INDIA: Custodial death and torture by police must end in Meghalaya

Civil Society Women’s Organisation
29 May 2014
Shillong, Meghalaya

The Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), an anti-corruption and women’s rights organization, Shillong, is deeply concerned of widespread torture by police leading to deaths including deaths in custody and other similar human rights violations in Meghalaya. Ordinary people are often helpless in the hands of such criminalized policing in the state.

CSWO is informed by police personnel’s requesting anonymity that they are often instructed by their seniors to engage in inhumane methods of torture even to the extent of causing death and this causes stress in themselves and are forced to manipulations of evidences, forgery to cover the truth. CSWO has previously observed such trend in three different FIR copies in the case of Mr. Fullmoon Dhar who was killed in an fake encounter at Jaintia Hills in 2009 where the General Diary Entries numbers in all 3 FIR’s filed by police are different from the FIR copies provided by the State Government to the Jail Break Inquiry Commission, headed by retired High Court judge SP Rajkhowa.

The CSWO is concerned at the high frequency of arbitrary arrests on suspicion leading to torture, maiming, and death of people who are unlawfully detained or picked up in the state. One of the prime principles of criminal justice that holds an individual innocent till proved guilty is hardly followed by police personnels. Police plays the role of judge and jury for any person accused of a crime without giving any right to defend themselves. Police cannot have the right to pronounce punishments as it is not their duty.

It has been observed by CSWO that to collect evidence, police use force and methods of torture while they ignore complaints based on information obtained under right to information applications as it proves widespread corruption. Also in the name of investigation, police use verbal and nonverbal threats and torture for confessions for crimes they never committed. Police also threaten to harass by piling more cases on those who complain as observed in many cases.

In the case of recent custodial death of Mr. Balsan Marak, a 18 years old youth in Tura on May 20, CSWO observed that he was arrested and was taken for medical examination on 12 May 2014. However, police claims that he was arrested on 13 May.

Again on May 28, another person Mr. Witson M Sangma died in police custody at Chokpot of South Garo Hills and police claims that he died of hyper tension. Given the recent trend of custodial deaths in the state, it can be concluded that this claim is to cover up the evidences and to get away with murder. It is also been observed that there strong collusion between doctors and the police for providing manipulated medical reports to hide torture.

The CSWO will file appeals the Meghalaya High Court requesting sou motu cognizance of human rights violations by men in uniform and to call for a time bound CBI inquiry, so that the police force is made accountable. This will help in cleaning up the criminal justice system ensuring human dignity and right to life. Police should not be above the law. Rule of Law must prevail in law enforcement system as well.

For further information, please contact:
Ms. Agnes Kharshiing
Phone: +919436118164

Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-034-2014
Countries : India,
Issues : Corruption, Extrajudicial killings, Human rights defenders, Judicial system, Rule of law, Torture, Women's rights,