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The State, Dissent and Democracy

Crime Redefined

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The coronavirus, a phenomenon not fully understood as yet, has forced humans to revisit many of their dearly held social habits and norms. It has also led people to float new habits and norms. One of them relates to the notions of crime.

Recently, Jeyaraj and Beniks, father and son, were allegedly beaten up, tortured and killed by Raghu Ganesh and Balakrishnan, police sub-inspectors posted at the Sathanukulam police station in Thoothukudi. As is normal, the Tamil Nadu Criminal Investigation Department arrested the cops, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court ordered a probe, and the Central Bureau of Investigation was asked to take over the case. What is not normal is the act that was perceived as “crime.” The two persons killed had been late by half an hour in downing the shutters of their small shop. The police officers felt duty-bound to point out the violation of the COVID-19-related business hour regulation. A great tragedy for all four—the killed and the killers—and their families took place. The brut­a­lity involved can never be justified in any civilised society. That, however, cannot be said of the idea of crime in this instance. Sociologists Émile Durkheim had pointed out decades ago that what the formal methods of dealing with crime judge as being crime, may, in the first place, be founded on almost an “airy nothing.”

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Updated On : 17th Aug, 2020

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