Thursday, 16 July 2009

Sitting Ducks: A Beemapalli reflection

Sitting Ducks: A Beemapalli reflection
Bobby Kunhu
It is with the utmost hesitation that I write this. Hesitation because I think I have not understood, nor have many others who have written about the May police firing in Beemapalli. Not that there is any ambiguity in anybody's (who has visited the place) mind about the specific incidents that took place on 17th of May this year. As a part of a small fact finding team trying to tie up its report, I'd rather use this space to raise contextual questions about the police firing that have been haunting me since I heard the first reports of the firing.
At the outset, I need to assert as a human rights lawyer (and independent of the socio-economic realities of Beemapalli) that what happened on May 17th in Beemapalli is one of the worst possible crimes - where lives of 6 people were taken by forces of the state, without following the procedure established by law - in other words extra-judicial murders - and calling it by any other name is as offensive as the incident itself. In my mind, the incident involves the police allegedly firing 50 rounds of bullets at a gathering in a coastal village. The facts are that 43 people were injured and 6 died in the police firing. The fact is that all the people who died and were injured were Muslims. The fact is that there is no credible evidence shown that the crowd fired at was violent or provocative. The fact is that there is no damage reported from the police side. The fact is that the police bypassed the usual procedures that need to be adopted before a firing. Having made that assertion, let me move on to the first set of concerns that have been haunting me.
Silent Media, Silent Opposition
The first of these is the general social and political reactions to Beemapalli firing. In fact one of the factors that led me to take the initiative in organising a fact-finding was the deafening silence that followed the violence in Beemapalli. It looked like that only "Muslim" organisations were interested in taking up the issue. Even the political opposition did not seem like wanting to capitalise this serious lapse in governance. When I tried prying into the possible reason, a newspaper report lauding the media for acting sensibly by maintaining silence and thereby averting a communal issue was literally thrown at my face. (The report was titled, Signs of a Mature Media, Opposition).
But was this violence communal to start with? The victims of the violence did not seem to think so - despite all of them belonging to one single community!!
Interestingly apart from the high profile Lavalin case, the national and Kerala media was filled with stories of racist violence in Australia around this time. Then how did such gruesome violence fail to capture collective social imaginations? The only plausible answer that comes to my mind is the identity of those killed and injured in Beemapally - they were all from fish worker Muslim community - and do not have messiahs touting their cause.
There are other reasons as well for my arrival at this hypothesis. The first being that in the past couple of decades state violence in all its manifestations is being directed against traditionally and structurally marginalised groups. Formal expressions were demonstrated in Muthanga, Chengara and now Beemapalli. Insidious and subtle expressions through changes in reservation structure, discourse on terror used to de-legitimise communitarian political expressions and so on.
Dangerous Activities
Interestingly Beemapalli, being a Muslim ghetto has figured many a time in police narratives on terror. It would take another full essay to analyse this. It is in this context that couple of weeks after the firing, an intelligence report dated before the firing was leaked to the press. This report warns the state police of dangerous and illegal activity in Beemapalli and Malappuram. Much to my amusement, what the newspapers omitted was that this "dangerous" activity is the trade in pirated CD/DVDs that Bheemapally is notorious for. Interestingly, this has been subsequently used to close down this trade and increase police presence in Beemapalli. One of the speculations that was aired as a reason for the extreme violence from the police firing was to gain a foothold into this lucrative terrain.
Claims on Coastal Resources
The next reason is rooted in the socio-economic conditions prevailing in coastal areas generally and Beemapally specifically. The Indian coast has been a simmering pot of discontent for sometime now - aggravated especially after the tsunami. This discontent is rooted in multiple contestations for coastal resources and fish-worker resistance articulated through their right to the coast as a common property resource. I have been witness to a number of concerted efforts to divide the coastal community during the tsunami rehabilitation process. Some of these experiences have been documented as well. These contestations are grounded in the fact of the vulnerability of the coastal communities and Dalit and Muslim communities amongst these are even more vulnerable. Beemapally violence needs to be seen in this context as well. Portrayal of the police violence in Beemapally as communal riots instigated by a Beemapally mob by the police and a section of society including segments of the Catholic church subtly fails to acknowledge that the neighbouring hamlet Cheriyathura is inhabited by Latin Catholics. This reading is inherently dangerous as it pits two similarly placed vulnerable communities against each other.

