The use of force by police officers is a subject that continues to draw constant attention the world over and India is no exception. It is fair to state that police forces across the country have not been transformed post-independence from an autocratic force into a service for citizens. While very few of us question the predominant form of governance where the State has a monopoly on the use of force, police violence brings citizens face to face with the reality of what such a monopoly entails. The ambiguity in response — outrage at the deaths of some, celebration in the case of others — is perhaps only reflective of society’s own troubled relationship with the use of force.
Those musings aside, this short post takes up the issue of police violence from three specific viewpoints. First, I discuss why the abuse of powers by police officers matters and should matter. Second, I describe the excessive use of force as not an episodic problem which we witness only in cases of, say, custodial deaths and encounters, but as something that is deeply ingrained in every fibre of how the coercive state apparatus works in India. Third, I consider some ways in which this overarching coercive apparatus can be made slightly less overbearing each time a citizen enters the police station, in whatever capacity that might be.Continue reading “On Police and Power | Abhinav Sekhri”