Lucknow:Is the state of UP ready to accept the fact that there is a problem with Uttar Pradesh Police Force? Or are they comfortable condoning the acts of brutality that are becoming a frequent occurrence now. The khaki brigade is running rampant and nothing seems to be done to reign them in either.
With another custodial death taking place in Hanspura Police station in Kanpur of a labourer Jung Bahadur Singh, the incident brings home the point of how uncontrolled the law enforcers are now in state of UP. Their tyrannical attitude is more than evident in cases like the one of a small time labourer who was thrashed to death for a crime as petty as some bricks being stolen by his two minor sons.
In a serious violation of human rights the incident comes close at heels of the UP Police implicating five innocent people for torching the house of UP congress Chief Rita Bhaguna Joshi.
While not a single accused the police claim to have arrested from the spot of the crime are in any way related to the crime, there seems to be no one ready to take action against the false arrests. Though the UP Congress Chief has been openly condemning the arrests, she has demanded a CBI inquiry into the issue.
As per Akhilesh Singh, Spokesperson UP Congress, “She has also filed a petition in the High Court against the unlawful arrests and from August 1 we will start a jail bharo andolan if our demand for a genuine high level CBI inquiry is not granted. We have personally visited the family of the arrested and have given them our word that innocent people will not be allowed to be made scapegoats in a government sponsored crime. The police is obviously involved in the arson as well which will come to light only when a CBI inquiry is conducted.”
A fact which is also corroborated by SR Darapuri, IPS (retd) and former Inspector General (IG) police and Vice President, Public Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL), UP, a human rights organization that has constituted a 5 member team to investigate the five arrests made, “The investigating team has began preparing the report. Based on our findings and I can confidently say that the arrests made are false. Innocent people have been implicated and charged with arson which can get them life imprisonment if convicted. Though the CB CID has interrogated those accused, it very obvious that they are innocent. The police have picked these five just to show that they are prompt in their action as it's the matter of a politician from the ruling party. Infact there were no spot arrests made three people Inder Kumar, Shiv Kumar and Guddu Yadav all relatives and residents of Neel Matha, Lucknow Cantt were booked at the Sadr Cantt police station. They were brought there after they had family brawl over water. They were kept sitting at a tempo stand in Sadr where a police jeep picked them up and send them to jail. The other two were in a motor accident and went to the Hussainganj police station on their own and ended up being arrested and charged with arson under Section 436 IPC. This is the way actual culprits were allowed to go scott free.”
Stressing further on the fact that the crime the five have been booked for is a heinous crime and face very serious implications for it despite the fact that they had not committed the offense. Darapuri adds, “PUCL in its report will demand that a CBI inquiry be conducted in the matter apart from demanding a judicial inquiry as well. We will also ask for strict action against those police personnel responsible for implicating innocent people falsely. Compensation from the state will also be asked for the victims and their family who are from a very improvised background. “
Also on the agenda of the PUCL report will be scrutinizing the role of agencies like the National and State Human Rights Commission who do not play stringent role in ensuring that such serious human rights violations do not go unpunished in the country.
Adds Vandana Mishra, who is also on the five member PUCL Team constituted to investigate the matter, “The report we present will definitely help the case of the five accused to prove their innocence in the court of law. While as per our inquiry conducted there it is very obvious innocent persons are being implicated PUCL's effort will be to ensure that no injustice is done.”
But what has caused the UP Police to take on such an autocratic stance in the state?
As per Anjali Singh, Director, Saaksham Foundation, and member, PUCL, who is also on the investigating team of PUCL, “The Uttar Pradesh Police goes by the motto 'Protection of Good and Destruction of the bad.' But with the UP Police Force now topping the list of human rights violations, their motto seems to have been reversed. And when it's the largest police force in the world, we indeed need to sit up and take stock of where the Khaki Brigade is heading as a law enforcement agency and does it take its role seriously when it comes to protecting those who are innocent. As per a study by Human Rights Features, a publication that raises the Voice of the Asia Pacific Human Rights, it came to light that the Police abuse of authority is so prevalent in Uttar Pradesh as it has an inordinate amount of power and discretion delegated to them by the legal system, the political climate and society in general. The internal reward system, which provides monetary incentives or promotions for carrying out extrajudicial executions, also acts as a catalyst. Systemic and endemic corruption in the police and within the political and judicial agencies exacerbates the problem and ensures that such crimes go unpunished.”
In short it is the poverty stricken, the dalits and illiterate sections of society, generally become sitting ducks of such a system. The lack of access to the few difficult legal remedies that actually exist further emboldens the police force that is already out of control.
Feels IB Singh, Senior Advocate ,High Court, who has been addressing such issues, “No body is above the law, not even the police. The IPC(Indian Penal Code) has numerous sections that come into effect when the rights of a citizen is violated. Though there are no separate laws drawn up in case of violations by the police, the fact remains that the existing sections are applicable on the khaki brigade as well. Section 504 IPC, Section 506, Section 323 and Section 325 IPC which deals with assault, harassment, registering fraudulent cases, corruption and extortion all can be used to bring erring police personnel to book.”
But is the BSP led state government interested in doing? With the way things are being done in UP, it does not seem so.
Anjali Singh, CNS
(The author is a Special Correspondent to Citizen News Service(CNS) and also the Director of Saaksham Foundation. Email: [email protected])