Killing of man, son in Tamil Nadu; Custodial killings on rise in India

By Humra Quraishi. Dated: 7/3/2020 1:11:44 PM


“And if one were to focus on the situation in the Kashmir Valley, news reports of the last few months have been carrying news of the ‘encounters’ taking place in and around the Valley, and the numbers killed or shot dead. No question of questions and counter- questions on those encounter killings!”
Shocked and appalled by the custodial killing of the father son duo in Tamil Nadu, one is hit by the fact that custodial killings have been on the rise in the country. Yet, no crying halt to State terrorism — where the known killers are more than often termed ‘un- known’ killers and with that quite simply let off!
Killings have been taking place inside the police stations and prison cells and interrogation centres. Or else, out there in the open — Perhaps, the most blatant case is the killing of 40 Muslim men, in Uttar Pradesh’s Hashimpura, in 1987, by the PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary).… The trail court had, in June 2006, framed charges against the 17 accused policemen of PAC. It took almost 20 years for the charges to be framed! Perhaps, another few years for the conviction to come through. By then many of the killer cops would be anyway dead, pushed into oblivion!
The reality is that even innocents can be detained and imprisoned, declared ‘terrorists’ even before the charges heaped on them can be proved. They can be even killed in that ‘imprisoned state’, as was the case in the winter of 2016 (November 2016). Even a fence-sitter could not digest the explanations put forth by the Madhya Pradesh government that the eight SIMI undertrials were ‘escaping’ from the Bhopal Central Jail; that is, breaking free through all possible barriers before they were killed by the State force. The police versions came across as shabbily concocted tales. Too many contradictions, many gaps and loopholes in the police theories. The video clips and the accompanying footage were enough to relay that the eight under trails were killed!
An imprisoned man could be even lynched! Though till date cases of lynching remain largely restricted to the highways or along the rural stretches, but in 2015, a horrifying dimension to lynching came up, in Nagaland’s Dimapur, when a rape accused, Farid Khan, was dragged out of the prison cell and lynched in broad-daylight. Quite obviously, this couldn’t have happened without the direct or indirect support of the jailor, jail staff and the cops. After all, he was not just dragged out but even lynched. On mere suspicion or rumours that he was a rapist and also an illegal immigrant! Its only after Farid Khan’s broken frame was buried, facts emerged which more than relayed serious doubts to the rape charge and also to those frivolous talks that he was an outsider! The truth that surfaced focused on the fact that Farid Khan was not an outsider, nor an illegal immigrant. His family hailed from Assam. His father had worked for the Indian Army …Yet this innocent man was lynched in Dimapur! In a zone with tight security and police presence all around! All the policing-force and military-might could not protect a human life, in the midst of ethnic and religious divides spread out in the North-Eastern states of India!
And if one were to focus on the situation in the Kashmir Valley, news reports of the last few months have been carrying news of the ‘encounters’ taking place in and around the Valley, and the numbers killed or shot dead. No question of questions and counter- questions on those encounter killings! Such are the times we are destined to be living in!
Focusing on Uttar Pradesh , I have been writing on the encounters and the encounter killings taking place in Uttar Pradesh One of the most blatantly horrifying encounter was witnessed on the outskirts of the Lucknow city, in 2017 …On the eve of the election counting day, the police killed a young Muslim man, Saifullah. This killing brought in angry reactions from the locals who detailed that the 22 year old unemployed man, Saifullah, was innocent and not the ‘most dreaded terror operative’, yet he was gunned down and his family put under tremendous pressure, so much so that his father even declined to bury his remains. Hapless man had to prove his nationalism to the likes of Rajnath Singhs!
I had spoken to lawyers associated with the Lucknow based NGO, Rihai Manch, who vetoed the government circulated theory that Saifullah was a dreaded terrorist! Refuting the police claims, the Rihai Manch lawyers had raised several pertinent points: Why was the encounter killing in Lucknow of the so labeled ‘most dreaded terror operative’, Saifullah, enacted at that crucial junction? Why were the local residents kept away from the site days before the gunning down of Saifullah? Why was he not given a chance to surrender? How could an unemployed youth, who’d turned a recluse, turn out to be a dreaded terrorist? …Going by the very timing and the entire backgrounder, it got obvious that the entire operation was State managed!
And if one were to focus on the pogrom witnessed in North East Delhi, earlier this year, one could write page after page on that horrifying pogrom…And also on the biased role of the police force. The most hitting is this latest news — savior doctor of the Al- Hind hospital, Dr Muhammad Ehtesham Anwar, is named in the charge- sheet submitted by the police. A doctor who saved lives of the hundreds dying and wounded in that pogrom, is named as one of the accused!
The police can kill in more than one way.
Not necessarily in custody but even out there, in more than one of those routine ways!
In fact, academic- writer, Dr Javed Jamil’s latest book - Justice Imprisoned (Yenepoya Publishers, Mangaluru) - focuses on the custodial deaths and also of the official executions of the prisoners in the different countries of the world... To quote him- “The country is witnessing rage over brutal killings of a father and son in Tamil Nadu. This is not an isolated case. I have shown in my just published book, “Justice Imprisoned” how the law enforcing machineries all over the world are engaged in custodial killings and torture of the suspected criminals…. The net result of the campaign by the economic fundamentalists against capital punishment and the system of justice developed in accordance with their wishes is that now more people are “punished” by the police than by the courts. The capital or corporal punishment has officially ended as per the constitutions. But it is now given by the police, based on their own assumptions and biases, and not by the courts, based on the evidences. There are more deaths in police custody and encounters than through death sentences executed at the orders of the courts.”
Dr Javed Jamil further states – “It can easily be estimated that the annual global number of deaths in police custody is in tens of thousands. It is not only the deaths but severe torture is also common in police custody and prisons...And yet, politicians routinely dismiss these accusations and, instead, always give the police the benefit of the doubt by highlighting the difficulty of police work.”
Pierre Cardin is perhaps the oldest surviving designer… designed by destiny to be celebrating his 98th birthday, on 2 July — he was born on 2 July 1922.
I had met and interviewed him in New Delhi, way back at the start of 1989 , when he had flown down from Paris to design T-shirts for the Surajkund Crafts Mela and also to hold fashion shows…Mind you, he didn’t charge for all that designing and nor for the fashion shows. To the ‘why’ he had told me, “Simply because I’m a friend of India, its government and people. Its tiring for me to travel and follow this hectic schedule but I’m doing so for the sake of friendship and goodwill. I’d first come here in 1965. In fact, I am the first foreign designer to buy Indian fabric and introduce them to the West.”
And when I’d asked him which particular Indian fabric fascinates him the most, this is what he had to say – “The Khadi. In fact, Indian textiles, the silks and cottons, are beautiful. Silk is more important and valuable than gold…. I use a lot of Khadi in the making of garments.”
In fact, his designed T-shirts were made from Khadi “Yes, all made of Khadi.” He’d added that his aim was to make a dress that’s comfortable. “My basic aim is to make the dress comfortable, and also more wearable for the working woman. Every woman has the right to be fashionable and should have a desire to buy and that desire to buy has to be created… Fashion is very important. Because if there is no fashion, then there is no business and if there is no business then factories will close down, which will mean unemployment for thousands.”



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