Speedy Justice

The killing by the police of four accused in the rape and murder of a young female veterinarian in the morning of 6 December has drawn both applause and criticism all over the country. Many have expressed cheers about this example of 'speedy justice', while there are those who are alarmed at this open disregard of the process of law. It is clear that the four were shot with the objective of killing. Those who are thanking the Telengana police have almost axiomatically drawn the conclusion that the killed four were real culprits, and none of them was innocent. Whether all of them were really involved in the rape and murder will never be known, because the police have closed all avenues of taking the matter of the ladies rape and murder to the court. The police in this case have argued that they fired in 'self-defence', thereby implying that it was necessary to kill four unarmed persons, who had been in police custody, in 'self-defence'. The self-same police, it should be reinstated, had refused to take the FIR, when the lady was reported to be missing. It is clear that the police forces, in the face of severe criticism, had decided to kill the four for restoring their 'image'. The reason for such a decision may be to cover up their unwillingness to go through a process of law. The rape and murder of the lady doctor is a horrible event and the real culprits deserve severe punishment. But if the police had sufficient proof of their guilt, there was no reason why they should not be able to punish the guilty through a proper process of law. If the criminal justice system is not expected to do justice to the victim, that is at least partly attributable to the callousness and corruptibility of the police, and do not in any way justify extra-judicial killings by them.

Encounter killings, i.e. killing arrested persons in cold blood and then yarning the tale of 'encounter', is however nothing new in the history of police activities of independent India. From the days of Panchadri Krishnamurty, who was killed along with six other activists, the tradition continues unabated.

A Supreme Court advocate, was threatened with rape for condemning police action. She may, however, derive some consolation from the fact that she has been threatened with rape not with rape and murder. This shows how far the non-believers in the rule of law can go. If the police forces are given a free hand to perform the functions of judiciary, it is certainly not a good omen, whatever the vices of the Indian judiciary and those who man it.

For all practical purposes India is now a police state and modernised prison system is very much in the offing. The way the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was passed in the upper house of Parliament echoes the famous confessional poem of Martin Neimoller who, a protestant pastor did not care or ignored the rise of Hitlar and Nazism in Germany, and how they arrested or persecuted the communists, the socialists, the trade unionists, the Jews and so on, one group after another till—"then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me".

The Indian situation looks different, there is some protest, but it is not very different. There is some, fragmented protest and resistance. But, there is no strong unified resistance to the fascist policies of the Government in Kashmir; NRC; detention/concentration camps in North East; JNU students; the rape and murder of women; the total neglect of suffering farmers, unorganised labour and starving unemployed people; discrimination, lynching and encounters of Muslims; the intimidation of the Dalits; etc.

If India and the Indian people are to be saved from the Fascism or an emerging Hindu Rashtra of the Hindutva forces like BJP, RSS, VHP, ABVP, etc, there is the greatest need today to form a strong, united front of all democratic and secular forces to challenge and fight the onrushing Fascist forces and policies.

If people—the poor and not-so poor—do not unite as one against the evil, there will be no respite for any marginalised section of the society.

Here is, Martin Neimoller's unforgettable poem once again :

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
And there was no one left to speak out for me.

Back to Home Page

Vol. 52, No. 25, Dec 22 - 28, 2019