The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has strongly condemned the public thrashing by the Anantpur police of four murder suspects. The Andhra Director General of Police has ordered a probe and has stated that disciplinary action would be initiated if found guilty, this hardly seems a sufficient response to vigilante violence perpetrated in full view by officers of the law.
Police is required to uphold the law and investigate crimes. It is for the court to decide guilt or innocence. The frequency of police violence in custody and increasingly - more brazenly - in public, clearly indicates that the officers concerned believe that no serious actions will be taken against them. CHRI underlines the need for seniors in the establishment and the government to take swift action against the erring officers to signal that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.
Maja Daruwala, Director Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative stated that, "There is something seriously wrong with policing. A modern democracy needs a modern police.The police don't seem to understand their role in a democracy but are stuck in the colonial-feudal mould. The police have become used to routine violence being the primary means of policing. All the evidence seems to indicate that seniors tolerate it."
When deputy superintendent of police Supraja and her team gave 'counselling' to four murder accused right in front of a gathering at Guntakal in Anantapur district, little did they realise their act would attract the wrath of their higher-ups.
The 'lathi counselling', a routine affair in a police lock-up, done in public led to the young officer facing departmental action. On November 30, the people of Guntakal were surprised when police arrived in the town along with four persons.
They went to a place and made some inspection. Then they started thrashing the four with lathis, parading them on the road. The men fell at the feet of the policemen pleading not to beat them. Soon, a large number of people gathered and followed the police.
Traffic came to a standstill and the incident resembled a scene right from a Telugu movie, where the hero or the heroine playing a police officer, thrashes the goon, parading him on the road.
The gathering did not want to miss the live action and gave some work to their mobile phones, recording the action sequence. Within minutes, DSP Supraja joined the 'counselling'. The accused were made to kneel in the middle of the road and thrashed.
Some called the DSP Kartavyam Vijayashanti and raised 'Police Zindabad' slogans. Still not content, the police also gave a chance to the family members of the murdered person to thrash the four accused. 'This will instil fear in culprits,' a police officer said.
Reacting to the incident, DGP B Prasada Rao said he would initiate departmental action against the DSP and other policemen involved in the incident. 'We have asked the Anantapur Range DIG to submit a report,' he said. The Murder
Police said the four persons are accused in a murder at Guntakal on November 28. They are: Sekhar, Hussain, Gopi and Peddanna.
Sekhar fell in love with Sharada and married her some days ago. Though they married without the consent of Sharada's parents, her father, Mallanna (55) later accepted the marriage and even gave `3 lakh to Sekhar.
For the last few days, Sekhar was harassing Sharada after coming home in a drunken state. Mallanna took away his daughter and later approached Supraja who summoned Sekhar to the police station and counselled him to stop harassing his wife. Mallanna told Sekhar that he would send Sharada with him only after he changed his ways in one month.
Angered over this, Sekhar and his friends attacked Mallanna with sickles on the night of November 28. The police nabbed all the accused within two days and took up the 'counselling' on the road.