Like the Marxists, the libertarians are not always crystal clear about the details of our progress down the road to Utopia. They might get some help from Edward Luce’s fine new book, In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India (2007), where he describes his meeting with an “encounter man”—a policeman who corrects the deficiencies of a corrupt and bureaucratic police structure as an extrajudicial killer. Luce’s conversational companion is a senior officer in the Mumbai police force, “recently been suspended pending an investigation into his role in an extrajudicial killing of a terrorist suspect.”
“They have given me six months paid leave. I have plenty of time on my hands,” the encounter man said as he joined Luce for a coffee.
He was very candid about his own role in killing suspects whom he believed the courts would either absolve or forget. He flatly denied any involvement in the killing of the alleged terrorist, a man who had been detained for questioning after a bloody incident in 2003 that involved two car bombs that were detonated near Mumbai’s seafront, killing fifty-seven bystanders. The Indian government said the bombing was facilitated by
“It is ironic that the one time I didn’t actually kill the person in question, I get suspended,” the policeman said. “Why would I want to kill a key witness who could have led us to the organized network before the bombs?” I did not have an answer to this one. But I felt it would be wise to agree with whatever he said. I asked how many encounter killings he had carried out. “About fifty,” he said, “which compared to X [the man who heads the anticrime unit in another zone of Mumbai] is not very many. He has been involved in about eighty.” My goodness, I replied, that is many more than you. “I always have to be 100 percent certain before I agree to anything,” he said. Did he have to get approval beforehand? He gave me a patient lock. “It is very rare that you get a freelance encounter killing,” he said. “I have never been involved in a killing that hasn’t either been approved or requested by the senior commissioner of police. We do not break the chain of command.
In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India 95-6 (2007)
Too bad about that chain of command. He could be so much more efficient without it.Afterthought: Mrs. Buce is skeptical. How does a guy kill 50 people--and brag about it--without getting taken down himself? Is Luce being conned?