mid-day editorial: Pot calling the kettle black

An agency that had not so long ago been neck deep in controversies over fake encounters is now pointing fingers at its Gurgaon counterpart. The question to ask is whether this is merely ironic or a case of bruised egos?

This newspaper had this week raised disturbing questions about the circumstances under which Sandeep Gadoli was killed. The Mumbai police have now appointed a special investigating team to probe this. The family, meanwhile, has filed a writ petition in the high court, challenging the police theory.

This newspaper firmly believes it is barbaric for the police to kill anyone — however heinous their crimes are — in cold blood. But the glee with which the Mumbai police have gone about the investigation deserves to be questioned, especially considering their dark past.

As an aside, while the Gurgaon police claim Gadoli was wanted in more than 36 serious cases, Mumbai Police’s so-called encounter specialists are said to have eliminated some 600 criminals — many with just a handful of cases — between 1993 and 2003. If reports are to be believed, the police even took contracts from builders and businessmen to eliminate gangsters for making extortion calls. Just like the Crime Branch had a list of top 10 gangsters, if the Human Rights Commission had a similar one, the Mumbai cops would have surely ranked very high.

The entire investigation, in fact, started on a very amusing note with the Crime Branch’s first objection being exactly the same that several other state police forces have against them — “they did not inform us before carrying out an operation in a place under our jurisdiction.”

While there is no doubt Gadoli must get justice and the Gurgaon cops — if they erred — need to be brought to book and swiftly, we have to ask: does Mumbai Police have the moral standing and the competence to fairly probe an encounter death? On the other hand, if a high court-appointed team were to probe the encounter, it would have some much-needed credibility.

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