When the Police take matters into their hands…

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On July 10, the Vikas Dubey was killed in an encounter while he was being taken to Kanpur in the custody of UP Special Task Force. The gangster was arrested at a temple in Ujjain just a day before for murder of as many as 8 policemen. To describe the incident, the car which was taking the accused to Kanpur got overturned and Dubey seized the opportunity by snatching the gun from a policeman who was injured in the accident. Afterwards, the man tried to flee but he was killed from the shots fired by the police in retaliation.

The whole story sounds a scene from the movie Singham in which a group of cops can’t stand the injustice anymore and take matters into their hands to bring a politically powerful organisation of gangsters down with the aid of fake encounters. When a person with a criminal record or a terrorist is killed by the police or armed forces without any trial but in self-defence, it is known as encounter killing. Such killing can also be part of a set up in which the police makes it seem like they were helpless and the life of the criminal was compromised in turn.

Something similar happened in Hyderabad in December 2019. Four men who were suspected of raping and killing a female vet were shot dead when they were being taken to the crime scene. The narrative goes like this – the four men had made an attempt to escape by attacking the ten officers that they were in the custody of and not only did they throw stones and sticks but also stole the officers’ gun. The police tried to make them surrender until they were finally killed in retaliatory firing. Justice was served and the police were appreciated for doing their job by the public.

But is it actually the police’s job to do justice or the court’s? The police are only supposed to catch the criminals and present them in court for trial. It is the court’s job to decide whether a criminal gets imprisoned for life, hanged or even figure out whether the accused is guilty and not the police’s. There have been several cases in which the police picks up the wrong person and sometimes they do it deliberately in order to calm the public rage or hide its very incompetence. Innocent people, usually from poor or minority section of the society, are dragged into jail so that the police can protect their image and become a hero in the public’s eyes.

Are the stories of police acting out and killing the suspects or murderers in defense even plausible? The fact that people were even able to get away from the police, let alone steal their guns and the police were not able to stop them. Law enforcement in this country has become more about revenge than justice. It is strange how the accused in so many major cases manage to escape from a large group of policeman and firearms always end up in the hands of arrested persons. An Encounter happens and whether it is real or staged, is subjective. How does police expect people to believe that such encounters are not fake? Because if it wasn’t, then it really says a lot about the competency of the officers assigned to such cases.