India Uncut

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Friday, February 11, 2005

A guardian of the law

A 27-year-old MBA graduate comes home from work at 3.30 in the morning. He gets into an argument with the auto-driver about the fare. Policeman comes to find out what's happening. Minutes later, the young man is dead.

The Indian Express has the details:
According to the police, [Rajendra] Patil [the cop] intervened in a row between Prashant [TC, the MBA], who had moved to Thane from Mysore just three months ago, and an autorickshaw driver over a Rs 50 fare at 3.30 am on Wednesday in Kapurbavdi.

Patil ordered Prashant to pay the fare and, when he refused, paid the fare himself. Patil then allegedly began beating Prashant and ordered him to come with him to Kapurbavdi police station in another autorickshaw.

The second autorickshaw driver, Tarashankar Mishra (26), said he saw Patil beating Prashant ‘‘continuously’’.

‘‘As I was driving, I could hear the youth constantly saying ‘Sorry’, and the constable hitting him harder,’’ recalled Mishra.

‘‘When we came near the masjid, the constable, who was drunk, stopped the rickshaw and suddenly the boy escaped.’’

Patil ordered Mishra to drive after him. They followed him to the Rajdhani Hotel.

‘‘I stopped the rickshaw and the cop followed him. I went ahead and saw that the boy had climbed a small building terrace behind the hotel and that the cop had followed him. The cop kept bashing him with his hands and boots.’’

Eventually, Patil gave Mishra Rs 500 and told him to go home. Mishra returned later, however, to check on Prashant, and found him "lying in a pool of blood, murdered". Patil was eventually arrested, "a full 20 hours after the murder". But will justice be done?

There are two issues here: of the individual case of a drunk cop who lashes out madly at an unarmed young man; and of the system which is so corrupt and inefficient that all of us, you reading this and me writing it, are hardly surprised by this story. Will anything ever happen to change this?

I live in hope, but a lady called Nirmala Annegowda is doing a bit more than that. Prashant, the young man who should have looked to the cop for protection, was her husband's cousin, and she has written about his death here. She has cited other such cases, and has, she told me in an email, made an appeal to the Asian Human Rights Commission. She has also begun an online petition that she intends to send to the Prime Minister's Office. If you are moved by what happened to Prashant, as I was, do support her cause by signing the petition.
amit varma, 2:02 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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