Friday, August 18, 2006

Kerala govt under fire over police excesses

In the two and a half months since the LDF took power in Kerala, there have been 14 deaths connected to police including custody deaths.

Under fire from the Opposition, human rights activists and the public, the government is now desperately trying to curb the incidents of police excesses.

However, for people like the family of Rajesh are yet to come to terms with their loss.

The 23-year-old jumped into a lake while being chased by the police. Rajesh's uncle says that he pleaded that he couldn't swim, but the police - instead of helping him - pelted stones at him till he drowned.

However, after the rising number of deaths, public outrage has forced the government to order a judicial probe into the deaths.

"We want the cops responsible for his death to be booked on the charges of murder. We are not demanding any compensation but we want exemplary punishment to be given to them," said Surendran, Rajesh's uncle.

Promises unfulfilled

The LDF came to power in Kerala with the promise of putting an end to police excesses and custodial deaths.

But what has happened on the ground is quite alarming and a worried government now wants the cops to mend their ways.

Therefore, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan sent a strong message during a meeting with top police officers. The minister is under pressure from his own CPI(M) and the Left Front to take strong action.

But many police officers feel any harsh measure could demoralize the force at a time when there is a need to crack down on terrorist activities in the state.

But clearly the Kerala government needs much more than meetings and promises to check the alleged excesses by the police, which should be a force to protect citizens and not victimise them.


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