Thursday, August 16, 2007

2 sides for a police action in Uttar Pradesh

There have been a lot of confusion regarding the alleged shooting of a dacoit by the Uttar Pradesh police in cold blood. Apparently when cornered, the police shot him even when he was being shot in cold blood. Now, this sort of action is something that a lot of people will be able to believe, after all, the police know that he is guilty, what is the point of bringing him in front of a court when there are chances that he might get off. Even a lot of movies, many of them top-grossing, propagate the same concept of police having the discretion of killing criminals in encounters. Refer this TOI article:

The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry into the footage aired by a TV news channel purportedly showing an alleged fake encounter in which the police shot dead a criminal even though he was about to surrender.
The footage showed a criminal Pintu Mishra being chased by several policemen and purportedly gunned down in the civil lines area in Allahabad city on September 18 last year. State police chief Vikram Singh said that it was a very serious matter and was "not only a clear cut case of human rights violation but also of murder".

So, pretty clear that this was not an encounter, but a killing of a criminal. Now if I had been affected negatively by the criminal, maybe I would not feel bad. However, the rule of law is supreme, and the police are a law enforcer, not supposed to be a law breaker. They cannot just kill someone who is trying to surrender, not only for the rule of law, but because it will set a bad precedents for other criminals wanting to surrender. All these thoughts went through my mind, and then the shock of my life. I read this other article which turned my thoughts totally upside down. The article in fact was bylined by the same reporter who had written the first article on this subject. Read this article:

The alleged Uttar Pradesh fake encounter dates back to September 18, 2006, when, during a vehicle checking drive in the Civil Lines area of Allahabad, a police picket tried to stop three people on a motorcycle.
Instead of responding to the policemen, the motorcyclists allegedly threw a grenade targeting a constable, who died on the spot. The constable was later identified as Ashok Pandey. Meanwhile, the police launched a massive hunt for the two gangsters who had sped away from the site.
It was then that one of the gangsters appeared before the police holding his hands in the air. As the cops cautiously moved ahead to encircle him, the miscreant suddenly hurled a bomb while his associate began to fire indiscriminately at the approaching police. The exchange of fire left sub-inspector S K Sharma wounded and his right hand and legs suffered permanent disability.
The criminal allegedly repeated the act one more time before he finally appeared before the cops for a third time. But, unwilling to take any more chances by trying to arrest him, the police fired at him. The miscreant tried to run for cover but landed in a blind alley. It was there that he was shot dead by the police.

This changed the perspective of the situation totally. Even in a society much less tolerant of attacks by police or by any misuse such as the United States, attacks on policemen is seen as an attack on the authority of the state, and hence not easily forgivable. And if the cops here in Uttar Pradesh have seen criminals try to trick them by a surrender and then attack again, it is very easy to comprehend as to why the police finally did what they did. One can easily feel sympathy for the police in the end, after all, they did try to accept the surrender.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:00 AM