks but to serve the masters, who were Whites in the past, and have been replaced by the top brass that includes civil servants, filthy rich and well-connected. It has a licence to exploit and harass others.


Danesh said...

Great post! Linked it here http://twitter.com/daneshzaki/status/3247232769

Yuyutsu said...

Sad to read. Police reforms are long overdue but as you rightly pointed out, no one wants a change - neither the politicians nor the bureaucracy.

urdudaaN said...

A very touching story, indeed!
As long as there is no religion involved, there is no outcry. That's the reason the media gives petty incidents a religious(in fact communal) face to whip up frenzy. It could well be any religion, but today it is Islam - the target of practice.

My friend visited his native in India some time ago. Police had caught some people related to 'saTTa'. In fact these people have been into it for a long time and paying haftas. But, as you rightly said, they had to prove their 'substance' to the new officer. So, they caught & beat them. No one was moved in his Muslim majority town. It is when police started parading the arrested in public that people gathered to see just out of curiosity. Many have now been arrested under the charges of 'pelting stones', and 'assaulting the police'. Tear gas shells were fired and mosque loudspeakers were used to warn people of 'dire' (General!) consequences. There is no mention/enquiry into the erratic behaviour of the police and people have learnt a very bad lesson. Public morale is down and Police roam scot-free.

Ségolène said...

Hi Indian Muslim,

My name is Ségolène Malterre, I work for the website of the International news channel “France 24” which is based in Paris.

I write for the participative website www.observers.france24.com/en. We use only internet users generated content.

I came across this post about the encounter in Manipur and I would like to write about the false police encounters which is a very interesting subject.

Would you be available fore a phone or email interview ?

Hope you’ll contribute to the Observers website.

Let me know.

Best regards,


Sudarshan Bengani said...

"Had he been Shabbir instead of Ranbir, there wouldn't have been an inquiry either."

In the entire region, the "An Indian Muslim" is lucky that he is in India (not in Pakistan/ Afghanistan). Just as it is easy to generalise the above statement, it is pretty easy for rest of Indians to generalise that most of the criminals and terrorists come with Muslims name!!! I guess we all (on this blog) are pretty educated and mature to understand that idiots and fanatics have no religion. You are absolutely right when you say that many of the encounters are done for personal gains. But it is also true that many of these encounters are done to get rid of 'known' criminals against whom there is no direct proof. This is because, even if the police arrest such criminals, they will not be able to have him convicted.


indscribe said...

Mr Bengani.

Sadly what are your saying is neither logically nor lawfully coorect. The police constantly feed others that there is no way other than encounter to get rid of criminals, but that's plain falsehood.

I have a long experience and have seen the working of police closely. Most criminals, even the most dreaded ones, (who are never killed in encounters) can be easily jailed and convicted if police want. Even criminals who became politicians like Shahabuddin and Pappu Yadav are behind bars.

Even otherwise, a majority of those killed in encounters are neither dreaded goons, nor criminals. From businessman Pradeem Goel, who was killed in Delhi to Khwaja Yunus, a software engineer, there are hundreds of cases were innocents were gunned down.

Do you think Ranbir was a criminal. What would be your feelings if he was, god forbid, your brother? Sorry Bengani Sahab, you just don't have any idea about the extent of police brutality.

Sudarshan Bengani said...

I am not sure which country you reside in. In principal, I am in complete agreement with your argument on innocents being 'encountered'. It is a dark reality that needs to be done away with.

Going back to conviction, the judiciary in this country is so inefficient and ineffective that convictions are a rarity. An open and shut case of Azmal Kasab is dragging on. Despite the LIVE video footages of Sikh Riots, Babri demolition, Cash-for-vote scam, Tehelka scam available in public domain, the conviction rate makes for a comedy series. How do you convict a drug peddler or a hitman - there is no way to prove that unless he is caught red-handed in the presence of a magistrate........ I have not an iota of apprehension for criminals being encountered (becoz Judiciary is a sham!!). But, for the innocents being targeted, I am all against it. The unfortunate part is that the Indian Police cannot be trusted on either of the situations.

I personlly don't care for what the Law or Constitution or Human Rights say as long as we achieve the end of a "Sane India". But yes, spare the innocents please....


indscribe said...

Sudarshan bhai,

See, judiciary is corrupt but higher judiciary is still our sole hope. Lots of criminals, politicians, rogue bureaucrats are reigned in just because of the High Courts and Supreme Court.

In the last decade, the curb on entry of criminals in politics and the launch of many pro-people policies was possible because of Supreme Court's intervention. And it the only fully functional force in this country.

Regarding encounters, I would like to simply point out the fact that hundreds of encounters and custodial rapes take place in rural areas and they never even become 'issue'.

In Chhattisgarh and other backward regions, poor tribals are killed, by rogue cops who want 'medals'. The President's medals for gallantry, distinguished services and meritorious services, are a big draw for such cops.

Poor tribals who don't even know how to write their names, can't fight the organised might of the rogue cops.

And medals are helpful for cops in furthering their careers, freebies, cheat railway fares, financial benefits and other facilities.