Police brutality


Nearly a week after a heart-wrenching video of a policeman beating a woman on a train started making rounds on social media prior to her mysterious death, uncertainty still hangs heavy in the stifling air. Even though a fact-finding committee by the railways authorities has already cleared the accused of murder on the basis of call records, station attendance, and witnesses’ testimony, the heirs refuse to let go of their suspicions.
According to them, the railway police official pushed the 29-year-old to death from a moving train. Since the body’s mutilated condition did not allow for a postmortem, the case has been tragically reduced to hearsay. Maryam Bibi’s family will grieve and suffer. Being haunted by violence of this calibre, they are – quite understandably – in no position to move on, even if the authorities say the said officer was suspended.
The last few years have seen hundreds of cases of police brutality wherein the law enforcement authorities openly choose to become law unto themselves. Talking about a department that enjoys notoriety as among the most corrupt, can the small time gap between a publicly-recorded episode of brutal torture and a “suicide” pass off as mere coincidence?
This excessive use of force against citizens indicates a structural problem in the police force. There have been innumerable instances of policemen refusing to follow the due procedure as they go for the trademark knock-down-and-drag-out option. Public displays of violence, which start from verbal abuse but can easily turn several shades crimson and lead to an encounter, are the sole reason why they are viewed with suspicion; with distrust.
There have been so many of these “mistakes” that the state should not waste any more time investigating the motives behind individual incidents. The situation calls for undivided attention on the key issue: our police is over-armed and under-trained.
A new model that goes beyond the culture of police brutality might make the police force more accountable for its actions and perhaps then, they could better be in sync with their actual mandate: fighting crimes and protecting the citizenry; not fighting citizens and protecting the criminals.