NEW DELHI: Human Rights Watch just released the 114-page report, “‘Bound by Brotherhood’: India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody,” yesterday on how police in India often neglect arrest procedures and torture suspects in custody to death.

According to the report at least 591 people died in police custody in India between 2010 and 2015 and instead of holding police responsible to account, authorities have stalled reforms needed to build a more rights-respecting force.

HRW said it conducted more than 70 interviews with police officials, victims’ families, justice experts and witnesses and it looked into 17 custodial deaths that happened between 2009 and 2015 for its report.

The report also said that Indian police often fail to follow arrest rules because when a person is arrested in India, they should be medically examined and produced to a magistrate in 24 hours.

“Police in India will learn that beating suspects to confess is unacceptable only after officers are prosecuted for torture,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “Our research shows that too often, the police officers investigating deaths in custody are more concerned about shielding their colleagues than bringing those responsible to justice.”

However according to Wall Street Journal K. S. Dhatwalia, spokesman for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs said “We will study the report and take appropriate action, whatever is required.”

Some Cases of Deaths in Police Custody mentioned in the report:-

Agnelo Valdaris, Maharashtra

Agnelo Valdaris, 25, and three others were allegedly illegally detained, beaten, and sexually abused in custody by police officers who arrested them on suspicion of theft. After two days in detention, police warned them not to tell doctors about the torture during their mandatory medical examination. Valdaris refused. He died on the morning of April 18, 2014, three days after the police arrested him, and before he was produced before a magistrate. Police officials at Wadala railway police station in Mumbai said that he was struck by a train after he tried to escape from custody. However, his family and witnesses who were in custody with him allege that he died from police torture.

Kazi Nasiruddin, West Bengal

Kazi Nasiruddin, 35, a local leader with the Trinamool Congress Party, the ruling political party in West Bengal state, was detained on January 18, 2013, in the state’s Hooghly district. While police say that Nasiruddin died from injuries he suffered when he fell in a toilet at the Dhaniakhali police station, Nasiruddin’s wife, Manaza Bibi, alleges her husband was beaten to death there.

Shyamu Singh, Uttar Pradesh

After Shyamu Singh died in police custody at Kwarsi police station on April 15, 2012, in Aligarh district, Uttar Pradesh state, police said that Singh had committed suicide. But his brother, Ramu Singh, who was arrested with him, said that after being arrested they were both stripped down to their underwear and tortured. Family members filed a police complaint against seven police officers alleging death due to torture. Since that time, the police have repeatedly stalled efforts to ensure accountability.

Some recommendations made by Human Rights Watch:-

  • The Indian penal code to include the criminal offenses of torture and enforced disappearances and enforce existing guidelines on arrest and detention.
  • Implement Procedures on Custodial Deaths
  • Ensure Accountability for Police Misconduct
  • Provide Training in Scientific Methods of Investigation
  • Protect Families of Victims of Custodial Killings and Witnesses