Archive for the ‘Custodial death’ Category

Assam: Custodial death of Hasan Ali and death of Mohidul Islam in police firing

January 15, 2018

According to the newspaper reports, one Mohidul Islam, aged about 25 years, was killed due to police firing on 10 January 2017 in Darrang district of Assam. He was a part of people gathered to protest custodial death of one Hasan Ali (37).

Reports say, the police picked up Mr Hasan Ali from his house in Attakari No. 2 village in Doula locality under Darrang district on 9 January night on suspicion of possessing illegal weapons[1]. He was hale and hearty at the time. After a few hours in police lock up, he died. It is believed that he succumbed to torture inflicted on him by police to extract confession and information. After getting information of his death in police custody, people of the locality held a protest rally and then gathered in front of Daula Police Station at around 11 am on 10 January. The place is around 100 km away from Guwahati. According to reports, police tried to disperse the people by charging them with batons and tear gas. However, after a while they opened fire and killed Mr.Mohidul Islam and injured several others including one Mr Gulam Mustafa (60 years, and Ms Gul Rehana (14 years). The injured are admitted in the Guwahati Madical College and Hosipital.[2]  A passersby named Akbar Ali (25years), who was a specially-abled person, also sustained serious injuries and was admitted in Mongoldoi Civil Hospital. In chaos that ensued after opening fire on people, three police personal were also injured. [3]

Hasan Ali is survived by his wife and five children.  [4]

Photo of late Mohidul Haque shared on Facebook by one Mr Hussain Ahmed Madani

Photo of late Mohidul Islam shared on Facebook by one Mr Hussain Ahmed Madani

From the reports in the media it is apparent that police violated the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, held from 27 August to 7 September 1990 as well as other international human rights standards in use of force by police personnel and thus the state is responsible for the death of Mr. Mohidul Islam. In fact, in recent times using disproportionate force against protesting people has become a normalized in Assam. On 30 June 2017 one person named Md.Yakub Ali was killed police firing while participating in a protest rally against illegitimate inclusion of people as “D-Voters”. College students in Margheritha were beaten up with police sticks on September 19, 2017. Another similar use of disproportionate force was happened against peaceful protesters in Golaghat on December 19, 2017. In all these cases the victims are mostly people belonging to minority communities.

Deaths in such disproportionate use of force clearly amount to extra-judicial executions. This highhandedness of police is used to repress any legitimate protests against government policies and actions. This is systematic violations of not only right to freedom of speech and expression, right to freedom of assembly and right to freedom of association, but also the right to life.

As to the custodial torture and death, it is rampantly practiced in Assam as a normal course of investigating and combating crimes. This is despite the fact that a confession made to a police officer is not admissible as a evidence in court of law. India singed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment but yet to ratify. However, torture is prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other treatises to which India is a state party. Torture is also prohibited under the peremptory norms of international law.

Although India is yet to pass a specific legislation prohibiting torture absolutely, it is already prohibited by the Constitution, particularly Article 21.

Most importantly, de facto impunity provided by the state to accused law enforcement officials is most glaring. It defeats the rule of law.

In these both custodial death and the death, a magisterial inquiry under section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 should have been no such inquiry has been ordered. No FIR was registered against the perpetrators in both the incidents

BHRPC filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission praying, inter alia, for:

  1. A fair and impartial investigation by an independent body apart from the ordered police inquiry may be directed and ensured.
  2. The two-different investigation should be ordered, one in the custodial death of Mr. Hasan Ali and another in the killing of Mr. Moidul Islam.
  3. The ex-gratia amount of five lakh seems insufficient for the support of a family of six persons counting the expenses for the study of five of the deceased’s children. So, at least 10 lakh rupees must be paid to the next of kin of both the deceased as compensation.
  4. Compensation should also be paid to all other person who sustained injuries on that day.
  5. Long term measures should be taken to curb the torture and custodial death as well as disproportionate use of force resulting in death and injury of peaceful protesters.

For further details, please contact:

Taniya Laskar, Secretary General, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Silchar, Assam. Email: bhrpc.ne@gmail.com, Mobile:+919401616763


[1] 1killed, 8 hurt in Assam highway firing, The Telegraph, Jan 11,2018 retrieved on Jan 13,2018.

[2] Cops fire at mob protesting custody death in Assam, Times of India, Jan11,2018, retrieved on 13,2018.

[3] Ibid ,1.

[4]Govt. announces Rs. 5 lakhs for families of 2 men killed in Dhula. Indian Express, Jan 12th, 2018, retrieved on 13th Jan, 2018.

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Text of the Judicial Inquiry Report on torture and killing of Manorama Devi by the Assam Rifles

November 29, 2014

Thangjiam Manorama Devi was a Manipuri village girl who was brutally tortured and subjected to gruesome sexual violence before she was killed by a team of the para-military force Assam Rifles in 2004. The incident caused widespread outrage and anger and sparked public protest leading to a judicial inquiry into the matter. The report of the inquiry was never made public until this year when the Supreme Court of India asked for it in connection with hearing on a PIL seeking probe into custodial deaths in the north-east States. The report exposes the Assam Rifles efforts to cover up the incident by lodging false FIRs and trying to avoid inquiry by unjustifiably invoking the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958.

Thangjam Khuman Leima Devi, mother of Thangjam Manorama, at her residence in Imphal in 2004.

Thangjam Khuman Leima Devi, mother of Thangjam Manorama, at her residence in Imphal in 2004.

Here are a few highlights of the report as prepared by Krishnadas Rajagopal and published in The Hindu:

She was found dead with multiple gun shot injuries on her private parts and thighs at Ngariyan Yairipok Road, hardly two km away from a police station, states the report.

The judicial inquiry report on the murder of Thangjam Manorama, a Manipuri girl, in 2004, handed over to the Supreme Court recently after being kept under wraps for over a decade, reveals the “brutal and merciless torture” by a 17 Assam Rifles team.

The murder gave renewed impetus to calls for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

After a decade of remaining under wraps, the report by the Judicial Inquiry Commission graphically reveals the last hours of “brutal and merciless torture” Manipuri village girl, Thangjam Manorama, suffered at the hands of a team from the 17th Assam Rifles before she was shot dead.

The Manorama case led to widespread protests against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and spurred calls for a review of the law, especially by the Justice J.S. Verma Committee in 2013.

The report, submitted to the State government way back in December 2004, was never made public.

This week, the government handed it over to the Supreme Court. The court had demanded it as part of a hearing on a PIL seeking probe into custodial deaths in the north-east States.

“This is one of the most shocking custodial killing of a Manipuri village girl,” C. Upendra Singh, retired District and Sessions Judge, Manipur, who was Chairman of the Commission, wrote.

He describes how Manorama was picked up by “a strong-armed troops of 17th Assam Rifles” in the night between July 10-11, 2004 from her home in Imphal East District. She was found dead with multiple gun shot injuries on her private parts and thighs at Ngariyan Yairipok Road, hardly two km away from a police station.

