The dishonest and violent use of power by the police is called police atrocities.
Currently, the police do not treat citizens with the dignity required in a democratic country. Information on police atrocities is essential because it accounts for the main controversy that arises in policing in democracies. Therefore, this study focuses on what the atrocities of the police are. It also focuses on people’s dissatisfaction with police behaviour and abuse of power.
This article covers the topics such as the use of physical and excessive force by the police authority, in which the state of India is the rate of police atrocities highest, rehabilitating, compensating, and remedying victims of police violence, the human rights violation by police, the cases of police atrocity and the different incidents and massacre created by the police authority.
Atrocities perpetrated by the police are the result of police’s misuse of power. The powers of the police are mentioned in the Police Act, 1861. The primary obligation of the police is to serve the people and protect them from the wrongdoers. Once a powerful and respected concept, it has lost its luster with time.
The use of excessive physical force is not new to society and with these many incidents of police atrocity, it is understandable that the main duty of police which was to the people and to protect them from the wrongdoers, is not being enforced as it should be enforced. India had witnessed police atrocity before the independence, and even now it can be seen too.
Who Are The Police?
A definition of the term police has not yet been provided by either the criminal procedure code (CrPC) or the Police Act, 1861. However, we can see that it describes only their rights and duties. The police can be defined as government agencies that maintain public order, solve crimes and ensure the safety of the people. It is simply defined as a state-created individual or group of people responsible for maintaining law and order and preventing, detecting, punishing and investigating crime. The police represent the civic agencies of the government.
Police officers are often charged with various licensing and regulatory activities. Policing may be performed by several professional organizations, i.e., the public police force, private security agencies, the military and the government agencies with various surveillance and investigative powers.
However, the most common type of police are the uniformed public police officers. They are the most important part of society. When a person is in need or difficulty or in danger, then he does not know what he should do or whom he should approach, the police has always been known to us as the right unit or person for that person to approach.
History Of Police Department
As an organized body, the police force began in England in the 1820s when Sir Robert Peel established the first police force in London. Before that, volunteers and crawlers from the military took part in police protection. The police were organized in India by Sir Cornwallis as one of the three pillars of British colonial rule, the other two pillars being civilian service and the military.
In 1976, during the state of emergency, a Satyagraha follower was detained by the police. She was illegally detained for several days and had to endure severe torment. Police tortured her by trampling on her naked body with high heels, hitting her spine with sticks, hitting with rifles, inserting live wires in her body cracks and setting Satyagraha’s body on fire with lit cigarettes, candles, etc.
The Kerala police were harsher than other police. They stripped the prisoners of their clothes and left only their underwear left, and then they were beaten by 10 or 12 cops. The police did not give food to the inmates. If the physical signs of the beatings were too severe, they were not taken to the prison and were moved to the station.
The Police Act, 1861
The Police Act was passed on March 22, 1861. Police law consists of the police’s rights, duties and obligations to the state. All police officers are obliged to comply with and fulfil all duties and responsibilities imposed by the competent atrocities or as outlined in the Police Act. The Police Act of 1861 puts police control in the hands of the state. The Police Act of 1861 had a total of 46 sections.
If anybody is a victim of misconduct by a police body by breach of duty or by willfully violating or ignoring rules and regulations, he shall be liable under section 29 of Indian Police Code 1861.
Therefore, according to section 29 of the Indian police act of 1861, penalties are available for neglect of duty. Every police officer who shall be guilty of any violation of duty or willful breach or neglect of any rule or regulations or lawful order made by the competent authority, or the person who might withdraw from the duties of his office without permission, or without having given previous notice for two months, or who, being absent on leave, shall fail, to report for duty on the expiration of such leave, or who engages in employment other than his police duty without authority.
Human Rights Violations By The Police
It is important to remember that nothing can tarnish the police’s reputation more than atrocities committed against those under their custody. Several rights are given to human beings such as the right to equality, right to speech and expression, right to freedom, right to information, right to life, i.e., article 21, etc. Any person cannot be deprived of any of these rights as these are his birthrights. The police also have many rights and powers.
Police agencies are granted rights and powers that are not accessible to the general public. For example, police officers can ask anyone to show their ID and other documents, but ordinary people cannot. They have the right to break traffic rules if necessary, but they have the right to pay fines for violations by ordinary people.
