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'Police has done what the public wanted'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
December 06, 2019 12:10 IST

'If you create a trigger-happy police it is clearly dangerous for any civilised society which wants to walk on the road of law and order.'

IMAGE: Police personnel at the spot where the four men, accused of the rape and murder of a lady veterinary doctor last week, were killed in an encounter in Hyderabad. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

The public by and large has erupted in joy over the encounter killings of the four men accused of the rape and murder of a Hyderabad veterinary doctor. The Telangana police has been showered with flowers and sweets, with women tying rakhis to them for meting out 'justice'.

Amidst the jubilation, there have been voices of restraint as well, urging a pause and an evaluation of where the path of extra-judicial killings will lead the country.

In 2014, on a petition filed by the People's Union of Civil Liberties, the Supreme Court of India said killings in police encounters affected the credibility and rule of law as well as harming the administration of the criminal justice system and issued 16 guidelines for investigating these incidents.

Deploring the killing of the four accused, Kavita Srivastava, national secretary, PUCL, tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf, "We have now come to a situation where the public is demanding a trigger-happy police culture."

Your reaction to the police encounter killings in Hyderabad this morning.

What happened is terrible. They were in the hands of the police for the last five-six days. Suppose there was an escape attempt, you immobilise them, you don't kill.

Suppose there is a situation of escape, you shoot below the knees and that is enough as the vital organs are above the legs.

This is lynching by the police because the public, except for a few, was baying for their blood including parliamentarians. The police has done what the public wanted.

We cannot believe the police encounter story at all. They were in the hands of the police and they were de-weaponised. They didn't have weapons. How can you kill them?

There may be a situation where the police can fire in self-defence, when you fire back, but the accused did not have weapons in their hands.

The police taking the law into their own hands is terrible.

We have now come to a situation where the public is demanding a trigger-happy police culture.

On the one hand we have a culture of lynching while on the other hand we have a regressive rape culture even while we have everybody baying for the blood of those who do it.

If you create a trigger-happy police it is clearly dangerous for any civilised society which wants to walk on the road of law and order.

We now reject those people (the accused) as scum of the earth and call them everything but tomorrow it can be you, me or our loved ones. We are replicating what is happening in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

What do you do when the victims/survivors of such crimes don't get justice? Look at the Nirbhaya case, there has not been justice even after seven years...

The law will take its own course. Justice always takes time, but then you work towards speedy justice. That is the challenge. Just to get speedy justice you cannot kill. We cannot have that culture.

But public anger is there. People feel no daughter in India is safe especially after the Hyderabad rape-murder.

They (the alleged rapists) had been arrested and the law would have taken its course.

The culture of rape which is around us will not go away by eliminating one or two rapists.

Let us address this culture of lynching and this regressive rape culture. We are not addressing why this is happening.

You think a harsher punitive culture will resolve that? The answer is no.

All theories of criminology will tell you this may have a deterrent, but may not prevent this (rape culture).

We need to talk to women and men. We need to begin immediately. Let us begin by addressing all forms of rape. Let us address marital rape or the rapes by people in uniform.

The NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) says the largest number of rapes is by friends, relatives and families. Where are we addressing that?

Let us have a culture where girls come out and say what happened with me was wrong rather than hide and feel shame.

We have promoted the culture of rape, but stranger rape is only 20 per cent. The rest of the rape is by family, friends and relatives.

Don't harsher laws, like in Saudi Arabia with harsher punishment, result in men not indulging in rape?

Those are dictatorial countries. Those are countries without freedom of expression. India cannot become like Saudi Arabia.

Anybody can be accused in a rape case. I know about a person who was falsely accused of sexual assault and he deserves a fair trial.

Boys and girls elope and the families of girls charge the boy with rape and sexual assault.

There are a lot of false cases. There has to be a fair trial.

We have to ask why are rapes happening? And why is the judicial and criminal system not delivering justice with speed? These are the questions we need to ask.

The Delhi gang-rape victim's family has not got justice even after seven years.

There should be justice. The judiciary needs to get its act together.

Hanging, chemical castration, mutilation of the body and lynching are not a solution to the aggressive rape culture.

We would be totally befooling ourselves if we think that is the solution.

This is not my nation. I don't want to be pushed into the medieval and dark ages. The law must take its own course.

The Hyderabad police say they took the accused at night to recreate the crime.

It was a pure planned elimination of these four accused.

I am sure a lot of groups will do fact-finding including PUCL. Police encounters are just not acceptable.

If somebody is armed you may have to use counter arms. Were they armed? Were they weaponised? They were not.

Public opinion says human right activists show sympathy towards rapists and criminals, not the victims and sufferers.

We talk of the rule of law.

Is adhering to the rule of law protecting rapists? We want adherence to the rule of law and only adherence to the rule of law.

The trouble is we are back in the dark ages where we want a public spectacle.

What is lynching? Creating a public spectacle, exactly like what Lord Byron wrote in his Gladiator poem.

We have gone back to those days because we want blood. We want a bloody spectacle. We all are witnessing the game where we are encouraging and cheering the person who is baying for blood.

Maybe justice is not happening, which is why we are demanding blood.

No. Right from parliamentarians where Rajasthan Minister Bhanwar Lal Sharma said there has to be public hanging to Jaya Bachchan who said to lynch them, what is this nonsense? From top to down we want this culture?

What is this selective outrage? Why aren't are we outraging over every rape?

What happened with the Hyderabad victim was terrible, but that does not mean what happened in other rapes was not equally bad.

Will the PUCL ask for an inquiry into this encounter killing?

There has to be an immediate judicial enquiry by a sitting judge into the police encounter.

This is not acceptable, no way. It is a violation of the PUCL 2013 guidelines given by the Supreme Court.


Syed Firdaus Ashraf covers news events for Rediff.com. He can be contacted at firdausa@rediffmail.com

SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
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