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"We the people of India digest when the police force fails to ensure peace in public and provide security to people from the growing Naxalism or Maoism and even the Mafias, but it bothers us when the police behaves harsh to people and kill them brutally ..."
HNF Editorial : May 30, 2007
Have we ever imagined the state of affairs in India if police behaves as the killer instead of savour? Looking at few recent incidents where Indian police has a role that goes against its ethics in a democratic nation it has become a question to be taken seriously.
There was a time when some officers of Mumbai police were praised and rewarded for their drastic moves against mafias and terrorists. Once the fact of planned and interest driven encounters by some Mumbai encounter specialist came to light, it astonished everyone in the country. If it was the beginning of unveiling the notorious face of Indian Police, the Sohrabuddin kidnap and fake encounter case followed by another incident of killing innocent village people in Chhatishgarh in the name of an encounter with naxals are truly the testimonials to prove it right and explain how Indian Police has been into such the heinous activities.
In this context, it’s worthwhile to place one of my experiences with Orissa Police as recently I visited Rayagada - one of the Naxal dominated districts of the state that has, many times, seen violence caused by the Red Ultras. I had been to IACR - a leading Engineering and Management college in the district headquarters. Incidentally, the college is just after the Reserve Police Battalion office with one road leading to both. It was little more than 6 pm when we left the Institute and the Reserve Police Battalion has blocked the road by putting a timber across the road on wooden forks. There was no board or anything to indicate why the road was blocked. There was nobody nearby and one of our team members just went close to it to lift the timber and make the vehicle pass through. Soon a voice came from the darkness – “don’t touch that, you will be killed, we will name it an encounter”. Everybody of our team was astonished. What is this and why these people are shouting for an encounter? We then said that we were from a Press and had gone by the same road for coverage of a story in the IACR Campus. We again shouted – ‘We are from Press’.
- Don’t touch that whoever you are...
- But we are in a hurry to move to Jeypore.
- Take the other way.
- Where is it? We don’t know as we are new in the town. Can you please come out and tell us why the road is blocked?
It was hardly 6.30 pm and nobody appeared before us whom we could talk to. We were still at the check timber. After a while one, who would be a state armed police constable in civil dress, came and said the check timber is put to obstruct the Naxals from entering into the Battalion and the town. Many of us were about to laugh at the reply when I asked – can you stop the naxals by putting a timber across the road? It would be putting people in trouble only. You have not mentioned about the blockage anywhere, there is no declaration and you are threatening people of an encounter! There is a college nearby, if one’s guest enters by mistake or a student gets serious and comes this way you would be killing an innocent man in the name of encounter! The simple reply of the man was – we are doing as the RO (Reserve Officer) is instructing. It is the duty of the RO to see that there is a board or a notification for public.
I was shocked with the behaviour of the Rayagada Police and its eagerness to kill innocent people in the name of encounter. However, all of us know that most of the cops wouldn’t have the courage to face the better armed Naxalites, as it is seen in many instances during the previous years.
Even the failure in the recent police-naxal encounter in Kalimela Market proved the incapability of Orissa Police whereas the innocent people were put into harassment and trouble by the police during the aftermath. Was it meant to save its face in the public or to overcome the frustration of the failure and to hide the helplessness and weakness from public?
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According to the police records, nearly 40 cops are killed in different cop-naxal encounters in Orissa alone during last 6 years. In almost all naxal dominated districts, police has failed or has been ineffective to curb naxalism and ensure security for common people. As it seemed from the incident we came across in Rayagada, Police feels rather more unsecured than the public and are really terrified by the Naxals, terrorizing organizations and mafias. But to save their face and display their strength before public, they are now staging false encounters with innocent people as happened in Chhatishgarh. ‘Anticipation’ has become the greatest way for Indian Police to escape from any kind of blame or controversy. Perhaps, the continuous failure of Indian Police against the red ultras and mafia force has made them hungry of encounters.
We the people of India digest when the police force fails to ensure peace in public and provide security to people from the growing Naxalism or Maoism and even the Mafias, but it bothers us when police behaves harsh to people and kill them brutally as it did in Maikanch and Kalinga Nagar of Orissa, Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal and in many other states which are all government engineered massacres. If state police kills innocent people like this, how can we (the government and elites) blame the Naxalites or Maoists for being aggressive to people, police and administration?
It’s not only in the case of Maoists or Naxalites or Mafias, the over activism of police has bothered public as in cases like beating up young boys and girls in a park in Kanpur, working hand to hand with RSS and VHP members in Gujarat - beating up young boys and girls on Valentines day and harassing artists in MS university and beating up people in MP who were agitating to get water, are all mater of concern. The question is – who empowered the Police to behave like gangsters and act against people? Whether police is to protect people or the pseudo ideologues of political parties? These simple questions may not find answer from any body or any quarter, but they have a greater relevance at this point of time.
Police has been empowered to combat internal terrorism and ensure a healthy law and order situation in the land. Recently state as well as union governments have decided to upgrade them with advanced arms and ammunitions. But, such a step would be proved wrong as, unfortunately, senior police personnel have been exposed in recent days for using there power against all ethical values and codes. They are more a part of the politician-Bureaucrat-Businessmen nexus than a body ruled by certain codes of conduct and works for the protection of people. This is the most serious issue of the day seeking intervention of judiciary. Because, if such illegal and irresponsible acts of Police are not checked promptly and permanently through some exemplary actions, then Indian Police is going to take the role of a government authorized gangster and put a threat to the internal peace and safety of the fellow Indians.