Two Beemapallis and a Free Run
Further, Magalene, a fish worker leader confirms my suspicion that social indicators in Beemapalli are much worse compared to neighbouring fishing hamlets. She points to the fact that there are two Beemapallys in existence - one glossy Beemapally made of the DVD/CD trade and the other fish-worker hamlet which lacks even basic hygiene and sanitary requirements. She also points to the abysmal female literacy and empowerment in this hamlet in support of her claim. This also perhaps points to a hegemonic social apathy towards people that are forced to live on the fringes - a certain lack of value for their lives. This also could have contributed to the unchallenged free run that the Police is having with their version of the violence and attempts to portray their violence as a communal clash.
My next set of concerns is regarding the impunity with which the Police framed a community as communally volatile and in all probabilities is getting away with it. In his report to the government, DGP Jacob Punnose claims that the police fired 50 rounds and there are 43 injured and 6 dead - indicating that police fired to hit. This also dispels claims that several rounds were fired in the air. Of course there are other unsubstantiated claims in DGP Punnose's report. But what gets my nerve is the shoddy framing that the police has indulged in, without having done any homework whatsoever - is this born out of a confidence that the Police force would get away with murder since the people killed are fishing Muslims? The confidence of the police seems to be bolstered by the collective silences and framing of Bheemapalli as a dangerous area mentioned above. It needs to be remembered that DGP Punnose is spearheading the demand for Police reforms and reducing political control over the police. In the process many vital questions remain unanswered, including questions that would legally place the violence as cold-blooded murder within criminal jurisprudence.
The silence on Beemapalli violence opens many cans of worms - including the deeply hegemonic nature of Kerala's responses to its marginalised, latent communalism within the administration and media and so on and so forth. The responses to Beemapalli has left me perplexed, especially after having visited the place. But, having spend considerable time and energy on conflict situations, my sense is that Kerala might be sitting on a social time bomb, if it continues this lackadaisical attitude towards its marginalised population.

I believe Beemapalli calls for a classical "secular" response and honest peace building exercises that would instill a sense of confidence in Beemapally residents that they are not being persecuted - but that might be a difficult job and would call for extreme commitment.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

74-yr-old Faizuddin beaten to death in his home by raiding police

74-yr-old Faizuddin beaten to death in his home by raiding police
By Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
Guwahati: In a brutal show of police power, the Assam Police mercilessly beat up Faizuddin Ahmed, an elderly respectable person of village Latakhat under Dhula police station in Darrang district of Assam, during a raid at his home on 11 July 2009. Ahmed succumbed to the assault and died on the spot.
As done by other co-accused, the 74-year-old man did not go into hiding when a police team barged into his house at about 10 pm purportedly in search of three persons including him accused in a case. The family members of the deceased state that when they insisted that he should avoid the police and answer the charge against him in the court he maintained that there was no need to go into hiding as he was innocent.
The case against him and two other persons was false and filed maliciously because he tried to intervene in a dispute involving his co-villagers to settle it amicably, say some local people. One of the parties to the dispute was not happy with him and they filed a false case against him. It is this case in connection with which the police raided his house.
According to the sources, the raiding police team demanded ten thousand rupees from him because he made them to visit his house in the night as there is a case against him. If there was no case they would not have to toil so much. It is he who is responsible for accusations against him and he had to pay for it, the policemen allegedly said. The elderly person pleaded his innocence repeatedly and told them that if they insist he could only pay them rupees two thousand. At this offer the men in uniform got infuriated and started to beat him, sources claim. The aged fragile body could not withstand the brutal assaults and succumbed at the spot.
According to the reports, the local people assembled at Faizuddin's house and gheraoed the police team, immediately after the incident. They demanded exemplary punishment against the guilty police officers.
A case has been registered against the raiding police personnel in Dhula police station bearing No. 157/2009 and the Superintendent of Police for Darrang district Imdadul Hussain ordered to arrest the Sub-Inspector who led the erring team.
The people are shocked at the incident and demanding prompt trial and exemplary punishment for the ‘killer officers.’ 

