‘Why Was Ram Singh Killed in Tihar Jail’, a Kafila post by Prof.Nivedita Menon is thought provoking for two reasons: one, it reveals the Police-Criminal nexus and two, it makes the readers think about the occasions where they themselves had to confront Police. Police-Criminal nexus is a well-known factor. As Indian Police behave like dispute settling thugs who accept money from both the parties, often when a problem comes up people either prefer to settle it amongst themselves or evade the issue altogether by accepting shame or disgrace at the face of injustice meted out to them. If you are afraid of robbers, rapists, stalkers, aggressors, vandals, encroachers, bullies, thugs, roadside Romeos and so on, you are equally afraid of the policemen who are supposed to protect you from such attacks. If at all there is peace in the streets it is not because people have taken to Gandhian ways but because people have learnt to avoid Police from their personal lives. I will not say that the Indian Police Force is full of criminals. But I can say for sure that a majority of them are sucked into these crime networks as a part of their ‘duty’.
Ram Singh was killed, according Prof.Menon, because had he been presented to court he would have spilled beans which would have brought several skeletons out of the shelves, carefully dumped by the Police officials themselves. Hence the easiest way is to do away with a criminal who would eventually reveal the crime of the law enforcers than to bring him before the law of the land and get him adequate punishment. The December aggression on a paramedic in Delhi which caused her death and the arousal of nation’s conscience was just a tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, Ram Singhs have a different appearance; a distorted picture of state and its law enforces.
Perhaps, the Bollywood depiction of Police intervention has always been right. Though the arrival of Police force only to nab those villains who have been either killed or incapacitated by the hero could be called a selective delay for a heroic cause and its effective catharsis, it in fact shows metaphorically at least, the mindset of Indian police. As Tracy Chapman sings, “... is it good to call the police, always come late, if they come at all,” they always come late. They come late because they know what is happening out there and they know who have caused that. If they come it is not the villain who gets arrested but the system itself. So delaying is an aesthetic tactic because in three ways villainy and its retribution could take care of itself; one, by heroic intervention, two, by natural or violent death thanks to delayed medical care to those affected or the hero’s god given license to kill to survive, three, providential justification of all what has happened before the culmination of events (in a movie narrative).
In Ram Singh’s case too it is what exactly happened, we infer from Prof. Menon’s observations. First of all the Police thought of a heroic intervention, which here unfortunately turned out to be nil despite the resistance of Nirbhaya’s boyfriend. Second point became true as she was left to bleed and uncared for a long time, which in away assured her eventual demise in home or abroad. Third is the providential justification that now even the Police and general public accept as rendered through the alleged suicide of Ram Singh at Tihar Jail. In short, Police have got what they wanted. Their conscience has been cleared of all sins because it is the kind of conscience that they maintain by delay tactics and feigning ignorance.
We need a thorough revamp of our Police force. I would like to recount a recent personal encounter with the Police establishment. I live in Faridabad. When my wife and myself were away in our respective workplaces in Delhi, on 28th January 2013, at 4.00 pm, a robber entered our house, threatened the maid servant, gagged and tied her, forced my two small children ( seven and half years and three and half years respectively) into the bathroom, and decamped with some cash and jewellery. What ensued was more painful and embarrassing than what happened on that fateful day.
We live in a flat with our neighbour’s door hardly eight feet away from ours. Neighbours in the middleclass neighbourhoods are such that they don’t even leave the ‘kooda’ thrown out from your home un-scanned. They are so alert about the visitors and the vehicles that they come by. They assess your social status by judging your guests. In short they are literal and virtual CCTV cameras on 24X7. But on that day, when the robbery took place, they claimed that they had not even heard a whimper. As our son had called from the landline and informed us about the mishap, we had frantically made calls to our neighbours who had found our front door latched from outside. We requested them to open it and go inside and see what had happened to the maid and our kids. We were mortified by the negative thoughts about our kids and the maid than the loss of valuables. But interestingly, our neighbours refused to do so and after much coaxing they came in a pack and further refused to release the girl from her gags and nooses.
(Good Policeman is only in some movies- Ajay Devgun in Singham)
Our neighbours suspected the maid’s involvement. Anybody would do so. Besides, they thought the girl was raped. So they did not want to touch her. Human compassion had given way to the fear of becoming a witness therefore the future confrontations with the Police. Hence they all kept themselves away from the girl who was still lying on the floor tied and gagged. Finally we reached home and in the meanwhile the local Police also arrived. Even our immediate neighbours refused to acknowledge that they had heard or seen anything during the time of robbery. I am sure they have seen it but they don’t want to have a brush with the Police. They don’t find the Police a friendly force. They know that if they say they have seen the thief, instead of nabbing them, the Police would harass the witness. So there was no witness to my home burglary.
The whole world told us to suspect the maid. It was a drama created by her, they all said while forwarding their respective theories on how it might have happened. But we withstood that pressure. We took the maid to the Police Station for registering her version and file a First Information Report. What the Policemen asked me there made me develop goose pimples all over my body. They asked me to show a suspect so that they could start their investigation. I asked them to see the modus operandi of the burglar and see it for themselves in their records so that they could identify the thief. Then they asked us to handover the girl to them and they will do the rest. We refused to do so. We saw the brutes in the police force asking for the custody of a twenty two year old girl for at least a night. We told the Police that we did not suspect the maid. Our intention was to save the girl from the possible rape and molestation of her by the police personals themselves.
In due course of time we came to know how the Police operated. They will take action only when the complainant makes effort to proceed with the case. If we don’t prod they will not move. Prodding and coaxing the police means giving bribe to them. Some policemen asked us how much money together we earned. I told them that it was not their business. Then they asked us to appoint private security at home as we were earning ‘well’. It was the advice given to us by the policemen who were supposed to find the robbers and get us the stolen things back. They even had the audacity to tell us that we were not going to get our jewellery or cash back. They even suggested that we could install CCTV cameras at home. What were the Police doing then?
We need to address the issue of Police turning into small time mafias when they are not working for larger powerhouses like MLAs, MPs, Ministers and Builders. When they do not find enough patronage from the powerhouses, they start operating small scale mafias in and around the blocks and streets. Extortion has become the major income of the police force. This has to be stopped at any cost. Otherwise white buses will run like kinetic hells in city streets where more and more Nirbhayas will get raped and molested. Burglars will always do precision strikes as they are protected and run by the Police force itself.