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India - unofficial flogging by police

Boys flogged in the street

Comment by C. Farrell

Unofficial CP by police in India: Eight clips. Clip 8 is New!

Judicial corporal punishment under the formal criminal law, once widespread under British rule, was abolished in most parts of India in about 1955. However, the law still tolerates tribal or feudal CP under local "traditional justice systems". But we have so far found no evidence that it explicitly allows the police to administer punishment of their own volition, as seen in these video clips. Criticisms of this practice are sometimes raised in the media, but clearly the authorities turn a blind eye, in some areas at least.


Date: 2007
Duration: 2 minutes

This news item from Times Now TV, an India-wide cable news channel (23 January 2007), reports from Ferozabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

 Two teenage boys, Amit and Shyam, were made to take their trousers down by police. They were then tied to a tree and beaten on the seat of their underpants with a big split or double stick, described by the reporter as a baton.

 The officer responsible, Jagmohan Tripathi, confronted later by journalists, denied all knowledge of it, even though he had been caught on film administering the illegal punishment.

 The youths had been accused of kidnapping, but apparently the charges had not been brought to court.


IMPORTANT: Copyright in this video material rests with the original copyright holders. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the "fair use" doctrine EXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.


Date: 2010
Duration: 1 minute

This scene was previously misclassified under Pakistan. In fact it is from a police station in Bhogpur in Jalandhar district, in the part of Punjab (East Punjab) that ended up in India in 1947.

 There is no sound. The culprit keeps his trousers on. The contents of his back pockets are emptied first. A policeman in uniform holds him face down on the floor while a colleague in civilian dress administers the special leather strap across the seat, four strokes from one side and then four strokes from the other. The strap has a wooden handle.

 A TV news programme (India Today, 28 Oct 2010) which showed (an inferior version of) this silent clip described the event as "a shocking case of police torture" and said that an investigation had been ordered. The recipient is described as a youth charged with fraud and cheating, from whom the police wished to extract a confession. See the slightly hysterical TV coverage at this external link.EXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window

 Note the modus operandi, involving the use of a leather "patta" held in both hands and brought down vertically across the buttocks of a recipient lying flat on the ground. The fact that this method is so similar to many police CP scenes in the Pakistani part of Punjab, although much less frequently noted, if at all, in other parts of either Pakistan or India, raises the intriguing possibility that this specific practice, with its specially designed implement, dates from British rule before 1947, when the whole region was a single entity known as Punjab Province, which had its own law and practices.



Date: 2013
Duration: 1½ minutes

Another scene in a police station. This time a cane is used, or to be more precise two long sticks being held together. This is described by one source as "Raping punishment" but it looks more like an attempt to extract confessions than a punishment. There seems to be questioning going on, the strokes of the "canes" depending on the responses. The caning is administered by a female police officer.

 There are two suspects, one in yellow and one in white. Both receive the caning across the seat of the trousers while standing upright, their arms held by assistants.



Date: 2013
Duration: 1 minute 10 secs

A police station in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Three youths have been hauled in for "eve-teasing", i.e. sexual harassment of women. They are being dealt with summarily by women police, one of whom administers corporal punishment to (mostly) their backsides with some kind of strap. This does not appear to have much effect, and they carry on arguing, presumably to protest their innocence.



Date: 2011
Duration: 3 minutes

Three-minute film shot outdoors at, allegedly, Bhavnagar in Gujarat state. Plain-clothes police give a serious caning to five male offenders, who remain clothed. Most get 12 to 15 strokes. The first, third and fourth are disciplined while being held bent over a motorbike, the other two held by their arms while standing up. In a couple of cases, one or two of the strokes land on the legs but otherwise they are all aimed at the seat of the trousers. A second official joins in the caning at certain points, so a few of the strokes are double whacks, one from each side. The first miscreant is seen to clutch his buttocks when released. The final miscreant puts up a great struggle, illustrating the unsatisfactory nature of this modus operandi. The less random and more stable "bending over the bike" punishments seem to work better. There is a good deal of shouting throughout, seemingly both from the offenders and from those witnessing.



Date: 2013
Duration: 40 seconds

Extract from a Dec 2013 news item by NTV Telugu News, showing police in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, whipping men in the street on their buttocks. The men appear to have been rounded up in the street amidst a commotion, but it is not clear why, or what the commotion is about. This is perhaps a little too random to count as proper corporal punishment. The implement used is, I think, the "lathi", a very long stick meant for crowd control rather than CP. In these scenes its most enthusiastic exponent is a female police officer.



Date: 2015
Duration: 2½ minutes

Here, suspected malefactors are rounded up and caned by police in the streets of Indore, the biggest city in Madhya Pradesh, India. Some of this is too random and ad hoc to be described as proper corporal punishment, but in a few cases the alleged culprit is held firm by one officer while another administers systematic strokes to the buttocks with the "lathi", the big rigid stick that many Indian police carry. Viewers may find some of these scenes harrowing.

 In several places on YouTube and elsewhere, this film or other versions of it are described as depicting punishment for breaking fast during Ramadan in Pakistan. This is completely wrong. The video has nothing whatever to do with Pakistan or Islam.


CLIP 8 OF 8 New!

Date: 2015
Duration: 50 seconds

Here we see youths being rounded up and caned by (once again) female police for fraternising between the sexes. This is a public park in Allahabad, a city in Uttar Pradesh. Seven young men are made to bend over in the "murgha" position. Each receives one or two whacks with a big stick across the seat of his jeans, and is then permitted to stand up. Their girlfriends are evidently spared punishment on this occasion.


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