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Unmasking the injustice

Unmasking the injustice

The Allahabad High Court's judgment in the December 15 violence against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at the Aligarh Muslim University is of immense importance in the present scenario. The High Court's order on Monday is sourced from the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which was asked by the Court itself last month to thoroughly run an investigation into the serious allegations of police brutality at the Aligarh Muslim University. In its order, the High Court directed the UP DGP to identify the police personnel — both district police and Provincial Armed Constabulary — involved in stray incidents of damaging motorcycles and unnecessarily caning the apprehended students, as seen in the CCTV footage. The Court observed that police action in this regard held no relevance with the maintenance of law and order. NHRC has recommended suitable action to be taken against them as per rules and provisions. The Court directed the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to provide suitable compensation to grievously-injured six students commensurate with their injuries on humanitarian grounds. The Court's observation that "the police force should be sensitised and special training modules prepared to inculcate professionalism in the personnel while handling such situations" arises from the utter disregard for humanitarian values that the police exuded at AMU on December 15. The same observation was made in regard to the Rapid Action Force. Besides asking DGP RAF to identify the RAF personnel allegedly involved in excesses, the court strongly held that "RAF being a specialised force primarily set up to deal with riots and handle law and order situations, should show utmost professionalism in such crisis situations while at the same time, respecting the human rights of civilians also". It asked the UP DGP to ensure that the SIT probed the incident with merit in a time-bound manner and directed all officials to submit a compliance report at the next hearing on March 25. NHRC's recommendations have not only brought justice to the incident but also tightened the leash around the police's neck via the High Court's intervention. Police brutality has been on the rise in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Be it curbing dissent or lathi charging protestors, police action has been reprehensible on more counts than appreciative. In a society where the role of the police is to maintain law and order, Uttar Pradesh has seen a strict departure from that norm. The AMU incident coupled with Jamia rocked the nation in mid-December. Both the universities witnessed police brutality and while the Allahabad High Court has rightly directed an SIT into the matter besides a slew of directions for authorities to remedy the wrong, Jamia incident continues to be ambiguous. Despite the video footage surfacing on social media which clearly highlights police lathi-charging students siting in Jamia's MPhil reading hall, there has been no action initiated against the personnel involved in the immoral act. In fact, as much as would be expected, the Delhi Police traversed the course to furnish footage where they alleged students carrying stones and barricading the MPhil reading hall with desks. It was later unveiled through fact-check by various sources that the student alleged to be carrying stone inside the reading hall was actually carrying a wallet. Nevertheless, that was anyway no cause for not initiating action against those policemen who beat students without any mercy. Through its directive, the Allahabad High Court has set the ball rolling for the Delhi High Court to take cognisance of a similar plea pending in the court.

The crux of the matter is the fact that pleas had to be filed to remedy the wrongdoing. While the judicial system is to be hailed here for its strict direction in the matter, it is rather unfortunate that the state machinery appears ignorant of student allegations of police brutality. It is to be noted that judicial proceedings are anyway meant for greater remedy but what about the state's responsibility? Independent inquiry into police brutality could have been conducted by the police itself or via state notification on the same. It is very unfortunate that the judiciary has to intervene at every crossroad and issue the same directive that the state or the senior police leadership could have in the first place. State's lackadaisical approach to probe an alleged episode of police brutality is condemnable. If the independent investigation by NHRC did not furnish recommendations to the court and had the CCTV not captured police brutality, the immoral actions of police personnel would have been eclipsed in the name of violent protestors. While the NHRC probe has vindicated the AMU students, JNU and Jamia continue to fight a battle where not only did they have to sustain injuries but also face the indifferent police machinery who seems to have more reasons to not believe student's plight than to investigate their own shortcomings. Allahabad High Court's order highlights condemnable police action especially when the state's CM Yogi Adityanath said that police used only "mild force" on students in the AMU incident. The contrast in the words of the Court and the CM narrates the underlying truth.

(Image from livelaw.in)

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