Day 16 – 18 : Cases involving police brutality
As I mentioned before, the case files I’m reading seem to have troubling trends. One of the major issues I’ve come across is police brutality and general corruption in police forces across the country, and even abroad.
After Balwant Singh Rajoana was convicted and sentenced to death, people in Punjab began to protest, and religious groups began to clash over the issue, causing hate crimes and violence amidst the protests. One day, a protest was taking place outside a place of worship. Now I can’t say whether this was a peaceful protest like the prosecution claims, or a protest that got out of hand like the police states, but at some point, the police got involved, shots were fired, and two young men were shot. One of the men survived, but the other was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The police claimed that they only fired shots into the air to gain control of the situation by scaring people off because the situation was getting out of control and they were afraid that violence would ensue. They said that after the crowd had dispersed, there weren’t any dead bodies or injured people. But testimony by many of the people present offers another description of the events: the police began to open fire at the protesters for no apparent reason, and that two people were shot, one of whom died not long after.
The lawyers at the firm filed a public litigation suit against the State after they read in the news that two men were given pardon by the State. These men were previously police officers, who were convicted of custodial killing. They had illegally arrested and held two innocent men in prison. These victims were severely tortured, ultimately resulting in their deaths. The officers were convicted and sent to jail, but were soon given pardon based on the fact that they had served their country in the police force for a number of years and had been successful in capturing terrorists. Custodial killing is a major problem in India, and unfortunately if the police officers convicted of it are excused and get away with it, it will continue to be a problem.
Another case which highlighted extreme policy brutality and denial of justice took place in the U.A.E. Seventeen Indians were given the death penalty on allegations that they killed one Pakistani youth. The seventeen prisoners revealed in interviews that they were tortured for nine continuous days; they were given electric shocks, beatings with golf clubs and plastic pipes, forced to stand on one foot for long periods of time, and denied any opportunity to sleep. They were forced to make a confession of crime. They were denied prayer books and their articles of faith, which were cut off, kicked around, and thrown into the trash. They were made to sign papers in Arabic, which they could neither read nor understand. While in custody, they were forced to dramatize the beating up of a policeman as if it were the actual crime. This was videotaped and submitted as actual video evidence of the crime in court. The entire court process took place in Arabic, and no translator was made available. The accused were never given a copy of their charge sheet, nor their judgment. And during this whole process, only to make matters worse, the Indian Consulate did not provide any help to them, and prevented other human rights organizations from getting involved once these organizations criticized the Consulate for being absent.