Monday, 13 July 2009

BHRPC hails HC ruling on homosexuals

From our Staff Reporter
SILCHAR, July 12: The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has welcomed the judgment of the Delhi High Court in the Naz Foundation and others Vs NCT of Delhi and other [WP (C) No.7455/2001] cases delivered on July 2 decriminalizing consensual sex among homosexuals. BHRPC held a core group discussion on the judgment and its potential in the field of human rights jurisprudence in India on July 8. Later in the day, the BHRPC sent a letter to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the ruling of the High Court.
Now it is the turn of the government to act. BHRPC believes that from the legal and human rights view point, it is not advisable for the government to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court of India or enact a law making the judgment ineffective. It has now become imperative for the government to amend other laws to fine-tune them with this historic ruling. Drastic amendment or new legislation in the field of family law is necessary to remove discrimination against the LGBT communities in this sphere of life.
BHRPC thinks that it is also equally imperative for the government to respect the direction of the Supreme Court in Shakshi Vs Union of India [(writ petition(Crl.)No.33of1997], recommendation of the National Commission for Women (NCW) and long-standing demands of civil society organization for amendment of laws relating to sexual offences. There are inadequacies and loopholes in both substantial and procedural laws relating to sexual offence as they stand now in the IPC, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. BHRPC has also suggested some amendments in the Indian Evidence Act, 1972 such as (1) a new section 114B should be introduced providing a presumption in favour of the victim as to the consent in aggravated sexual assaults; (2) Clause (4) in section 155 which permits the person accused of rape or attempt to ravish to prove that the victim was of generally immoral character should be deleted; (3) in section 146 another clause, namely, clause (4) should be added starting expressly that in a prosecution for sexual assault, it shall not be permissible to adduce evidence or to put questions in cross-examination of the person assaulted with respect to his/her previous sexual history, character or conduct whether to establish consent or otherwise; (4) the absence of a medical report in the case of sexual assaults shall not be a factor against the complainant /person assaulted.
BHRPC urged the Prime Minister to amend the laws stated above taking into confidence and in consultation with the citizens of the country, particularly the groups of citizens interested in such matters such as women’s organizations, human rights organization and other civil society organizations.
Found in the page with URL:

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Civilians Killed, Youth Abducted by Police and Security Forces in Assam - Friends for Freedom

Truck driver shot dead
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 9: A truck driver died on the spot and a handyman sustained serious bullet injuries when the PSO of CID SP Mridula-nanda Sarma shot at them at Lokhra Chariali in Guwahati tonight. According to sources, the truck had a collision with the car of the SP.
The Sentinel, 10 July, 2009

Civilians’ deaths raise doubt over Assam Police credibility
Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 10 – The bizarre incident of Gadadhar Rai (21), the personal security officer of an SP (CID), opening fire on two civilians (driver of the truck and the handyman) on Thursday night, leading to the duo’s death has once again raised serious doubts about the credibility of the Assam Police and its so-called think-tank.

But who exactly is responsible for the Thursday night tragedy? The SP, the PSO, or the police think-tank?

“There is no denying that the PSO had committed a heinous crime but he alone cannot be held responsible for the incident because he, in a way did, what he has been trained for,” claims a section of retired police officials.

“It is wrong to depute a commando as a PSO and if that practice is not stopped, such incidents would keep on recurring as the commandos are groomed to have an altogether different mental set-up,” experts requesting anonymity said.

“A commando is someone trained ‘to kill’ and cannot be used as a substitute for a havildar, who is best suited for the PSO job. Moreover, how justified is to arm a PSO with an AK series rifle, which shoots multiple bullets within a fraction of a second,” said an expert.

“May be it has become a status symbol for some people to seek a commando than a havildar as their PSO, and that too armed with a sophisticated assault rifle than a carbine,” he pointed out.

Police, meanwhile, has informed that the SP was not present in the shootout site and it was Rai, the PSO, who chased the truck on a two-wheeler after the truck hit the Scorpio, in which the SP and his wife were travelling, near the entrance of the Games Village (official residence of the SP).

But, had the PSO chased the truck at the instance of the SP and if not, why was he not stopped by the SP then?

Moreover, the SP and his wife got themselves admitted to the GMCH today after they reportedly sustained injuries during the incident. But, it is difficult to believe that the PSO entrusted with the job of providing security to the SP, left both the SP and his wife stranded with injuries.

Few other questions such as, whether the SP who was returning from the residence of another senior police official making a personal visit and the PSO were under the influence of alcohol, are yet to be answered.

