History repeats itself unless lessons are learnt. Rapes continue unabated in-spite of the Nirbhaya episode; corruption continues its ceaseless march in-spite of Anna Hazare’s hunger protest and cultural infringements in-spite of the Jallikattu uproar.
Will the Sathankulam police atrocity stop because of the temporary uproar?
Yes, knee-jerk reactions will take place. Certain police officers will be brought to task and police violence will be temporarily suspended.
Does cutting the stem of a pernicious tree thwart its progress?
Perhaps, temporarily! For a permanent solution, one has to work at the root of the problem.
I see the Sathankulam issue from three perspectives:
- Why are they (police) like that?
Recall, the Stanford prison experiment. A bunch of Stanford grads donned the hat of policemen. Another group of students played the role of criminals. The arrests were made to look real. Just the dress and the role made all the difference.
Though they were friends, just playing the role of policemen made this group think otherwise. They assumed power and went on to torture their friends who had assumed the role of criminals.
World is a stage and we are actors. We play the part that we are given, so the police of Sathankulam performed the role that they were meant to perform – policing.
Moreover, in the absence of courts, the power of the police multiplies. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Weren’t the policemen living according to diktats of nature?
How do you make policemen into compassionate policemen? How many citizens are aware that policemen receive hardly any sensitivity training?
We are a society that barely gives a thought to it. Do we know that in developed countries lawyers, doctors, police and drivers have to pass rigorous tests to renew their license?
Have we been mindful of the fact that the police need stress management tools, emotional intelligence and ways to eliminate, cognitive dissonance!
All that we do is call in sham speakers who excel in the blame game, tell stories and lamblast a group of people in our pattimandrams.
Kiran Bedi proved that Vipassana is an effective tool towards making us compassionate. She cleaned the Augean stables (Tihar jail). Why don’t we universalize this concept?
Ask not what the policemen can do for you.
Ask what you can do for the policemen.
2. What makes them (policemen) like that
Imagine you are a teacher, a banker, a chartered accountant or in a 9 to 5 job.
All of a sudden your situation changes. The government orders you to come in different shifts. You have to be alert to the beck and call of politicians. You are forced to eat some crappy food in the streets. You get no Sundays, holidays or rest.
(Please remember, when we were enjoying the fruits of lock-down, having three meals at home everyday & watching all the insane TV programs, the policemen are out in the streets, quarantining people, fining people for not wearing masks and admonishing errant vendors).
Imagine, you cannot see your son grow, attending family functions is the last thing on your mind and you have to obey authority.
Moreover, you are constantly exposed to irritants, dregs of the society and hardened thugs. How long will you last this constant onslaught and maintain a sweet demeanor?
How many of us have giving a wee bit of consideration to that?
Could you take action to help this group rather than play the victim game?
3. Why are we (the people) like that
Hearsay mentions that the father and son were sodomized. Their rectums were profusely bleeding when they were produced before the magistrate. They could have mentioned the atrocities committed by the police but they chose not to speak.
Why? It is because of us.
We are a society which stigmatize rather than empathize. We don’t care about the feelings of the individual. For us, social mores, norms and what others things are of more importance.
Even the ‘me too movement’ is a failure here.
In a society of double standards, hypocrites, boot-lickers and apple-polishers, perhaps the father-son duo chose the honor of death rather than succumb to shame.
What action can you take to clean the Augean Stables?
What steps can we take to be a part of the solution rather than be part of the problem?
Shiv signing off from S & S Family First.