Every Year 117 people die in custody in India and that’s just the officially recorded figures!
As the world is fighting a pandemic with all its might, people are grateful for the essential service workers holding them up at every step. While this is from one perspective to look at, there is another parallel emerging alongside this praise. The recent cases of police brutality have been an enlightening condition for many people. It throws light on the authoritarian flaws in the system. The enlightenment does not come as a recent discovery, but as high time to respond to these criminal injustices that have been going on for years. People in the USA are out in the streets to protest racial offenses by the police. But police brutality in India is something that is often overlooked, leading to the consistent cover-ups of the same.
Why does the nation hide away from the fact that there are certain criminal injustices within the administrative powers? Why do the higher authorities cover up the names of the offenders within the system? These questions arise from restlessness and anger against the negligence of commoners’ voice. If the authorities are worrying about the impact that will do to the image of the country’s security, then what does it convey otherwise? It only worsens the picture of security concerns. Only if they come up with proper police brutality solutions, will the nation and it’s people feel safer. Police brutality in India is definitely a longstanding debate that has never seen an end to it.
Among the recent police brutality cases, the issue of Jayaraj and Benicks seems to have triggered a lot of people. Police brutality in India is still not met with demanding solutions. Why is this the case? While we contemplate that, let us take a look into the loopholes of the resting powers and how it could be fought back.
In the majority of the countries, the nature of racism is very much active. While it is heartening to see commoners come together to bring down the racial walls, the problem still exists as a threat. If this was the chaos among the cultural barriers of commoners, where do the administrative services like the police stand? It is saddening and equally frustrating to realize that most of the police officials are also part of this discrimination. The recent police brutality case of George Floyd (among others) are a standing proof to this statement.
Police brutality against Blacks is an issue that has been going on for several years. Even as we start off a new decade, there is still no drastic change in the way the Blacks are treated in the States. Why has the protest become the talk of the world all of a sudden? One of the prime reasons for this was the disturbing video evidence of the said accusation. In this video, a ‘white’ policeman is seen to manhandle Floyd during an arrest. While Floyd was trying to force himself out of the car, the policeman kneeled him to his neck to bring him under control. But as Floyd was begging for air to breathe, the policeman turned a blind eye and this ultimately led to his death.
No matter what the offense is, without any proper investigation or hearing, it is under no policeman’s authority to have the right to claim a life so brutally. This episode is what got the world talking all about police brutality against Blacks and in general on racial brutality. Previous cases of police injustice that were not brought to light, began popping up everywhere around the world.
Justice for Jayaraj and Bennicks
The USA protests are still soaring by the day in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. This urged the Government to act quickly to speed up the hearing process. While this was ongoing in the West, India came forward with another breaking news. Thoothukudi, the town in the state of Tamil Nadu became a witness to the cruel injustice over a father-son duo, Jayaraj, and Benicks (Fennix is a misunderstanding reference). Who are they? They were common people who made their living by setting up an electronic shop in the town. One night, their shop was found open past the lockdown business hours. Following this, the police officials dragged them to the station and kept them for over a week.
During this course, the police were reportedly harassing both the father and son consistently. Witnesses also claim that sexual assault was part of the brutal actions, leading their bodies to profusely bleed. The bloody clothes were sent back to their families for around 3-4 times for changing into fresh ones. All this within the time frame of five hours. The family even begged them to at least let them out alive. But their plea was left unheard and after two days, Jayaraj and Bennicks were announced dead. A lot of commotions have ever since erupting from social media and the state demanding justice for Jayaraj and Bennicks.
With their demise, numerous questions are also on the loose. Why did the police take such extreme action in the place of a petty case? Were there any personal conflicts that are still a secret or were it just pure violation of authoritarian power? However, maybe the case, the actions by the officials were not in any way acceptable. Without any doubt, these actions come under criminal offense.
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Due to the online widespread outbreak and tentative protests in the state, the hearing in the justice for Jayaraj and Bennicks saw a swift proceeding take place. Reading through the surrounding events adding up to how such a brutal act was under neglect, a lot of violations have come to notice. The magistrate who finds the father and son guilty might have also had some links in covering up the police crime. A realization of this came by contemplating how the condition of the two was not convincing enough as proof of custodial violence. If the two were not brought to the hearing at all then that indicates another violation altogether.
Caste-based and racial violence has been occurring in the country for very long. While this was not enough a case to fight against, the misuse of power towards the commoners have come into play. Or rather risen over the years. There is no actual satisfying law to work for police brutality solutions.
