I remember watching this film ‘Gangajal’ where Indian police officers find a unique way to tackle crimes in their area. The law and order of that area was obstructed and injustice was at its peak. The police picked up petty muggers from the street and poured battery acid on their eyes while in custody.
The movie was purely a work of fiction which glorified the dedication of a police officer towards his duty. But in reality, pouring acid or gouging out a person’s eyes in custody cannot be acceptable, be it for any reason.
Such a horrifying act had actually taken place at a Khulna Police custody, claimed by the victim himself. Browsing through google, I stumbled upon this harrowing news about Shahajalal on Dhaka Tribune, a popular news website.
Shahajalal’s eyes were punctured by a group of out of uniform policemen after taken to custody. According to his statement, he went out to buy milk for his daughter when three police officers took hold of him. When asked, they claimed that Shahajalal had several complaints against him. They took him in and had beaten him severely. According to his wife, they demanded 1 lakh taka for his release when she went to get him at Khalishpur Police Station.
The police immediately denied this putting the blame entirely on the mob, who they claim had beaten him up for a purse snatching issue. The officer in charge said the journalists that they found Shahajalal in that state before they took him. However, according to Shahajalal’s wife, she found her husband perfectly alright even after 11pm when she got to see him at the station.
Shahjalal claimed that when in custody he refused the Police’ offer, he was taken to some deserted place. His hands and feet where tied up and one of the officers in plain clothes gouged out both of his eyes without warning.
It is less likely that Shahajalal will regain his sight as the damage is too severe, according to his doctor in Dhaka Medical College.
This reminds me of one section from the Penal Code 1860 which I had recently gone through. It is section 326A which talks about voluntarily causing grevious hurt in both eyes. The section states:
” 326A. Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 335, voluntarily causes grievous hurt of the kind mentioned in
(a) clause secondly of section 320 in respect of both the eyes either by gouging out the same or by means of any corrosive substance; or
(b) clause sixthly of section 320 by means of any corrosive substance,
shall be punished with death, or [ imprisonment] for life and shall also be liable to fine.] “
So, according to this, whoever is responsible for Shahajalal’s condition shall face maximum death penalty. However, there is no conclusive evidence as of yet, on who was actually behind it. I believe even if Shahajalal was involved in the purse snatching, how could such a heinous act be ever justified? If it was the mob then each individuals involved must be tried. If it is the police, a further inquiry must be taken place.
There is nothing called Mob Justice. It must never be allowed in a civilized society. If that was the case, then we wouldn’t have needed the law enforcement. A victim of violence is still a victim even if he has been labelled as an offender. His statement is relevant evidence and he must be given access to justice. Shahajalal’s eyesight might never be back. It not only ruined his life but that of his family. The loss cannot be compensated so is the degeneration of the Rule of Law.