September 09, 2009

The Terrible Tragedy of Encounters and State Sponsered Terrorism

The metropolitan magistrate's report which describes the cold-blooded murder of Ishrat Jahan needs to be an eye-opener for all those who care about democracy in this country called India.

When the entire heavy apparatus of the State moves in orchestrated fashion against a lone individual, it becomes very difficult for the individual to fight back ... or, for that matter, for that individual's family to fight for justice.

In India, the judicial system still seems to be working, at least on the surface. The press also sometimes seems to perform its role as a watchdog that will try to catch public servants from performing misdeeds.

However, these vital pillars of a functioning democracy are semi-functional at best. Therein lies the danger that if we don't stay vigilant enough and don't care enough about democracy, the edifice of democracy itself might well collapse.

The core question of course is how truly democracy-minded the people of India are. I think the answer is — not all that much!!!

That is a separate topic though and will be addressed in a separate blog.

In this case of Ishrat, we see the deadly mix of police encounter killing and the specter of 'terrorism.'

Two unforgivable errors have been committed in this case: one is that of assuming that those innocent people were terrorists and two is that of killing them in a stage-managed 'encounter.' These encounters have almost become a way of meting out justice — instead of following the lengthy procedures of going to a criminal court and having to prove your case, governments have come to feel that the police can mete out justice themselves by simply killing the suspect and assuming that the suspect is guilty.

This is a very dangerous trend indeed.

Even assuming that Ishrat and the others were terrorists, they deserved a trial in a court of law which could have then led to their getting a just punishment. Encounters are not the way to go to punish terrorists — either suspected ones or proven ones.

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