The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that an 11-year-old boy named Khokan Hembram died due to severe assault by Mr. Ujjal Laha and his hired goons who suspected him as a theft without any evidence in Dohali village, Sagardighi Police Station, Murshidabad District, West Bengal on 5 September 2004. It was reported that another two boys named Byasdev Dolui and Munna Das were also brutally beaten and are in bad condition. Mr. Ujjal Laha was practicing medicine on the pretext of being a qualified doctor, though he had no medical qualification from the Indian Medical Council, which is prerequisite for practicing medicine in India.
The Sagardighi police identified all the nine perpetrators but they only arrested the two among the nine. In particular, the main perpetrator Ujjal Laha walks outside freely without being arrested by the police even though his name is on the accused list. The villagers claim that he has bribed the police as he is a rich man of the village.
Your urgent action is required to pressure the local authorities to arrest all the perpetrators quickly and bring them to justice as soon as possible.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Name of the victims: 1) Khokan Hembram, about 11 years old, 2) Byasdev Dolui, about 10 years old, 3) Munna Das, about 10 years old (All the three belong to the scheduled tribes, Adivasi)
Alleged perpetrators: 1) Ujjal Laha, (main perpetrator), 2) nine goons hired by Ujjal Laha (already identified by the Sagardighi police)
Date of incident: 5 September 2004 from 11:00 am onwards
Place of incident: Dohali village, Sagardighi Police Station, Murshidabad District, West Bengal, India
Account of the incident:
Khokan Hembram (11), Byasdev Dolui (10) and Munna Das (10), who belong to Adivasi tribal community, are cow grazers and residents of Dohali village, Sagardighi Police Station, Murshidabad District, West Bengal, India. On 5 September 2004, the three boys went to graze their cattle in the open field as usual.
On previous day (September 4), Ujjal Laha, a quack doctor and rich man in Dohali village, lost Rs.1100/- (about US$ 25) from his chamber. He suspected these three boys of stealing the money and caught them in the open field with the help of his hired goons on the next day (September 5).
Ujjal Laha and his goons tied Khokan, Byasdev and Munna to a tree in the courtyard of the temple of goddess Muktakeshi in the village and began to assault them mercilessly. They brutally beat the boys and forced them to confess the theft. But the boys, according to the eve witness, never confessed the allegation but only cried out of pain and fear. This inhuman assault on the boys continued for four hours and Khokan Hembram eventually became unconscious and fell on the ground at around 4:00 p.m.
The goons took Khokan to a local primary health centre but when they arrived in the health care center they found that the boy had already succumbed to death. The goons then immediately fled away leaving Khokan¡¯s body on the veranda of the health centre. Later Khokan’s body was examined by the doctors and Khokan was declared dead. It is reported that the other two boys, Byasdev and Munna were also severely injured due to torture and are in bad condition.
The Officer- in- Charge (OIC) of the Sagardighi Police Station Mr. Sunil Pal stated that the police already knew the names of nine goons and would arrest all the perpetrators soon. Among the perpetrators, Swagatam Bandyopdhyay and Samu Adhikari who belong to upper caste Hindu Brahmin were arrested by the police. However, the police have not attempted to arrest the main perpetrator Ujjal Laha and he walks freely even though his name is on the accused list. The villagers alleged that he must have bribed the police as he is a rich man of the village.
After learning the death of Khokan, hundreds of Adivasi people gathered and protested in front of the Sagardighi Police Station calling for immediate arrest of all the perpetrators. On September 6, the tribal colony of Dohali village protested by not cooking in the houses until the perpetrators got punished.
The state of affairs shows that the policing in India is extremely vulnerable and it could be manipulated by the rich and wealthy according to their whims and fancy. The very fact that a rich person could hire people and take law and order into his hands indicates that the rule of law in the country has failed. Also, the fact that Mr. Ujjal Laha could walk freely without being arrested though he is a suspect in a crime of murder and criminal assault registered against him indicates how much the policing in the country has failed. As long as Mr. Ujjal Laha is free without being arrested there is every chance for the evidence in the case to be tampered and further the postmortem report being adulterated so as to facilitate an acquittal of the perpetrators in a criminal trial.
AHRC is deeply concerned by the police inaction in this case and strongly urges the local authorities to arrest the rest of the seven perpetrators as soon as possible. A proper and impartial postmortem on Khokan Hembram’s body should be conducted by a qualified doctor and the postmortem report should be accessible to the victim’s family and the public.
Please send a letter, fax or an email to the addresses below and express your concern about this case.
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Dear Sir,Re: INDIA: A young boy died and the other two boys severely injured by brutal torture
Name of the victims:
1) Khokan Hembram, about 11 years old, 2) Byasdev Dolui, about 10 years old, 3) Munna Das, about 10 years old (All the three belong to the scheduled tribes, Adivasi)Alleged perpetrators:
1) Ujjal Laha, an unlicensed doctor (main perpetrator), 2) nine goons hired by Ujja Laha (already identified by the Sagardighi police) Date of incident
: 5 September 2004 from 11:00 am onwardsPlace of incident:
Dohali village, Sagardighi Police Station, Murshidabad District, West Bengal, India
I am writing to bring to your attention the "police inaction" about the death of an 11-year-old boy Khokan Hembram and serious injury of the other two boys, Byasdev Dolui and Munna Das, who were inhumanly tortured by Ujjal Laha and his hired goons at Dohali village, Sagardighi Police Station, Murshidabad District, West Bengal, India on 5 September 2004. The three boys were tortured mercilessly for four hours by the above perpetrators on suspicion of stealing Rs.1100/- (about US$ 25) from Ujjal Laha's chamber without any crucial evidence.
After the incident, Sagardighi police identified all the perpetrators but they only arrested the two among the nine perpetrators. Especially the main perpetrator Ujjal Laha walks freely outside without being arrested by the police even though his name is on the accused list. The villagers alleged that Ujjal Laha bribed the police so he could escape from the punishment.
I strongly urge you to order immediate arrest of all the perpetrators who were involved in the torture of these three boys. I also urge you to ensure a proper and impartial postmortem on Khokan Hembram's body by a qualified doctor and to provide the report to the victim's family and the public. I further request you to inquire the allegation of the police inaction and bribery and to take appropriate action against the responsible officers. Lastly, I urge the government of India to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) without delay.
Thanks for your attention on this matter.
Send a letter to:
1. Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya
Chief Minister and Home Minister of West Bengal
Writers Buildings, Kolkata-1,
Fax: +91 33 2214 5480
2. Mr. Shyamal Kumar Dutta
Director General & Inspector General of Police
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings, Kolkata-1
Fax: +91-33-2214 4498 / 2214 5486
3. Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen
West Bengal Human Rights Commission
Fax: +91-33-2479 9633
4. Shri. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam,
President of India,
New Delhi -110001
Tel: +91 11 23015321
Fax: + 91 11 23017290 / 23017824
5. Justice A S Anand
National Human Rights Commission of India
Sardar Patel Bhawan, Sansad Marg
New Delhi - 110 001
Tel: +91 11 2334 0891 / 2334 7065
Fax: +91 11 2334 0016
6. Mr. Theo C. van Boven
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917-9016
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)