Two cops accused of killing of a youth in Sopore, investigation of which never reached its logical conclusion, have made it to the list of gallantry awards this Republic Day. So did the Chhattisgarh cadre police officer who allegedly supervised the torture of Soni Sori, a school teacher accused of assisting the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). Soni Sori was stripped naked, administered electric shocks and assaulted in police custody under this very officer. According to her lawyers, a medical examination found two stones in Soni’s genital tract and another in her rectum. While her legal battle goes on in court, her tormentors have been rewarded for the kind of gallantry which should hang in shame the head of any Indian who has some respect for basic civil liberties.
In conflict areas, it is already a norm that promotions and awards are doled out on the basis of number of kills and arrests, irrespective of whether the slain, detained or tortured were innocent and whether the actions were taken as prescribed by the law. The history of conflict areas – from Kashmir and north-east to the Maoist hit areas – is replete with incidents of accused men in uniform not just escaping prosecution and punishment but instead getting rewarded with honours and promotions.