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A month on, Police fail to arrest killer driver of Lucknow’s hit and run case of Dolly Srivastava

Hit and run cases are very common in India and very few states seem to have taken it seriously

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The vehicle (as seen in this picture) came on the wrong side and hit Dolly Srivastava, who was standing near her home, and fled away. She succumbed to her injuries on the spot. According to the sources, it is a CNG vehicle that still must be plying on Lucknow's roads with impunity. The reckless driver is yet to be arrested.
  • Dolly Srivastava, a resident of Lucknow, passed away on June 16,2016 after being hit by a speeding vehicle
  • FIR had been launched against the unknown violators, immediately
  • Till now, no fruitful action has been taken by the authorities to find and arrest the killers of Dolly Srivastava

Dolly Srivastava, 55, a resident of Lucknow’s tony residential locality, Gomti Nagar, lost her life after being hit by a speeding small goods carrier near her home on June 16, 2016. It has been a month since the fatal accident, but thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the local police, the killer vehicle, and its reckless driver are still at large.

According to the eyewitnesses, she was standing close to her residence gate in the morning when the vehicle, that was loaded with empty vegetable trays, came on the wrong side, hit and ran away. The victim was grievously injured in the mishap and succumbed to her injuries on the spot. A FIR under Sections 279 and 304A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, against unknown persons, was lodged at the Gomti Nagar police station.

Kishore and Dolly Srivastava
In this picture, Dolly Srivastava is seen with her husband NC Kishore Srivastava
In a state which witnessed the maximum number of road deaths (17,666) last year, one may expect the authorities to act firmly to curb the menace of rash and negligent driving on its streets, roads, and highways, and arrest the one responsible for such road crash deaths. But the high numbers of such fatalities only prove the point that it doesn’t. Even in this case, there has been no trace of effort on the police’s part whatsoever to bring the culprits to book.
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A page from the First Information Report (F.I.R.)
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A page from the First Information Report (F.I.R.)
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A page from the First Information Report (F.I.R.)
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A page from the First Information Report (F.I.R.)
NC Kishore Srivastava, the deceased woman’s husband, has been running from pillar to post since then to get the police into action. First, Srivastava and his family procured the CCTV footage from the school opposite his residence, which relented to share it after a lot of persuasions. “If the police had intervened, it would have been easier to lay hands on many such important pieces of evidence,” said a family member. From then on, he has done everything possible to hunt for the killer vehicle and its driver.”
The police, meanwhile, hasn’t shown a proactive interest in the case. As it is a common man who lost her life, with no high-flying contacts, the police seems to be least bothered,” said Smriti Trivedi, a neighbour of the Srivastavas.
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It has been Srivastava who has been suggesting them crucial leads in a hope that the police being the law-keeper would be able to bring the killer to book. He shared the CCTV footage with the police to ascertain the number plate of the said vehicle from the forensic lab. Unfortunately, the number provided by the lab and the vehicle caught by the police didn’t match; the colour of the vehicle nabbed by the police was green while the one as shown in the footage was creme and green. He then requested the police to interrogate local vendors of the nearby wholesale vegetable and fruits markets, and even provided a list of such small goods carriers procured by him from the Regional Transport Office, and a list of CNG run vehicles from the makers, JSA, who are based in Kanpur. “But nothing has happened as far as the interrogation of the shortlisted vehicle owners and vegetable vendors are concerned. I am calling the police officers daily to know the progress in the case. But it has been a futile exercise so far. If the police had launched a serious manhunt based on these leads, the culprit would have surely been behind bars by now,” said Srivastava, dejected with the tardy pace of police investigation.

Another neighbour raised a pertinent question: “If ordinary citizens have to do what the police is supposed to be doing, then what good does it serve to have them around us in the first place?” Even after so much being handed over to them to make their task of investigation easier, the police has chosen to stay indifferent to the family’s plea to arrest the reckless driver and confiscate his vehicle, fearing that both must be moving on the city’s roads with impunity.

The family is bereaved at the untimely loss of a dear one and feels that if the authorities do not act promptly and swiftly to arrest the culprit, God forbid, he may hit another person and still stay scot-free.

The other concern raised by Srivastava include bringing back speed breakers as mandated by the law in the residential areas. “It may to some extent check speed limits of vehicles and, in turn, reduce road crash tragedies in residential areas,” he said.

An invaluable piece of advice: If the state government is serious about curbing the fatalities on its roads, streets, and highways, it must take act now to show that it cares for its people. The state government, its traffic police, and state transport department should take a cue from the West Bengal government that has launched the “Safe Drive, Save Life” campaign with a focus on saving lives on the road by maintaining road culture, sensible driving, road safety, and caring for all road users.