Yes, the police are very powerful. Nonetheless, they have begun ignoring the rights of regular people by abusing the law. By striking the spine with a cane and wearing heeled boots on the bare body, beating with the rifle, inserting the live electric wire in the body crevices, burning the body with lighted cigarettes and candle flame, custodial death, custodial rape, asking for a sexual favour in exchange of leniency, fake evidence, illegal detention, fake encounter, extortion, false imprisonment are some instances of police brutality.
Intimidation, coerced false confessions, witness tampering, false police testimony, unauthorized searches, unwarranted surveillance, police corruption, racial profiling, unwarranted seizure of the property of people, etc. are few more examples of how the police authority misused its power and violated others’ rights.
Article 3 of the UDHR, i.e., Universal Declaration of Human Rights, provides that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security. According to Article 5 of the UDHR, no one shall be tortured or subjected to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that no one shall be arbitrarily arrested or detained. But the police are violating all of this. And they perfectly know how to cover up their crimes.
This police atrocity occurred before independence, but by the British; the British left, but the crime did not leave India. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures indicate that Uttar Pradesh have registered a total of 236 incidents of police officers violating human rights between 2014 and 2016. Delhi is second only to Uttar Pradesh, and 63 police atrocities were recorded during the same period.
A total of 411 cases of police atrocities was registered in the country during this period, with 57.4 per cent of these cases registered by Uttar Pradesh alone. Only three police officers have been convicted of such atrocities between 2014 and 2016. That is a dismal rate as only three have been convicted within that timeframe.
In 2015, a total of 34 police atrocities were reported by residents of Uttar Pradesh, of which only one was found to be false and the remaining 19 cases were charged by police officers involved in the incident. So far, no police have been convicted. In the same year, 94 lawsuits were filed against the police, of which 36.2% were brought in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
In Uttar Pradesh’s dramatic rise, there were 156 cases of human rights violations by police officers, 69 of which were found to be false after investigation and 39 police officers involved in these incidents were prosecuted. But none of them was convicted. In 2016, India sued the police for 209 human rights violations, with Uttar Pradesh accounting for 74.6% of the total.
Cases of human rights violations by police officers include disappearances, unlawful detention or arrests, fake murders during meetings, extortion, attacks on women to insult women’s humility, predestination of caste atrocities, predestined tribes, and torture.
Jalianwala Bagh Massacre:
Jalianwala Bagh Massacre happened on April 13, 1919. Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden of approximately 6.47 acres, surrounded by walls and only five narrow entrances. Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer blocked all exits and the soldiers opened fire on the fleeing civilians, killing them all. He later said his motive was to punish the Indians, not to dissolve the assembly. He did not help the survivors and left them to die.
Villagers gathered at Jalianwala Bagh to celebrate the famous Sikh Baisakhi festival and peaceful protests against the arrest and deportation of Indian leaders during the world-famous genocide. About 372 people died and 192 were seriously injured.
Shahid Babu Gena Kumble Case:
Manchester-based textile merchant George Fraser shipped consignments of foreign-made clothing from his shop near the Fort to the Port of Mumbai on December 12, 1930. He asked the police for protection. Along the way, several people marched and shouted in support of Mahatma Gandhi. In front of everyone, Shahid Babu Genu Kumble praised Mahatma Gandhi for not leaving the truck’s path.
Police ordered the driver to drive the truck in Shahid Babu Gena Kamblay, but the driver refused, but the police grabbed the driver’s seat and passed Shahid Babu Gena Kambala and crushed him to death under the truck. The result was outrage, protests and strikes in India.
Bhagalpur Dazzles After Independence:
Bhagalpur Dazzles describes various events that took place between 1979 and 1980 in Bhagalpur, located in the province of Bihar. At the same time, police injected acid into the eyes of 31 people still under investigation to blind an unconvicted person. This incident became known as Bhagalpur’s real name.
The case has been extensively discussed and criticized by human rights groups. Bhagalpur’s blinding case made criminal justice history and became the first case in which the Supreme Court of India awarded reparations for fundamental human rights violations.
On May 22, 1987, the Hashim Genocide took place. It is an incident of mass murder which took place in Meerut, in Uttar Pradesh, in India during the 1987 Meerut Communal Riots which occurred from March to June in 1987 which resulted in the death of 350 people.
It is claimed that 19 police officers collected 42 Muslim youths from the Hashim Pura locality, took them to the outskirts of that place and shot them and dumped their bodies in the nearby irrigation canal. After a few days, their bodies were discovered as it was floating in the canal. The 19 men were accused but later they were released on bail.