According to PC Saloi, Senior Superintendent of Police (City) the PSO after getting down from the vehicle and finding a two-wheeler near him decided to chase down the truck. Rai then shot at the tyre of the truck near Lokra and just as the driver of the truck along with the handyman allegedly tried to hit him with some sticks, he opened fire on both of them with his AK 47 rifle that led to the death of the driver on the spot, while the handyman sustained serious bullet injuries and succumbed to his injuries later.

Saloi also informed that the SP not finding the PSO for too long then asked the driver of the Scorpio to look for him.

Meanwhile, Rai, the PSO, has been arrested and his weapon (AK 47) seized.

The driver and the handyman of the truck have been identified as Krishna Chandra Tripuria and Saining of East Khasi Hills.

Two Army men arrested
From our Correspondent
JORHAT, July 9: Two Army men, Major ES Binud and W Ramesh Singh hailing from 33 Manipur Asom Rifles have been arrested by Titabor police in connection of a case of kidnap and attempt to murder of two youths here today. Police sources said that, the Army men in civil dress picked up one Bhargob Khound of Titabor and got off at Kamarbondha area where they picked up another Debabrot Bordoloi and tried to take him away. But Debabrot jumped from their vehicle at Amgurikhat area near Kamarbandha and was rescued by the locals. Afterwards, Titabor police arrested the two Army men and recovered two 9 mm pistols and some ammunition from their possession. Both the youths are the students of Titabor Pragjyotika School. A case no. 72/09 was registered at Titabor police station against the Army men. However, after hours of questioning by police, the Army men confessed that, they found the youths by following a mobile number called to them.

The Sentinel

Friday, 3 July 2009

Human Rights Defenders Attacked in Hailakandi, Assam - Friends for Freedom

Human Rights Defenders Attacked in Hailakandi, Assam


Urgent Appeal Event No. 08/2009, Date: 3 July 2009

Subject: Human Rights Defenders Attacked and Injured for Working against Corruption in Assam, India

ISSUES: Right to Defend Human Rights, Right to Information, Development & Employment and Police Inaction.

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE (BHRPC), a human rights organisation working in Assam, India, requests your urgent actions in the following situation in North East India:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION: BHRPC has received information from reliable sources that Mr. Choudhury Charan Gorh, a human rights defender working as Secretary, NGO HELP, Mr. Shyama Prasad Kurmi, member, All Assam Students Union (ASSU), Ms Shanti Gorh, Ms. Premlata Ree, Ms Basanti Koll, Ms. Gouri Koll, Mr. Bimal Mall, members of the public were attacked and injured severely on 30 June, 2009 in Hailakandi, Assam (India).

BHRPC has been informed that the above mentioned human rights defenders and members of the public were attacked by a team of hired goons comprising of Mr. Kamal Kurmi, Mr. Binod Koll, Mr. Debashish Ree, Mr. Lakkhi Narayan Bhor, Mr. Bharat Ree, Ms. Heeralal Chowhan, Mr. Mahadev Kalindri and others led by Mr. Prakash Bhor at the instance of Mr. Raj Kumar Bhor, elected president of Aenakhal Gaon Panchayat (grass root level unit of the local governance institution—the Panchayati Raj) in a public meeting held at the common campus of J. R. Pandey L P School and Rama Janaki M E School, Aenakhal Bazar, Monacherra under Lala Police Station, Hailakandi, Assam.

The public meeting was convened jointly by NGO HELP, a village level organisation working for practical realisation of rural empowerment, development, right to information and right to employment under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 in Aenakhal-Nishchintapur Zila Parishad Constituency, Hailakandi (Assam), Bowar - Aenakhal Unit of the ASSU and Mazuri Shramik Union, a local labour organisation to create awareness among the people about various development schemes of the Union Government of India and the State Government of Assam such as Indira Avas Yojana (a rural housing project for indigent people), National Rural Employment Scheme (under the NREGA), Gram Sadak Yojana (rural infrastructure project) etc. and to discuss the scale of corruption in the implementation of these schemes in the area. These schemes are implemented generally through the local self governance system—the Panchayati Raj. The District Magistrate of Hailakandi, Superintendent of Police, Hailakandi, Officer-in-Charge of Lala police station were duly informed and requested for providing security. There was a fear that an attempt may be made to disrupt the meeting by those who are involved in malfeasance in the above mentioned development schemes and projects, particularly the Gaon Panchayat President Mr. Raj Kumar Bhor and his accomplices. But no arrangement of security was made by the police. Hardly the meeting was started at about 3pm on 30 June, Mr. Prakash Bhor, the younger brother of the G P President, made the foray with his team who were bearing weapons such as daggers, sticks, swords etc. The attackers started to assault the organisers and the members of the audience indiscriminately. The organisers ran away to save their lives and the people got dispersed.

