It's time to restore the rule of lawtext_fields
The report of the Supreme Court-appointed commission for inquiry into the Hyderabad fake encounter once again underlines the fact that extrajudicial killings have become part of the routine of our law enforcement. It was in the report by the three-member panel headed by former Supreme Court Judge VS Sirpurkar where it was found that Telangana Police shot four individuals to death in 2019 and fabricated an encounter story. The circumstances and recurrence of such incidents also indicate that the finding that the defendants in the case of the gang rape and murder of a veterinarian were deliberately shot could apply to a number of other encounter killings. The commission establishes that the claims that the accused took by force the firearms from police and assaulted them is a lie. Those murdered were not familiar with using guns. It is not believable that they fired at the police while fleeing. It is also not believable that the police fired in self-defence. Examining the arguments put forward by the commission, it is clear that not only is the story of the encounter untrue, but the arguments put forward by the police are also feeble. This means that there is widespread confidence in the police force that there is no need to fear further investigation or punishment in such cases. The commission said that despite the presence of a foolproof surveillance camera system at the spot, it was not made fully available to them.
One reason for the proliferation of fake encounter killings is the assumption that there will be no repercussions. That the petition seeking an inquiry into the Hyderabad incident got due consideration is a good precedent. Strong measures are needed to prevent the spread of the malady of impunity at various levels of governance. If encounter killings are a violation of the law by law -enforcers themselves, then mob lynchings are pervasive violations of the law because of their collusion and inaction. An incident of a 65-year-old man being killed in Madhya Pradesh's Neemuch district came the other day. A video of the mentally disturbed man, Bhanwarlal Jain, who was being relentlessly beaten, had been shared, possibly by the perpetrators themselves, on social media; the assailant asks if his name is Muhammad; asks him to show his Aadhaar card, and beats him non-stop. The poor man was later found dead. The attacker Dinesh Kushwaha got arrested. According to reports, he is an activist of the ruling BJP. Today street justice and gangsterism have totally gripped politics and public life so that the question that such brutality, even nowadays, loses its meaning. If there is doubt that beef is eaten, or it is in possession, or similar doubts arise, the rule of law is tortured to the extent that people not only get beaten to death, but also get captured in cameras and images widely shared. Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said in response to the Neemuch murder that it was a mistake as the victim could not prove himself. What does it mean when he says that he could not prove that he was Jain, not Muhammad? Isn't it that one must not only carry his Aadhaar card to convince a street goon, but also that people with certain classes of names deserve to be killed?
Criminals are nurtured by law enforcers, administrators and administrations. In 2015, Mohammed Akhlaq was beaten to death by a mob. The same culture has now reached Bhanwarlal Jain through many other killings. Three months ago, Union Minister for State Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha that there had been 655 fake encounter killings by police in different states in the last five years. We have the law; a governing system; law enforcers; a judiciary to correct if they make mistakes; a Human Rights Commission and its sub-committees. Yet police killings, political gangsterism on the streets and mob lynching are commonplace. The court intervention in the Hyderabad incident is a good augury. At the same time, when fake encounters and massacres are frequent, more powerful and in-depth intervention is needed. It is time for the public and the judiciary to act directly in this regard.