Rampur Tiraha Firing:
This case refers to the police firing on an unarmed activist who was from Uttarakhand and was at Rampur Tiraha (crossing) in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh in India at the time of the incident, on the night of 1 October 1994. The activist was part of a campaign for the segregated state of Uttarakhand and was going to Delhi to carry out Darna. Six activists were killed in this incident.
This was a police action on November 25, 1994. The incident took place on Tell Cherry road in Kannur, Kerala. At the time of this incident, the evening branch of the cooperative Citibank was open. The shooting occurred when the Democratic Youth Federation of India protested an education policy that allocated seats to the government leaders of the United Democratic Front led by the parliament. Police opened fire as protesters obstructed the minister’s inauguration.
People marched to Tirunelveli collectors to submit memos demanding that workers in the Manjolai plantation be paid for tea. After an argument between the police and protesters, the police charged with lathi. This happened on July 23, 1999, and the Manzolai massacre is also called the Tamiravarani massacre. 17 people, including two women and a 2-year-old child, were killed while entering the river to protect themselves from attacks by Tamil Nadu police.
This refers to the police attack on the town of Mutanga, Adivasi, in Wayanad, Kerala, India. Adivasis met on February 19, 2003, under the auspices of
As a result of the delay, the Adivasi Gotra Maha Sabha (AGMS) protest the government of Kerala.
Kerala state police fired 18 bullets during the protest, killing two immediately, one of whom was a police officer. In a statement that followed, the government said that according to official statistics, five people were killed.
In this incident, police opened fire on violent young Muslims, killing six people and injuring 20 others on the spot.
Sandalwood smugglers gathering in Andhra Pradesh 2015. Andhra Pradesh Police found 20 people suspected of logging in the Seshachalam forest in the Chittor district of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The Tootokudi Massacre:
The Tootokudi Massacre is also known as the shooting of protesters in Totokudi. The incident occurred on May 22, 2018, in the Tutokudi district of Tamil Nadu, India. Tamil Nadu police opened fire at 2,000 protesters, threw stones at local assembly committees and damaged offices and vehicles. The massacre killed 13 people, including a 17-year-old boy, and injured about 10 others.
Citizenship Amendment Protest:
This is the latest public outcry and police atrocities to suppress protests. On December 4, 2019, protests began in the state of Assam shortly after the bill was introduced to Parliament. Afterwards, Northeastern Indians began to protest, which later spread to major cities in India. Massive protests took place in New Delhi’s Aligarh Muslim University and Jamiya Milia Islamia.
The protests were widespread and violent over time. Public and private property was destroyed and burned by mobs, including vandalism at some train stations. The police entered the Jamia campus with full force and fired tear gas and batons at students, injuring 200 students and detaining 100 students at the police station overnight.
Police actions were criticized, resulting in students expressing solidarity. As of December 27, 2019, thousands of people have been arrested and 27 people have died. Two 17-year-olds still underage were killed by police in Assam. On December 19, police ordered a complete ban on protests in several states. Protesters who broke the ban were detained.
Victim of Police Atrocity
Detroit police officers Walter Buzzin and Larry Nevers attacked Malice Greene, who died on November 5, 1992. Both Walter Buzzin and Larry Nevers were convicted of Green’s death. The main cause of his death was a dull trauma to the head.
On October 29, 1984, New York City police killed Eleanor Bumpers. Police came to force the city to order the eviction of Eleanor Bumpers, an elderly African-American with a disability, from her apartment in a government apartment building.
Police Officer Christopher Manny shot and killed Dontre Hamilton on April 30, 2014, at Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There were no charges against him. In connection with the shooting and the protests that continued after the incident, police officers began wearing body-worn cameras.
On April 2, 2015, 44-year-old Eric Harris was shot. He was secretly bitten and fatally wounded while fleeing from atrocities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, unarmed.
While the primary mission of the police is to serve the community, reduce crime, protect the rights of the common people, strengthen the prosecution of crimes and contain civil unrest, the police are now abusing their powers. They also abuse power for personal and public gain. The police seem to be mindless. They don’t understand that other people are people too. They just treat them like animals. Police atrocities can be greatly reduced by wearing body-worn cameras.
Society must reduce police atrocities by effectively banning racist police activity, engaging the community in important decisions, and training officers as members of the community rather than armed patrols. You have a lot of control. So do it.
Edited by Anupama Roy