The brutally killing of George Floyd was the peppercorn that broke the camel’s back. After his death, the US has been witnessing violent protests for the past weeks. Nowadays the presence of cell phones has made it possible to record murders of black men and women. These recordings have revealed how unarmed black men and women have been shot to death for crimes such as jogging, driving, and being in their own homes. They have revealed how police abruptly lie in their official version of the event.
Since 2014, the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager, anger has repeatedly boiled over into street protests, sometimes accompanied by violence. It is observed that anger has pushed authorities in America to make efforts at reforms, from mandating body cameras on policemen to introducing racial bias training. In this mayhem, Indian Americans have played great roles. Many have suffered racial discrimination themselves and thus have sympathy for anti-racist impulses.
Indian- American Rahul Dubey, who has been staying in the US for over 17 years, emerged as an overnight hero in the US after he gave shelter to 70 protestors in his house in Washington D.C. on Monday June 1 night. South Asian American communities have also stood firm in their support for Black lives matter protests. Many Indian Americans, particularly the young are joining in the protest, marching, holding placards, chanting.
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Indians Face Racism too
The US protestors have raised an uncomfortable question in the world’s largest democratic country, i.e., “Why are there no mass demonstrations over the frequent cases of police brutality in India?”
While Americans examine the role of race in their society and the impacts of policing on it, the underlying factors behind excessive police force and corruption in India are much more complicated and divisions are being created in the form of religion, caste, power, and wealth. Some attitudes and structures enabling police brutality date back to colonization and laws put in place by the British. While India has its independence seven decades ago but still it addresses the inequities within its society.
In the past few weeks, when the strict lockdown due to the COVID- 19 started on March 25, 2020, a huge number of stories of police aggression were reported. In the Central Indian city of Pune, an ambulance driver was beaten by the police on suspicion of illegally transporting passengers in his vehicle, which he was not doing. In West Bengal, a man was brutally beaten by police when he stepped out to buy milk. He later died from his injuries. In just one week of the country’s lockdown the police assaulted 173 people and out of which 27 people died according to a report given by a local non-profit organization.
In the eastern state of Bihar, a police officer asked for a bribe from a man transporting potatoes during the lockdown. When that man refused to bribe him, they shot him. In Madhya Pradesh, the police punished a man who violated the lockdown by writing the words, “I have violated lockdown, stay away from me,” on his forehead. Punjab police punished a person, who violated the law by making him rub his nose on the ground. These cases had created a great impact on the daily wage labourers, who needed to work to put food on their table, and the out of state workers, who were displaced by the sudden orders to stay back at home.
The Minorities of India are always Victim
The recent activities of the police turn out to be very vindictive. In the past six weeks, Delhi’s police have arrested several student union leaders who legally protested against the anti- Muslim government laws in January and February; all the demonstrations came to a halt due to the coronavirus lockdown. Since there is limited access to the courts during this period the arrests effectively curb the potential for renewed protests once the lockdown is lifted. Delhi’s police force, which reports directly from the central government, faced blame when religious riots ripped apart in the city northeast. A clash between the demonstrators for or against the government’s controversial citizenship laws, which gradually flared into a riot after police started throwing stones at Muslim protestors and brutally beat young Muslims to death, according to the report given by BBC. One video caught cops smashing closed-circuit TV cameras and another showed them helping men gather stones to throw. Several reports showed that policemen stood by the attackers and helped them in rioting. And till now not a single policeman has been arrested for the documented excesses during the riots.
Corruption and Power is the Core of the System
If India is not seeing mass protests demanding police accountability then maybe the police broadly represent the problems within the country’s citizenry. The behaviour of the police with an upper-caste or an upwardly rich man in the society would be very different from that of an oppressed caste or poor man or woman in the society, just as it would be in business going on throughout the world. The 2016 Death Penalty India Report estimated that 74 percent of prisoners who are sentenced to death belong to the economically lower and poor sections of the society.
In India, power and corruption help the system keep ongoing. Police forces do not act accordingly, they do not actively protect the law or to give justice to the victim, they are supervised by the political executives and the powerful holders of the country. Recruitment and career advancement are directly overseen by political leaders making them workers for the politicians and not the public.
George Floyd Protest an Eye-opener for India
The brutally killing of George Floyd by the white police officer has brought down the anger on the streets of the US. The celebrities, politicians and regular Indian citizens are tweeting angrily against the brutal killing of Floyd in the United States. These words by the politicians and other people just mean little if they do not turn up for their own country and examine their problems which are more close to their home homeland. But for many, these words would mean giving up their powers and privileges and standing by the people who need justice.