NEW DELHI: Two men, accused of robbery, were tortured to death in police custody in Sitamarhi in Bihar last week. Gufran Alam (30) and Taslim Ansari (32) were picked up by police from Ramdiha village in connection with the theft of a motorcycle and murder of its owner Muzaffarpur resident Rakesh Kumar, nails were allegedly hammered into their bodies as part of the torture resorted to by the cops.

The Commonqwelath Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)r organisation spoke to eight former DGPs, who came together to condemn the deaths and alleged custodial torture of the two men in Bihar. As you may remember, they were found with with marks of nails hammered into them prior to their burial.

The signatories include Julio Ribeiro, Prakash Singh, PKH Tharakan and others. The statement reads:

We former Directors Generals of Police (DGPs) have come together to condemn the alleged custodial torture of two men at the Dumra police station in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district on 7 March, that eventually caused their death. We extend our condolences to the families of these victims.

We are clear that such interrogation methods as alleged have no place in policing. ‘Third-degree’ [torture] is simply not acceptable and reflects poor professional skills. There must be zero tolerance of such actions, regardless of the antecedents of the accused, or intentions of the police personnel involved. Prompt action by police leadership and the state government against the erring personnel is welcome and reassuring.

All efforts must be directed toward apprehending the perpetrators at the earliest and protection be afforded to the victims’ families. It is only prompt and decisive action by the police against their own delinquents that can maintain faith in the rule of law.

As former DGPs from across the country, we urge state governments to allocate adequate budgets and forensic facilities, and strongly advise police leadership to ensure regular training of field police personnel. This is essential if capacities are to be built up as required for contemporary policing skills. At the same time experts must be enlisted to help initiate the behavioural changes required.

Signed 1. Julio Ribeiro, DGP Punjab (Retd)

2. Prakash Singh, DGP UP Assam and BSF (Retd)

3. P.K.H. Tharakan, DGP Kerala (Retd)

4. Kamal Kumar, DGP National Police Academy, Hyderabad (Retd)

5. Jacob Punnoose, DGP Kerala (Retd)

6. Sanjeev Dayal, DGP Maharashtra ( Retd)

7. Jayanto N. Choudhury, DGP Assam and NSG (Retd)

8. N Ramachandran, DGP Meghalaya (Retd)