The Anonymous Alien
Imagine a crime has been committed. In an imaginary country. Valuable jewelry has been stolen. Or perhaps, someone has been blackmailed. The police investigate, but uncover no leads.
And then, the crime is repeated. More police investigate. And they start getting frustrated. They widen their net, increase their searches.The crime is repeated a third time. Now the police are downright angry. They are starting to look bad, not catching this repeat criminal. They start pulling even unlikely “suspects” into the station. All are impoverished, with no money, no connections, no lawyers, no means.
The police question them. Unsatisfied with their answers, the police in this imaginary country begin to beat on them.Specifically, they beat on the bottom of their feet. Why there? The bruises could just be from walking, so there’s no proof that the beatings even took place.
At first, the “suspects” plead their innocence. But as the beatings move from minutes into hours, and from hours into days, more and more of the suspects confess. Confess to what? To anything. To the crime the police are investigating. To crimes that haven’t even been committed. To whatever the police in this imaginary country ask them to confess to…the pain is just too great to do anything else.
Then, let’s say, in this imaginary crime, in this imaginary country, on the fourth day of the beatings, a real lead emerges, and quickly leads to a real suspect and a legitimate arrest. And all the other suspects being held by the police are released.
And that’s it. That’s the end of the story.
Because in this imaginary crime, in this imaginary country, there is no Amnesty International the innocent victims of the beatings can report to; there’s no Federal Bureau of Investigations they can call on to investigate the police’s brutality. There are no options at all in fact.
So the “suspects” return to their lives. Most of them stop limping within a few weeks. After a few months, their nightmares start to diminish. And within a few years, if they’re lucky, they can see a policeman on the street without freezing in their tracks in sheer terror.
But they never call the police again. No matter what crime they themselves are a victim of. And anybody who knows them – their family and friends and neighbours – never calls the police again either. All are afraid that if they report a crime, the police might view them as suspects, and turn their feet into punching bags.
Soon enough, criminals start to realize that if they commit crimes in impoverished neighborhoods – neighborhoods where innocent people have been beaten by the police – nobody will report the crimes. They realize, simply put, that they can act with impunity. Which, of course, increases crime dramatically in these neighborhoods.
Crime, in turn, begets more crime. And so on.And so on.And so on.In this imaginary country, one starts to wonder if the police are in fact increasing the overall crime rate? Or not?
Let’s hope none of us ever have to live in such a place and find out.
You can reach The Anonymous Alien at AnonymousAlieninIndia@gmail.com