MANGALURU: A People's Tribunal on the police firing on CAA protestors in Mangaluru on December 19 in its report said that the action of the police personnel seem to contravene significant limitations on their powers, as provided for in the Karnataka Police Manual, and has pressed for constitution of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe the incident.
The People’s Tribunal comprised of Justice (Retd.) V Gopala Gowda, BT Venkatesh and Sugata Srinivasaraju which conducted public hearings to hear from all the persons affected by the police firing on 19th December, came out with the observations on Tuesday.
The panel has observed that imposition of prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC were unwarranted and its imposition on the evening of December 18 was not effectively communicated to the residents of the area.
Also, after the imposition of the prohibitory orders, permission that was earlier granted was subsequently revoked/cancelled but the same was not effectively communicated. As a result of a complete breakdown of communication, civilians who had no connection with the protest were subjected to indiscriminate lathicharge and police firing.
The testimonies of the victims presented before the Tribunal display a complete abdication of responsibility by the cops present at the site of violence.
One of the main responsibilities of Police officials, as stipulated in Chapter 1 (Code of Conduct of the Karnataka State Police Force) is to uphold the rights of citizens in accordance with the Constitution of India. As a result, the police officials must "respect the limitations of their power and functions," said the report.
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Apart from failing to issue warnings to the public before the lathicharge and firing commenced, victims and other eyewitness have alleged that police present in the area used communal slurs and used deplorable language in order to provoke the protestors.
The statements of former Mayor Ashraf and Afnan detail the use of communal slurs and abusive language by police authorities who were tasked with maintaining law and order.
The report says that one of the main reasons cited by the Mangalore City Police to justify the use of extreme force against civilians was the supposedly "grave" damage caused to the MM Kini Rifle Shop and attempts to storm Bander Police Station by members of the public.
This has also been mentioned in some of the FIRs filed. However, CCTV footage regarding either of these events has not been furnished by the authorities despite repeated requests by the families of the victims.
It says "victims have suffered immense financial hardship as a result of the atrocities committed on 19th December". Given the allegations of communalism against the police in question and the palpably disproportionate use of force, it is clear that the State and the officials in question are jointly and severally liable for such transgressions.
Referring to Article 2 of The Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials which states that law enforcement officials must respect human rights norms and uphold human dignity at all times, the report
said that such words ring hollow in the context of the events of December 19 and the manner in which extreme force was used against civilians.
Proportionality is an important aspect of the use of force in the context of policing unlawful assemblies.
In regards to the maintenance of the rule of law, it is imperative that extra-judicial killings are thoroughly investigated. The Supreme Court in the case of People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Maharashtra & Ors has laid down important guidelines to ensure independent investigation of such killings.