By Gladson Dungdung
22 October, 2007 Countercurrents.org
Though Kerala state in India is known for total literacy, it was a horrible experience of the ‘instant justice’ for 40-year-old pregnant woman Jyoti and her two kids, who were stripped and beaten up by a mob accusing them of stealing a golden anklet of a child in the vicinity। The ghastly incident took place in a busy market of Edappal in Malappuram district of Kerala on 7th of October 2007, when a customer raised an alarm, saying her child’s golden anklets had been stolen. Soon after the incident, Tamil-speaking vagabonds were noticed outside the shop.
Suddenly a mob gathered, Jyoti and her kids were made to undergo a forced body search but the missing ornaments were not found on them। The angry mob began to attacking them, Jyoti even displayed her bulging tummy to her attackers pleading for mercy but they kicked and beat her mercilessly for 45 minutes. The kids were also treated alike. They were left on the road unattended for nearly an hour and a half. All three were seriously injured. As usual the police witnessed the incident as mute spectators and finally they took them to the police station instead of hospital to complete their quorum. The action was not taken against the culprits.
The irony is that the government authorities opened their eyes only after the local TV channels breaking the news। The Home Minister asked to the Central zone Inspector-General Vijayanand to probe the case, thereafter a high-level police team visited to the spot. Two policemen were suspended and five persons were arrested immediately. The Kerala State Human Rights Commission also took suo moto action on the matter and sought an explanation from the Director-General of Police Raman Srivastava and directed the District Superintendent of Police P. Vijayan to appear before the Commission on October 25.
It was not only Kerala but the entire country shocked by the cruel incident। The matter of instant justice is not uncommon in India but one gets upset only because having lost of faith on the Police and the judiciary, people are taking laws in their hands instead of making the governance accountable. As a result the series of incidents of mob attacking are reported from the different parts of the country, where many innocent people have paid the price of instant justice with their lives. The incident of instant justice was highly noticed in the country when a petty cash thief was severely beaten by a mob and dragged by cops in Bihar followed by lynching of 10 thieves (according to the investigation report, they were not thieves) at Dhelphorwa village in Vaishali district of Bihar in September 14.
Bihar once again bagged the medal of defamation after the Dhelphorwa incident। It seems that the state is becoming a laboratory of instant justice. The data of last two months (August & September) shows that in 13 incidents of mob attacking, 30 people were targeted, 27 of them lost their lives and rest 3 fortunate guys survived. The data of the last year also has the same story. Coincidently, 25 people had been lynched by mobs in the month of August and September last year. Its neighboring state Jharkhand has also followed the path of Bihar with the lynching of 20 people in last two months (August and September). The west Bengal also has many old stories of mob attaching and now the Kerala has began to run on the same track. The system of instance justice is a big threat to the existence of the civilized society and the system of governance. There are also incidents of instant justice which was justified by the so called people of the civilized society. How can one forget about the lynching of five Dalits in Jhajhar of Hariyan on 23 of October 2002 for skinning a dead cow? The incident was justified by the Sangh Parivar; even the Sadhus had organized a big Rally in support of lynching of Dalits by claiming that a cow is purer than the Dalits. The City Magistrate and the DSP had admitted that they were present on the spot when the five persons were lynched. But have the real culprits punished? Why have people not punished who supported the inhuman act of lynching Dalits?
The question arises that why people are following the path of the instant justice? Is the system not working? Or have the people lost their faith on the governance? The answer may be found in another heartbreaking incident of a rape case which took place in Delhi on 26th of July 2007। 25-year-old Roopa was allegedly raped by Pawan Tyagi who had murdered Roopa’s husband and was in Jail. Once he out on bail, he allegedly raped Roopa Having run from bottom to top she hasn’t been able to get an FIR registered even after the three months. The Delhi Police also did not conduct a medical examination. In this circumstances how can one surprised if Pawan Tyagi could have lynched by a mob? Who is responsible for the situation created for Roopa? Whether the Police, the Judiciary or the society as a whole?
There are many incidents where the Police have played an indirect role in promoting the heinous crime of instant justice। When the National Human Rights Commission, the Media and the Human Rights Organisations began to expose the inhuman treatment of police i.e. torture, in front of the society, the Police sought another way to punish the criminals. The police used to ask mob to kill the accused because now a day they can not beat or kill in fake encounter. “Torture is necessary because criminals do not tell us the truth” says an IPS Officer Amit Kumar. He also questions that why the human rights organizations do not question when the human rights violation committed by the non state agencies? In many cases police asked for money for the filing FIR and they refused who did not pay them. This is how the Police function. If a rape victim is denied for filing FIR in the Police Stations how can one imagines for a big thing for Police to do?
Inaction and inability of police, corruption and inhuman behaviour, and the failure of governance and judiciary are the reasons enough to flourish the incidents of instant justice. Now people are tend to believe that they will not get the justice in the present system of governance, which pressurize them to draw the inspirations from the instant justice system of Naxlites. Precisely because they have made acres of lands free from the clutches of land lords by the instant justice system. It does not end here the police always act in the favour of the big wigs and the poor are always at the receiving end. Therefore the whole fight is between the haves and haves not, pure versus impure, and the powerful versus the powerless. After the Kerala incident the country feels shame but do the people of law enforcement agencies join the core? The inhuman act of instant justice can not be justified at any cost but even after that it will continue till the law enforcement agencies realize their roles and accountability.