The report details how the incidents of the night started with her younger brother, Thangjam Basu, watching the Hindi film Raju Chacha half past midnight, heard some noise outside. Within the next few minutes, the Assam Rifles party crashed into the house. The report said that Manorama, who was “clutching on to her mother Khumaleima”, was dragged out screaming “Ima Ima Khamu (mother, mother please stop them)”.

The report said she was tortured on her front porch, as the family watched. It said how Basu remembers hearing his sister’s “muffled and dimmed voice saying Ie Khangde (do not know)” to the troops’ questions. It said the men then took her away to “places”.

The report said that the two FIRs filed by the 17th Assam Rifles claimed she led them to recover Kenwood and Chinese grenades and an AK 47 rifle. It said she tried to escape and was shot in the legs. The FIRs claimed she had bled and died.

The Commission report blamed the police for leaving the investigation to the “discretion and mercy” of the Assam Rifles. It narrated how the Assam Rifles had invoked the AFSPA with the Enquiry Commission.

Mr. Singh said he countered that his enquiry was only a fact-finding exercise, and sanction under Section 6 of AFSPA would only come later when the personnel is found to have done wrong.

The Commission said not a single one of the 16 bullets fired at Manorama hit her legs. The report called the escape story a “naked lie.”

The report said most of the injuries would reveal that she was shot when “helpless”. It said some injuries suggest sexual assault too. The Commission had examined 37 witnesses.

Download full text of the report here.

Custodial death of Ajijur Rahman and the situation that led to his death

July 19, 2012

BHRPC report on efforts of effecting communal division, riots and custodial death in the aftermath of “conversion and second marriage” of Dr Rumee Nath

An aged person named Mr Ajijur Rahman was picked up from his residence at Kalain under the Katigorah police station in the district of Cachar (Assam) by a raiding police team led by Mr Y T Gyatsu, a probationary Indian Police Service (IPS) officer posted as Additional Superintendent of Police at the Cachar police headquarters at Silchar in the night between 6 and 7 July 2012 and was tortured to death in the lock-up of Kalain police patrol post.

The police team was conducting raids to arrest some persons who were accused or suspects of creating mischief and rioting on and after 4 July in Kalain area. The law and order situation of the area deteriorated due to a call of general strike by the Hindu Jagaran Mancha in protest against alleged police harassment of youths belonging to their community who were suspected of being parts of the mob that assaulted Dr. Rumee Nath and her ‘husband’ on 29 June at Karimganj for her ‘conversion and marriage’ with the Muslim boy. The Mancha was also reportedly protesting against the protests of the supporters of Dr. Nath.

The report:

After the incident the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) formed a fact finding team comprising of 1. Mr. Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, 2. Mr Sadique Mohammed Laskar, 3. Mr Raju Barbhuiya, 4. Mr Nirmal Kumar Das, 5. Mr Aftabur Rahman Laskar, 6. Ms S Sarmila Singha and 7. Mr Abdul Wakil Choudhury to find out the factors and the situation that led to the death of Ajijur Rahman. The team visited Kalain area on 14 July and met family members and relatives of the victim, victims of rioting and their family and relatives and respectable citizens of the area including president, secretary and members of Kalain Bazaar committee Mr Sukhendu Kar, Mr Karunamoy Dey, Mr Asit Baran Deb and others. The fact finding team also visited the Kalain police patrol post and talked with the officer-in-charge Sub-Inspector of police Mr Anowar Hussain Choudhury and some constables. This report is based on the information collected by the team.

The victim:

The victim Mr Ajijur Rahman was aged about 60 years and a permanent resident of village Boroitoli Part-I, Kalain under Katigorah police station and was respected as a senior local businessman. The place, where his house situates, borders with three villages of Boroitoli, Brahmangram and Lakhipur. He was the head of his family which comprised of his 5 sons Mr Fariz Uddin (aged 42), Mr Sarif Uddin (39), Mr Selim Uddin (30), Mr Nazim Uddin (26), and Mr Mahim Uddin (20), 4 daughters Ms Anowara Begum (32), Ms Monowara Begum (aged 24 and unmarried), Ms Reena Begum  (aged 18 and unmarried), Ms Runa Begum  (aged 15 and unmarried), his wife Ms Saleha Khatun (55) his mother aged about 80 years and the children of his sons. It is a big joint family of people of three generations living together. It appeared that the family belongs to the emergent lower middle class of Bengali Muslims in Barak valley (South Assam).

 

Place:

Kalain is situated at a distance of about 40 kilometres from Silchar towards west and is a growing semi-urban area serving as a local business centre for the entire West Cachar region. The population of Bengali speaking Hinuds and Muslims are almost equal in number. Hindus have been living mostly nearby the market. Beside these two religious communities, some other people belonging to Manipuri, Bishnupria and Hindi speaking communities are also living in the outskirts. According to the local residents, people of Kalian belonging to different communities have been living harmoniously and in peace and love with each other for times immemorial. However, there were small quarrels and even fighting at times between people belonging to different communities but they were of personal nature and the religions of the parties have had nothing to with them.

Incident:

A huge police team led by Mr Y T Gyatsu raided the house of Mr Ajijur Rahman at about 12.30 in the night intervening between 6 and 7 July. They first cordoned off the house from all sides and then knocked at the doors. The inmates of the house were fast asleep. At the sound of heavy knocks Mr Ajijur Rahman got up and opened the door. A big number of police personnel including a lady constable remained outside the house and four/five of them including Mr Gyatsu went into the house. They asked for Mr Nazim Uddin who was not home at that time. In fact, no other male members of the family were present in the house since they were in hiding. The able male members of all families of the area were hiding themselves in apprehension of indiscriminate arrest and harassment by police in the wake of the rioting. As an aged person Mr Rahman did not feel the need to hide himself.

The police team made all female members to go out of the house and they conducted a search for Mr Nazim Uddin in all rooms including kitchen and bathrooms in vain. They demanded of Mr Ajijur Rahman to tell them the whereabouts of his son or they would send him in jail in place of his son. When he pleaded ignorance of whereabouts of his son Mr Gyatsu hurled a torrent of verbal abuse and started assaulting him. He demanded that Mr Rahman would have to take his son to the police patrol post before 6am. Mr Rahman told that he would not be able to do so since he did not know where his son is and latter’s mobile phone was also off. At that Mr Gyatsu started boxing his ears and the back of his head while dragging him. Member of the raiding police team constable Mr Badrul Islam Barbhuiya, Ms Reena Begum, daughter of Mr Rahman and other eye witnesses told the BHRPC team that Mr Gyatsu did not let the old man to wear even a top under garment. The old man cried and pleaded with Mr Gyatsu not to take him to the police station as he was to go to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Haj pilgrimage. His wife and daughters also wept uncontrolably and urged the police officers to spare the old man at least for the sake of God since he did not know anything about incidents of 4 July. These beseeching of the helpless was not heeded.

