Hathras: Mockery of the idea of justice

Three days after the hurried, post-midnight cremation of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s office has suspended Superintendent of Police Vikrant Veer, his deputy Ram Shabd and three other police officials. The Hathras Case has once again exposed all that is wrong with the UP Police.
It almost appears that the “drunk on power”, trigger-happy police officers encouraged by the state’s political class over the years, have become more hardened, more insensitive and audacious than ever, thanks in large part to the “freehand” given to them by the Adityanath government.
There is so much noise over the horror of what has happened in Hathras, that it is difficult to believe that a week ago, the family of the 19-year-old Dalit victim was running from town to town, hospital to hospital, police station to police station, ignored, overlooked, forgotten. Shockingly, police hurriedly set the pyre alight under cover of night, without allowing the family to properly mourn their dear one or conduct customary last rites. No civilised society can tolerate in silence and without protest the brutalisation inflicted on the 19-year-old.
It may be noted that UP has once again reported the highest number of crimes committed by men against women, accounting for 14.7 per cent of such cases across India. This is the situation in a state that boasts of having the largest single police force not just in India but anywhere in the world, with 2.5 lakh personnel spread over 75 districts, 33 armed Battalions and other specialised wings, and branches relating to intelligence, investigation, anti-corruption, technical, training, forensic science and more.
Since Yogi Adityanath came to power in March 2017, the UP Police reported 1,142 encounters in the first 10 months alone, with 38 people killed in those encounters.
In the last three years, there have been 6,145 such operations in which 119 accused were killed in almost scripted encounters.
In 2019, India’s most populous state, with about 16 per cent of the country’s population also accounted for more than 25 per cent of rape, gangrape and other crimes committed by men, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
The Adityanath government must correct policing failures for people’s as well as its own sake.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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