Karnataka

Police ‘selectively’ posting videos of Mangaluru violence draws flak

A grab from one of the videos released by the Mangaluru police.

A grab from one of the videos released by the Mangaluru police.   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

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While some question police intention, others raise doubts over clips’ authenticity

Mangaluru police’s act of uploading through their official social media handles crowdsourced videos of violence on December 19, which left two killed in police firing, has triggered a debate on its purpose and impact when two investigations have been instituted into the incidents.

While some have questioned the intention behind the act, which purportedly creates a narrative that defends the police action and can influence the probes, some have raised doubts about the authenticity of the uploaded clips.

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa himself has used the “evidence” from these video clips to defend his decision to hold back the compensation earlier announced for the kin of the dead. He said on Wednesday that there was “concrete evidence coming out” that the victims may not be innocent.

Responding to an appeal by Commissioner of Police, Mangaluru P.S. Harsha for videos and photographs of the violence shot on December 19, many people had also posted videos of the police beating up protesters, policemen talking casually of firing, and photographs of the victims. However, the police on their social media handles posted only videos of violence by the mob.

“The police are now accused of using unwarranted and excessive force and that is now a subject of the magisterial inquiry and the CID probe. The videos released by the police now make up a defence for them. The videos must have been submitted to the investigators, and making it public amounts to influencing these investigations,” said senior human rights advocate B.T. Venkatesh, an argument.

A tweet by Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah too reflected this argument. He said, “By selectively leaking videos, the police are trying to burden one community with the blame of creating ruckus, which should not have been the case.”

B.K. Imtiaz, an activist from Mangaluru, expressed suspicion of some of the videos being “edited and fabricated”.

“For example, one of the videos shows a vehicle bringing stones. It parks at a spot at 4.43 p.m. What happened between 4.43 p.m. and 4.45 p.m. is missing in the clip. The clip continue after 4.45 p.m.,” he said.

“Nobody has denied stone-pelting against the police and setting tyres on fire on the roads. But the question is if that warranted the police opening fire. Not all stone-pelting incidents warrant firing. The incidents took place in about 1-km radius and the police could have handled them easily,” argued Muneer Katipalla, State president, Democratic Youth Federation of India, who is based out of Mangaluru.

‘Police have a right’

Dr. Harsha, however, dismissed these fears. “We had appealed for crowdsourcing of all evidence, which is a globally followed practice,” he said. He said the police had put pictures and videos on the “city control” page, seeking information on the identity of the protesters, which “the police have all rights to seek” in order to arrest the accused and also to stabilise and handle the emerging law and order situation.

(With inputs from Raviprasad Kamila, Anil Kumar Sastry, and K.V. Aditya Bharadwaj)

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 9:45:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/police-selectively-posting-videos-of-mangaluru-violence-draws-flak/article30397846.ece

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