Mr. Mahibur Rahman[1], a neighbour and cousin of Mr Ajijur Rahmn, told the BHRPC team that when he heard of the cries of wife and daughters of the latter he went there and saw that the police was taking him with them. He then sneaked to house of other neighbours Mr. Taj Uddin[2] and Mr. Shahid Uddin[3] and awakened them. They were to move silently since they were themselves very afraid of the police and a prohibitory order under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 was also in force. Three of them stood at the front side of a house[4] at a distance of about 20 metres from the patrol post to witness what was happening to the old man there. According to them, from that place everything was clearly visible since the doors and windows of the patrol post house were wide open and electric lights were on. They stated that they saw Mr Ajijur Rahman was seated on a red plastic chair. They inferred from the gestures of the police personnel and Mr Rahman that they were talking. Then two personnel coming from two sides kept his thighs in tight grip in a way that rendered Mr Rahman unable to move. And then another police personnel dressed like a higher officer and in his facial and physical features resembling to a tribal man came and placing his one grip at the chin and another on the head twisted the head of Mr Ajijur Rahman with tremendous force. It seemed that the body of Mr Rahman became motionless and loose and his head leaned at the side at which his head was left by the officer. This is also corroborated by Mr Taj Uddin and Mr Shahid Uddin.

According to the police personnel posted at the Kalain patrol post with whom the BHRPC team talked, there were two police officers there at the time who more or less look like tribals. One is Mr Y T Gaytsu and another is Mr L Saikia, the Deputy Superintendent of Police. It appears that the person who twisted the head of Mr Ajijur Rahman is either Mr Gyatsu or Mr Saikia.

According to the above mentioned eye witnesses, after the assault of the officer all people in the patrol post got agitated and a hullabaloo ensued. Two personnel lifted Mr Ajijur Rahman as if they were lifting a dead body and put him in a vehicle which then went away. It was at about 2am.

Mr. Mahibur Rahman further stated that a certain person named Mr AJijur Rahman Khan called him up on his cell phone and informed that a person of his name from Boroitoli was brought to the Kalain Community Health Centre and the physician in-charge of the hospital Dr Sumon Bhomik advised to take him to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital as he could not feel his pulse. Circumstances strongly indicate that Mr Ajijur Rahman  was brought dead and he died due to twisting of his head.

After that the family, relatives and neighbours of Mr Ajijur Rahman tried to find out what happened to him during the remainder of the night and in the morning some of them went to the SMCH and came to know about the death of Mr Rahman with help from local member of Assam Legislative Assembly Mr Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya. Autopsy of the body was conducted at the SMCH on 7 July and was handed over to the relatives of the deceased. After performing last rites Mr. Ajijur Rahman was laid to rest on the next day.

The local people were concerned that the post mortem report might not reflect the true causes of death and material facts might be suppressed since the autopsy in India is conducted in a very unscientific, legally improper and unreliable way. Usually someone engaged in manual scavenging cuts the body at the direction of a surgeon who stands at a safe distance and looks at the body from there. The surgeon does not touch the body or examine it otherwise. From that distance he makes a guess and writes down the cause of death based on the guess. In cases of custodial deaths the body remains under the custody and absolute control of the police since before the death until the autopsy report is prepared.

Observing such appalling conditions of autopsy procedure the National Human Rights Commission of India issued guidelines to the states as well as the central government calling for their immediate action to address the lack of transparency while dealing with deaths in custody. The Commission recommended video recording of the inquest as well as the post-mortem of the victim. The Commission has even recommended using a standardised ‘post-mortem examination report form’ by the forensic surgeons. These recommendations however have not been implemented in India in their letter and spirit. Sometimes the procedures may be recorded but the report is not prepared as per the recommended guidelines.

Sharing the concerns of the local people the BHRPC instantaneously on 7 July wrote a letter to the District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police and Superintendent of the SMCH enclosing the NHRC guidelines and urging them to conduct the autopsy as per the guidelines.

The DM also ordered an inquiry into the incident of death to be conducted an executive magistrate. People are of the opinion that it is nothing but an attempt to cover up the case and save the guilty officers and personnel. Executive magistrates are not independent judicial authorities. They are servants of the government and exercise quasi-judicial powers. They usually do not record evidence before the other parties and give parties opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses of the other party in violations of universally recognised rules of judicial procedure. There are reasons, therefore, to believe that their inquiry may not be objective and impartial.

The Parliament of India keeping in view of the lacunae in law regarding inquiry into the deaths in police custody incorporated a subsection (1A) in section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 by section 18 (ii) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act, 2005 providing for an inquiry by a judicial magistrate in addition to the inquiry or investigation held by the police. Although the BHRPC reminded the DM of this mandatory provision it was ignored.

The widow of late Ajijur Rahman filed a complaint at the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Cachar on 7 July 2012 under section 302, 506 and 34 of the IPC against Mr Y T Gyatsu and other police personnel. The complaint was sent to the Katigorah Police Station for registration and investigation. It was registered and assigned a case number vide Katigorah PS Case No. 291/12. The Officer-in-Charge of the police station entrusted a Sub-Inspector of police with the task of investigation. There are reasons to suspect the objectivity and impartiality of the investigation officer because he is working under the very persons who have been named as accused in the case.

Background:

As mentioned above, the police team that picked up Mr Ajijur Rahman was conducting raids to arrest some persons who were accused or suspects of creating mischief and rioting on and after 4 July in Kalain area. The law and order situation of the area deteriorated due to a call of general strike by the Hindu Jagaran Mancha in protest against alleged police harassment of youths belonging to their community who were suspected of being parts of the mob that assaulted and brutally beaten up Dr. Rumee Nath and her ‘husband’ on 29 June at Karimganj for her ‘conversion and marriage’ with the Muslim boy. The Mancha was also reportedly protesting against the protests of the supporters of Dr. Nath.

After the call of “bandh” (strike) on 4 July was given by the Mancha some groups in different areas of Barak valley issued a counter call to the people not to observe the bandh because, according to them, frequent strikes are harmful for the business and economy. These groups are thought to be the supporters of Dr Nath. In the morning of 4 July activists of the Mancha went to different parts of the valley to enforce the strike. One of such groups came to Kalain bazaar where they faced resistance from others who wanted the market to function normally.

The bazaar committee, a committee of shop keepers having shops at Kalain, intervened and a tripartite meeting was held among the opposers and supporters of bandh and the committee. The committee offered a compromise proposal after talk with both the parties that the shops could remain closed till 12 noon and then the shops could be opened. Though there were indications of acceptance by both the parties but it could not be finalised as some people of both the parties were adamant in their stands. The members of the committee went to their homes giving up hope of any settlement.

According to the information gathered by the BHRPC, after break down of talks when supporters of the bandh were trying to enforce it forcibly the police raised a barricade and kept most of them outside the barricade. However, they were trying to break the barricade unsuccessfully. With times the situation became very tense. At about 11.30am a mob of Muslim youths came with bamboo sticks and attacked anyone belonging to Hindu communities including shop-keepers and members of the bazaar committee. To face the attack many youths of Hindu communities also came out with sticks. A fight between the communities ensued. Stones were pelted from both sides. Some cycles and motor cycles were burnt down. About 18 people were wounded. They were 1. Mr Sunil Mandal, 2. Mr Sushil Deb, 3. Mr Sumon Deb, 4. Mr Pronit Deb, 5. Mr Sukhendu Kar, 6. Mr Jamal Uddin, 7. Mr Deepak Podder, 8. Mr Titu Baishnob, 9. Mr Buddha Deb Roy, 10. Mr Manna Deb, 11. Mr Sumit Shulkabaidhya, 12. Mr Badrul Islam Barbhuiya, 13. Mr Ranjit Deb, 14. Mr Khalil Uddin, 15, Mr Moin Uddin, 16. Mr Kamrul Haque, 17. Mr Debabrata Paul, 18. Mr Monsur Uddin and others. First six persons sustained serious injuries. Three reporters who went there to cover the situation were also caught in the fight between two communities and received injuries.

