Will we see the end of police brutality?

By TP Saran

“Every other case that comes to light shows a more or less similar pattern of humiliation and disregard for the minimum of consideration for the persons around. Agreed that the police have to do their job, but should they deal with the ordinary citizen as if s/he were a criminal? The irony here is that most of such citizens involved come from practically the same socio-economic backgrounds as the police officers, and one would expect that they would have at least some empathy. Instead, they seem to revel in displaying an even greater degree of haughtiness towards their preys…”


Cases of police brutality keep being reported throughout the year. One must be thankful to the media teams that track and document such incidents and present them to the public, either in the written press or increasingly nowadays in the audiovisual sphere where they are posted and can be viewed for several days.

Systematically, the details that emerge arouse alarm and disgust. Physical violence is almost routinely resorted to by some officers, along with humiliation of the victim and others present. One may criticise that these accounts give only one version, that of the victims, but by the time they are brought to attention and investigated by the media, the concerned officers concerned are not around and assuming that the victim can identify them, they will leave it to their superiors to speak out if at all.

For example, recently one incident posted on YouTube took place at Trou-aux-Biches in the early hours of the morning. A man and his wife on a motorcycle were stopped by the police for a routine check. The man was made to blow the balloon and apparently his blood alcohol level was elevated. He was therefore prevented from riding his motorcycle further and was to be taken to the police station. He was naturally concerned about his wife’s safety and how she would get back home. However, he was allegedly prevented from using his cell phone, and the discussion that ensued led to him being thrown on the ground by the police officers and beaten up, and his legs being run over repeatedly. He landed up in hospital, and it took nearly three days for his wife and family running from one police station to another to finally locate him. Imagine the distress to the family, not to speak of time to recovery from the injuries sustained, the time off work and possibly loss of income too for those who can least afford it.

Every other case that comes to light shows a more or less similar pattern of humiliation and disregard for the minimum of consideration for the persons around. Agreed that the police have to do their job, but should they deal with the ordinary citizen as if s/he were a criminal? The irony here is that most of such citizens involved come from practically the same socio-economic backgrounds as the police officers, and one would expect that they would have at least some empathy. Instead, they seem to revel in displaying an even greater degree of haughtiness towards their preys, to be daunted into submission, especially the ‘ti dimoune’.

We pray that the new dispensation which has all the power and authority at its command will look into the matter seriously, and perhaps the Prime Minister could use his seeming personal chemistry with the Commissioner of Police to egg the latter into revisiting in depth this problem, and come up with actionable measures so that well before 2020 ends the PM would be able to announce proudly to citizens that police brutality is a matter of the past.

* * *

When does security become surveillance?

The installation of the camera system throughout the island (Safe City project) has been defended as being necessary for security purposes, given in particular the rising number of car accidents, many due to speeding or drunk driving, and that result in deaths that could have been avoided. However, as has been pointed out by those who are familiar with these devices, their level of sophistication is such that they can not only detect speed and enable facial recognition, but apparently can also record (with microphone attachments) conversations being held. And all these at a considerable distance away from the target. This is a matter which deserves to be officially clarified.

“It would be remembered that when biometric ID cards were proposed and finally introduced, Pravind Jugnauth who was then in the opposition was one of its most vociferous critics, going to the extent of taking the issue to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the personal details contained in the cards could be misused and target ordinary citizens as well as opponents, and potentially to victimize them. And this was deemed to be a legitimate cause for concern. This risk is now considered to be even greater with the new system of cameras in place, that can allegedly snoop on people without their knowledge…”


It would be remembered that when biometric ID cards were proposed and finally introduced, Pravind Jugnauth who was then in the opposition was one of its most vociferous critics, going to the extent of taking the issue to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the personal details contained in the cards could be misused and target ordinary citizens as well as opponents, and potentially to victimize them. And this was deemed to be a legitimate cause for concern.

This risk is now considered to be even greater with the new system of cameras in place, that can allegedly snoop on people without their knowledge, and the data thus gathered centrally stored. Given the genuine concern that Pravind Jugnauth had mobilised over the biometric card, it is hoped that as PM he will now make sure that his government enacts robust legislation to ensure the protection and security of the citizens of this country, and give them the absolute guarantee that the thin line between security and surveillance – amounting to spying – will never be crossed.

* * *

India: when protests turn into planned riots

After the Indian government passed the Citizens Amendment Bill (CAB) following extensive debates in its Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, protests that were initiated by students at the Jamia Millia University in New Delhi spread to the rest of the country, with other students expressing their solidarity with their peers at Jamia Millia.

