INDIA: Arbitrary arrest and extra-judicial killing by police personnel in Varanasi 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-081-2006
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from its local partner, the Peoples’ Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR), regarding human rights violations in Varanasi, India, at the hands of local police officers who act with complete impunity. In this latest incident Santosh Kumar Singh was forcibly and arbitrarily detained and later shot-dead by the police, who have labeled the killing a death by an ‘encounter’.

On 31 January 2006, at 10pm, Mr. Subedar Singh reported to PVCHR that his son, Mr. Santosh Kumar Singh (alias Sanjay Singh) had been forcibly arrested two hours earlier while buying vegetables in Pahadia. Mr. Subedar Singh suspected that his son would be killed by the police in an extra-judicial killing which would then be labeled as an encounter by the police. He requested that the PVCHR save his son’s life. The next morning local newspapers reported the death of the victim in an encounter with police.

The PVCHR has demanded that a First Information Report (FIR) be registered against Mr. Vivek Singh, the police officer in charge of Sarnath Police Station, under sections 302 and 368 of the Indian Penal Code. The victim’s father also lodged complaints with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the district magistrate of Varanasi and the Senior Superintendent of Police of Varanasi on 31 January, soon after his son was taken into custody. No action however, has been taken by any of the authorities.

It is important to note that this so-called ‘encounter killing’ is not an isolated case but rather a part of an increasingly common practice in India involving law enforcement agencies and the occurrence of extra-judicial killings (see UA-079-2006 and UA-003-2006). Likewise, the fabrication of FIRs by the police is also not uncommon (see also UA-145-2005).

This case, and others like it, describes a pattern of police brutality imposed upon the people of Varanasi leading to a general collapse in the rule of law. Rather than viewing law enforcers as those to seek protection from and those who uphold the law, citizens are increasingly seeing them as those to avoid and those most likely to break the law.  Such cases also reaffirm the AHRC’s observation that India lacks adequate mechanisms that can prevent police brutality and torture. India must criminalise torture and as the first step in the process must ratify the International Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. India has signed the convention but failed to ratify it on the pretext that the existing domestic mechanism is equipped in preventing torture and similar violence committed by law enforcement agencies. This case, and the other examples given, however, clearly demonstrate that it is not.


Please send a letter to Mr. Navneet Sikera, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi District Uttar Pradesh who is officially responsible to initiate inquiry and action in this case and to ensure that strong disciplinary and criminal action is taken against those police officers who arbitrarily detained and murdered the victim, and have falsified their reports regarding the events. We request that you please send copies to the other relevant authorities mentioned below.



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Dear Mr. Sikera

INDIA: Arbitrary arrest and extra-judicial killing by police personnel in Varanasi

Name of victim: Santosh Kumar Singh, alias Sanjay Singh, son of Subedar Singh, and resident of Anand Bihar Colony, Varanasi District
Name of alleged perpetrators:  Mr. Vivek Singh, Officer in Charge (OIC) of Sarnath police station and other officers under the command of the OIC, Sarnath police station, Varanasi District, Uttar Pradesh 
Date of incident:  31 January 2006
Place of incident: Sarnath Police Station, Varanasi District

I am writing to voice my concern about the continued abuses perpetrated by the police in Varanasi, which have, most recently, resulted in the arbitrary detention and murder of Mr. Santosh Kumar Singh.

I am shocked at the failure of the police to follow the guidelines of arrest and detention outlined by the Supreme Court in the D.K. Basu case, which are also included in the Criminal Code of Procedure; their failure to respect the fundamental rights given to all Indian citizens under the Indian Constitution; and their lack of concern for the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights, both of which India has ratified. The fundamental disrespect for human life the police have shown for the victim, and their willingness to disregard the rules of arrest and to falsify reports, points to a decay in the rule of law in Varanasi.

I therefore urge you to take immediate action to investigate the events surrounding the death of Mr. Santosh Singh, to ensure that all those police officers found responsible are prosecuted, and to ensure that compensation is provided to the victim’s family. I also urge you to take steps to ensure that the police in Varanasi display a greater understanding of their obligations to those under their protection, the people of Varanasi district, so that incidences such as this do not occur in the future.

Finally, I take this opportunity to remind the Government of India that its current domestic mechanisms lack the ability to prevent police brutality and torture. To remedy this, India must criminalise torture and as the first step in the process must ratify the International Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Until this is achieved, police brutality and torture will only continue to occur.

Yours sincerely,



Mr. Navneet Sikera
Senior Superintendent of Police
Varanasi District, Uttar Pradesh
Tel: +91 54 22502655, +91 98 3950 4898 (mobile)
Fax: +91 54 2250 1450


1. Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh 
Chief Minister's Secretariat 
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 
Fax: + 91 52 2223 0002 / 2223 9234

2. Justice A.P. Mishra 
Uttar Pradesh Human Rights Commission 
6-A Kalidass Marg 
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Tel: +91 52 2272 6742 
Fax: +91 52 2272 6743

3. Shri Justice A. S. Anand
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg 
New Delhi-110001
Tel: +91 11 23074448
Fax: +91 11 2334 0016

4. Mr. Philip Alston 
Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions 
Attn: Lydie Ventre 
Room 3-016, c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (general)

5. Ms Leila Zerrougui
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Attn: Mr Miguel de la Lama
1211 Geneva 10

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-081-2006
Countries : India,
Issues : Extrajudicial killings,