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Haryana police's hall of shame keeps getting bigger

National, Sat, 08 Nov 2008 IANS

Chandigarh, Nov 8 (IANS) A student coming home from a party, a teacher protesting peacefully for a salary hike, a youth who did not stop at a police barricade... all killed by a trigger-happy Haryana Police that seem to fire first and look later.


The latest victim of this alarming trend was Kuldeep Tanwar, a college student, who was shot dead at point blank range by a policeman in plainclothes when he was asked to pull over in Bhiwani, 300 km from here. Kuldeep didn't - and paid with his life.



The 22-year-old, who was returning from a party with friends and cousins, died late Sunday.



An embarrassed Haryana Police later claimed they had mistaken Kuldeep for a 'gangster' called Dara Singh.



But the excuses offered by the police and the reluctant action against the erring policemen were no solace for the family, nor was the Rs.500,000 compensation announced by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.



Kuldeep was only the latest in a series of innocent victims -- one amongst the many who have lost their lives at the hands of Haryana Police, in cases of 'mistaken identity' as the police like to say later.



Before him, in October, policemen in Jhajjar district allegedly shot dead a youth who had objected to his house being searched without a search warrant.



In September, a guest teacher, Raj Rani, died when police fired rubber bullets at agitating teachers in Hooda's home town, Rohtak. The teachers were protesting peacefully in support of their demands, including hike in remuneration.



In June, another unsuspecting youth, Mahender Kumar, was killed. He was shot dead when he did not stop his jeep at a police barricade on a highway in Bhiwani district. Policemen chased him before killing him in what they initially tried to pass off as an 'encounter' with a criminal. The probe into that killing is still on.



In the incidents involving Kuldeep and Mahender the police resorted to firing in the first instance rather than using it as the last alternative.



That was not the end.



In May this year, Haryana Police clashed with Gujjar agitators near Samalkha in Panipat district, resulting in the death of two youths, including one in firing and one in the resultant stampede.



'Someone needs to go into the reasons why the Haryana police are doing such things (killing innocent people) so regularly. The police themselves cannot start acting like criminals. They have to remain disciplined. Haryana has never faced any terrorism problem or from hardcore criminals and gangsters. Someone needs to take charge at the top to set things in order,' a retired director general of police from neighbouring Punjab told IANS.



Hoping to cash in on the embarrassing situation the Hooda government finds itself after the state police's excesses, the opposition Indian National Lok Dal has demanded the imposition of President's rule in Haryana.



'The police have become out of control and unruly. Ever since Hooda became chief minister, law and order has crumbled in Haryana. We will meet the president to demand imposition of President's rule in the state. This kind of lawlessness needs to be curbed,' INLD leader and MP Ajay Chautala said.



It doesn't end there for a police force whose brutal cane charge on unarmed Honda factory workers in July 2005 in Gurgaon continues to haunt.



Sarita, a young married woman with two daughters, who was allegedly raped by two policemen inside a police station in Rohtak this April, committed suicide inside the state police headquarters in Panchkula near here in June after police failed to initiate action against the culprits.



Another newly married woman, who went to seek police protection on court orders after her inter-caste marriage this June, was allegedly raped inside the police station complex by the station house officer.



Earlier in June, a young man in a village near Karnal town, 130 km from here, committed suicide and wrote a 12-page suicide note blaming the police for ruining his life. He claimed that he was implicated in a case of disappearance of a girl from his village and tortured by the police.



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