Justice it seems, has been sent off to exile. At least in the Indian state of Gujarat, where the current chief minister has thumped his chest at a pre-election rally justifying the police encounter of Sohrabuddin and his wife. Sohrabuddin was under suspicion for terrorist activities for a while before he was killed by the cops in what was a staged encounter. His wife was also killed by the police in the same encounter. The fight for justice for this family is currently on in the Supreme Court.
Narendra Modi thinks otherwise. For him, justice was delivered on the day Sohrabuddin was encountered by Gujarat’s finest. And the crowds cheer and applaud for him. Read the story on Modi’s election speech at NDTV’s website.
The bigger question stands, are we turning into a nation that is more inclined towards vigilante justice?
In the early 90’s, criminal gangs were beginning to control a lot of Mumbai. And the cops really didn’t seem to have an answer to this growing menace. The answer for found one day, and it was called the ATS. An acronym for anti-terrorist squad. A team of Mumbai’s finest officers, formed to tackle terrorist and gangsters. They found out that the regular way of making up cases against criminals rarely worked. A slow judiciary, long processes and lack of credible evidence and witnesses would ensure criminals get off the hook. This was when the encounter was invented. An ingenous way of disposing off dangerous criminals, all in self defense. And justice just seemed to close her eyes. Or weren’t they closed already anyways?
Narendra Modi asked the crowds, is it fair to let terrorists loose on the roads? Shouldn’t such terrorist be punished? Fairly valid questions. But the way of dealing with criminals suggested by him is to have them killed by the police. Without a fair trial, without any evidence presented in a court of law, the judgement is made. An initial reaction from any citizen would be, why not? After all, the man in question is a terrorist, who is responsible for taking lives. Such a person should not live.
But the larger picture isn’t that rosy. Let us retrace our steps a bit & ask ourselves, who told us that the person was a terrorist? The police. Who found out evidence against this person? The police. And who should have the right to decide what punishment needs to be meted out?
If your answer to this question is still “The police”, you need to think of yourself as the person in question. The moral standards of police in India has been questionable. Most of the common people are afraid of going to the police. The mamu, or thulla, as the constables are usually referred, are very well known to ask for bribes. Cases like the Jessica Lal murder have tarnished the evidence gathering abilities of the police. And a moment ago, we just gave the right to judge to the same cops.
This will lead to a time, when you would be executed before you can even say why. All because some cop decided that you are a danger to the society, and need to be exterminated! A scary scenario, isn’ it?
This is why the judiciary exists. This is why evidence is primary in any system that tries to guarantee justice. And if we become a society that has lost its faith in such a system, we aer condeming ourselves to anarchy. It is we who promote these leaders who encourage such acts, and then try to project them as achievements. These are nothing more than a blot on our nation, and must be condemned rather than greeted with a loud applause.
Grow up India, become more sensitive. Realize that these are not acts of fame, but those of shame. I just hope the election commision takes a strong action against Mr. Modi, and that the judiciary takes up notice of this statement and sends out a strong message. A message that would re-incarnate the nation’s faith in its judiciary. A shimmer of hope, to all those who are losing faith in justice, fairness & equality.
If not, then we are doomed to plunge into a rule of darkness & anarchy. Will justice stand up, or continue to be on a long vacation it seems to have taken?
while I may not agree with that staged encounter, I think that criminals have & are still thriving on society’s understanding !!!
amit: well, most criminals thrive on society’s cowardice & greed. Many criminals are let loose for lack of witnesses, where witnesses are either paid off or threatened to disappear.
We can argue that the judicial system can be improved etc, but under no circumstance must we encourage vigilante justice.