NEPAL: Custodial death of a Dalit from police torture in Kathmandu


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-082-2010
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Extrajudicial killings, Torture,

Dear friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Jagaran Media Center (JMC) in Nepal regarding the custodial torture and death of Mr. Sanu Sunar, aged 46 years, a person from Godavari, Lalitpur district. At the time of death Sunar was temporarily living in Kalanki, Nepal. The police officers from Kalimati Police Station arrested Sunar on 23 May 2010 and tortured him at the police station. It is reported that officers later took Sunar to the Bir Hospital, where he was declared dead by the evening of 25 May. 


According to the information we have received from the JMC, on 23 May 2010, the police arrested Sunar from Kalimati Chowk, following a complaint filed by Mr. Bishnu Kapri, a shopkeeper from Balaju Kathmandu. Bishnu alleged that Sunar robbed NRs. 25,000 from him. Earlier that day, Sunar had won NRs 25,000 playing cards, a fact confirmed by his wife, Gita Sunar. The police arrested Sunar when he was returning home in a taxi. 

The police also arrested the taxi driver and a person named Mr. Krishna Biswakarma who was travelling with Sunar. The police took the three men to Kalimati Police Station. The police later released the driver and Krishna but started interrogating Sunar. 

Following his arrest, the police called Gita and asked her to come to the police station. She reached the Kalimati Police Station at about 1pm and saw that three police officers were kicking and punching her husband while accusing him of theft by calling Sunar a ‘robber’. The police reportedly abused Gita using vulgar words when she asked them to stop beating her husband and threatened to torture her. Inspector Mr. Bhola Rawal is the officer in-charge of Kalimati Police Station, but his involvement in the incident is unknown. 

The police allowed Gita to talk to her husband for a short time and she went back to the police station the same day to check on her husband. This time, the police not only misbehaved with her but also snatched Gita’s mobile telephone from her. 

At around midnight on the same day, the police officers informed Gita that they had taken her husband to Bir hospital in Kathmandu. When she reached the hospital, she found her husband in a serious condition. “I fed snacks to my husband in the daytime and at night I found him in hospital bed in a critical condition barely breathing”, she said. 

According to a report prepared by the Advocacy Forum, a human rights organisation based in Kathmandu, soon after Gita had arrived at the hospital, her husband started vomiting blood. She reports having witnessed marks of torture on her husband’s hands, legs, face and other parts of body. 

Sunar was taken to Kathmandu Model Hospital at 1am, on 24 May, for a CT scan. The CT scan report mentioned serious brain hemorrhages which required urgent surgery. A surgery was conducted on Sunar at about 7.30am on the same day. In the evening of 25 May, Sunar was declared dead by the doctors at the Bir hospital. According to the doctors, the cause of the death was head injuries sustained by Sunar. 

[You can see the pictures (Caution-Graphic Picture!): Sunar’s earblue marks on Sunar’s dead bodySunar’s head injuries

When the case was reported to the public through various sources, the Chairperson of the National Dalit Commission, Mr. Bijul Kumar Bishwokarma; Constituent Assembly Member and JMC advisor Mr. Binod Pahadi; Dalit leader Mr. Padam Sundas and Maoists Newa State Committee Member Birat went to the Bir hospital. The team accused the police that they have framed a false case against Sunar to extort money from him. 

The police officers immediately arrested the complainant, Bishnu Kapri, and charged him with the murder of Sunar. However, the victim’s family and Bishnu’s family affirm that the police have arrested Bishnu to get away with the murder and to save the officers who killed Sunar. The police is also preventing the media and human rights activists and even Bishnu’s family from meeting him in custody. 


This is the third case of custodial death caused from police torture reported from Nepal this year. Earlier this year, the AHRC reported the case of a father and a son who also were killed inside the police station from torture after having ended in police custody on accusations of theft. This case was reported from Panchthar district. 

In Nepal torture is routinely practiced as a common and acceptable means to investigate a crime in almost every police station. The police officers torture suspects to obtain confession and also for demanding bribes and other illegal gratifications. The ordinary public is afraid to speak against this practice since they have no protection if by speaking the truth they offend any police officer. 

The situation is even worse when it comes to Dalits in Nepal. The discriminatory mindset of some non-Dalit police officers exposes Dalits to the risk of arbitrary arrest than the non-Dalits. It is often reported that when a Dalit is detained in custody, with or without substantial evidence against the person, the police officers accuse the person as a criminal even without any investigation. In other words, due to the caste based discrimination, police officers often view Dalits in custody as criminals, a feature the police seldom use against non-Dalits. This is because many police officers and members of the upper caste consider a Dalit’s life less valuable. 

In our previous urgent appeals we have regularly exposed the obstacles for torture victims in seeking justice. Please see UAU-015-2010UAC-025-2010 and UAC-020-2010 for recent examples of the difficulties encountered by torture victims who are seeking redress in a country in which torture is still not criminalised. In parallel to this trend, the AHRC has also regularly reported that Dalits seeking redress for violations of their rights have routinely faced discrimination at all levels in the justice system, starting from the moment they seek to register a complaint. Please see UAC-153-2009 and UAC-150-2009 for more details about the harassment and discouragement Dalits have to face to find redress in this impaired criminal justice system. 

