It’s beginning to increasingly appear that there are politicians who would prefer to skirt the law and take matters into their own hands. We now have the Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy asking the police to shoot at the murderers of a party worker. Interestingly, the Karnataka Chief Minister does not deny the statement, but attempts to play it down by an explanation that doesn’t really dilute the fact that he said it in the first place.
The recent incident concerns the killing of a Janata Dal (S) worker by motorcycle-borne assailants in Mandya, Karnataka. The JDS worker was allegedly stopped on the highway and hacked to death. On learning of this, Kumaraswamy was caught on camera telling the Mandya Superintendent of Police, “I don’t know how you will handle it. I am disappointed actually… he (JDS worker) was a very good man… Mercilessly shootout the people involved in such activities… don’t worry about it… I don’t care about the consequences.” Later, Kumaraswamy, when the news made headlines, said. “That was not an order as a Chief Minister. It was in anger. The perpetrators were out on bail and killed another man… I spoke to officers and changed the order to smoke out instead of shootout.”
The Karnataka Chief Minister defends his first statement as being an initial reaction and of him being an emotional person. He says he didn’t mean it, but the fact that a Chief Minister could, even if it was a spur of the moment reaction, order the killings of those involved in a crime, is a matter of grave concern, even quite terrifying. The explanations given later, and the order being overturned, are of secondary importance. This is a matter of a head of government instructing the police machinery to take the law into their own hands, something that can never be acceptable.
The Karnataka Chief Minister may claim that it is not a big issue, but it clearly is. Even, giving the Chief Minister of Karnataka the benefit of doubt, if this was an emotional outburst, it brings back to mind the shootouts or the ‘encounters’ that have resulted in killings and that have taken place in various places in the country, where persons who could have been a liability to those in power at that particular time have ended up dying.
There are enough laws in place in the country to tackle crime, there is a well-oiled machinery whose only task is to hunt down criminals and bring them to justice, there is a judiciary to ensure that the law is not abused and that the accused is given a fair trial, before being condemned. All that is apparently not enough for some politicians who would rather like to take the law into their hands. Kumaraswamy’s statement is just one example, caught on camera and that’s why we know of it, but it serves to show how the State machinery can be controlled by those in power in such a manner as to get their way and the results they want. Had this not been recorded, would the order or the instruction be withdrawn? That is a question for which an answer can only be guessed at and not accurately.
While this may have been an instruction to the police on a killing, there possibly are thousands of other ways in which the laws governing the land can and are circumvented, even on a regular basis. Don’t we see them by the number of decisions that the court overturns after citizens and NGOs petition it? The seriousness of the issue cannot be undermined as, if this is happening, it amounts to a parallel court of justice that does not rely on the law of the land.