Friday, 25 February 2011

CRPF personnel tortured and ill-treated by his superiors in Assam

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) issued a report concerning the case a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, who alleges that he has been tortured and subjected to other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by his superior officers. The victim is a wireless operator with 147 battalion of CRPF. But the higher officials allegedly often have sent him in risky operations without arms even at times when he is ill. He has been kept in confinement in inhuman conditions and has also been assaulted and beaten up brutally. Stick has been entered into his anus. The case has been sent to the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), but no independent investigation has been initiated into his allegations.

According to the report of the BHRPC, Mr. Surindar Singh Chouhan, S/o late Anand Bahadur Singh Chouhan, aged about 39 years, has been working with 147 battalion since 1 September, 2008. He was posted at the head quarters (HQ) of the battalion at Kashipur, Silchar, Assam. However, he was also sent in operations with many companies of the battalion including C company at Gharmura, D company at Karimganj, E company at Hailakandi and F company at Fulertal etc.

Surider alleged that some of his superiors became spiteful towards him when he wanted to study MBA, for which he duly fulfilled all requirements. On 4 October 2010 Surindar took admission to MBA course under the Sikkim Manipal University with due permission from the commander Mr. TK Hati and drew a bank draft of Rs. 12500/- in the name of the university to pay his fees. On 5 October he requested for permission to meet the commandant at the head quarters for necessary talks in connection with his admission, study and duty. But his request was denied. When he insisted that his meeting with the commander is very important, the officer got furious and sent him to the head quarter imputing some false allegations on him. He was then sent to the DC OPS Mr. Nabeen Chandra by Sub-Inspector Mr. TN Tripati and Mr. Roy forcibly and very rudely while they also continued to hurl verbal abuses at him. At 19:00 hours same day he was presented before the commandant. The commander also behaved very roughly and threatened him that he would snatch his job and would put him into jail. He was kept in confinement without any written order and subjected to ill-treatment for three days.

On 7 October he requested to be informed of his faults for which he was given punishment. Nobody cared to answer. On 8 October he was suspended from his duties. From 8 to 11 October he was confined to the guardroom with his hands cuffed. Surinder alleged that he was severely tortured both mentally and physically while he was kept there. CRPF constables at the behest of superiors would tell him that this was his last moment and he is going to die while they pointed gun on his head. They did it innumerable times.

When he was with F company he fell ill and was sent to the head quarters by the Officer-in-Command Mr. Anwar Hussain for treatment on 13 October, 2010. But on the same day Mr. K. P. Singh, the Radio Grid Supervisor ordered him to shift to D company at Karimganj. He told the supervisor about his health condition, but no heed was given. On 13 October, 2010 he reported at D company at Karimganj despite inconvenience due to his physical condition.

Surinder alleged that on 21 October 7/8 soldiers including Rajender Singh, Rakesh Kumar, Brojesh Kumar, Sukhbinder Singh, Narendra Singh, Upendra Singh, Prem Chand Kahar came to him and started beating him with sticks and chains without rhymes or reasons. Surinder claimed that the constables tried to make him angry and to provoke him into attacking them. However, he did not fall into the trap. Then they tried to compel him to assault the quarter guard Mr. Jaibuddin Khan. But he did not do that. These tricks were applied by the OC with an intention to find a ground for filing a criminal case against Surinder.

Surider further stated that on 23 October 2010 the OC of D company Mr. TN Tripati ordered him to go in an operation and search duty without arms at Ratabari area, which was reportedly a disturbed area. When Surinder urged the OC to give him arms for his safeguard, he was denied.

Surindar claimed that according to the rules his duties should be assigned by the ASI/ RO Mr. Monoj Singh in place of the OC. So, he objected to such irregular assignment of duties by the OC in violations of rules. However, he was compelled to obey. Surinder further stated that the official record was manipulated and it is shown in the duty register that he was engaged by the ASI/RO Mr. Monoj Singh at signal centre. It register shows that he was on duty there since 07:00 hours to 13:00 hours on 23 October 2010 and again since 19:00 hours on 23 October 2010 to 07:00 hours on 24 October 2010. But in reality he was forcibly sent to the risky operation and search duty. Surinder also stated that he was aware that anybody could be shifted to any duty during emergency and he claimed that there was no such emergency. Moreover, there were many other eligible personnel for the duty. Surinder claimed that the OC sent him in the operation only to harass him by putting his life and limbs at risk. He performed his duties with the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Karimganj district in a search operation looking for some suspects for approximately 24 hours at Ratabari area without food, water etc. While returning from the operation one of his colleagues felt very sick and he carried his LMG.

Surinder further alleged that on 27 October once again some constables assaulted him. They beat up him so furiously that he fell down on the floor. But they did not stop. They beat him on his face, chest, stomach and other sensitive parts of his body including the privates. They entered broken stick into his anus. Surinder stated that some of the constables namely Upendra Singh, Prem Chand Kahar and Dilip Kumar did not want to inflict such brutal torture on him. But they were compelled by threats of similar treatment by Mr. Hati.

Surinder then somehow managed to escape from the clutch of his tormentors as he alleged. He filed a complaint against the alleged perpetrators at the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Silchar. He also received treatment at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital.  He tried to keep himself out of the reach of his battalion. However, they filed a missing case at the Silchar Sadar police station.

At this point in time on 4 November Surinder sent a communication to the BHRPC giving details of his situation. BHRPC filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission of India on 22 November. The NHRC registered a case and passed an order on 7 December transmitting the complaint to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, for appropriate actions. The NHRC also asked the Home Ministry on 15 December to submit an action taken report within four weeks. But the BHRPC did not receive any information even after seven weeks.

Meanwhile Surinder has been nabbed by the police at Guwahati and sent back to the head quarters of his battalion at Kashipur, Cachar. He has informed BHRPC through a friend that he is being kept under the sky in a poorly made makeshift tent which is unable to protect him from the cold. Every now and then he was being beaten up and subjected to other inhuman treatment. According to the information, food and other necessities were also not being properly provided.

On 11 February the victim was released and granted leave. He went home that day. BHRPC received information that the Home Ministry also reportedly asked for a report from the CRPF at the direction of the NHRC. But the inquiry is being conducted by a DIG of CRPF. It is suspected that the inquiry by another officer of the force against his colleagues would not be objective. On the other hand, the CRPF also initiated a departmental inquiry against him.  A thorough, prompt and independent inquiry in the case is a must.

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