Break the nexus

Break the nexus

Twice over the past fortnight, Uttar Pradesh’s police force has acted to cover up crime instead of investigating it. The first incident involved a 14-year-old girl whose body was found hanging from a tree on the premises of Nighasan police station in Lakhimpur-Kheri district. Instead of probing efficiently and honestly the circumstances that resulted in her death, the police attempted to conceal the truth, perhaps to quietly bury the role that a policeman might have played in her killing. Evidence was destroyed and autopsy findings fudged to suggest the girl committed suicide. A follow-up autopsy revealed she was murdered. Similarly in Jaisinghpur, where an eight-year-old was found murdered, the police refused to file an FIR and pushed the family to bury her body and ‘forget about the incident’. A subsequent autopsy done after her body was exhumed reveals she was murdered in cold blood. Here too, the police abetted in covering up the murder of a minor girl, if not carrying it out.

The two incidents show that two years after the UP police came under fire in the Aarushi murder case for their botched up investigations, little has changed in the way the force operates. Police are acting to protect criminals instead of nabbing them, whether by refusing to file FIRs, tampering with evidence or distorting autopsy reports. The extent to which the UP police protect those who rape and kill became evident early this year when they kept in custody on charges of robbery a Dalit girl who had in fact been gang-raped by a Bahujan Samaj Party MLA and his friends. The victim was jailed while the rapist, who enjoyed privileges and protection of the establishment, roamed free. In this case too, the police refused to record medical evidence of her rape.

Every time the UP police come under the media spotlight for their shoddy handling of criminal cases, the government, in a bid to take away the sting of opposition pressure, quickly suspends a few policemen. And there the matter ends. After a few weeks in suspension, the police are reinstated and then it is business as usual. The UP government and those in other states as well need to break the nexus between cops and criminals. This will become possible only if the politician-criminal links are broken. This is a giant task, no doubt, that will be resisted by vested interests but not impossible to achieve.

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