Dr. Raman Singh
State government of Chhattisgarh
Dear Chief Minister
I am deeply concerned about the latest incident of police brutality taking place in Surguja during 23 and 25 May 2007. The police’s lathicharge against innocent villagers and peaceful protesters including old persons and women must be condemned.
The statement given by you after the event do suggest that you are defending the use of brutal force against innocent people. Brutality done by the police force in a civil society cannot be appreciated. Beating innocent people, smashing them to the ground and pulling their hair can’t be accepted in a democratic society. The attack on the villagers seeking justice for the death of Vijay Debnath can’t be justified. Your statements raise the question how can a person of your status and power defend the police in this particular case? The explanations given by you do not correspond with the statements of the villagers and the footage seen on TV.
As a consequence of this incident you ordered the conducting of a magistrate inquiry. How many magistrate inquiries have you ordered over the last three years? Please let the people know what were the outcomes of these inquiries. The officers responsible for misbehavior must be punished in every case. The results of these processes could help to build a certain degree of confidence in the police forces and the ministerial administration. It is essential that you don’t try to hide facts during the investigation and that you don’t use this investigation as a fig leaf. The culpable officers involved must be punished according to the laws.
The events in Surguja proves that either the government of Chhattisgarh lost control over its police forces or that the government is deliberately accepting or even ordering the use of brutal force against innocent people. In either case you must be aware that such a situation is not in any kind appropriate for a democratically elected government.
The creation of the state of Chhattisgarh was connected with the hope of bringing democratic rights to the people. The repressive actions by the Chhattisgarh police forces are way too numerous since the invention of the Chhattisgarh state. The recurrent incidents of police brutality do not fulfill any kind of democratic standards and it lies within your responsibility to change this unsatisfactory situation. I might add that not only in the Surguja incidence the victims of the oppressive police actions include older people, unarmed women and tribal people.
Recently the Supreme Court of India has directed all the States and Union Territories to conduct a police reform. As this latest incident shows the police force of Chhattisgarh is definitely in the need of a change to the better. Still, no action was taken yet. If there is an adequate explanation for not starting the process immediately please let it be known. The creation of such a violent environment cannot be continued. The people of Chhattisgarh do know how to make their opinion and will act according to it.
A Concerned Citizen
(This letter writer is a human rights activist and associated with the Forum for Fact-finding Documentation and Advocacy)