ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Law on Trial in Uttar Pradesh

The aggressive and intimidatory approach of the police is inimical to decent society and democratic norms.

As the nationwide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens continue resolutely, a heavy-handed and violent approach towards the protestors has been a conspicuous feature in the states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or where the police are controlled by the BJP-led government. It should be a particular abomination for the ruling party that the reported loss of human lives during protestsallegedly in police firinghas been from these states. However, instead of showing any remorse, the leaders of the ruling party and a section of their vocal followers seem to be brandishing this as a sign of strong, unflinching leadership.Particularly sinister in this regard is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP) who had openly talked of revenge against protestors on 19 December 2019. Since then the state is witnessing a spate of police brutalities, targeted actions and arbitrary arrests as indeed the government seems to be displaying a vengeful trait against a section of its own people.

Thus far, 19 lives have been lost in UP and the government response has been anything but reconciliatory, let alone accepting of responsibility. Initially, the police flatly refused that it had fired on protestors and sought to put the blame on protestors themselves. With the emergence of incriminating evidence in the form of video footage, it has had to later admit to the act, even as the act has been sought to be justified on the grounds of self-defence. Loss of human lives is a grave moral crisis or failure for a democratically elected government, and therefore, it is apt that there be a proper inquiry and perpetrators be brought to book. But, developments in UP suggest that the perpetrators are being shielded and patronised by the government, as mounting evidence from ground reports seems to be pointing towards the culpability of the government and its machinery. At a very basic level, the UP police has apparently forgotten or has been made to forget that it is essentially a civil service and not a military one. Considering that UP is not a declared disturbed area or a conflict zone, there is no instrumental justification for a militarised approach adopted by the police. In adecent society, the police are expected to maintain maximumrestraint even in the face of provocation. But, the conduct of the UP police reeks of aggressive targeting of a particular community and the pretext is also based on flimsy or doubtful grounds of protestors indulging in violence. Impartial inquiry is all the more necessary to verify these claims and also reveal the masked identity of the individuals who are seen to be indulging in violent acts.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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