Book excerpt: The Staged Encounter

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The following is an excerpt from “Blood on My Hands: Confessions of Staged Encounters” ( Harper Collins 2015) By Kishalay Bhattacharjee. The chapter has a mention of the daylight killing of Sanjit and Rabina on July 23, 2009 at the B.T.Road. In this passage the author talks of the confession of an anonymous army officer where the confessor talks about the anatomy of staged encounters in India`s northeast and Jammu & Kashmir and explains how awards ad citations are linked to a body count. The following extract is served as a testimony on institutionalised human rights abuse.

Sanjit and Rabina were innocent civilians going about their ordinary business when they were killed. And the forces’ cavalier disregard for their humanity was captured poignantly by the images of their bloodied corpses dumped by police personnel on to the tray of an open delivery truck, while the public thronged. The images of the incident, like the photograph of Nguyen Van Lem’s killing a little more than four decades earlier, cut through the public’s numbness. Months of violent protests against fake encounters followed the publication of the photographs. The incident was investigated, and the police commandos who killed Sanjit have been charged; so far, no action has been taken against them.

These incidents provide us a rare insight into the workings of State-sponsored killings. For, with photographic images, there is little left to doubt and interpretation – only details between the frames are open to conjecture. What the camera cannot tell us, though, are the machinations behind the killings.

An entire network of trespassing and transgression has been generated by the State. Laws have been transgressed and peoples’ lives have been trespassed. In order to secure the nation’s territory, several other territories have been violated. Slowly, and with conscious design, the citizen has been dispossessed of rights that should be guaranteed in a free country; and it has been done with force. Alexander Solzhenitsyn declared in his Nobel speech in 1970: ‘It is not only mere brute force that is triumphant, but its strident justification also. The world is flooded with brazen assurance that might is omnipotent while right is powerless.’ In the same speech, he said:

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