A 114-page report by the American NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has brought to attention the chilling magnitude of custodial deaths in India – with at least 591 people having died in police custody between 2012 and 2015, as per government figures. 97 of these deaths were in 2015 alone.
Many of the deaths, the NGO has suggested, have taken place under mysterious circumstances and involved brutal torture by police authorities. One must note that police torture is illegal in the country.
The infamous deaths of Khalid Muzaffar Wani – elder brother of Burhan Wani – in Kashmir (2015) and Agnelo Valdaris in Mumbai (2014) are just two among many cases that have been shrouded in mystery. The families of both the individuals have suspected brutal torture by the police that led to the deaths.
In such a scenario, where police torture is allegedly so commonplace, the NGO is pushing for a stricter implementation of existing provisions concerning arrest and custody, as well as formulating new reforms in the police system.
Jayshree Bajoria, a researcher with HRW, and Vikram Singh, a retired police officer, have suggested many changes in this regard, so as to bring in more accountability into the system – including mandating strict punishment for officers indulging in torture, reforming police structures and providing training to officials, and subjecting cases of custodial killings allegedly involving torture to judicial inquiry instead of magisterial inquiry.
Video Editor: Prashant Bhardwaj & Sandeep Suman