October 21, 2016

India: The payment of compensation to Bisada accused’s kin sets a dangerous precedent (Lalita Panicker, Hindustan Times | Oct 13, 2016)

Hindustan Times

Lalita Panicker | Oct 13, 2016

A potentially explosive situation is evolving in Bisada, which was in news recently for the death in custody of an accused in the Mohammed Ikhlaq murder. Ikhlaq was beaten to death in 2015 by cow vigilantes on suspicion of storing beef in his fridge. The case has taken several twists and turns since with the families of the accused seeking the arrest of the murdered man’s family and communal passions being raised over the issue of cow protection.

A massive condolence meeting is to be held for the accused Ravin who died in custody. Apprehending trouble the authorities have imposed Section 144 on the area prohibiting any large gathering. However, the villagers have paid scant heed to this and invited people from 144 Rajput villages in western UP to attend the October 19 meeting. They are doing this in violation of the law. Instead of saying clearly that they will not allow this, the police seem ambiguous saying that they will see how things go. The whole issue has been mishandled from start to finish.

It is unclear how the accused died. The National Human Rights Commission has sought to know how this happen and has asked the police officers concerned for an answer. The next was that the relatives of the dead man demanded and received compensation though not as much as they asked for.

They refused to cremate the body and draped it in the Tricolor. The payment of compensation is a dangerous precedent. The man was accused of taking part in a brutal murder though his guilt or innocence has not been not established. The circumstances of his death should have been investigated but instead the state seems to admit its complicity in his death by giving out compensation.

Politicians have been fishing in troubled waters by visiting the relatives of the dead man further complicating the matter. This will now clearly become a political issue and matters are likely to go out of hand unless the district administration makes it clear that it will not allow any violation of the law.