By now, everyone would’ve heard about the custodial deaths of P. Jayaraj and J. Benicks in Sattankulam, Thoothukudi. The father-son duo was arrested by the police for violating the lockdown rules by keeping their shop open. Being found guilty of the offence of keeping the shop open during lockdown would have ordinarily granted Jayaraj and Benicks a maximum of only three months of imprisonment. But these two men were thrashed mercilessly by the police to death.
Now, this is just one of the many examples of cases of police brutality in our country. There are several socio-economic elements which are conducive for these acts of cruelty. It could be caste discrimination, gender discrimination or even an outlet for their frustrations. But are any of these reasons good enough to take a violent route and hurt a fellow citizen? I certainly don’t think so.
All the data available on torture show that it is not only an integral part of India’s policing culture; in some investigations, it is treated as the nucleus. In fact, current laws facilitate such torture. We live in country where Gandhi, Budha, etc., have always taught us the value of a peaceful society. As such, the concept of torture is completely alien to our culture and the governance of our country. This a textbook example of hypocrisy.
But only blaming the police and governance is not entirely correct. Although the police is largely at fault, we have to consider some factors which have a deep impact on their lives. The long and exhaustive work hours, the nature of their work, the quality of life they lead and many more attributes are instrumental too. One point I would like to stress on is their mental health. I think it will be really beneficial if all the police officers are subjected to routine mental health check-ups. All of them should be made aware of the importance of being mentally and physically healthy. They all should have access to counselors and mental health professionals when needed. This would not only improve the quality of work they do but would also help in reducing the occurrence of such incidents.
Mental health awareness is absolutely essential for everyone. Let us all strive to be more aware and informed about our minds and bodies.