Friday, July 4, 2008

Rogue Police

Dr. Rajesh Talwar, one of the accused in the now famous NOIDA double murder case was arrested on May 23rd and has since then been in custody. Although he is produced in court every now and then, bail is always denied on the pretext that further questioning is needed or various tests still need to be done. Guilty or not, even before anything is conclusively pinned on him, he has spent a month and more in jail and who knows how long he will have to stay.

What is worrisome is the manner in which he has been detained for so long a time. Dr. Talwar’s situation is not a tangled web full of complexities and spanning counties and continents like say Charles Sobhraj. Till the day of his daughter’s death, he was living a very typical normal and middle class life. There is no criminal record that he had from past days that needs looking into. Dr. Talwar is no hardened criminal who would have learned the art of handling tough interrogation – as police clients go, he would have been among the softest they would have handled, and yet between the NOIDA police and the CBI, his questioning and interrogation seems to be dragging on forever.

We have been fixated on mostly on the human rights violations that the police and other Paramilitary forces supposedly carry out in the form of encounter killings of terrorists and under world dons. These have been even glamorized in ways with Bollywood basing many of their scripts on real life police “encounter specialists” with very little attempts at disguise. Closely related is the phenomenon of torture, custodial deaths and sub human treatment. Largely this happens to people for whom there is little public sympathy or to the anonymous and impoverished delinquent; again some one who has no one to defend them. Dr. Talwar’s case is an interesting one where he has no criminal record, no hardened criminal, not much of a likelihood of him absconding or scooting off to another country. Even so he continues in jail seemingly forever. Even the CBI who are supposedly the wizards in crime investigation are sweating and struggling to question and make sense of the answers of a man like Dr. Talwar who probably had never even seen the inside of a police lock up till now beats reason.

A recent campaign that originated in Mumbai and is now aiming to spread else where to expose inappropriate practices in the police including corruption was started by I K Chuggani. A retired man himself, he began harnessing the potential, energy and the connections of many other retired people in Mumbai to start a campaign against rogue elements in the police. They have a web site, a very strong Facebook presence as well as the infrastructure of a registered non profit based in Mumbai. It is truly a citizens’ movement and one that is looking not merely for money but active involvement and volunteerism, more actively on their Facebook group. Do look them up and join in. Looking at the predicament of Dr. Talwar, I for one paused to wonder for a moment as to what my coping mechanism might be if I were in a situation similar to his and sadly enough, I found none.

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