Why Delhi shouldn’t host Commonwealth Games

joel statement and t#1D0E8AJOEL ELLIOTT, an American freelance journalist working as a “staff writer” at Caravan magazine in Delhi since May this year, has been the subject of a bizarre torture incident.

According to a signed statement issued by Elliott, a recipient of the Payne Award for courage, he was assaulted by Delhi police personnel on the morning of October 6, allegedly for “trying to steal a taxi”, while in fact he was only seeking cover from the rampaging cops who were pounding some other person in the darkness.

Elliot, who claims he was “tortured” by the police and “inhumanly treated”, has now left for the US.

Below is the full text of Eliott’s signed statement, released by Caravan, in which he demands a compensation of half of million dollars for “the pain and suffering and mental anguish” inflicted upon him.

Two things stand out in this extraordinary incident:

# One, India’s home minister P. Chidambaram exhorted Delhi-ites to “behave better” in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games a few days ago. Are the beasts in khaki exempt from this rule?

# Two, the ear-splitting silence of Sheela Dixit. The angelic chief minister of South Delhi is usually dripping milk,  honey and nectar in her convent school accent. Why is she so silent at such an outrage?

Delegates of 71 Commonwealth countries are currently inspecting facilities in Delhi to see if the City is ready for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. What they are looking for is to see if the bricks and mortar are in place.

The plight of Joel Elliott is proof that an even more important prerequisite—the Capital’s heart—is not.

There may be holes in Elliott’s account. The whole thing may be a publicity stunt for a just-revived magazine. Perhaps he was wrong to have hit back at the police when the first blow fell on him. Etcetera. But, even if you assume the very worst about Elliott’s account, is this how the police mete out justice, to Elliott or any other person?

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