Tip of the iceberg by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (JULY 19, 2012)

Government’s stance on extrajudicial killings is constitutionally and morally untenable, writes Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam.

“Encounter killing is plain murder”, says Justice AM Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India. If anybody in India is capable of deciding on the legal and constitutional validity of police encounters, Justice Ahmadi is certainly one of them.

An indictment of Kurnool and Guntur districts (in Andhra Pradesh) former police superintendent, PSR Anjaneyulu by the National Human Rights Commission has said between 2000 and 2002 Anjaneyulu was responsible for 16 deaths in fake encounters. The NHRC ordered payment of Rs 5 lakh to each victim. The indictment was made eight months ago, but it was not made public.

Silently, the two district administrations have paid the compensation to the next of kin of the victims. Whether genuine or fake, encounter killings are illegal, unconstitutional and immoral because victims are denied the due process of law. As even the “genuine” encounters are illegal, fake encounters are, obviously, more heinous and dastardly.

What is intriguing and amazing is government’s attitude to such killings. Even though government is responsible for the protection and upholding of the Constitution, it tacitly supports the plainly illegal and unconstitutional encounter killings.

This state-sponsored gangsterism has become so endemic and the people in power have become so anaesthesised to it that they do not consider it a crime. On the contrary, such police officers are called “encounter specialists”, and rewarded with gallantry medals. They are honoured with President’s Medal also despite their brazenly extralegal activities. This shows that everybody is hand in glove with these killers in uniform.

The NHRC finding is confined to only two districts out of the 600 districts of India. The figures are much more higher for the whole country and police lawlessness is an enormous issue. The Indian state thinks that through extrajudicial killings it is curbing crime while the fact remains the state’s lawlessness is forcing more people into the arms of extremists. Sadly, the actual number of such killings is much higher and what is publicly visible is only the tip of the iceberg.

Placed in this context the appointment of Anjaneyulu as the chief of anti-Naxal force, the Greyhound, in Andhra Pradesh, looks astounding. This is like hiring a thief to catch a thief. And what about the legality of all this? Forget about it.


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