It was shocking to say the least. Not that it was uncommon – Girl spurns the overtures of a youth, and he throws acid on her. It was a heinous and a cowardly way of venting anger. This incident happened in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh, two girls were victims of an acid attack. It is a grim battle ahead for these girls. The perpetrators, three young men in their twenties were nabbed on the complaint lodged by the girls & their parents. A few days later all three of them were killed in an ‘encounter’ by the police. Very shocking indeed!
Human rights activists point out that the ‘encounter killings’ were done to cover up for the laxity on the part of the police to take cognizance of a complaint by the one of the girls, Swapnika, and her parents. In October, the main accused had set on fire a scooter belonging to the father of the Swapnika who had spurned him. He did this to terrorise the family. A police complaint was lodged, the police arrested the accused; filed a case of arson under IPC but set him free when he paid a fine of Rs. 110. The victim’s family alleges that bribes were paid to set the accused free. The father had then complained to the higher authorities; but it fell on deaf ears; probably the police did not perceive a threat. Perhaps emboldened by the lack of action on the part of the police, the main accused and his friends threw acid on the girls. When the attack did happen, it must have jolted the police, who it is now alleged, arranged the fatal ‘encounter’ as a cover up.
People applauded and the main accused’s father refused to claim his body for cremation saying that his son deserved the treatment meted to him.
In the past year or so, it is now reported that the Warangal police have ‘neutralised’ at least three other criminal elements.
Two wrongs do not make a right. !
Encounter killings, are common place in police parlance. Criminal elements are eliminated swiftly and many of you will agree that in this manner justice is meted out swiftly!
But worrying issues crop up.
The modus operandi of the ‘encounter killings’ is simple, the arrested person is taken to a desolate place & gunned down in cold blood. Then an elaborate attempt is made to inform the public that the arrested/accused tried to escape and in the process snatched a gun from a police officer, shot at the police, and in retaliatory firing the arrested/accused was killed. Police friendly media then do the reporting with convincing pictures. One of the police party even feigns an injury!
It is now known that in many such killings, the personnel of the police force were paid to carry out the killings; either by rivals or by rich & powerful patrons whose beans would have spilled if the arrested criminal element squealed!
And in some cases, innocents were apprehended, and then ‘killed’; a sure and safe way of murdering a person!
Since these criminal elements are a menace to society & knowing that the prevailing justice system (not the law) may set him free, we tacitly approve of such killings – a sure sign of a society frustrated with its systems.
But instead of applauding, shouldn’t we be protesting?
We should protest against the corruption ridden systems & lethargic procedures that make a mockery of the laws that govern us.
Each one of us has to have recourse to law. If we were to dispense justice through ‘encounter’ killings it would be easy to eliminate people whom we do not like or see eye to eye. All that we have to do is have them arrested and then bribe the police to do the death rites!
We live in a civilised society. However heinous the crime, the justice system should prevail!
P.S. Twenty one-year-old final year engineering student Swapnika died early on Wednesday,31st December 2008, three weeks after suffering an acid attack that left her with 55 per cent fourth degree burns.