According to the local people, had the administration handled it efficiently the situation could be brought under control and the fighting and resulting injuries could have been averted. Executive magistrate Ms Khaleda Sultana Ahmed, DSP (probationary) Mr Iftikar Ali and in-charge of Kalain police patrol post Mr Anowar Hussain Choudhury were present. They failed to handle the mob frenzy. People felt they could take measures including lathi charge and tear gas fire. These measures could disperse the mob. Due to the inability of the authorities to take decisions the fighting intensified.

Towards the evening Additional District Magistrate Mr Borenya Das went to Kalain with a force of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and ordered the police to charge the mob with sticks and fire of tear gas. The mob then got dispersed. The district administration then issued a prohibitory order under section 144 of the CrPC. The situation slowly came under control.

The police registered cases against many named and unnamed suspects who were accused of involvement in fighting on 4 July and started conducting raids of the houses of the people living there to arrest the suspects. It was one of such raids during which Mr Ajijur Rahman was picked up by the police and tortured him to death.

Controversy over ‘conversion and marriage’:

Apart from the mob hysteria that drove the mobs of both communities at that moment, this communal clash resulted from efforts of communalisation of ‘conversion and second marriage’ of Dr. Rumee Nath, encouragement and provocation of youths by a minister of Assam government to take law in their hands and beat up anyone who enters into inter-religious marriage.

Dr. Nath is a Member of Legislative Assembly of Assam (MLA) elected from Borkhola constituency in Cachar district holding ticket from the Congress party. She was earlier also elected from the same constituency as a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from which she later defected. She has been married with Mr. Rakesh Singh of Lucknow of Uttar Pradesh and from him she has a girl child who is about 2 years old. It was reported that their matrimonial relation has not been going well for some months.

In the month of April she reportedly got ‘converted into Islamic religion’ and ‘married’ one Jakir Hussain (also known as Jakey) of Badarpur under Karimganj district apparently as per Islamic rules. However, it is reported that the ‘conversion and marriage’ took place in the same sitting. Many Muslim clerics maintained that the marriage was invalid for it was solemnised before observing iddat period of three months and therefore her first marriage was subsisting. Validity of her conversion was also under question mark as it was tainted with motives that were not entirely pious. Most intellectuals of the valley also did not take her ‘conversion and second marriage’ pleasantly. According to them, her actions were immature, improper and not befitting of a public figure.

Her first husband filed a case against her and her ‘second husband’ under section 494, 497, 498 and others of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 accusing her of bigamy, (accusing her second husband of) adultery, enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman. She also filed case against her first husband alleging domestic violence.

The BHRPC maintained that right to get converted into any religion is a part of the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the constitution of India. Per se inter-religious and inter-caste marriages are also recognised by the Special Marriage Act, 1955 and such marriage should be encouraged as they can promote harmonious communal co-existence and secularism. However, in case of Dr. Nath the things are a little different. She was a married woman with a two years old child. Bigamy or living with another person as man and wife during the subsistence of earlier marriage prima facie amount to offence against the institution of marriage. Abandoning a 2 year old child is cruelty on the child and violation of child rights. These grievances against her could be legitimately vented through legal means and judicial process and which was what her first husband resorted to.

However, some groups including the Hindu Jagaran Mancha exerted themselves to blow it out of all proportion. They conjured up spectre of ‘love jihad’ and started campaign against inter-religious and inter-caste marriages, friendship between girls and boys belonging to different communities and even resorted to vigilantism by raiding parks, restaurants and other public places in search of inter-religious couples and friends and beating them up. Ostensibly this group received encouragement from political leaders who were interested in diving people in religious lines and diverting the attention of the people from the real issues of starvation deaths, corruption, miserable conditions of rural and urban roads and the national highways, human rights violations by police and armed forces etc.

A very influential politician of the ruling congress party in Assam Mr Gautom Roy, Minister for Public Health and Engineering (PHE), at a public function organised to mark 3 years of Assam government issued a call to the public to beat up any boy who marries a girl from a different community and to hand over the girl to her guardians. Provoked and encouraged by this call a mob of more than one hundred youths attacked Dr Nath and her ‘second husband’ at about 10pm on 29 June 2012 at Hotel Nakshatra in Karimganj where she was staying for the night after visiting her constituency. Both of them were brutally assaulted, and according to her, attempts were also made to rape her. After hours a police team rescued them in serious conditions. They were rushed to Guwahati for treatment.

The BHRPC could not confirm any direct links of the minister with the attack on Dr Nath and the mob that attacked her. But it is obvious that his call to beat up such couples definitely encouraged the mob. The comment of the minister is not only against the established constitutional canons of the land and principles of human rights but also a provocation to breach the public order and a call towards further lawlessness and jungle raj. Any person including a minister may disagree with any law and in such cases he should propose repeal or amendment of the law if he is sincere in his opinions. A minister who is part of the party that rules at the central and state governments should have proposed amendment of Article 14, 21 and 25 of the constitution and the Special Marriage Act, 1955 if he sincerely thought that conversion and inter-religious marriages are undesirable. By provoking youths he betrayed his motives.

The attack on Dr Nath is a manifestation of desperate reactions of patriarchy and its interests against the empowerment of women and empowered women. These are attacks on expression of moral agency in women. She was abused and attacked only because she was a woman.

Conclusion:

It is found that Mr Ajijur Rahman was the latest victim of inhumanity and brutality of the police which they sometimes without any rhymes and reasons unleash on the very people for whose protection they are being paid. His son Mr Nazim Uddin might be an accused or suspect and his arrest might also be necessary in the situation. But it is absolutely illegal to take his father into custody to be used as bait for the son. Moreover, the torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to which he was subjected and which allegedly caused his death are not only illegal but also inhuman and barbarous.

It is also found that groups of people who have vested interest in communal divisions among the people created controversy around ‘conversion and second marriage’ of Dr Rumee Nath and engaged in a communal campaign. It polarised some people in religious lines and created tensions in Barak valley.

Provocative and ant-constitutional statement of Minister Gautom Roy encouraged the mob of the male dominated society to attack Dr Nath, a woman who represents more than 1 million people in the law-making body of the state and her ‘second husband’.

The alleged police harassment of youths and inefficient investigation of the attack case and efforts of forcible enforcement of strikes led to the fighting between the communities at Kalain; communal mass hysteria of some Muslims youths of Kalain and inefficient handling of the situation by the  authorities present there led to the fighting between the communities resulting in injuries of many innocent people; insensitivity to human rights of the people and reliance on illegal means and torture during investigation by the police resulted in the death of Mr Ajijur Rahman.