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Activists In Myanmar Push To End Police Brutality

The European Union is spending 30 million euros on a five-year project launched in 2016 to help Myanmar’s police become a “modern” force

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Myanmar, Police
Police officers stand in position to block activists during a rally in Yangon, Myanmar, May 12, 2018. VOA

Aung Soe Htike tried to ask for an explanation when police in Yangon handcuffed him and put him in a car one evening in November of last year.

But instead of answering, the small business owner said the officers told him to shut up.

He told VOA he was taken to a police station, where two or three men waiting for him in a back room locked him in.

It was only when they showed him CCTV footage of a man stealing a phone that he understood why he was there. The thief in the video looked similar to him; he and the thief were wearing shorts.

He said he told the officers they had the wrong man, but it was of no use.

For about four hours, Aung Soe Htike alleged, uniformed and plain-clothed police subjected him to violent interrogation techniques that he described as torture.

Myanmar, Police
Defendants look out from a police truck as they arrive at a district court, in Yangon, Myanmar, Dec. 15, 2017. VOA

Aung Soe Htike’s case is one of dozens in the past year that have revealed the methods Myanmar’s military-controlled police force uses to extract confessions.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local rights group, said “physical and mental torture” is “systematic” across Myanmar’s interrogation centers.

“They made me sit in a stress position, they accused me of theft, they swore at me, they beat me,” said Aung Soe Htike. At one point, he added, an interrogator held him in a choke hold and told him “you will die tonight” before forcing him to confess.

His wife and some friends came looking for him at the station, and finally managed to secure his release after convincing the township police colonel that he had been wrongfully arrested.

Police at Yangon’s Ahlone township station declined to comment on the incident when contacted by VOA.

Colonel Myo Thu Soe, a spokesperson at Myanmar Police Force headquarters, said he was unaware of Aung Soe Htike’s case but that police interrogations were “transparent” and interrogation rooms were monitored with CCTV cameras.

Myanmar, Police
Daw Aye holds a photo of her son, who died after being taken into police custody last year (J. Carroll/VOA)

“Torturing suspects is not allowed under police regulations,” he said.

The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, a nominally independent body tasked with investigating abuses, handled 29 allegations of torture by police last year, including five where suspects died in custody.

Commissioner Yu Lwin Aung said he has passed Aung Soe Htike’s case to the home affairs ministry, which oversees the police force, with a recommendation that they take action against the officers involved. The ministry’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

But Aung Soe Htike said there has been little progress, and is not confident an internal investigation will deliver justice.

Daw Aye is still waiting for answers after her son, Aung Aung, died in police custody in September last year.

When she visited him in prison before his court hearing, she told VOA, he recounted officers kicking him in the chest and back and Tasering him during interrogation.

Police
Activists gather at a rally, calling for the release of imprisoned Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, one year after they were arrested, in Yangon, Myanmar, Dec.12, 2018. (VOA)

He was arrested on suspicion of stealing a car battery, a crime she says he was innocent of. Then as he emerged from a police van at court two weeks later, he collapsed and was dead within hours.

Yu Lwin Aung said the human rights commission has referred this case to the home affairs ministry but has yet to receive a response.

It’s a similar story for Tin Tin Aye, who said she watched as a group of police beat her son, Khaing Min Wai, when they arrested him in June.

They took him to a police station, and the next morning she saw his dead body at the hospital, with marks and cuts on his face, she told VOA.

Mon Mon Cho, a lawyer who is advising Tin Tin Aye, said accountability is key to preventing more cases like this in the future.

“The government must take action against these violent people,” she said.

Even though a civilian government came to power for the first time in decades following a huge electoral victory in 2015, the country’s military-drafted constitution still puts the generals in charge of three key ministries, including home affairs.

Journalists appeal got rejected
Reuters journalists Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar, Dec. 11, 2017. (VOA)

For Aung Soe Htike, ending the military’s grip on the police is key to tackling a culture of violence and impunity. Until that happens, efforts to train officers in human rights will fall flat, he said.

Also Read: 1,700 Child Soldiers Reunite With Their Parents In Myanmar

The European Union is spending 30 million euros on a five-year project launched in 2016 to help Myanmar’s police become a “modern” force that “adheres to international standards, respects human rights and maintains gender awareness.”

But Aung Soe Htike said, “It doesn’t matter how much money the EU spends on them, it won’t make a difference unless the Myanmar Police Force is separated from the military.” (VOA)