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Delhi policemen make a career out of ruining lives
Rajit Sengupta  NEW DELHI | 23rd Oct 2011

amjilal was a toll tax officer with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) before the Delhi police ruined his life. The police arrested him in 2000 for "illegal gratification" under the Prevention of Corruption Act, sent him to Tihar jail for two days, but could not prove its case in court, which acquitted Ramjilal in March this year, after 11 years. He now works as a labourer at an automobile workshop in Rohini, starts his day at 6.30 a.m. and slogs for 12 hours. His income is not sufficient to feed his family of three children and wife. His wife has started working as a daily wage labourer, but even that is not enough. "There have been days we have gone hungry to bed. My life would have been very different if the Delhi police had not wrongly arrested me," says the resident of Harijan Basti in Delhi's Kapashera border area.

The parents of aeronautical engineer Imran Kirmani of Jammu and Kashmir have a similar complaint against the Delhi police. The Delhi police's Special Cell charged Imran of being a Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist in November 2006 and sent him to Tihar jail for over five years. But the case fell flat in court and Kirmani was acquitted in May 2011. Kirmani was working with an aviation academy in New Delhi at the time of his arrest, but is now jobless. Kirmani's father Gulam Rasood says over phone from Neelipora village in Kupwara district that the police had filed a distorted chargesheet accusing his son of hatching a 9/11-like terror plot. "The policemen also claimed to have recovered RDX, two automatic timers and Rs 4.5 lakh from Imran and his 'accomplice'. While the RDX recovery was a lie, the cash was returned to us after court intervention. The money was meant for a one-bedroom flat my son wanted to buy in Delhi," Rasood says.Image 2nd

"I am just glad I have got my son back. Imran is currently in Srinagar and is looking for a job. He is a talented boy and lost a bright career because of the police," says Rasood.

Call it irony or incompetence, but over 42% of those arrested by the Delhi police do not get convicted, either because they are innocent and have been wrongly arrested or because they are guilty, but the police has not been able to produce any evidence against them.Image 3rd

While replying to an RTI application, the police has said that between 2005 and 2010, it had "wrongfully" arrested 47,545 individuals, who were later acquitted by various courts.

"I am not surprised that 42% are not convicted. I am amazed that the Delhi police manages to get convictions for the remaining 58%. Its methods of investigation are outdated. In most cases, even forensic tests are not undertaken," criminal lawyer Viraj Dattar says.

Activist Gopal Prasad, who had filed the RTI application, had to wait for more than two months to get a response from the police. "This proves how incompetent the Delhi police is. The people who were let off by the courts were either innocent and falsely charged or were guilty but could not be proved so by the police. In either case, it is unfortunate," he says.Image 4th

Interestingly, the maximum number of acquittals has taken place in cases handled by the prestigious Special Cell. Between 2005 and 2010, the Special Cell arrested 174 people on various charges, but could get only 55 convicted.

The South Delhi police got 9,910 convictions from its 13,946 arrests. The situation was found to be worse in the Outer District, where there were more acquittals than convictions between 2005 and 2010.

elhi Police Commissioner Y.K. Gupta was asked by the Delhi High Court in February this year to explain why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against him for not reviewing false criminal cases foisted on a skilled labourer in his late 50s, Prempal, a mason. Prempal was involved in a legal tangle for 15 years, and was harassed by the police all through.

"The man was lucky to find his way out after 15 years. There are cases, and I have handled a couple of them, in which innocent people have suffered their entire lives after being wrongly arrested," Viraj Dattar, the criminal lawyer, says.

Activists say that the police's inefficiency can be plugged only through better accountability and transparency in the system. "The findings are disturbing, but not unexpected. What else can you expect from a police force that continues to harass the common people and guard the rich and influential?" asks social activist Shourie Anand Singh, one of the founding members of Prabodh, an anti-corruption organisation.

RTI activist Amit Kumar echoed Singh's views. "The findings expose the police force. I have heard of numerous stories where policemen have been found actively involved with the local mafia and have demanded hafta (a cut) from the poor," Kumar says. When asked about the RTI findings, Delhi police's PRO Rajan Bhagat claimed to be ignorant of the matter and asked for a copy of the RTI reply. "I don't know which findings or application you are talking about. Get me a copy of it and only then will I be able to comment," he said.

Meanwhile, in Kapashera, Ramjilal asks, "You are with the press, why don't you speak to the MCD and get me my job back?"

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