Thursday, September 20, 2007

Human Rights course for Karnataka cops

We have it from the officer in charge of Karnataka police recruitment and training that constables and sub-inspectors study human rights as a subject during their basic training and that they undergo refresher course at various stages in their career. I read this in The Hindu open page where the officer, Mr D V Guruprasad, gives his take on the Bhagalpur brutality. It is refreshing to note a top cop, in the rank of additional director-general of police, taking a stance on the issue in an open forum.

What I read in his article, however, wasn't so heartening. He says he wasn’t shocked by the TV pictures of a Bhagalpur cop on a motorbike towing a battered chain-snatcher tethered to his vehicle. He attributed the continuing incidents of police in various parts of the country to public apathy. What shocked him about the motorbike incident was that onlookers who watched the brutality either cheered the police or preferred to be mute spectators.

In reference to the public attitude Mr Guruprasad write, “ I have come across many educated and well-placed citizens telling me that if the police do not use the third degree, a criminal cannot be taught a lesson”. This tends to shut out further debate on police excesses. Maybe Mr Guruprasad has a point – the public gets the police it deserves.

In an environment where people passively approve police excesses on crime suspects, Mr Guruprasad says, the police brutality would stop only when policemen are made to realize that there is suitable punishment in store for those who take the law into their own hands. That reminds me; does anyone know or care to find out the current status of the case against the cop on the bike? Has anyone seen a follow-up story in a newspaper or TV channel?

One would have thought the department would, in the interest of discipline of the force, want to see the policemen guilty of excesses (recorded on live TV with no scope for doctoring) meted out a severe punishment in expeditious manner. The irony is those who take the law into their own hands are dealt with in accordance with due process of law, which is not always sufficient or swift enough to be exemplary.

Mr Guruprasad, in his article, refers to the 1980 Bhagalpur blinding of 31 under-trials. A Google search on the progress of the case revealed that three policemen – station in-charge, an ASI and a havildar – were convicted and sentenced to two years in jail plus a fine of Rs.2,000 by trial court in 1987. The main accused got bail and appealed against the sentence. The apex court cancelled the bail and dismissed his appeal in March 2004. And it wasn’t till a month later a special magistrate realized the Rs.2,000 fine and sent the accused to serve out his two-year sentence.

The law, sure, takes its course, though this may take some 24 years after the incident. I don’t know if the court included the interest on the Rs.2,000 fine, realized 17 years after it was imposed

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr GVK
The cop who dragged the chainsnatcher in bihar has been dismissed invoking Art 311. Against this there was a protest by other cops in the district, but the government didnt budge.
Unless such punishment is meted out atrocities will continue. It is high time public raise their voice loudly and clearly.