This is not the first time that the town of Thoothukudi is against such criticism. Some years back, the firing on commoners during the course of anti-Sterlite protests was another major blowback to the police officials. If this was the case in South India, the rest of the nation is no way less in such discriminative authority. The state of Uttar Pradesh is said to top the list of police brutality in India. There are outbreaks on instances but then they soon die away. Why is this happening in the nation?
Police Brutality in India
Looking under recent cases of police brutality, there was another incident that came up amidst the cries of justice for Jayaraj and Bennicks. A bank employee in Surat was hit mindlessly by a constable of the region. The constable apparently went into the place beyond the working hours to get the passbook printed. The employee was refusing to do so as the printer had some problems, and was requesting him to wear the mask as well. The customer (constable) began threatening and abusing the employee. A lady colleague in the bank was recording this scene and the constable, noticing this, entered their cabin and assaulted the woman.
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Viral on the internet is a clip of police officers in riot gear thrashing five men lying wounded on a roadside. The footage captures a policeman on his cell phone filming the incident as the wounded people are being asked to sing the national anthem. The cops can also be heard tossing abuses and then using the word ‘Azadi’ multiple times while beating the men. Shaheen Bagh’s twitter page has written that in the view of demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act ( CAA), the clip was filmed violently in Delhi.
If you are wondering this is justifiable to an extent, then that is not the full story yet. Their actions were not in any way a lavish exploration but a cautious activity. They understood the risks clearly and went along abiding every physical distancing rule. In spite of all this, the police were still arrogant in not filing the case against other policemen who hurt them.
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Police brutality in India is an everyday tale to tell. There are no proper organizations or groups to take the complaints against service authorities seriously. Only once in a while, when the cases are let out to the world will they ever see a day of justice. Otherwise, most of the police brutality cases in India never come out to the public. Even popular celebrities and activists have an agenda of selective activism which is convenient for them to voice out. This does not come as a problem at the most but when they give out inappropriate opinions on sensitive issues, then that becomes a concern. Because they will have a huge number of followers and indirectly they might end up being a bad influence.
Police Brutality in India- Solutions
Where does India go wrong in handling cases such as police crimes? The answers come in various ranges to this. Ideologies built upon the surface of protecting the nation comes as a different understanding in the Indian context. For example, take the representation of policemen in pop culture movies. While there are highlights of movies wherein the officials identify as frontline warriors and fighters who live to safeguard us, in other cult movies, entertainment misuse the language of police as a whole. A sub-conscious effect on the minds will be that policemen can do anything and everything he feels is right. That is something to look into deeper.
A decent wage is never provided to the sincere frontline workers and Government servants. This leads them to live off bribery and unofficial collection of money. The underpay of police services is real and factual. Hence, a proper income for their services is a good consideration. For criminal acts like the police brutality in India, can never come as an excuse though. That is just a clear arrogance of power. When such injustice takes place, the fellow colleagues within the department must have the courage to oppose their seniors or other officials to reveal criminal acts. Only then will the commoners feel a promise of safety from them.
In the light of recent cases of police brutality, it is better to have a public forum wherein the commoners have access to register complaints against officials. In fact, there is a platform similar to this idea namely, Police Complaints Authority (PCA). But this is not constantly put on a track. No serious commitments came out from this platform. Although the implications are good enough, the follow-up in affairs of police brutality solutions is yet to be taken seriously.
Police Brutality in India- A Red Alert
With the outbreak of police brutality against Blacks in the US, a steady change in the ways we see people are brought into the light. The timing of the outbreak might not be a great option, but that also put the officials to speed up the process of legal solutions. This does not imply that the pandemic is the best time to revolt in the streets. It means that the restlessness in the voices from different parts of the nation can come as a threat to the growth of the country. The only point is we must stay in unison in order for the voices to reach out afar.
Although the justice for Jayaraj and Bennicks is still under progress, no other recent cases of police brutality in South India were brought in the forefront and fought strongly. This got the results of speeding up the hearing and handing the case over to CB-CID to further investigate on it. But again, there are chances of the usual delay of justice in the CBI investigating process. This leads to the chances of people forgetting the issue and an incomplete follow-up. We can only hope it is not the same this time.
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Voicing against injustice and criminal offenses are very important. Be it a petty case or a serious offense. Any kind of misappropriation of power should be the talk of the town. Be it a commoner or an official. Only such mindfulness will result in a better and safer tomorrow for an individual as well as the whole country.