I have already written before about dismal state of law enforcement in India. Recent cases like that of Rizwanur Rehman in West Bengal and Blueline buses-Delhi police nexus have forced me to reiterate some incidents. Before that, I need to ask you few questions.
How far can you go to lodge your FIR or get justice? What do you choose to do to exercise your rights: Will you commit suicide to gain justice or walk naked on streets to get heard by police or run pillar to post to higher officials or a court every time you want to register a complaint in your local police station. Or will you call news-hungry media channels to gain their support or do you take the easy way out by bribing the already-corrupt police? What would you do when very protectors of law become your tormentors?
If you think, I am getting hassled over nothing. Think of Rizwanur Rehman, recent casualty from West Bengal, who died helplessly fighting against the brute force of police. This muslim youth’s only fault was that he had married a Hindu girl, daughter of a rich industrialist called Ashok Todi. You can read here how police negotiated with Rizwanur to send his wife back to nurse her so-called ill father. And then Rizwanur realized that he had been duped by police and his wife will now never be sent back to him. Few days later, Rizwanur’s body was found on railway tracks. CBI is probing his death after West Bengal police investigation was found wanting in credibility.
The question is not if Rizwanur committed suicide or was murdered. The fact remains that, in either case, it was police that was his tormentor. The police instead of protecting him from clutches of rich was abetting with rich. I would not be surprised if even CBI bungles the investigation of Rizwanur case. I am already losing faith in the system.
I still remember Pooja Chauhan, the lady from Rajkot who had to parade in her underwear on city roads just to register a complaint against her husband and in-laws! I can’t think of more extreme step a woman can take just to be heard. She had been sacked from her house by her in-laws for not being able to give birth to a male heir. Since then she had been unsuccessfully trying to register her complaint in the local police thana. But our police refused to entertain her complaint till she made this desperate attempt to garner public and media support by walking semi-nude on the roads. So much for Domestic Violence Protection Act!
This was not a stray incident; there are dozen more that happen everyday right under our noses. Only we get to hear select few.
You are mistaken if you think such a phenomenon of not registering FIRs is confined to rural people or other lower strata of society. People in cities routinely bribe law enforcement officials. They bribe the police to register a FIR for their stolen vehicles or to escape traffic challans. Delhiites shell out bribe even to get their passports made! They gladly pay the police officer who comes for a routine verification of their address in passport application form. Is it surprising that sometimes malicious elements easily garner passport by bribing? Some of them also pay the guy who delivers passport at their homes! :(Blueline buses in Delhi have claimed 99 lives (still counting!) this year. How? Simple by their connivance with corrupt Delhi police. Just bribe, and you get valid licenses for any defaulting bus or any unqualified bus driver. Who pays the price? The common men and women like me and you. We pay the price of their corruption with our life.
Corrupt practices such as not lodging FIRs or writing “missing” reports instead of “stolen” reports help our law enforcement officials to keep crime rate stats low. No wonder ruling parties then boast of low crime rates in blatantly crime-ridden states!
Let’s campaign against corruption in law enforcement! Let’s refuse to bribe these officials! Let’s knock the doors of courts whenever met with unfairness and unlawfulness! Let’s pitch in together for the rights of innocents or some day we might be standing in their place.
This article is part of We Need A Big Change series on this blog. You can read We Need A Big Change: Law Enforcement Part 1 here.
More about Rizwanur: Did cops tap Rizwanur’s phone?
Loopholes in Rizwanur’s suicide theory
Rizwanur case: tainted cops removed
Bengal has a history of mystery deaths
More about Pooja Chauhan: Rajkot woman stages semi-nude protest
Why Pooja Got Mad
More about Delhi Blueline buses: Delhi’s killer buses