Recommendations:

The BHRPC recommends to the authorities including the Central government of India and government of Assam to take following actions:

To the Government of Assam:

  1. To conduct a prompt and objective judicial inquiry into the death of Ajijur Rahman and the circumstances that led to his death;
  1. To cause the investigation of the case of custodial death of Mr Ajijur Rahman to be conducted by a team led by an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police of the Crime Investigation Department of Assam police;
  1. To pay an ex-gratia of an adequate amount to the next of kin of Mr Ajijur Rahman;
  1. To hand over the investigation of mob attack on Dr Rumee Nath to the Central Bureau of Investigation of Delhi Police as name of a minister of Assam government is involved in the incident;
  1. To amend the Assam Police Act, 2007 to bring it in conformity with the directions of the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh and others Vs. Union of India and others case;
  1. To separate investigation wing and maintenance of law and order wing of Assam police completely;
  1. To train the officers and other personnel of Assam police in following human rights laws while tackling riots and dealing with mobs; and
  1. To take any other actions needed for protection of human rights of the people.

To the Central Government of India:

  1. To ensure a prompt and impartial inquiry by a judicial authority into the death of Ajijur Rahman, communal fighting and mob attack on Dr. Rumee Nath;
  1. To ensure that the investigation of the case of custodial death of Mr Ajijur Rahman is conducted by a team led by an officer of rank of Superintendent of Police of the Crime Investigation Department of Assam police;
  1. To ensure  payment of ex-gratia of an adequate amount to the next of kin of Mr Ajijur Rahman;
  1. To ensure the investigation of mob attack on Dr Rumee Nath to the Central Bureau of Investigation of Delhi Police as name of a minister of Assam government is involved in the incident;
  1. To repeal the colonial Police Act of 1861 and enact a police act as per directions of the Supreme Court of India issued in Prakash Singh and others Vs. Union of India and others case;
  1. To enact the Communal Violence Bill after further consultation with the civil society;
  1. To enact the Prevention of Torture Bill after further consultation with civil society;
  1. To enact a law providing for adequate reparation and rehabilitation of the victims of human rights violations by the state agencies and their families after consultation with the civil society; and
  1. To take any other appropriate actions required for protection of human rights of the people.

For any clarification and more information please contact:

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Director, Legal Affairs

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Cell: +919401942234

Email: wali.laskar@gmail.com


[1] Mr. Mahibur Rahman, aged about 50, son of Haji Haroos Ali, resident of Lakhipur Part-I, Kalain, Katigorah, Cachar.

[2] Mr. Taj Uddin, aged about 44, son of late Abdul Barik of Boroitoli Part-I

[3] Mr Shahid Uddin,  aged about 25, son of late Abdul Wahab Barbhiuya of Brahmangram.

[4] The house belongs to one Mr Mainul Haque. They did not awake him lest the police know about any movements.

 

 

 

NHRC seeks report on extra-judicial killings in Manipur

June 6, 2012

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notices to the secretary, ministry of home affairs of the government of India, district magistrate and district superintendent of police of Ukhrul district of North East Indian state Manipur asking for a report on the alleged torture and the extrajudicial killing of three indigenous Meitei people in a staged encounter by the personnel belonging to 23rd Assam Rifles (AR) under the command of Major Hanuman near Maphou Dam, Nongdam village of Ukhrul.

After registering a case on a complaint filed by the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee based on the information received from Manipur based human rights organization Centre for Organisation Research & Education (CORE), the NHRC issued the notice.

The information provided by the CORE reveals that on 8 May 2012, Major Hanuman (then Captain) of 23rd Assam Rifles, a aramilitary force of the central government of India, approached and requested Mr Laishram Shyamkishore, 70 years old village elder of Tunukhong Awang Leikai, Imphal East District, Manipur, to persuade his son, Mr Laishram Nobin (alias Khuman) and his son’s friends to surrender themselves and live in peace. Shyamkishore considered the possibility and secretly made arrangements for his son to surrender himself before the state authorities. It was reported that, at the instruction and arrangement of Maj. Hanuman, Shyamkishore accompanied his son to the meeting place where Nobin was supposed to surrender himself. This meeting did not materialise.

On 9 May 2012 at 7.30am, Shyamkishore, his son and two friends met Maj. Hanuman at Hidalok, which was approximately half a kilometer away from the bus stop at Loupheng village near Maphou Dam under Litan Police Station. They were wearing track suits (civilian clothing). Shyamkishore witnessed the three men hand over an M-16 rifle, one Lethode gun, 50 live rounds of ammunition and three Lethode bombs as a symbol of formal surrender to the 23rd AR. Maj. Hanuman expressed happiness at their peaceful surrender and asked Shyamkishore to return home in peace and Shyamkishore returned home that same morning.

On 10 May 2012, local dailies reported that three underground suspects had been shot to death in an encounter with 23rd AR personnel. The conflict was stated to have lasted an hour and to have been near Chadong Tangkhul village under Litan Police Station around 11am. The 23rd AR personnel were reported to have found the three dead bodies in the aftermath of the encounter. The force also recovered an M-16 with a grenade launcher, magazine and 55 live rounds, one 9mm carbine, magazine with three live rounds, one Lethode gun with three rounds and one fire case, one carry bag and one ammunition pouch. The 23rd AR also issued a statement claiming the deceased had been active in and around Maphou Dam, engaging in extortion and deliberately interfering with the construction of the Dam. The three bodies were handed over to the Litan Police Station.

According to the information, Shyamkishore became suspicious and anxious when he received news of the “encounter”. He immediately went to the Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) Imphal morgue and was shocked to discover the bodies of his son and the two other men he had convinced to surrender to the 23rd AR the previous day. He was further surprised to find that the bodies were not in the dress the three men had been in just the previous morning. Instead of the track suits (civilian clothing), the three men were fitted out in camouflage fatigues. An examination of the bodies further revealed evidence of severe torture. Mr Irengbam Roshan’s body had been badly mutilated; his genitals had been crudely removed. One of Mr Ningthoujam Ingocha’s eyeballs had also been gouged out.

Manipur

North east Indian state of Manipur

The CORE further stated that “Shyamkishore believed he was doing the right thing for the sake of the community, for justice and peace and for his son’s future when he reasoned with the three men to turn themselves in. He probably prevailed on them to do so out of their trust in and respect for Shyamkishore. The three men were ready to submit themselves to the law, to surrender also their weapons and to be held in custody; this also required respect for and immense faith in the judicial system. What was so particularly perverse was that Shyamkishore was instead unknowingly made complicit in his own son’s torture and murder, and the murder of his son’s friends. This utter betrayal by the very people who should be moral exemplars to civil society should trouble and grieve the Central Government over and beyond the dubious methods employed by the AR personnel, because the motivation, means and ends of law enforcement have been polluted by impunity and fear of such.”

After registering the complaint as case No. 66/14/13/2012-PF, the NHRC considered the matter on 24 May 2012 and passed an order saying “Transmit the complaint to Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India and DM and SP, Ukhrul district, Imphal calling for an action taken report within two weeks.”

