20 August 2006

Robbery suspect paraded naked infront of crowd-India

THE parading naked of a robbery suspect by a station house officer (SHO) in a cricket ground in Sujawal in Thatta district has probably brought the reputation of the Sindh police to a new low. The suspect had been arrested, the police claimed, because he and his accomplices were roaming around ‘suspiciously’ and after some weapons were allegedly recovered from him. The police personnel who arrested the man, particularly the SHO, have also taken the defence that the suspect was a known criminal and was resisting arrest. However, this justification actually goes to show how much the police rely on torture and extra-judicial methods while dealing with suspects. As far as the SHO is concerned — and this applies to SHOs everywhere — having a bad reputation or simply loitering around seems ground enough for arrest. However, nothing that the suspect seems to have done — and the version we are going by comes from the police — would warrant his being stripped naked and paraded in front of dozens of people.

It goes without saying — but perhaps such things need to be repeated for the benefit of our police — that recourse to this kind of barbarism goes against the basic human dignity to which every human being is entitled, even if he is a criminal. In this case the man was not even a criminal convicted by a court but a mere suspect. Such actions reinforce the perception that those entrusted with upholding the law are very often its worst violators. The government must order an enquiry into the incident and proceed accordingly with the full force of the law against those found guilty of overstepping their official authority. This is absolutely necessary as a deterrent so that other police officials think twice before ‘emulating’ the Sujawal SHO.

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