However, concrete evidence has emerged and been presented that the opposition led by the Congress Party has fuelled these protests through a pre-planned campaign of misinformation and disinformation about the CAB. It has conflated the CAB with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) which applies in the first place to the state of Assam, and as a result there has been much fear-mongering generated.

But the CAB’s provisions are unambiguous, as can be seen in the following Q & A explanation based on clarifications issued by India’s Home Affairs Ministry available at https://www.eurasiareview.com › 21122019-qa-indias-ministry-of-home-affairs.

* Does the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 affect existing Indian citizens (Hindus, Muslims, anyone)?
No. It has nothing to do with Indian citizens. It has to do with refugees who have come to India escaping religious persecution in Pak, Afghanistan & Bangladesh only.

* To whom does it apply?
Only to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists & Christians from the above three countries – who are facing religious persecution AND who are already in India before 1st Dec 2014.

* In what way does it benefit Hindus, Sikhs, Jains & Christians from these 3 countries?
Their residency requirement for permanent citizenship in India has now been reduced from 11 to 5 years. Thus they can claim citizenship as a right under this law.

* Does this mean that Muslims from these 3 countries can never get Indian citizenship?
No. But they will go through the usual process of acquiring citizenship through the existing naturalization rules that apply to all applicants who are not Indians.

* Will illegal Muslim immigrants from these 3 countries be automatically deported under this bill?
No. For them the existing usual process applies. Their application for naturalization may or may not be granted depending on their eligibility.

* Can Hindus facing persecution in any other country apply under this law?
No. It is limited to the above three countries.

* Does this bill apply to other forms of persecution – Political, racial, sexual etc?
No. The bill is very specific in its intent – to provide relief to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Christians & Buddhists facing ‘religious persecution’ in these three countries.

* Why only these 3 countries? And why only religious persecution?
These 3 countries have a track record of pervasive, systematic & institutionalized persecution of religious minorities. At the time of Independence, approx 23% of population of Pak were minorities. Today it is less than 3%. The figures are self- explanatory.

* What about Sri Lankan Tamils?
The war has been over for a decade now. In Sri Lanka there never was any persecution on religious lines. It was on racial lines. And over the decades of civil war the Sri Lankans have put an end to institutionalized discrimination against Tamils.

* Doesn’t India have an obligation under the UN to take care of refugees?
Yes it does. And it is not shying away from it. But it has no obligation to offer citizenship. Each country has its own rules for naturalization. India is not going to turn away other refugees under this law. It will play host to them under UN rules, in the implicit expectation that some day they will return to their homelands when the conditions improve. But in the case of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Christians & Buddhists from these 3 countries, this law acknowledges the reality that the environment of persecution in these 3 countries is never going to improve.

* Why shouldn’t Baluchis, Ahmediyas in Pakistan not be considered as well?

They are all Muslims in self-declared Islamic Republics. However, if these people come in as refugees, their case will be considered under the existing laws of migration and not under the special category. It may be noted that a total of 546 Muslims of Pakistani origin have been granted Indian citizenship since 2017.

* Does any Indian Muslim lose his citizenship or become second class citizens?
No, not at all. They continue to be valued citizens of India.

The opposition and their acolytes have ignored these clarifications given, and have whipped up their fear-mongering and personal accusations against PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. As documented in visuals shown in Indian media, in several locations planned riots have been engineered, involving groups, gangs and criminals of all kinds who have been shown to move in with arms, petrol bombs to hurl at the police, bags of stones for pelting at the police brought in vans and rickshaws. They have placed road blocks to obstruct rapid deployment of police forces and have broken CCTV cameras. They have used all means to provoke the police into reaction, and then the opposition blames the police for the incidents!

Prime Minister Modi responded at a public rally held in Delhi on 23rd December, saying: ‘Burn Modi’s effigy, but do not burn public property. Hate me if you want to, but don’t hate India. Burn my effigy, but don’t burn a poor man’s auto-rickshaw’. He blamed political propaganda that triggered arson and burning of public properties.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar who was present asked the crowd: ‘What do you want — development or destruction, nationalism or anarchy, anti-national slogans raised in JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) or those who would end such activities?’

What turn these protests and riots will eventually take remains a question mark, but it would seem that as far as the Indian government goes, there will be ‘no retreat, no surrender’. Which is as it should be, for every country has a right to decide on its citizenship issues and protect its sovereignty.


* Published in print edition on 27 December 2019

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