‘What lesson will you teach?’

by R. S. Dalal

The brutalities committed on the helpless Delhi gang-rape victim, now dead, sent shock-waves across the country. The seething anger burst out in spontaneous protests, even taking an ugly, violent turn. The entire country appears to be in a lynch mode.

In my long years of police service, I have visited many scenes of violent brutal crimes. There are certain savage nomadic gangs moving from one state to another that have a modus operandi of perpetrating terrible violence.

A visit to one such scene of crime was a nerve-shattering experience. The barbarity of the criminals left me shocked and stunned. Could human beings be so cruel to their own fellow-beings! A wave of raw anger in the family members and relatives of the victims mauled me. They looked upon me as the one responsible for the dastardly crime. Trembling with anger, yelling, shrieking, shouting, they accused me of failure to protect them. “What restrained them from lynching me!” I often wondered later.

I would console, comfort them; promised quick arrests and pledged to teach those criminals a lesson. “What lesson will you teach?” they shrieked. “You’ll arrest them, put them in jail and they’ll be out after a while. Go, get them, if you’ve guts. We’ll teach them a lesson ourselves.”

I came back humbled, humiliated, boiling with anger. The immediate impotent revenge was to suspend a few cops, including the local thanedar. I convened a meeting of the best crime detectives of the district. “Look at the savagery of the gang. Look at the humiliation we suffered.”

“Sir, we would trace these criminals without much delay. We’ll not rest or sleep till we arrest them”, they assured me.

“Will that be enough! Two of the male family members are still in a coma; three women have been severely beaten. Even a 10-year-old child has not been spared.”

The meeting ended at that in a sad, sullen and angry mood. There was no shaking of hands, no parting greetings exchanged, no loud shuffling of chairs. The officers left the room amidst eerie silence.

“Do these criminals deserve to live”, the thought came up again and again as I moved up and down the office room. Identifying, tracing and arresting such wily, mobile criminals is in itself a mini military operation. But arrests will not calm down the victims and the families. The trial will take a long time. Under the Anglo-Saxon system of justice that we follow, its only the evidence that succeeds. Truth could very well be the victim. The lawyers will pick some holes in the investigation, and the accused will be acquitted after many years of agonising wait.

How do I redeem my honour? Am I not responsible to protect the life and property of the citizens in the district? “Do I overstep the limits of law and deliver quick justice myself”, I asked myself. Temptation was strong. “Am I not bound by law. Think of horrible consequences that could follow — commissions of inquiry, endless court appearances and the infamy”, the counter-thoughts troubled me.

Today, the nation is in a lynch mode led by the ferociously aggressive media. Time is now to think rationally and set in place a responsive, reasonably fast-moving criminal justice system; to provide funds liberally to strengthen preventive, investigative and prosecuting capabilities of the police.

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com

You may also read thought-provoking article by Peter Ronald deSouza: http://www.tribuneindia.com

This entry was posted in Crime and Punishment. Bookmark the permalink.