The injured persons have been admitted in the Public Health Centre, Lala for treatment and a case has been registered concerning the attack in the Lala Police Station vide Lala P S Case No. 135/2009 under sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 379, 427 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. But so far no visible actions have been taken by the police and administration either to investigate the case and bring the perpetrators to justice or to deter them from committing further offences. BHRPC has been informed that other members of NGO HELP, Local Unit of the ASSU and Mazuri Sramik Union and their families are still receiving threats and living in great apprehension and fear.

The way the attack was conducted and the case is being handled indicates that the perpetrators have been receiving support and encouragement from the persons enjoying political power and the police.

ACTIONS REQUESTED: Please write to the authorities in India urging them
To take all necessary actions to guarantee the physical safety and mental integrity of Mr. Choudhury Charan Singh, Mr. Shyama Prasad Kurmi, Ms Shanti Gorh, Ms. Premlata Ree, Ms Basanti Koll, Ms. Gouri Koll, Mr. Bimal Mall, and other members of NGO HELP, Local Unit of ASSU and Mazuri Shramik Union and their family members;
To conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into the incident of attack on them and charge the attackers accordingly;
And to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations of corruptions in the implementation of the development schemes in Aenakhal-Nishchintapur Zila Parishad Consituency area.

Or you may forward the following letter adjusting the salutation part to the addresses given bellow:


Subject: Urgent Appeal Regarding Attack and Threat to Life to Human Rights Defenders in Hailakandi, Assam.

Dear Sir/Madam,
I am deeply concerned over the report of attack on the human rights defenders Mr. Choudhury Charan Gorh, Secretary, NGO HELP, Mr. Shyama Prasad Kurmi, member, All Assam Students Union (ASSU), and members of the public Ms Shanti Gorh, Ms. Premlata Ree, Ms Basanti Koll, Ms. Gouri Koll, Mr. Bimal Mall on 30 June, 2009 in Hailakandi, Assam (India).

I am informed that the above mentioned human rights defenders and members of the public were attacked by a team of hired goons comprising of Mr. Kamal Kurmi, Mr. Binod Koll, Mr. Debashish Ree, Mr. Lakkhi Narayan Bhor, Mr. Bharat Ree, and others led by Mr. Pakash Bhor at the instance of Mr. Raj Kumar Bhor, elected president of Aenakhal Gaon Panchayat (grass root level unit of the local governance institution—the Panchayati Raj) in a public meeting held at the common campus of J. R. Pandey L P School and Rama Janaki M E School, Aenakhal Bazar, Monacherra under Lala Police Station, Hailakandi, Assam.
The lack of police action in providing security to the meeting as requested by the organisers and in investigation of the case which was registered with the Lala Police Station vide. 2009, suggests that Mr. Raj kumar Bhor is using his influence to prevent the due process of law from taking its own course. In these circumstances, I request that you immediately take swift assertive action to ensure that Mr. Choudhury Charan Singh, Mr. Shyama Prasad Kurmi, and other members of NGO HELP, Local Unit of ASSU and Mazuri Shramik Union and their family members remain safe throughout the investigation of the case and after, and that an investigation is ordered into the allegations of corruption in the implementation of the rural development schemes in the area. I also request that the accused in the above mentioned case be taken into custody.

I believe that human rights defenders carry out a valuable and necessary service, often at the expense of their lives. The Government should give their safety utmost priority.

