By: Shubhangi Mishra
Over the past month, as the BLM movement took place in America against the police brutality faced by the colored community, Indians are recognising the issues faced by them and how police brutality often goes unnoticed and unreported as well. Back in 1919, the Jallianwala Massacre left a very profound impact on people and the British troops were severely criticized for their inhumane act. It has been a hundred years ever since this incident took place and while we have progressed a lot over time, police brutality still exists and haunts many people.
Police brutality isn't a result of one particular factor but a lot of them. one such important contributing factor is the Indian entertainment industry which has influenced people to believe that police brutality is acceptable. Many movies in the past including Singham and Simbaa have shown police brutality in a positive light which hasn't done anything good to the present situation and portrayed it as a necessary evil. This, in turn, has resulted in the police taking advantage and abusing their power. Over the past years, the cases of police attacking and mistreating the citizens have increased a lot and the most affected is the lower strata of the society who cannot sort to pay bribes.
One such case came into light after a video made by a woman named Suchitra addressing the issue went viral. This incident took place recently in Sathankulam, Thoothukudi and has left people shocked and disturbed. On 19th June Jayaraj (also spelt as Jeyaraj) and Bennix (also spelt as Fenix) were arrested after the police claimed that they kept their shop open past the timings allotted due to the lockdown. While the acceptable punishment should have been the sealing and the fining of the shop, the FIR issued against them stated that they misbehaved, disobeyed order by a government servant and verbally abused the police. But a recent CCTV footage reveals that no such behaviour took place yet the police went against the lawful procedure and took to several methods of torture. It is believed that they were physically abused with lathis, their faces were smashed in, metal objects were shoved up their rectum and serious damage was also inflicted on their genitalia. Their lungas had to be changed several times due to all the bleeding. Later the autopsy report also confirmed this. Since the father and son were treated very viciously, the two of them died on 22nd June in custody.
As this barbaric side of the police started circulating on social media, people actively started talking about how contrary to the popular belief, the police are, in fact, becoming the enemy of the people. Not only these many people are also talking about how they feel unsafe contacting the police due to ill-treatment the citizens often have to face. This also enraged many who condemned the cruel behaviour of the cops towards two people who were absolutely innocent and did not commit any criminal activity. Many also criticised the Indian celebrities for standing up for George Floyd and completely ignoring the injustices happening in their own country.
This has also made many see beyond the perfect image and actually focus on the gruesome acts of the police. People also took to the streets to protest against this violent act of the police. As the masses started expressing their outrage, the six responsible policemen were suspended. Now that the official bodies have been involved and the matter is being dealt with a lot of seriousness, people still believe that only suspension for a heinous act like this isn’t enough and strict measures should be taken not just in Tamil Nadu but throughout the country considering that police brutality is an evil found in most parts of India.
The postmortem reports were submitted before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on June 30. The evidence provided was taken into consideration and was enough to file murder charges against the policemen involved. The court also asked if it might be possible for the Inspector General of Police (IG) or Tirunelveli Crime Branch - Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) to continue investigations. It is also believed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over the case. After the CBI took over, two policemen were arrested over the custodial death of the father and the son and the FIR against the policemen now also includes murder charges under section 302 of The Indian Penal Code.
Not only this but the Tamil Nadu government has also initiated reformatory steps that include behaviour therapy. Around 80 policemen have gone off duty and will go under Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Under this, every police men's mental health and family background will be studied. It is because oftentimes such ruthless behaviour of cops is triggered by their own mental battles, memories of childhood or family problems. DIG Balakrishnan has taken these steps in order to support the mental health of people working for the civilians and to make them more fit and approachable for the people. He also says that these 80 police officers were added to the list due to the following factors - impatient response, anger management issues, verbal abuse and use of force.
This case has made us see the dehumanizing face of police brutality and how innocent people have to pay the price. What started off as a fight for justice for the two civilians has also paved the path for many other cases to come up and demand their justice which has been long overdue. As the people come forward and ask for accountability for so many deaths and injuries, it is making the entire country more conscious about how common this behaviour of the police towards the citizens is.
Our country has definitely made progress but this is something that has become life-threatening. So the more we question the police and their actions the clearer it becomes how deep-rooted this problem actually is. The kindness known to man is gradually slipping away and we are watching humanity die right in front of our eyes. So when cases like these happen they leave us questioning if we are going on the right path and I can affirmatively say that as long as us citizens continue to point out the flaws we see, we'll be able to transform our country for good.