 

6 June 2012

Guwahati, Assam

Constructive engagement elusive at India’s Second UPR at the UN

May 31, 2012

India dodged recommendation for repeal of AFSPA

New Delhi, May 29, 2012 – India’s human rights record was reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) under the mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 24 May 2012 in Geneva. The review was marked by a general lack of acceptance of human rights challenges in the country and a mere reiteration of domestic laws, policies and Constitutional provisions by the Government of India (GoI). Regrettably, the answers of the government did not address critical issues related to gaps in implementation of laws and enjoyment of rights, with India’s Attorney General (who led the government delegation) stating in his opening address that, “India has the ability to self-correct”. According to Miloon Kothari, Convenor of the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR): “By employing a defensive and largely selfrighteous position at the HRC, GoI has, at least in its initial response at the HRC, once again lost the opportunity to constructively engage with the UN human rights system and in accepting the enormous human rights challenges it is faced with.”

Of the eighty countries which participated in India’s UPR – a peer-review process of the human rights record of all UN member states – many reiterated the recommendations made during India’s first UPR in 2008 to ratify the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention against Enforced Disappearances (CED). GoI accepted both recommendations four years ago but they have remained unfulfilled. On the question of torture, GoI referred to the Prevention of Torture Bill (PTB), which is pending before Parliament, without commenting on the non-compliance of the PTB with CAT’s definition of torture. WGHR regrets that GoI left many questions unanswered, including desisting from commenting on the ratification of CED.

WGHR is also disturbed thatIndiadodged the recommendations for repeal and review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by referring to the Supreme Court’s upholding of its constitutionality and by citing Army’s human rights cell as a redressal mechanism. Ms. Vrinda Grover, human rights lawyer and member of WGHR, expressed serious concerns at GoI’s misleading response to the HRC, which camouflaged the systematic impunity enjoyed by armed forces for human rights abuse in the Northeast of the country and Kashmir: “The refusal and reluctance of GoI to squarely address the issue of impunity under AFSPA, in spite of numerous recommendations by international bodies, government appointed committees and UN Special Rapporteurs is unacceptable in a country that proclaims to be the largest democracy in the world.”

Strong recommendations were made toIndiaon the need to impose a de jure moratorium on the death penalty. The government’s response, that simply cited its de facto policy of awarding death penalty in the ‘rarest of rare cases’, is also deeply unsatisfactory in light of statistics that show an increase in the number of death sentences awarded by the courts.

There were recurring concerns by many states on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion and belief, anti-conversion laws and targeting of religious minorities. Surprisingly, while GoI has initiated a Communal Violence Bill to address the issue of violence against religious minorities, it expressed uncertainty before the HRC for the need for such a law. The Indian government’s insistence at the international level that existing laws and judicial decisions are sufficient to deal with egregious violations such as torture and attacks on religious minorities is very disappointing, when new laws on these issues are being debated at the national level.

On the multiple recommendations it received on the need to ratify the Optional Protocol (complaint mechanism) to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), India once again stated that its domestic legal remedies were adequate to address gender-based discrimination. Many states also recommended withdrawal of GoI’s reservation to Article 16 of CEDAW – which guarantees non-discrimination in all matters relating to marriage and family life – and emphasized the need to enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. WGHR deeply regrets the fact that GoI did not engage substantially with recommendations made on issues relating to women, including maternal mortality, prenatal sex selection, infanticide, sexual and gender-based violence, political participation of women, sexual harassment at the workplace, early/child marriage, harmful traditional practices, honour crimes, and trafficking.

Sadly, GoI failed to use the UPR as an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to bridge the gap between the law and the grim statistics on various forms of gender-based violence. Its tendency to rely upon domestic law repeatedly to explain the multiple challenges to the attainment of gender equality is disquieting, especially when access to justice remains a barrier for many, and several domestic laws are inconsistent with the universal standards on sex equality.

WGHR, however, welcomes GoI’s positive shift on the issue of homosexuality, which was raised by many countries. The government affirmed its support of the High Court of Delhi judgment decriminalizing homosexuality and stated that it would take a sensitive view of the matter that has been appealed in the Supreme Court.

The human rights of children received significant attention at the HRC. States repeatedly raised issues related to child mortality, child labour, child sexual abuse and trafficking. Many governments stressed the need for a reduction of the excessively high rates of maternal and child mortality and urged the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals in that regard. It was also recommended thatIndiaratify the Third Optional Protocol (establishing a communications procedure) to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A notable number of states also reiterated the need to ban all forms of child labour. The GoI stated that it was “fully conscious of issues pertaining to child labour” but that there was “no magic wand to address it”. This stand is oblivious to the fact that the legal scenario in the country has changed as being at school and not at work is now a fundamental right for all children from 6 to 14 backed by a powerful Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act. The logical corollary of this change is for GoI to revisit its stand and amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

Given the scale of poverty and large-scale denial of socio-economic rights in India, the insufficient attention given to economic, social and cultural rights at the UPR – with the exception of health and education – was disturbing. WGHR hopes, however, that references by member states to the need for more attention to housing for low-income groups and reduction of slums; more focus on poverty alleviation; removal of rural and urban inequities; and improvement of access to water and sanitation, will be turned into recommendations by the HRC before the adoption of the outcome document on Wednesday 30 May, 2012

On the critical issue of the right to adequate and nutritious food, it is disturbing that GoI has dismissed the need to universalise the Public Distribution System, which operates on the basis of an unrealistic poverty line and excludes genuinely poor rural households due to targeting errors, corruption, inefficiency and discrimination in distribution. GoI has also failed to respond to concerns about the rights of peasants and farmers, the issue of unprecedented numbers of farmers’ suicides and the endemic malnourishment that still persists in the country, as recently acknowledged by the Prime Minister himself.

Overall, WGHR regrets that GoI desisted from responding to most of the substantial comments, questions and recommendations by states. According to Miloon Kothari: “It remains to be seen whether GoI will take a constructive view and accept the many recommendations it will receive from the Human Rights Council on 30 May and engage in a genuine dialogue, including cooperation, with the UN between the second and third UPR. The opportunity also still exists, prior to the final adoption ofIndia’s report in September 2012, for GoI to begin a process of serious consultations with civil society and independent actors – including human rights institutions – at home. It is only when such steps, consistent with a democratic mode of governance, are taken that the UN will be convinced that GoI is serious about fostering an atmosphere that will contribute to an improvement in the adverse human rights situation on the ground.” 

For more information, contact:

 Miloon Kothari, Convenor, Working Group on Human Rights inIndiaand the UN (WGHR) phone (Geneva): +41 792020679; email: miloon.kothari@gmail.com

 Vrinda Grover, Lawyer – phone: +91 9810806181; email: vrindagrover@gmail.com

 Madhu Mehra, Director, Partners for Law in Development (PLD) phone: +91 9810737686; email: programmes@pldindia.org

[The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN – a national coalition of fourteen human rights organizations and independent experts – works towards the realisation of all civil, cultural, economic, political and social human rights in India, and towards holding the Indian government accountable to its national and international human rights obligations. For information on WGHR, please visit: http://www.wghr.org]

See the original statement here.

