The video of Barheth, Sahibganj police station officer-in-charge and inspector Harish Pathak assaulting a girl within the precincts of a police station is extremely disturbing.
It is disturbing in many ways. It shows the enormous power that the police wield over a common and vulnerable man or woman.
The police can detain anyone, even girls and women, any time and then without giving him or her any opportunity to be accompanied by a lawyer or family members can beat them mercilessly in the presence of other policemen without any fear of being questioned.
Police have untrammelled power in real world that goes beyond the law books, legislations and ordinances.
It is reassuring that the moment this video was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister and the DGP, action was initiated against the erring police officer. However, not all such cases are captured in videos.
There are umpteen cases of police excess which go unnoticed, because the victims are so vulnerable they can’t even raise their voice to the people who can take action against the police officer.
The erring OC has now been suspended, a probe has been ordered and further action is likely to be taken against him. However, now an attempt is allegedly being made by a cabal to frame the person who captured the video of the incident.
He too needs protection because it was only because of that video that the cruelty and illegality of the OC’s action could be evidenced.
A girl being brought to a police station alone and then being beaten up by the police mercilessly is really shameful and worth condemning.
However, any further action by the government on this incident should not be limited only to taking action against the erring police officer. Instead, it should also prompt the government and top police echelons to think of ways to make the police in general, and police personnel deployed in rural areas in particular, more people-friendly and responsive.