Four policemen in Rajanna Sircilla district decided to ensure it was not a happy start to 2020 for New Year revellers. They did so by thrashing youngsters on the Karimnagar-Sircilla road on Wednesday. The youth were reportedly creating a nuisance, inviting action by the police.
How much is too much is the question and in this case, the district SP Rahul Hegde himself felt his men had crossed the line. Two sub-inspectors, a constable and a home guard were caught on tape using brute force against the revellers and have now been attached to the district headquarters as censure.
While the police version is that the boys were a threat to other citizens as they were carrying crude weapons including knives and rods and were breaking beer bottles on the road, the question is whether they could have been controlled without use of such physical violence. The visual evidence raised questions about the so-called friendly image of the Telangana police.
It also comes close on the heels of the encounter in Cyberabad in December 2019 where four men accused of rape and murder of a veterinary doctor from Hyderabad were shot dead. The police version was that they tried to escape from police clutches forcing them to kill them.
While attaching them to the district headquarters is the police force’s internal system of punishment, the larger question is whether the power of the law is used by those in khaki without sufficient checks and balance. Would the police chief have taken similar action if video evidence shot by a citizen was not available? Would he have then believed the version of the youth that they had been beaten black and blue?
While it is the job of the uniformed force to enforce the law, it is not expected to do so by using disproportionate force itself as seems to be the case here.