A Bit of Bobby Bashing
By Maxwell Pereira
maxpk@vsnl.com


Shocking! No. Not done! Something not expected of the London Bobby! Not expected of any police force or enforcement authority for that matter - the killing of an innocent in the name of fighting terrorism.

The British police have understandably come under fire for brutally killing Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man who was in no way connected with the Thursday July 21 attempted bombings in London. Shock and anger all around, locally, internationally, as it emerged that the man shot dead by policemen in plainclothes in front of terrified commuters at the Stockwell underground Metro station in south London on the Friday that followed was neither carrying a bomb as had been alleged nor was he among the four men suspected to be behind Thursday's incidents.

The man whom even Tony Blair had initially claimed in front of television cameras was "directly linked" to the investigation of Thursday's attacks, was found after verification as having no connection whatsoever to the bomb attempts. Then on Sunday, Prime Minister Blair said "This is a tragedy. The Metropolitan Police accepts full responsibility for this. To the family, I can only express my deep regrets."

The PM however defended the shoot-to-kill policy, saying such action only applied when lives were believed to be at risk. The head of Scotland Yard has further gone on to say that he won't change the groundrule: "Shoot to kill, in order to protect." Scotland Yard also said the shooting had been a "tragedy'' which was regretted by the Metropolitan Police.

It would be interesting for socio-analysts and human rights activists to compare this and the resultant scenarios that emerged in respect of killings of like nature, of innocents, in Britain and in India. For India has long been accused by everyone all over, and particularly the Rights Watchers, who invariably have made it their pleasure to do some India bashing on this score.

It is obvious the London shooting has added to the pressure on a police force that's already stressed. Stunned eyewitnesses have stated how they saw a man chased by policemen in plainclothes, who shot him from point blank range as he stumbled while trying to get on to a train that had just pulled in. As he tripped and fell, officers pinned him down and pumped at least five bullets into him as passengers watched in horror. The police had continued to fire long after he was dead.

To most onlookers and perhaps the pursuing policemen too, the Brazilian Menezes looked an Asian who was seen running on to the train hotly pursued by three plainclothes officers. One of them was carrying a black handgun - they pushed him to the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him.

Carefully study every word of how the act was described by the onlookers. This was not the act of rational sane normal human beings - be they policemen, but of those paranoid, highly stressed, under pressure to face something for which they were not fully prepared. Under pressure from a people with their stiff upper lip who boasted of the stocism, their resilience, to carry on come what may. All the great stoicism and resilience at risk of cracks in the edifice, when the second wave of bombings were attempted.

When India cried hoarse for years as a victim of terrorism, the world merely paid lip service. For the so called developed great western nations - be they of the Americas or those of the European continent, such who indulged in acts of violence, in attrocities and innocent killings in the name of Kashmir, Punjab or the North-eastern separatist movements, were all mere militants and insurgents fighting for a cause; patriots who had a just agenda. They were no terrorists nor described as such, by any of these nations.

But now when its their turn, and the agitated aggrieved have started knocking at their very door, they have woken up to the reality of terrorism, and its facets have dawned on them. Everyone agrees now that these are terrorists, their acts are of terrorism. No one says that these are Jihadis with a cause, who perhaps have cherished suppressed anger enough to be motivated enough to discard their own life and be suicide bombers. To justify victimising innocents by their acts of violence. As perhaps it is now right for those fighting terrorism to kill innocents "to save the people".

And how easy for us to blame it on a religion, without really trying to tackle the route causes which are all so glaringly visible!

A word before I end, on the pol;ice reaction. The Indian police over years of tackling terrorism have honed their skills on the lint stone of experience. Their expertise hasn't come in a day, be it in their efficiency in anticipating likely terrorist moves, interception and surveillance, collection of intelligence, or in ground level execution. The brashness and highhandedness being exhibited by the American enforcer and his British counterpart is the reaction of an inexperienced bumbling amateur. Given time, things should change…. I hope without having to face more acts of terrorism!


850 words: 26.07.2005: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com

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