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Custodial deaths are a blot
on civilised society

The editorial “Deaths in custody” (Feb 11) was appropriate. The figures furnished by the state of Punjab on custodial deaths indicate a sharp increase. Its is shocking that figures have gone up from 2 in 2004 to 80 in 2006 and have been considerably high that is 63 in 2007. The police and the state government have ignored the previous directives of the Supreme Court and they go on doing what they like with impunity.

Men in uniform are meant to uphold the rule of law and not break it. Though they have the power to detain suspects and interrogate them in custody, they are not allowed to use third degree methods to extract confessions or torture them. Sadly there is no check on police behaviour.



There could be tremendous pressure on the police from influential persons and government agencies to extract confessions, making it difficult for the policemen to follow the rules. In the current national scenario, corruption too cannot be ruled out. Despite directions from courts, no action seems to have been taken against the erring men in uniform.

The common man is afraid of both the police and the police stations. It’s image, as helpful force has not emerged. The sorry state of custodial deaths is not confined to Punjab but happens in all the states in India, to varying degree.

Now that the case has come before the Supreme Court, it is for the state to punish all those guilty policemen who exceeded their brief and also to set standards and limits to interrogation procedure. The action taken must be widely published in the media to instil people’s faith in the ongoing system. No civilised society can tolerate such inhuman excesses by the men in uniform.

DR ARK Pillai Mumbai

Uneasy future

H K Dua’s front-page editorial “Sharp turns: Troubled times lie ahead”, (Feb 9) has succinctly examined the current political scenario of the country. India is a country of inequalities and poverty. Under the prevailing circumstances, India may not be able to emerge as a major power of the 21st century because of the economic slowdown. The happenings of 26/11 have shattered nation’s self-esteem to a large extent.

It is very clear that neither the Congress nor the BJP will get a majority. These national parties have lost their sheen and their vital bases also. The smaller regional parties have no significant ideologies and in a coalition government, they always try to extract their pound of flesh.

Without a sense of direction or leadership, India may go adrift. Mr Dua is right
when he says “The country may have to pay if it opts for political instability
lurking ahead”. Today, India desperately needs towering leaders with integrity,
courage and competence who can respond to the agony of more than one
billion people. Poet Faraz has well said: Jin key dam sey theen bastian aabaad,
Aaj voh long hain kahan aabaad.



The editorial rightly pinpointed two basic concerns. One is terrorism and the other is economic slowdown. Development is not possible unless both these issues are tackled. As far as Mumbai terror is concerned, it is hoped that the new US Administration will put enough pressure on Pakistan, which is showing signs of cooperation now.

The economic slowdown too is a serious concern. Whereas the people are concerned with developmental issues, the elected leaders forget why they were elected. They misuse powers to collect as much wealth as possible. How can they form a good and an honest government? In government services, ACRs are written for better performance. Similarly, parties should see that the candidate has a good social record. Let there be a code of conduct for elected representatives.

ER. KHAZAN SINGH, Kapurthala

No stand-off in EC

To the editorial “Trouble in EC” (Feb 4), I would like to add that there is no stand off or any personal row between the Chief Election Commissioner and his colleagues as is being made out by the media. The smooth conduct of the Assembly elections held recently proved that there is complete unanimity in the Election Commission.

Whether charges levelled by one political party against Mr Navin Chawla are grave or frivolous and whether his defence by the other party is genuine or fake can be decided by a court of law only.

It would be appropriate, both on legal and moral grounds that soon after the Lok Sabha elections are over, Mr Chawla voluntarily proceeds on a long leave. A competent court should examine the charges against him expeditiously. If exonerated, he can return to the Election Commission with his head held high.

WG CDR C L SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar



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