Sunday, June 20, 2010

Is Indian Police, a force to safeguard rich?

Janeshwar Sharma, 41, died after he was allegedly set afire in a high-profile industrialist's residence in the national capital recently.

But initially the Delhi police didn't act and the policemen did not even record the dying declaration of the man. They neither interrogated the occupants of the palatial residence where the incident took place nor they approached the deceased's family members.

Had it not been TV channels who recorded the statement of Janeshwar, before he died of burns, and followed the entire incident, this case would have been buried without any investigation.

When TV channels showed the badly burnt man on his deathbed, speaking about the murky affairs inside the Nanda household, the police appeared slightly alarmed.

But it took headlines about 'male prostitution' and 'young boys were brought in the house' to stir the Delhi police. The fact is that police had already lost enough time, that many evidences would have destroyed, is another matter.

It was media which was telling police that the house had private cameras installed and the footage can help the investigators. Read and watch the IBN report about the alleged murder inside Anil Nanda's residence.

Also, see TOI's story about the statement that accuses Nanda of doing 'bad things' to boys and forcing employees for sex. Vernacular media and a particular channel got real explicit now and this ultimately forced the police to act, at last, and the cops were finally in the field.

Doesn't it speak volumes about the character of our police? The policemen who never leave slightest opportunity to catch a law-abiding citizen, simply change their ways and turn a Nelson's eye when an influential man gets caught in a situation.

In this case, media got air of scandal and later on screaming headlines forced police to take notice. Mediamen talking to victim's family, informing the police about threats to Janeshwar's brother and the deceased's letters.

But in very few such cases, the victims' kin get justice as media can't lap up every story. It's a national issue that needs a serious debate. The police force, in general, is heavily biased in favour of the rich, the sophisticated and the well-connected person. So what if justice is the casualty!

An unconnected, uninfluential man can be killed in encounter but an influential and well-connected man whose role is suspicious in a case will face a nice and soft police that can pass off his 'slips' and even speak for him.

Between a poor man and a rich man, the latter will get favour. The Rizwanur Rahman case in which the young computer engineer was found dead after he married Ashok Todi's daughter, the role of police was no less worse. Rizwan was not a Muslim in the eyes of police but a poor man and that was reason for initial hush up.

And when two rich persons are involved, the richer of the two might get a better deal. Isn't it sickening? This is by-and-large the attitude of policemen in the thousands of police stations and chowkis across the country, but even this doesn't stir the nation.

In one or two high-profile cases, the media smells blood and acts with vengeange trying to get justice for the victims. But that's a minuscule number. Indian police remain the same colonial force governed by the Police Act formulated in 1861 to deal with the 'natives'.

Due to hesitation in interrogating the VIPs and prominent persons, the delay in investigation results in loss of crucial evidences. No wonder, many such cases get botched up and are never solved, just like the Arushi murder case.

Police Reforms are stalled at every level. With hardly any activism, lack of awareness about one's rights among poor and the society remaining apathetic, the much-needed total overhaul of police will perhaps remain a dream.

Media can't fight all cases. It can alarm the society by raising such issues. Each such case should then give rise to heightened vigil, greater activism and increased awareness. But after that, the onus is on the civil society to understand and force the polity to set the system right.

See related posts on this blog that were published in the past:

1. Extra-judicial killings: Ranvir's encounter in Uttarakhand
2. Police brutality: Truth of an encounter in Manipur
3. UP police had arrested the wrong 'Aftab'
4. What's wrong with our society: Innocent Kuldeep gets bullet, vandals get respect
5. Rizwanur Rahman paid the price for marrying Priyaka Todi