At the intersection of those two chains of obstacles and malfunctioning of the justice system, the impunity of police officers who practice torture on detainees is even stronger when the detainees happen to be Dalit, therefore leaving Dalits extremely vulnerable to police abuses and torture since those who commit those violations are certain to be unpunished. 


Please send letters to the authorities named below demanding an investigation in the case. The police officers responsible for Sunar’s death must be punished. The government must also initiate steps to change the caste prejudiced mindset of the law enforcement officers, without which caste based discrimination will continue unabated in Nepal. 

The AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the Special representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stationed in Kathmandu seeking an intervention in the case. 

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________, 

NEPAL: The custodial death of a Dalit in Kathmandu must be investigated 

Name of victim: Sanu Sunar, 46 years old, resident of Kalanki, Kathmandu, Nepal 
Names of alleged perpetrators: Three police officers of Kalimati Police Station. Inspector Bhola Rawal was the officer-in-charge at the time of the incident. 
Date of incident: 23 to 25 May 2010 
Place of incident: Kalimati Police Station, Kathmandu, Nepal 

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding custodial torture and death of Mr. Sanu Sunar, aged 46 years. I am informed that Sunar died from injuries he sustained from police torture at Bir Hospital on 25 May 2010. The police arrested Sunar based on a complaint of theft on 23 May and tortured him in custody while he was detained at Kalimati Police Station. 

I am informed that the police arrested Sunar based on a complaint filed by Mr. Bishnu Kapri who accused that Sunar had robbed money from him. However, I am informed that Sunar had prevailed over Bishnu in a card game where Bishnu had lost NRs 25,000. The police arrested Sunar when he was returning home in a taxi along with another person named Krishna Biswakarma. The police have reportedly arrested the taxi driver, Krishna and Sunar together, took all the three men to the police station, later released Krishna and the taxi driver and held Sunar in custody. I am informed that the police then tortured Sunar for the entire day in custody accusing him that he is a robber. I am aware that Sunar’s wife Gita has witnessed the police torturing Sunar at the police station. 

Gita, Sunar’s wife came to the police station after being informed by the police that her husband is held in custody. At the police station she witnessed three police officers kicking and punching her husband while accusing him a robber. I am further informed that the police reportedly abused Gita with vulgar words and threatened to torture her when she asked the officers to stop beating her husband. When she went back to the police station later that day, the police not only misbehaved with Gita but also took her mobile phone. The telephone is still with the police who have illegally taken it from Gita. 

At around midnight on the same day, Gita was informed that her husband was taken to Bir Hospital. At the hospital Gita found her husband in a serious condition barely able to breathe. I am informed that Sunar was vomiting blood at the hospital. Gita has also noted marks of torture all over Sunar’s body including on his hands, legs and face. 

In the evening of 25 May, Sunar was declared dead by the doctors at the Bir hospital. The doctors involved in his treatment said that the cause of the death was the head injuries Sunar had sustained. Prior to his death, the doctors tried to save his life by way of a surgery conducted on his head. However, the surgery was unsuccessful. 

I am concerned to hear that instead of admitting their mistake, the police is trying to cover up their crime by arresting Bishnu Kapri, the original complainant on a charge of murder. I know that the police are preventing the media, human rights activists and Bishnu’s family from meeting him which constitutes a serious infringement of the right of the family members to meet their kin and of their right to information. 

I therefore urge the Government of Nepal to launch a thorough investigation in this case. To ensure an impartial and proper investigation, it is advisable that the investigating team comprises lawyers recommended by reputed human rights organisations like the JMC and the Advocacy Forum, as it was done in previous occasions in Nepal. The statement of the witnesses must be recorded immediately and protection provided to them until the trial is over. The police officers suspected of having involved in the case must be immediately suspended from active service. 

Additionally, the case filed against Bishnu Kapri must be immediately withdrawn and he released from custody. 

The impunity of the police officers who routinely torture accused or detainees must end in Nepal. 

Yours sincerely, 


1. Mr. Ramesh Chand Thakuri 
Inspector General of Police 
Police Head Quarters, Naxal 
Fax: +977 1 4415593 
Tel: +977 1 4412432 (Secretary to IGP) 

2. Dr. Bharat Bahadur Karki 
Attorney General 
Office of Attorney General 
Ramshahpath, Kathmandu 
Fax: +977 1 4262582 
Tel: +977 1 4262506 

3. Mr. Kedar Nath Upadhaya 
National Human Rights Commission 
Pulchowk, Lalitpur 
Fax: +977 1 55 47973 
Tel: +977 1 5010015 
E-mail: or 

4. Mr. Sarbendra Khanal 
Superintendent of Police 
Police HR Cell 
Nepal Police, Kathmandu 
Fax: +977 1 4415593 
Tel: +977 1 4411618 

5. Mr. Bhim Rawal, 
Home Minister, 
Ministry of Home Affairs, 
Singha Darbar, 
Fax: +977 1 42 11 232 
Tel: +977 1 4211211 / 4211264 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-082-2010
Countries : Nepal,
Campaigns : No Torture
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Extrajudicial killings, Torture,