“Do wrong, there will be an encounter,” Talasani Srinivas Yadav, the current Minister of Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairies in Telengana was quoted saying this during a conversation with a regional TV channel. The Sanathnagar Assembly constituency MLA justified and called the execution of the four men accused of raping and murdering a 26-year-old veterinary doctor as an example of the K Chandrashekar Rao government’s obligation to improve the law and order situation in the state.
Most people have acclaimed this step of the police and have glorified and hailed it with stupendous praise but they have failed to acknowledge the inherent problem with such an incident. Though there is not an iota of doubt that such heinous criminals deserve capital punishment but such extra-judicial killings raise further questions about the efficacy and competence of our police forces and the people in higher places.
While encouraging on the face, rejoicing extra-judicial killing gives blanket moral approval to police forces to tag and slaughter. Sooner or later, they will put to sleep some faultless person either mistakenly or purposely for bribe and gains.
Most of the readers would probably know the way how affairs unfolded that led to this encounter. The description of the situation as told by the police has come under scrutiny by experts and common man alike. A fraction of netizens has hailed the police, while the others have showered them with criticism. Leaders like Dr Shashi Tharoor and Maneka Gandhi, among others, have questioned the shrewdness and proceedings of the police.
Numberless similar cases are pending in the judiciary where the established criminals have not yet been punished. Officially, these four were accused. Should the government or the judiciary not give the green signal to execute the proven culprits? Even Ajmal Kasab was not exterminated like this!
The administration and the police should be made efficient enough to make sure such crimes do not occur in the first place. Secondly, our judicial system needs to improve. In India, it takes years to file the charge sheets, to pronounce the judgments, and execute the punishments. Not only does it delay justice, but many a time innocent people are harassed because of the unduly long procedures.
CJI SA Bobde’s statement that “justice can never be instant” also paints a worrisome picture of our system, no matter on which side of the line you stand. On one hand, it seems to condemn the extra-judicial encounters and on the other, it reiterates the fact that getting justice is not a quick process. We should not forget that even after seven long years, Nirbhaya culprits still await their fate. Recall, one of them was let go because he was a juvenile in the eyes of the law.
Such an encounter, with so many shortcomings in the official story, puts forth a bad precedent. Giving police the license to kill is according it the right to become the judge, the jury, and the executioner. An encounter is not always state-controlled lynching, akin to mob justice. Calling it fair snatches away from us the right to question when a guiltless person is slain by the same police.
With the crime rate at such a rise and justice despatched at such a low rate, such encounters should not become part of the routine. It must be noted that Cyberabad Commissioner IPS VC Sajjanar who carried out this encounter had led a similar police action in Warangal in 2008!
We desire the improvement of the system, not its absence. An extra-judicial killing is not the serving of justice, it is lawlessness on the platter. The police do not determine culprits, the judiciary does. Such actions are harmful to society. The police may, tomorrow, pick anybody from the road, kill them, close the file, and garner adulation and promotion. Corruption in police departments, and in general in India, is no hidden fact. Nobody would be safe in such a system.
Having said all that, I would now like to share an image that I came across on a social networking site. It bluntly demonstrates the intent, authority, and honesty of the police. The public is no fool.
The police take such steps against the poor, the weak, and the miserable section of the society. People with might, money, and power remain untouched by the police. The manner in which the police deals with an incident depends on how heavy their pocket is.