Yours sincerely,

Your Signature

Your Address

Addresses to be sent to:
1. The Prime Minister's Office,
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi-110 011, India
Telephone: 91-11-23012312.
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857
Email: ,

3. Home Minister,
Ministry of Home Affairs
Government of India,
North Block, Central Secretariat,
New Delhi - 110 001
Phone: 23092011, 23092161,
Fax : 23093750, 23092763

4. The Chief Justice of India,
The Supreme Court of India,
Tilak Marg, New Delhi-110 001 (India)
PABX NOS: 23388922-24,23388942-44,
FAX NOS: 23381508, 23381584, 23384336/
e-mail at:

5. The Chairperson,
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House,Copernicus Marg,
New Delhi-110001, INDIA
Fax: +91-11-23386521

6. The Chief Minister of Assam,
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
Phone: (O) 0361-2262222, 2266188, 2237043
( R ) 2360291, 2361112

7. The Chief Justice,
Gauhati High Court,
Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Assam, India
Phone & Fax: 0361-2735866,

8. The Chairperson,
Assam Human Rights Commission,
Bhangagarh, Guwahati
Pin - 781 005 (Assam), India
PHONE: (+91 361) 2529450, 2527076,
2452387, 2457369
FAX: (+91 361) 2529450

9. The Director General of Police,
Government of Assam, Ulubari
Guwahti-5, Assam

10. The District Magistrate of Hailakandi
Hailakandi, Assam

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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

BHRPC demands repeal of AFSPA

BHRPC demands repeal of AFSPA
From our Staff Reporter, The Sentinel

SILCHAR, June 28:
The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRCE) has sought intervention of the Prime Minister for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and other laws providing impunity, including sections 45 and 197 of the CrPC. The BHRPC has also demanded for amendment to the Human Rights Protection Act, 1993 to make its recommendations mandatory and repeal the Section 19 of the Act in order to bring the armed forces under the purview of the NHRC.

On the occasion of International anti-Torture Day, the BHRPC had written a letter to the Prime Minister of India reiterating its conviction that torture is a deliberate cruelty and a crude and ancient tool of political oppression.

"It is commonly used to terrorize people or to wring confessions out of suspected criminals who may or may not be guilty. It is the classic short-cut for a lazy or incompetent investigator," the BHRPC told the Prime Minister in its letter.

The letter stated, torture destroys the physical and mental integrity of the victim to its core. It also dehumanizes the performer and does irreparable damage to men, women and children, families and communities. It prevents societies from nurturing the human and economic development that is a right for all people.

It is also prohibited in India mainly by Article 21 of the Constitution, Section 330 and 331 of the Indian Panel Code (IPC), 1860 and other laws and also strongly condemned by the Supreme Court of India and High Courts in a number of landmark cases like D K BasuVs State of West Bengal.

The laws that virtually make confession to a police officer inadmissible as a piece of evidence in a court of law such as Article 20 (3) of the Constitution, Section 25, 26, and 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Section 161,162, 163, and 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973 are rooted in the apprehension that police may subject the accused to torture to extract confession. It is a constitutional and statutory recognition that police may resort to torture and ill treatment, BHRPC stated in the letter to the Prime Minister.

The constitutional and statutory concern and mistrust of its own police and security forces is based on the experiences of decades and find strong echo in judicial pronouncement. In Niranjan Singh vs Prabhakar Rajaram (AIR1980 SC 785) the Supreme Court emphatically observed that, "The police instead of being a protector of law, have become engineer of terror and panic putting people into fear."
BHRPC is aware that there is no accurate data on the use of torture in India since the Government does not have an unambiguous and strong policy against torture. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) gathers figures on custodial deaths. But only a limited number of cases of torture results in death. Moreover, cause of death in custody may not always be torture.BHRPC relies on the Human rights groups with great credentials who maintain that torture is integral to counter-insurgency operations conducted by the military. Torture is used routinely in police custody. Based on data provided by the NHRC the Asian centre for Human Rights states in its report titled ‘Torture in India 2008: A state of denial’ that about 1,500 persons die in custody of the state each year.
Only four police personnel were convicted in 2004 and three in 2005. In 2004, 37 personnel were charge sheeted and 25 personnel were charge-sheeted in 2005 for custodial death and other criminal offences. Impunity for this custodial crimes stands exposed from the accepted number of the custodial deaths, compensation granted by the NHRC and courts based on the evidence, and the lake of corresponding prosecution of the guilty law enforcement personnel.
BHRPC claims that the government of India practices double standard regarding torture and argued that there are laws in India which encourage, condone torture and provide immunity to the torturer. Section 4 (a) of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act,1958 empowers any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or any other person of equivalent rank in the armed force to ‘use force even to the causing of death’ against any person and section 6 ensures immunity of such torturer. Sections 45 and 197 of CRPC also guarantee such impunity.