Friday, April 17, 2015

Shafeeq R. Mahajir - AAJ PACHCHEES (Twenty-five today)

AAJ PACHCHEES - April 9, 2015

Today’s newspapers carried two stories.

Five under-trial prisoners, handcuffed, are transiting under guard with armed police. Arms carried are INSAS rifles and AK-47 assault rifles. The police van carrying them stops because one of them wants to relieve himself. The group, all five under-trial prisoners, handcuffed, is at the end of their “terrorism” trial, and the expectation the families of the under-trial prisoners have is that they would be acquitted.  The man gets down, urinates and returning to the van, “snatches” an AK-47 assault rifle from a policeman and fires twice at an officer in the front seat. The policeman whose weapon is snatched does nothing to snatch it back ?  The officer however, though in the front seat with his back towards the events unfolding at the rear, is alert, and ducks, evading the two bullets, and saves himself.  Good man.

The police team members “sense danger” – after all they are trained – and fire “in self-defence”. The five under-trial prisoners, handcuffed, in transit under guard with armed police, in the van, die.  That is five. Amazing why these fellows tried to escape now when they did not all these years. They were accused of terrorism charges, and one, man named Viqar, is even alleged to have killed policemen earlier. These chaps had allegedly planned to kill Modi. All these would mean the police would be on high alert with such serious threats to society, to law and order, to the life of the present PM.

They were however, relaxed perhaps. Not ready. Hence the snatching of the AK-47 was possible. No, they were alert and reacted at once, killing the five before they could kill the accompanying policemen. The events show they were alert and reacted swiftly.  No, wait, while one went to urinate the others were not under watch and hence all could snatch weapons of the policemen. So what if they were all handcuffed ? Mere handcuffs and chains won’t stop people accused of being terrorists would they ?

The police were following Supreme Court and Human Rights guidelines, and only one hand of each was handcuffed. Damn decent, what?  Law abiding people, these policemen.  Now of course, there will be an outcry, a Commission of Inquiry, a report that will remain secret one supposes and (I know you’ve heard this before) there will be the usual round of promotions.

Twenty more died in another location. “Red-sanders wood smugglers” we are told. We are also told they were labourers “working for” some “Red-sanders wood smugglers”. Police version is they attacked police with sickles, rods and stones, even arrows. The police had to open fire in “self-defence”.

Small problem is, several of the dead labourers were shot in the face. Several bodies had burn marks. Some were shot in the back. There was allegedly a move by police to “secure permission” to open fire directly on such people, to curtail the procedural complexities of navigating “the legal minefield”.  Permission had not yet been granted. At least not officially.

Really valiant courageous fellows, these twenty. Imagine taking on the might of armed trained police carrying weapons, with stones sticks and rods. Oh yes they had sickles too. Sick. And yes, the National Human Rights Commission has taken notice.  Of course there will be an inquiry. There have been inquiries in the past.  The police have a pretty tough time, don’t they?  First they have to save society from criminals. Then they have to face inquiries also.  Very unfair. As someone famously said, “bahuth na-insaafi hai”.

And speaking of inquiries, how many inquiry reports were made public ? When the State appointed an expert to report and give recommendations, in how many cases were the appointed expert’s recommendations followed or implemented?  In how many inquiries did reports indict officials for wrongdoing, excessive use of force, falsehood in statements, falsification of records, or murder?  How many of these were proceeded against?  How many prosecuted?  How many promoted?  How many allowed to retire with full benefits and allegations against them ignored? What are the government’s own intelligence reports on these incidents? How many instances resulted in the State paying ex gratia to the victims of such police action?  In how many cases were the sums recovered from delinquent police officials?  What was the total financial cost of all these inquiries?

What do I mean financial cost?  Well, there is a social cost. And a political cost. And an invisible setback to the supposed efforts at integration-into-the-mainstream-of-national-life, which also qualifies as cost to society. Or is there a hidden political windfall?  We heard a slogan recently. What was it?

Oh yes. Achhe din.