Taming police interrogation
The defence and security forces in India instead of protecting citizens are known to rampantly misuse their power adding more distress than ease to everyday life. When the young Pradhyumn was brutally murdered in Ryan International School, Gurugram, fingers had mechanically pointed to the bus conductor Ashok Kumar, who was duly arrested and put under interrogation. While all of this information was relayed to the public, the gory details of what unfolded inside the police chambers had remained a secret. In a bid to accomplish their task swiftly and gain some recognition, the Gurugram police used brutal muscle flexing tactics to force the truth out of Ashok. As the CBI intervened and investigations fuelled, it was gathered that the truth on which the Gurugram police was relying was, in fact, half-baked and misdirected. The CBI found a new suspect and declared unequivocally that Ashok was innocent as there was no sufficient proof that would determine his criminality. A bus conductor, the only breadwinner of his family, Ashok had to undergo heinous police tactics that have physically and mentally wounded him beyond repair. An innocent man, he was beaten by the police, hung upside down, sedated and even given electric shocks, forcing him to surrender to a crime he had never committed.
A study on the access to justice service in India has recorded that over 40 per cent of the population refused to approach the police—whether for complaints or assistance. The reason behind this apprehension is crystal clear. The police are known to routinely harass citizens in a bid to clear files off their table. The judicial process, too, is long drawn. The conductor, Ashok Kumar, still hasn't been given a clean chit and is back home only on bail. This brings to the fore the challenges that an ordinary citizen faces in the event of being coincidentally present at the site of an unfortunate incident. This is the same reason that deters many from providing witness voices to the police—they know they will be dragged into an endless circus of judicial hearings and police interrogation, which is both mentally and physically cumbersome. Police interrogation can take on the most brutal form—this is true not only for India but across the globe. The FBI in America has also been severely reprimanded for torturing several individuals who were arrested on suspicion of harbouring terrorism without enough corroboration. This is a global phenomenon today, where bigger countries are routinely harassing innocent individuals to beat their own roadblocks in an investigation. In India, not only the police but also sections of the army have been blamed for misusing their uniform and harassing citizens, particularly in the North-East. In the long run, this unabashed use of power foments further criminality rather than eradicating it. Institutional torture must be condemned—the police must be better trained to understand judicial processes; ultimately, we as a democracy, stand by only one ideal—'Innocent until proven guilty'.