Prisoner assaulted for protesting against corrupt practices inside Silchar central jail in Assam

December 25, 2011

Prisoner assaulted for protesting against corrupt practices inside Silchar central jail in Assam (India)

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) received information that an inmate in the Central Jail, Silchar (Assam) was badly beaten up on 30 December, 2010 allegedly for protesting against ill-treatment of prisoners and corrupt practices of jail officials. Mr. Bidyut Kumar Paul, who was admitted in the central jail on 30 January, 2006 to serve rigorous imprisonment for life, was beaten up, kicked and punched by some other inmates and jail officials that caused him serious injuries. He was given some medical treatment afterwards. However, no investigations of the incident conducted and no actions against the alleged perpetrators were taken. There were concerns that the incident might be repeated and some day Mr. Paul might be hurt seriously.

 According communications dated nil, 28-2- 2011 and 29-3-2011 claiming to be written and signed by Mr. Paul and addressed to the BHRPC, Mr. Paul, son of Bipad Ranjan Paul was a resident of village­ Srikona, in Cachar district inAssam(India). He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life by the Court of Sessions, Cachar, Silchar in Sessions case no. 71/2003 under section 302/34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) vide judgment and order dated 30-1-2006. He was also kept in the jail under judicial custody as an under trial prisoner in connection with another case bearing number 2c/2011. Under these circumstances he had been living in the central jail, Silchar since 30 January, 2006.

 According to the communication, he was assaulted because he raised voice against ill-treatment of inmates and corrupt practices of the officials inside jail. He also referred to a news story published in the 24 February, 2011 issue of the Dainik Nababarta Prasanga, a local daily news paper published in Bengali from Silchar (Assam). The story claimed that one Biru Laskar alias Rois Ali (aged 40, son of late Abdul Bari Laskar and a resident of village Tulargram Part-I, PS: Sonai,Cachar,Assam), a released prisoner served sentence in the central jail, Silchar informed the journalist that there was massive irregularities gong on in the jail. Mr. Laskar also stated that he had witnessed the assault on Mr. Paul in the said jail on 30 December, 2010.

 According to the information furnished both in the communication of Mr. Paul and statement of Mr. Laskar cited in the news story, the Jail Superintendent, the Assistant Jailor, the Ward Matron, the Police Guards and some prisoners formed an immoral nexus inside the jail. According to the statement made by Mr. Laskar, everything including narcotic drugs and alcohol was available in the jail and could be bought if one had sufficient money.

 It was also stated that the prisoners had to pay rupees 2000 (two thousand) per head per month as bribe to that nexus if s/he wanted to get proper accommodation and food. If anyone could not or did not pay the bribe, would be placed near the dirty lavatory and would get lowest quality of food. If anyone protested against this corrupt should face inhuman treatment and torture. The complain box was put just before the visit of the chief judicial magistrate, otherwise it was kept hidden. There was an unauthorized fixed rate for visit by relatives and outsiders at rupees 50.00 (fifty) per head. The food items, medicines etc. were sold outside depriving the prisoners. Manual box was also kept invisible. The canteen inside the jail had been converted to an unauthorized business stall of the Jail Superintendent, they claimed.

 Mr. Paul expressed fears in his communication to the BHRPC that he might be assaulted again and again and he might even be killed by the jail officials in connivance with some other inmates since he made himself inconvenient by raising his voice against the irregularities and corrupt practices.

 BHRPC is also very concerned about the safety and physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Paul and other inmates. BHRPC thinks the condition in the central jail Silchar is inhuman and in violations of the human rights of prisoners as enshrined in the Constitution of India and time and again upheld by the High Courts and the Supreme Court in India as well as universally recognized human rights standards in relation to the treatment of prisoners.

Killed, Buried and Vanished: Custodial death of Islamul Hoque Choudhury

April 20, 2011

He barely manages to walk. His physical structure is so weak and fragile that it may collapse at any moment. A cultivator having a small plot of land and part time wage labourer, he crossed 75 years of his life and so far succeeded to provide his family members the minimum requirements for keeping them alive. He is a successful fighter so far fight for livelihood is concerned as per the standard applicable in this part of the planet. But on the other front he is a soldier who lost many battles. He could not save his 23 year old son who was killed in a staged encounter on 20 May, 2000 at Panichowki under Sonai police station in the district of Cachar of the Indian state of Assam. Then he started another kind of fight, of which he has no training and knowledge, the fight for justice for his slain son. His body may be slander and fragile but his determination and belief in the justice system is rock hard. For more than 8 years he has been fighting single handed without any apparent result and is still optimistic.

It is this optimism which made him the other day to call on me and share his grief. He also shared with me all the documents and information he could gather regarding the encounter of his son. This account is on the basis of these documents and information.

The elderly man is known as Haji Sarif Uddin Choudhury and is a resident of village Dhanehori under Sonai police station in the district of Cachar, Assam. Islamul Hoque Choudhury was his son who used to help his father in cultivation and wanted to start his own business howsoever small may be.

On 19 June 2000 Islamul Hoque Choudhury was at Banskandi bazaar and the neighbourhood area searching for the motor cycle of his brother which was lost the day before. He went there after receiving information that the cycle had been seen in this area. After a day long search he could see two men riding the lost cycle came to the bazaar. When he asked them where they found this cycle the bikers started to punch him. They also raised hue and cry shouting alarm of pick-pocket. People in the marked gathered, caught Islamul and searched him but found nothing except 20 rupees.

In the meantime some police men from Banskandi police out post came in a jeep and arrested him at 8pm. Another person named Ripon Laskar arrested by police was in the jeep. Later, an ezahar was filed in the Bnaskandi police out post under Lakhipur police station signed by Foizur Rahman and Salim of Banskandi. Both these complainants claimed in the ezahar that Islamul Hoque and Ripon Laskar were trying to kidnap them from Silghat ferry, a nearby river ferry and that the two arrested persons had links with the Peoples United Liberation Force (PULF), an extremist organisation allegedly based in Manipur.

According to Haji Sarif Uddin Choudhury, during the interrogation both the arrested persons were subjected to severe torture and Ripon Laskar succumbed to the resulting injuries in the night itself on the spot. Higher police officers were informed of the incident and it was decided that an encounter must be staged to avoid public wrath. For the purpose a team was formed headed by Mr. Hareswar Brahma, the Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Lakhipur Sub-Division, Mr. Choudhury claims.

In the dead of night some police personnel from Banskandi out post, Officer In-charge (O/C) of Lakhipur police station and the said SDPO went to Dhanehori taking with them Islamul Hoque and the body of Ripon Laskar in a jeep. There they purportedly searched the house of one Sukkur Uddin but nothing objectionable could be recovered from his house. Thereafter they rushed to Panichowki, a village in the foot of the Bhuvan Hills about 50 kilo metres away from Silchar, the district head quarter. On the way to Panichowki they met another police team belonging to Sonai police station, which were patrolling during night hours. The Lakhipur police team took Sonai police party with them and proceeded to Panichowki rest house, a house maintained and used by Forest Department, where they reached at about 3pm on 20 June 2000.

