Camera: Athar Rather
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
No doubt that whenever there a law and order problem, the police is bound to step in and take action. But that action has to be proportionate to the violation,
within legal frameworks and aimed at protecting citizens.
However, in the last one year, the Police has been accused of bias, complacency and using arbitrary and excessive force against students and minorities, especially Muslims.
Article 370 Abrogation in Kashmir: Reports of Police Firing on Protesters, Pellet Injuries on Children
For example, in Kashmir, after the abrogation of Article 370, there were reports of police open firing at protesters, injuring women and children with pellet guns. While the govt denied the atrocities, several international media outlets released video footages of police using excessive force to curb protests.
Jamia Violence: CCTV Footage Shows Police Entered Library, Assaulted Students, Broke Cameras
Something that was also seen in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University during the anti-CAA protests. On 15 December in Jamia, police said they entered campus to round up "miscreants" who turned the protest violent. But video footages show police assaulting students, breaking into the campus library, vandalising college furnitures and destroying the CCTV cameras.
NE Delhi Violence: Delhi Police Accused of Being Bystanders, Having Anti-Muslim Bias
In February, when India saw one of its worst communal clashes in a decade, Delhi police's role once again raised concerns. They were accused of abetting violence, being complacent in acting on time and having an anti-Muslim bias. Several videos and testimonies suggested that police either turned a blind eye when it came to attacks on Muslims or in some cases joined hands with a Hindu mob in attacking the other side.
In a particularly gruesome video, policemen were seen standing around five badly injured Muslim men, hurling abuses and forcing them to sing the national anthem. One of the men later died of injuries.
The anti-CAA protests bias was questioned again when police, while clearing the Shaheen Bagh and Jamia protest sites, erased the protest graffiti even as the country was gearing up for a lockdown amid a pandemic.
COVID-19 Lockdown: Police Seen Toppling Vegetable Carts, Thrashing Delivery Boys
During the lockdown too, reports of police brutality came to the fore. Videos showed police officials toppling vegetable carts, thrashing delivery agents out for essential services, vandalising meat shops and vehicles, etc.
Does Police Brutality Have Political Backing?
But could this high-handed, aggressive approach of the police take place without political backing? In Uttar Pradesh, CM Yogi Adityanath spoke of "taking revenge" from anti-CAA protesters. In line with that, the UP police put up hoardings with images and pictures of the protesters.
In Delhi, after the violence, PM Modi rightfully condemned the attack on police forces but remained completely silent on the allegations of brutalities by policemen despite video evidences and international criticism.
The timing of transferring Delhi High Court Judge Justice S Muralidhar amid an ongoing hearing of a matter related to the Delhi violence also raised questions. Justice Muralidhar had sharply criticised the Delhi police and asked them to take strict actions against politicians who made inciting speech before the violence.