This news didn't make it to national headlines, especially, in North India because of the Lok Sabha elections. The incident had occurred last month in Chikmanglur.
The policeman, Naik had shot at Kabeer repeatedly. He fired nine rounds. Three bullets hit Kabeer, who died on the spot. It was clearly a case of extra-judicial killing.
After the murder, the defence of the ANF was that they 'suspected him to be a Naxal'. It was too big an offence to be hushed up. The effort to paint him as 'illegal cattle trader' to get sympathies of right-wing and turn it into a communal issue also failed, as it was a clear case of murder in cold-blood.
The BJP was against booking the policeman and its state chief even opposed compensation to the youth's family. BJP leader CT Ravi said, "The incident was accidental, no doubt....but youths have been involved in illegal transportation of cattle". The BJP leaders said it was 'appeasement'.
Isn't it shocking that for BJP, even a murder is appeasement! In several regions in Karnataka, Bajrang Dal and Ram Sene have created frenzy in the name of cattle trade. It has become a big extortion industry, and it is used to demonise the minorities.
Bureucratic pressure on government, public
In fact, it was not just politicians, but police officials and bureaucrats also tried their best to save the policeman. There were attempts that the case of murder was not registered apart from objecting to the accused policeman's arrest also.
It was clear that many police officials wanted to save Naik. Even Home Minister KJ George earlier spoke in the same tone as the opposition party. After CM Siddaramaiah's intervention, and due to rising anger and protests, the accused policeman was booked and arrested.
However, the case was not handed to CBI despite demands from different sections of civil society. The CID has been given the task to conduct an inquiry in this case. Kabeer and his four companions were travelling in a pick-up truck when they were stopped. The allegation was that Kabir tried to escape and ANF commando (constable rank) shot him dead.
On April 27, Indian Express reported, 'ANF has not halted operations over constable arrest; Home minister', a six column lead news on page 2.
It said that 'home minister denied reports that the ANF went on strike in protest against Naik's arrest', in the end of the story. Which reports? Express didn't clarify.
In fact, after any such incident, it is quite often seen how stories are 'planted', about 'the morale being down among cops'. So are cops emotion-less, killers? No. Policemen also have families and many of them are just and unbiased.
They are aware, what it means when an innocent is killed. However, planted stories are aimed to creating pressure on government. So whose side are you? For the victim or for the killer? Let the law takes its own course and the case be tried in court.
Actually, the Indian Express itself carried a report by Harsha Raj Gatti, which says, in the first paragraph that the ANF has suspended its operation attributing it to 'sources', (no official or ANF sources either), though in the second para, it carries Home Minister's version that the ANF hasn't gone on strike after the cop's arrest.
Read further, it says, "Sources in ANF said night patrolling and combing had come to a halt and only occasional daytime patrolling was being carried out following a drain in morale after ANF constable Naveen G Naik was arrested for shooting the youth, Kabeer."
Again, the talk of low morale! Which policemen said it? Or who asked the journalists about it? Are we a banana republic where cops have the immunity to kill and if they murder someone, they should not be arrested, because it will affect their morale? Is it a military ruled country or dicatorship where citizens have no rights or no sense of jusice?
Here again, Indian Express reported that how 'probe' 'reveals' that ANF cop fired when the youth fled. Apparently, there is nothing too shocking in this news report. But it, in fact, suggests that the cops fired because he fled, as if it was justified! How innocent.
The fact is that the youth was not a Naxalite at all. But he was killed, though he was not wanted for any offence and had committed no crime. But journalists 'intelligently', do their bit, trying to make it sould differently, and watering down the cop's crime.
If you read all these reports [see links below] you will find not an iota of sympathy for the victim or his kin. Strangely, you find how there is an attempt to water down the crime by talking about , 'bullets were not fired on chest', 'report saying he was shot when he fled', and about 'morale affected' without any substantiation or quotes. It is not about singling out Indian Express.
It is about how section of journalists for whom there is no relative sense of justice. The journalists who should be totally unbiased [if they are not concerned towards citizens] seem to be taking side for the men in Khaki, even if they err.
This is a sad trend for journalism and the society. Newspapers should talk about getting justice for the common man. Ironically, in the cas of poor, or those who are not VIPs, such killings are treated in a similar manner.
However, if police raids a joint and catches VIP's kids snorting drugs, there is talk of police excesses and need for action. Journalists interact with officials and policemen on a regular basis and somehow get more 'protective' of the policemen, rather, than doing their own job.
The journalists should report plainly, the facts, intead of manipulations to save the skin of those responsible of crime. It hurts the victims, the weak, who don't have a voice, as it makes it even difficult for them to get justice. See the three reports and do you find any sensitivity or concern towards the victim:
Report 1, Report 2 and Report 3
Trend observed recently:
1. If a vendor or auto-driver is thrashed or beaten to death by policemen, the news is increasingly been ignored. The reason given in newsrooms is that 'Who wants to read it?'. In English newspapers [also in Hindi newspapers now], it is said that this news is 'not for TG'. TG means target group. The auto-walla or thela-wala is not supposed to be a potential reader and also news related to him will not interest large number of readers, it is believed
2. If policeman kills an ordinary or poor man in custody, there are less attempts to get the versions of victims' kin. Rather, the versions of policemen are prominently published. A superior officer's statement about 'we will look into it' or about clean-chit is promptly published. The reason is that speaking for the victim doesn't help you, however, the cops' clout helps journalists in their daily lives. So it is, probably, always more 'useful' to file reports about cop's morale so as to be on their side and keep them in good humour.
3. When policemen catch women for flesh-trade and parade them, to show their success in catching a major crime, or indulge in moral policing, the journalists clap. However, if there is a raid at a pool party or a rave party, where youngsters from the rich and upper middle class are found with drugs or other 'immoral' activities, this set of journalists get hyper-active and blame police of excessive action and using its energy in the wrong direction.
This is aggravation of the same tendency which was witnessed in general cases earlier. Like in cases of accidents, if 10 persons die in a locality populated by low income group, it will not get the prominence, compared to even a few injuries in a mishap in a 'posh' locality.
[*Read about the killings of Ranveer Singh and Kuldeep HERE]