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Thousands killed in prisons: Report

Published on 21 Nov. 2011 11:31 PM IST
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More than four people a day died while in the custody of the Indian authorities over the past 10 years, the Asian Center for Human Rights alleges in a new report on torture.

Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report, “Torture in India 2011”, released Monday stated that a total of 14,231 persons i.e. more than four persons per day died in police and judicial custody in India from 2001 to 2010. This includes 1,504 deaths in police custody and 12,727 deaths in judicial custody from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010 as per the cases submitted to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

A large majority of these deaths are a direct consequence of torture in custody. These deaths reflect only a fraction of the problem with torture and custodial deaths in India as not all the cases of deaths in police and prison custody are reported to the NHRC.

Further, the NHRC does not have jurisdiction over the armed forces and the NHRC also does not record statistics of torture not resulting into death.

 “The failure of the Ministry of Home Affairs to introduce the Prevention of Torture Bill drafted by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee headed by Shri Ashwani Kumar, the current minister of State for Planning, in December 2010 in the parliament session beginning on 22 November 2011 demonstrates India’s lack of political will to stamp out torture.” – asserted Chakma, director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

“India is yet to realize the cost of not having anti-torture law in compliance with UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) that led to rejection extradition of Kim Davy, the prime accused in the Purulia arms drop case by the Danish High Court in June 2011; the direction of a British Court in July 2011 to depute a human rights expert to visit the  prisons in Gujarat to examine the prison conditions before it grants extradition of Mohammad Hanif Umerji Patel, alias Tiger Hanif, the alleged mastermind of the 1993 bomb blast in Surat; and cancellation of the extradition of Abul Salem by the Portuguese High Court in September 2011 on the ground that he was tortured in custody following extradition. That torture is non-derogable even in war and a crime against humanity is yet to be recognized by India.” –further asserted Mr Chakma.

Torture, deaths in Police custody
During 2001-2010, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of deaths in police custody with 250 deaths, Uttar Pradesh: 174; Gujarat: 134; Andhra Pradesh: 109; West Bengal: 98; Tamil Nadu: 95; Assam: 84; Karnataka: 67; Punjab: 57; Madhya Pradesh: 55; Haryana: 45; Bihar: 44; Kerala: 42; Jharkhand: 41; Rajasthan: 38; Orissa: 34; Delhi: 30; Chhattisgarh: 24; Uttarakhand: 20; Meghalaya: 17; Arunachal Pradesh: 10; Tripura: 8; J&K: 6; Himachal Pradesh: 5; Goa, Chandigarh and Pondicherry: 3 each; Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland: 2 each;  Sikkim and Dadra and Nagar Haveli: 1 each.

“About 99.99% of deaths in police custody can be ascribed to torture and occur within 48 hours of the victims being taken into custody…” Chakma further asserted.

Torture, deaths in judicial custody
During 2001-2010, 12,727 deaths in judicial custody took place.
Uttar Pradesh highest number of deaths: 2171,
Bihar: 1512, Maharashtra: 1176, Andhra Pradesh: 1037, Tamil Nadu: 744, Punjab: 739, West Bengal: 601, Jharkhand: 541, Madhya Pradesh: 520, Karnataka: 496, Rajasthan: 491, Gujarat: 458, Haryana: 431, Orissa: 416, Kerala: 402, Chhattisgarh: 351, Delhi: 224
Assam: 165, Uttarakhand: 91, Himachal Pradesh: 29, Tripura: 26, Meghalaya: 24, Chandigarh: 23, Goa: 18, Arunachal Pradesh: 9, Pondicherry: 8, J&K and Nagaland: 6 each, Mizoram: 4, Sikkim and Andaman and Nicobar Island: 3 each, Manipur, Dadra and Nagar Haveli: 1 each.

A large of number of these deaths are a result of torture, denial of medical facilities and sub-human conditions in Indian jails.
Asian Centre for Human Rights called upon the Government of India to enact the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 as drafted by the Parliamentary Select Committee without any dilution into a law.

ACHR also recommended the NHRC to recommend prosecution of the guilty public officials in all the cases in which compensation is recommended.

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