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The sad state of police independence / official investigations and corruption




This is a depressing story. Once in a while you hear about a young idealist officer who decides to take action against corruption, against illegal activities, and so on, and then goes down valiantly fighting, with the system being against him / her. If this was a movie, then the official or police officer could become partially like a superhuman, defeating the enemies and ensuring that the corrupt and other criminally inclined were brought to book or killed. However, if you look at the real life situation in India today, there is no movie like good ending. With the political class firmly on the side of the corrupt or the criminal, it is impossible for any enthusiastic or corruption fighting officer to defeat them. If you consider some of the cases of these fighting, whether this be against the sand mafia that destroys rivers and streams, or against the oil mafia that makes a lot of money by adulterating petroleum products, and so on. There is a lot of money made in these activities, and anybody who has some insight of these problems will realize that these are highly illegal activities that could not continue unless they were being supported by the bureaucracy and the political class.
So what happens to these officers (although one really does not hear too much of dedicated corruption fighting police officers, maybe they are a more rare breed; even such famous and dedicated former officers such as Kiran Bedi were known for being more dedicated, but not really known for leading any anti-corruption movement within the police force) ? In a number of cases, when they do not bend to the local realities, the officers are relentlessly shunted around (officers such as Ashok Khemka have been moved around so much, he must be living in a car rather than being allotted a house (tragic joke of our times)), or in more serious cases, the officer dies in some way. In some cases, the death is done quite openly such as the murder of Shanmughan Manjunath, the officer killed in 2005 in Uttar Pradesh for trying to expose the oil mafia. There are numerous other officers who have to face problems, in some cases, because the politician does not like their straightforward ways (for example, the female police officer who solved the Park Street rape case was shunted out since Mamta Banerjee did not believe that this was a real case, all rapes and other crimes in Bengal are conspiracies against her).

In the latest instance, the IAS office DK Ravi who was found dead in Bangalore on March 16 is a very serious instance. The death is sought to be projected as a suicide (now this you have seen in movies, where either the hero or heroine, or some close friend is killed and is sought to be projected as a suicide). The officer had been taking action against housing societies and developers, and recovering taxes from them, and was supposed to be planning more such actions to recover more money. Now, for those who know a bit more, real estate is a business in which politicians are heavily involved; it involves big money, permissions can be arranged easily, a lot of money goes through the black money route and taxes can be avoided as well as money can be hidden. Given the amount of money involved, arranging the murder of the officer would not be a difficult task to arrange.
The bigger problem in all this is the lack of an independent investigation. The local police forces and their investigation agencies are hopelessly compromised with no level of independence at all, too much influence by the political class, and this is how they like it as well. Many years ago, the Supreme Court had given a series of judgments that could ensure police independence and less influence, but no state Government has implemented it, and the court seems to have given up on it. In fact, even a party such as the BJP which claimed to be for the rule of law would not dare to give the police independence. Even an organization such as the CBI is equally hopeless, as can be seen in its operations during the Congress rule, where it was seen to be totally under the thumb of the Government and with almost no level of independence. This is the tragedy of the country, where unless the CBI and police agencies can be seen to be independent, the rule of law is highly flawed.




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