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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Family anger over police killers
By Chris Morris
BBC News, Delhi

Newspaper headline
The case has generated saturation media coverage
Family members of two businessmen murdered by a group of policemen over 10 years ago in India have called for them to be sentenced to death.

A court on Monday found 10 police officers guilty of murdering the pair, Pradeep Goyal and Jagjit Singh, in broad daylight in the heart of Delhi.

The police officers will be sentenced next week.

Mr Goyal and Mr Singh were shot dead in their car. The police involved argued that they mistook them for gangsters.

To cover up their error, the police planted a pistol in the car - located in Connaught Place in the heart of the city - and claimed the occupants had opened fire first. The court rejected their defence out of hand.

Coruscating criticism

Over the years there have been constant legal delays, but eventually the system has prevailed.

"Yes it took ten years," Jagjit Singh's father, Niranjan Singh, told the BBC. "Yes, we were pushed around, but we never stopped believing that we would get justice."

Delhi policeman (right)
It is claimed that Delhi police are becoming more professional

This though is a rather rare example.

The police are not often brought to book - and even in this case, the man in charge, Delhi's then police chief, has escaped any punishment.

In fact, he is now a member of parliament for the governing Congress Party.

The campaigning lawyer Colin Gonsalves, who runs the Delhi-based Human Rights Law Network, is coruscating in his criticism.

"The police are trigger happy," he told the BBC.

"They have a licence to kill, and the judiciary over the last 10 years has turned a blind eye to killings by the police mainly because it's poor people who are executed."

Mr Gonsalves says the Connaught Place verdict is a welcome development, but that "for this one instance I would say there have been 200 cases in courts where the police have got away scot-free."

Kiran Bedi
The police over a period have been losing trust in this country
Senior Indian police officer Kiran Bedi

It is a grim picture - but one which many Indians would recognise - of corrupt police officers, and even more corrupt politicians.

But there are those within the system who say enough is enough, and that things are changing.

Kiran Bedi is India's most senior female police officer - she has been a vocal advocate of reform, but admits that much more needs to be done.

"This was the way that justice was delivered... it was like street justice. But it's in the past," she argues. "You can't act like that and get away with it any more."

There are some signs that that may be true.

Unreported or ignored

A court in Punjab yesterday increased the prison sentences given to four policemen found guilty of killing a Sikh human rights activist.

And in Calcutta a court has ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct an inquiry into the controversial death of a local man, Rizwanur Rehman.

But plenty of other killings go unreported or ignored.

"The police over a period have been losing trust in this country," Kiran Bedi admits, "and we need to regain a huge amount of ground, and the sooner the better."

At the site of the shooting in Connaught Place, there are all the signs of India's booming economy - busy people, thriving trade and a country on the up.

But as India rises towards global power, it needs to get many parts of its house in order. For the ordinary citizen, this is still a place where justice can be desperately hard to come by.

Country profile: India
09 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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