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Mainstream, VOL XLV, No 32

Culpable Derelection of Duty by Police Officers

Sunday 29 July 2007, by D. Bandyopadhyay


constituencies of Chitrakut district. In addition Dadua’s brother contested from a constituency of Pratapgarh district on the SP ticket. The mother of Thokia dacoit Piyariya Devi contested on the Rashtriya Lok Dal ticket from Naraini (Banda).
All this poses a serious danger to the basic tenets of democracy. How can we expect the true voice of people to emerge when voters are pressurised increasingly by the threats of dacoits and how can we expect corruption to be curbed when the utilisation of development funds in a panchayat starts with paying a share to the dacoit gang? Clearly the dacoit menance has to be brought to the centre-stage of protecting democracy in areas like Chitrakut.
In the legends of the Ramayana, it is Lord Rama who provided protection to villagers threatened by monsters. In modern times, helpless people are still waiting for a protector. n

It is quite heartening that after some initial delay the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is proceeding with the investigation of the Tapasi Malik rape-and-murder case with expedition and dexterity. They are showing their professionalism for which they have made a name for themselves.

Delay undoubtedly hampered the quality and speed of investigation because many of the important clues and vital evidence must have been lost or deliberately suppressed or concealed due to both the efflux of time and interference by interested persons and groups.

It was the duty of the State Police to do what the CBI is doing now. They were on the spot immediately after the event when much of the evidence now lost or not easily retrievable could have been easily gathered and the culprits could have been arrested pending further investigation.

It is now clear that this rape and murder was not a crime of passion. It was a deliberate act of the party in power and its local leaders to send a clear message to the agitating farmers and their family members to desist from such “anti-party” activities.

The day before she was murdered, Tapasi appeared on the rostrum at Kolkata’s Chowringhee where Ms Mamata Banerjee was on an indefinite hunger-strike. As Tapasi was a leading figure of the anti-land acquisition movement at Singur she was publicly lauded for her courage and leadership. Hence she was made the target of their foul crime.

One would not be surprised if in course of the investigation it came out that the local police were at least aware of the nature of the crime going to be committed at Singur. Since this crime was a part of the political action of the local CPI-M, the party apparatchiks would not undertake this felony without keeping the local police informed if not fully involved. The subsequent behaviour of the local police in harassing Tapasi’s parents to agree to the absurd canard spread by these party leaders that it was a case of suicide owing to a frustrated love affair, only confirms this presumption.

While one can dispute this line of thinking as merely a presumptive theory, the inaction of the police to arrest the night guards, to collect the incriminating evidence locally and to enable the culprits to obliterate and remove evidence against them make the local police an abettor to the crime.

The sordid drama of investigation by the local police and subsequently by the CID clearly reveals the intention of the Marxist party, aided and abetted by the police, to hush up the crime so that the guilty persons would never be brought to justice.

WHAT was the role of the superior officers? A case of rape with murder is a major crime which had to be supervised by the local SDPO and the district Superintendent of Police (SP). The Range DIG has a specific role in such cases to guide the investigation.

Where were these worthy gentlemen during this farcical pantomime directed by the party and staged by the police? They utterly failed to carry out their mandated duty under the CrPC, IPC and WBPR. They are guilty of grave dereliction of duty. Not only that, they abetted the crime and committed offence against public justice by helping the party thugs to cause disappearance of evidence of their heinous offence.

Two sets of action have to be initiated against the DIG of Hooghly Range, Anuj Sharma, the SP of Hooghly, Supratim Sarkar, the SDPO of Chandernagore, Kalyan Mukhopadhyay, and the OC of Singur Police Station, Priyabrata Bakshi, besides the investigating officers and their supervisors of the CID. In the first place, they should all be placed under suspension so that they may not be in a position to conceal and obliterate evidence against themselves, followed by drawing up of departmental proceedings.

The second set of action should be to establish their criminal culpability. This part may be entrusted to the CBI. If the CBI feels that this is not a part of their mandate, then the Kolkata High Court may be moved through a public interest litigation (PIL) to give the CBI appropriate direction to investigate the criinal liability of these State Police officers. It is within the ambit of the High Court’s wide powers to ensure proper administration of criminal justice to give such direction to the CBI if the matter is brought before it through a proper PIL. The present practice of the public servants in the State to play ducks and drakes with the rule of law has to be checked and countered in the interest of proper administration of crimnal and civil justice through the intervention of the High Court.

(Courtesy : The Statesman)

The author was a Secretary to the Government of India, Ministries of Finance (Revenue) and Rural Development, and Executive Director, Asian Development Bank, Manila.

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