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The police should be protectors – not abusers

Raghu Rama Raju, an MP from Andhra Pradesh, was tortured in police custody. In India, this isn’t even shocking anymore

The police should be protectors – not abusers

Raghu Rama Raju, an MP from Andhra Pradesh, was tortured in police custody. In India, this isn’t even shocking anymore

The police should be protectors – not abusers

Raghu Rama Raju, an MP from Andhra Pradesh, was tortured in police custody. In India, this isn’t even shocking anymore

The police should be protectors – not abusers

Raghu Rama Raju, an MP from Andhra Pradesh, was tortured in police custody. In India, this isn’t even shocking anymore

The police and the justice system are there to safeguard us. Instead, they have become abusers in the pay of corrupt and wealthy politicians.

When Raghu Rama Raju was arrested for speaking out against Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, and calling for his bail to be revoked, he became the victim of revenge politics.

The two men are members of the same party, the YSR Congress, but Mr Raju has always refused to toe the party line. He speaks the truth as he sees it: whether or not he is in the right should be left to a court of justice to decide. In a democracy, dissent and debate are welcome, provided no one is actually inciting others to violence through means of hate speech.

Yet in Andhra Pradesh – and elsewhere in India – speaking out is dangerous. Rama Raghu Raju’s criticism of the state government is a long way from hate speech that incites communal violence; he did not say anything against a particular group. Instead, he accused Jagan Mohan Reddy of breaking the conditions of his bail. Whether or not this claim is true, it merits a fair investigation – not arrest and torture.

Reading the reports of the case in the media, the overall impression is that Raju is guilty of “a campaign against the state government,” and that this justifies his arrest. Like the police, the media is also in the pay of the rich and powerful. And, in Andhra Pradesh, no one is richer and more powerful than the Chief Minister.

Mr Raju is not guilty of hate speech. He is certainly guilty of criticising the policies of his own party, the YSR Congress, and the actions of Jagan Mohan Reddy himself. But criticism is no crime.

And no one – even a murderer who is clearly guilty – should be abused in police custody. “Custody” means “protective care”. Yet Mr Raju, while in the custody of the police, was tortured; the injuries on his feet and legs that left him in a wheelchair are clear proof. For others, without Raju’s political power and financial resources, it is often even worse. The police are not our protectors. They are not held accountable for their actions. We fear them – with good reason.

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