The incident of beating up and parading of an accused after tying him to a police van in Ujjain’s Mahidpur, has raised questions about human rights violation by the police in the state.
Though the inspector general of police of Ujjain, suspended six police personnel, including the Mahidpur police station chief after pictures of the incident went viral on social media platforms, police across the state routinely parade criminals and there is tacit social sanction behind the act.
On Wednesday, Qadir, a “small-time” criminal, was beaten with shoes and batons, his head tonsured and face blackened after being tied to the police vehicle for more than two hours.
A number of residents of Ujjain and other district reacting on suspension and parading on social media, said that the treatment meted out to Qadir was justified as a “goonda” should not be treated like any other ‘normal’ person as his acts violated others’ human rights.
Members of the Muslims community in Mahidpur, however, came on the roads protesting against the parading by the police, saying that police should not treat anyone in this manner.
“Usually a criminal is paraded in the neighbourhood where he is considered as a ‘don’, to discourage and shame him. This gives the public a confidence and establishes a trust in the police but what was done in Mahidpur was an act of revenge,” said a senior police official posted in Indore, who asked not to be named.
“Moreover, there should be limit in the act and police should not shave the head of an accused,” he said.
“I believe this is careless supervision on the part of the Ujjain police.”
On May 28, Qadir, had dispute with some others over petty issue in the village. A police team led by station house officer Sharma reached the spot to contain the matter. Qadir allegedly hurled stones at the police team due to which Sharma and a police constable fractured their arms.
Such incidents are not new in western Madhya Pradesh. In May 2015, the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission issues a notice to the Indore police and sought answers about parading of “goons and criminals” in public.
In August 2015, the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the state director general of police and Indore police seeking explanations about public parading of criminal but incidents have stopped in the region.
But Indore police learnt a lesson not to parade criminals in front of the media as it comes to the notice of rights bodies.
A few days earlier, a local vernacular media reported that a criminal from Raoji Bazaar neighbourhood of the city was paraded in public and his family members were allegedly beaten up by police.
When Hindustan Times asked a senior police official about the incident, he said, “Nothing of this sort happened.”
In Indore, police continue parading criminals but take care to ensure that photographs of the incident are not taken.
“The act of police in Mahidpur is in gross violation of human rights and is strictly illegal and senior officials should ensure that such incidents should not occur…” said former state police chief SK Raut.
Rights activists say that the Constitution upholds the rule of law and India has also ratified the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
“If a citizen transgresses the law, in whatever serious a manner, the functionaries of the state can only apprehend that person and then follow a due process of law through the courts to establish his guilt and not mete out summary punishment to him or her,” said Rahul Banerjee , a rights activist from Indore city.
“The reality is that state functionaries, especially the police, themselves routinely break the law and subject those accused of transgressing it, to third degree treatment and on many occasions even resort to extra judicial killing,” he said.