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Growing Mania of taking Law into hand

"Taking law into hands seems to be a dangerous mania that is spreading across rural India and also fascinating the urban population which is definitely not acceptable in a civilised society."

HNF Editorial : August 08, 2009

Villagers of Dansara in Banki Block of Orissa’s Cuttack district killed two young boys on suspicion of alleged murder of a 10 years old village boy. The incident happened on August 6, 2009 in presence of police personnel who silently watched the mob beating young boys brutally till death.

Few days ago, villagers of a village in Rajgangpur got hold of a Youngman whom the villagers thought to be a thief. They tortured him and forced him plough like a bull. Recent cases in places outside Orissa also explained how people do prefer to take law into hand and punish people whom they believe to be of evil intention.

Even the tribal communities of Narayan Patna in Koraput preferred to take law into hand and capture the land that have been snatched away by non-tribal community people. This was the last resort for the tribals of Naraya Patna after long years of apathy and deafness from the district administration to the rights of the tribals.

Taking law into hands seems to be a dangerous mania that is spreading across rural India and also fascinating the urban population which is definitely not acceptable in a civilised society. But taking all the similar cases together, can we the civilised people call the attackers or people who took law into their hand uncivilised?

These incidents bring to my mind some instances of my childhood that happened in my village Kumarang Sasan. The villagers of my village trapped thieves and people with other evil intentions many times and immediately handed them over to the police stationed at Banpur. The villagers also helped the police in nabbing thieves hiding in other villages. I still remember how we the young members of my village accompanied the Police to another village and helped the police nabbing a thief who had a record of stealing bells and other properties from village temples.

In all such cases that happened in my village, the villagers could have taken law into hands. But they never did so as they relied upon the local Police and administration. As I hope, people of other villages also had a great deal of faith and respect for the police, law and administration at that point of time.

It’s now another 20 years since I left my village. There has been a great change during these years in regard to people’s viewpoint about the police and administration. Now, people don’t want to go to police with the presumption that Police doesn’t act by the law but by the pressure and desire of powerful people or handsome bribe money. And, in many cases, this has been the reality! Handsome bribe money, on many occasions, brings VIP treatment for a criminal in the police station and the innocent gets vulnerable to mental torture and also physical punishment.

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Police has a great role in maintaining peace and establishing law by finding the culprits through proper investigation and ensuring safety of the innocent. But this is not happening in most cases. Police is rather playing a major role in twisting the facts to save the culprit who later becomes a threat to the people who informed police about the culprit and the society at large. Once such a case happens with someone, he or she neither comes out to inform the police about a criminal, nor does dare to co-operate the police in sorting out a crime case.

Indian police always blames the common mass of not cooperating the police nor does act friendly to the Police. But the police has never made itself a friend and saviour of the innocent. At times, Indian police act hard on innocents for simple reasons and personal ego. News of police harassment on innocent people features almost a regularly in various media.

In many cases, the act of police is again ruled by its ego of power like the case of beating an innocent student on a jam packed bus just for not making a space for an Asst. Sub-Inspector of Police. Abdul Sattar Supariwala (17) – a student of St Xavier's High School, Fort, was brutally beaten up by Assistant Sub-Inspector Chandrashekar Pawar simply because the SSC student was unable to make way for him while they were travelling in the same BEST bus.

The problem with people in Indian Police is they never count themselves as common man first and then police. And the second problem as with all others in power is, Police has almost forgotten its primary purpose of ensuring peace and safety of the common man. Rather, even, the man in lowest hierarchy of police thinks itself powerful than the master in a democracy – the common man.

Because of its activism like spirit, police also makes media its target many times. Without changing itself, media is often blamed by Indian police as negative in its perception and encroaching into facts that are crucial for police to operate. In fact, instead of acting friendly, Indian police and administration becomes too much secretive to media. On the other hand, police and all others who hold ranks in administration forces media to carry news as per their desire. In a recent case, a Deputy Commissioner of Police not just denied to give a byte to few members from national media, but even didn’t talk to them on the issue of alleged threat by a group of Maoist to attack public places like Railway Station, Hospital and major educational institutes in Bhubaneswar. However, the DCP was then busy explaining the success of police in nabbing few kidnappers after almost 15 days of their attempt to kidnap a nurse from a busy location of the city. But the panicking news of Maoist threat to attack public places didn’t have any importance for the DCP.

This incident explains how Indian Police has become louder to propagate its minor success but secretive and repulsive to the issues that matters to the public. This repulsiveness towards issues of concern for general public has widened the gap between people and police. And the common mass gradually looses its faith on the police. The growing distance is the primary reason to pursue people taking law into their hands than approaching police. So, to check the mania of taking law into hand, Indian police must change its own attitude and must be friendly to people.



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