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Mainstream, VOL L, No 30, July 14, 2012

Guardians of Law turning into Law-breakers

Sunday 15 July 2012

COMMUNICATION

You deserve to be congratulated for publishing the memorandum submitted by a women’s group to the President of India regarding viola-tion of the rights of Soni Sori (Mainstream, May 18-24) and conferment of President’s gallantry award on SP Ankit Garg. This is not an isolated case but one in the long series of humiliation of Adivasis, Dalits and Muslims. The memorandum rightly points out that “if ignored and left unpunished, it sets dangerous precedents for the subversion of rule of law and human rights of disadvantaged and marginalised citizens”.

Breaking law and practising unlawful activities are increasing day by day among the police personnel. On what moral grounds can I be told that I should obey the law when it is not obeyed by those who enact it and derive their authority from it?
I cast the vote and pay taxes in order that the police keep me safe from criminals. They are not part of my system or society. But how can one be silent when policemen, for whose upkeep I pay taxes and for whom I establish an elaborate system of protection and privileges and surrender part of my rights to give them exalted authority, arrest, pillage and kill the younger generation just like others beyond the pale of law? Is it not also a kind of state terrorism?

In respect of the marginalised communities and social groups, the justice delivery system has completely collapsed as described by Kuldip Nayar in his thought-provoking article, “Babri Masjid Returns to the Fore”. (Mainstream, May 18-24, 2012) It was much better during British rule. I am compelled to cite the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Contrary to the Gujarat genocide (2002) or post-Babri Masjid demolition genocide of Muslims, after the firing ordered by General Dyer in Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919, the dead bodies were identified and handed over to the relatives, the injured taken to hospitals and a Commission known as the Hunter Commission was appointed; it held the firing by General Dyer as unjustified and awarded a compensation of Rs 2000 to the relatives of those killed and Rs 500 to the injured and that was in the early 1920s.

It’s time when as a citizen I must be told whether I am living in a democratic country or not. Government officials, including police personnel, must act in accordance with the law. As a citizen I am deeply concerned by the lip-service paid to laws by governments as their conduct indicates that police personnel are above the law. I think for reasons of political exigency, these police officials are led to believe that they can take away people’s rights without fear of punishment and that is not a good sign for the survival of democracy which we claim to be the world’s largest in our country.

N. Jamal Ansari

4/1083, Sir Syed Nagar, Aligarh-202002

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