Police brutality and Oppression have become intrinsic to societal structure in India. Communal divide is now clearer than ever. However, the issue arises when this narrow view is taken as the only cause of police brutality. The leading reasons are the massive divide between the poor and rich and between those in power and those without it. The police have been granted practical immunity with regard to their actions towards non-power holding and non-majority citizens. This case is a stark reminder of what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future if we allow the police to maintain their impunity.
Tuticorin, 23rd June 2020: Jayaraj was arrested and taken to the police station despite a lack of evidence for ‘violating lockdown rules’. As any child would, Fenix went to the police station to check on his father. He was then arrested as well but this time, not even being given a reason, or even a terrible excuse for why he was arrested. The policemen at the station then proceeded to smash their knees in, pushed up against a wall and proceeded to have the skin ripped off their backs from being beaten by a baton, forced to strip naked and being thrown into a jail cell in that state. Furthermore, they were sexually harassed and tortured to an extent that is far too graphic to describe. Their clothes that were soaked with their blood were sent multiple times to their homes with orders to give fresh ones.
Later, there was a ‘for namesake’ only trial that took place, and they were sent back into custody proceeding it. They were pronounced dead, 2 days after having died due to ‘preexisting medical conditions named as heart failure and fever’ according to the police.
In India, it is very cogent that this kind of torture is almost synonymous with being taken into police custody. This kind of torture is ‘justified’ by the police under the term ‘custodial interrogation’. This may seem like a well defined legal term while in actuality, it is very vague thereby granting the police, the choice to torture at their own discretion. The problem here, however, doesn’t lie with the laws themselves that aim at protecting the citizens of India. India has sufficient laws, surpassing those of major world economies and power.
The problem lies with the laws being legally allowed to be blatantly ignored.
The problem lies in their implementation.
The problem lies in the sincere lack of punishment for out of line and blatantly inhumane actions.
There is no real incentive for the police to follow the laws, due to the lack of repercussions. The reason such a system is still allowed to prevail is due to the sheer ignorance of our society when it comes to the rights of citizens and those who are arrested. We assume that arrests can be made and the repercussions to be dealt with and the questions to be answered are only to be dealt with by the accused with a blatant lack of evidence. This needs to change.
Rules exist in other countries however that force certain rights of citizens to be taken seriously.
The rules to reprimand the violation of laws by the police during arrests and investigations are under-implemented if not virtually absent within certain parts of our country. We need to reform the police to the point that they would have to think thrice before even coming close to violating our rights embedded in our constitution to protect the citizens of India.
The systematic brutality by the police and by proxy, the money-gap are only further promoted by the privileged classes within Indian Society. The reformation of the police system and our class structures as a whole can only begin when the privileged classes decide to take action and to promote a sense of true accountability.
We need to promote a sense of transparency that is in this case and a multitude of other cases, painfully absent. To truly understand where this sense of ignorance of laws stems from, we need to inculcate the habit of asking relevant questions, to get the full picture: whether it involves asking why someone should be detained for violating the lockdown or why should ‘custodial interrogation’ take place.
May they rest in power.
Author: Rohan Raju