If you're Indian and follow the news, you've probably heard of the Shopian murders. Two Kashmiri women out in the evening were abducted by securitymen, exactly who is as yet unclear. The women were raped, killed, their bodies dumped in a shallow canal, and the incident covered up as an accidental drowning. The truth came out, serving to further alienate and inflame Kashmiri public opinion. Now, four police officers involved in destroying evidence have been suspended from service.
When I hear about such incidents, I wonder why these chaps aren't sacked immediately. Suspension, after all, means getting a substantial portion of your salary for doing no work. It sounds more like a sabbatical than a punishment. The only police officer I recall being fired was Sunil More, who raped a teenage girl in a police chowky on Marine Drive.
I've just read an Associated Press article which indicates New York faces the same suspension versus sacking conundrum. 700 teachers in New York are currently being paid their full salaries for doing nothing. They report to an off-campus office each workday morning and spend eight hours amusing themselves as best they can, reading, surfing the Net, playing board games. They're under suspension, but cannot be fired before a proper enquiry is conducted, and that takes months. Many of those suspended claim they're being victimised by bosses they angered.
It's a difficult balance to strike: making state employees more fully accountable will always have the side effect of leaving underlings vulnerable to persecution by seniors with grudges. Solutions, anybody?