Some villagers of Panichowki state that on 20 June 2000 in the early morning a few gun fires were heard and when they came out of their houses at the sound they saw a police party in and around of Panichowki rest house. One of them, namely Karunamoy Das, by profession a pan-collector, (pan is a leaf used with betel nuts found in the hilly jungles) states that at the time of firing he was very near to the place of occurrence. He noticed the incident and as per his statement when police were beating the arrested person he was begging to the police for his life by requesting them to hand over to Jail instead of beating and torturing. But the police did not give any heed and lastly they shot him dead.

The next day both the dead bodies were sent to Sonai police station and after conducting post mortem examination at Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH), Silchar the officer in the police station handed over the dead bodies to the relatives. The relatives of Islamul and his local people buried his body on 21 June 2000 observing religious rites.

The local media carried the police story for a few days with usual journalistic exaggerations that police arrested two high profile extremists belonging to PULF from Banskandi daily market at 8pm on 19 June 2000 and brought them to the police station for further interrogation. The I/C (In-Charge) of Banskandi out-post conveyed the information to the SDPO, Lakhipur who along with O/C, Lakhipur took part in the interrogation. On the basis of interrogation and with a view to unearthing further facts they along with arrested persons proceeded to Dhanehori and thereafter to Panichowki. At Dhanehori the police searched the house of one Sukkur Uddin on the basis of the information extracted from the arrested persons but they recovered nothing objectionable from his house. Thereafter they rushed to Panichowki for the same purpose along with another police team from Sonai police station. Both the police teams reached Panichowki rest house at about 3pm on 20 June 2000. The police party asked both the arrested persons to head them towards the hideouts of the PULF extremists. As they were passing through the premises of the Panichowki rest house all on a sudden firing from the nearby jungle began and both arrested persons who were leading them died due to cross firing. Police further add in their statements that had they not been trained up for self defence they would have been killed due to extremist’s firing. According to police the following two reasons were responsible for the death of two arrested persons:

1. They were leading the police party and naturally they were going in advance.

2. They lacked the training of self protection.

But the lone soldier of the cause of justice Haji Sarif Uddin Choudhury started his fight. He succeeded to compel the District Magistrate of Cachar to order a magisterial inquiry into the incident after 3 months on 19 September 2000. The report of the inquiry never saw the light of the day. Nevertheless, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) a human rights organisation working in Assam, managed to get access to an unauthenticated copy of the report of the inquiry. Although there are many questions remained unanswered in the report the Magistrate found that ‘firing took place behind the rest house where both the accused succumbed to the injuries’. He also finds “reason to believe that there was no firing from jungle or extremist side and firing which took place at Panichowki in the early morning of 20-6-2k was only from police side.” The report goes on: “During the whole operation of the nights of 19-6-2k and 20-6-2k the Sr. Police Officer, i. e., SDPO, Lakhipur was present along with other police personnel who could have guided his party to avert from such killing.”

The Magistrate concludes: “I, therefore, find Sri Hareshwar Brahma, SDPO, Lakhipur to have committed guilt and excess during the operation.”

But no prosecution initiated against the SDPO and his team.

A complaint was also filed with the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and accordingly a case was registered vide. AHRC Case No. 3451 of 2001. The AHRC after about six years found that a prima facie case of human rights violations exists and observed that “it was not only a fake encounter but there was also gross negligence on the part of the police for not giving full protection to both the deceased persons” and awarded an interim compensation of rupees fifty thousand by its judgment and order dated 14-06-2006. But the judgment is mysteriously silent on the question of prosecution of the violators. Whereas under section 18 (a) (ii) the AHRC is empowered to recommend to the concerned government or authority to initiate proceedings for prosecution against the concerned person or persons where the inquiry discloses the commission of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights or abetment thereof by a public servant.

But the most mysterious is the strength of Haji Sarif Uddin Choudhury with which he declares “age or death can’t take me away before justice for my son is ensured by way of prosecution and due punishment to his murderers. Without prosecution of the accused a compensation of rupees fifty thousand is nothing but an insult to the soul of my son and the society.” Police kill people and a meager amount of money from the public fund is given. What type of justice is this?”, he asks.

“If you want to prevent the killing of your son by the police it must be ensured that the persons who already committed such offences must be brought to justice”, said Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, Secretary General of BHRPC. He also states that “a regime of de facto impunity is carefully maintained in North Eastern region including Assam for which it is almost impossible to get justice for the victims and prevent repetitions of such extra legal killings. We need to fight unitedly to break the regime.”

Custodial Death of Motahir Ali and Events in the Aftermath

June 13, 2010

Brief Summery of

The BHRPC Fact-finding Report

on Custodial Death of Motahir Ali and Events in the Aftermath in Kalain, Cachar

BHRPC Ref. No. …………….                                                                            Date………………….

Get the pdf version of the report

It was reported in local media that an innocent citizen was killed by police on 21st September, 2007 at Kalain in the district of Cachar, Assam. The police tortured the victim to death in full public view, allegedly for refusing by the victim and his relatives to pay a gratification of rupees ten thousand to sub-inspector Narain Tamuli, in-charge-officer of Kalain Police Patrol Post under Katigorah Police Station.

Next day, after getting the news, a team was formed by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee to visit the spot, and find the facts about the whole case and submit a preliminary report. According to the sources and witnesses talked with by the BHRPC fact finding team, Motahir Ali Tapadar, 38 was a resident of village Bhatghat in Kalain, a daily wage labourer and a father of 3 children of 9, 5 and 4 years of age. He was a law abiding and peace loving citizen. There were no complaints against him whatsoever other than one in connectionwith which he was taken into custody by the police.

Witnesses revealed that there was a petty quarrel at 11am on 20th September between him and his neighbours, namely, Ala Uddin and Sahab Uddin.The quarrel which led the parties to scuffling actually was originated from the quarrel of the kids of the two neighbouring houses over playthings or games. As a result Sahabuddin lodged a complaint against Motahir Ali which was registered under section 326 etc. of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. At about 12.30 pm Narain Tamuli, the in-charge-officer of Kalain PPP arrested Motahir Ali Tapadar. At 1.30pm both complainant and accused, namely Sahab Uddin and Motahir Ali, were medically examined by Dr Badal Das and only a minor bruise on the forehead of Mr. Tapadar was found which may be caused due to scuffling. There were no wounds whatsoever on the person of the complainant, leave alone such grievous hurt caused by dangerous weapons that can fall under section 326.

Some respectable persons from Bhatghat village and relatives of the detainees went to the PPP to bail them out and settle the dispute amicably. Thry saw, according to the statement of Alimun Nesa Tapadar, wife of the victim, who accompanied the group, that S I Narain Tamuli and other police personnel were beating, kicking, abusing and humiating the victim. Alimun Nesa also alleged that Narain Tamuli administered on her person severe lathi-blows and kicked her in the belly in her condition of pregnancy. Salman Uddin, a minor son of Motahir and Alimun Nesa, who accompanied his mother to see his father, was also beaten badly. When they prayed and beseeched the in-charge officer police got infuriated and denied to release him on bail. The whole night police tortured the detainee mercilessly.

Next day, that is 21st September, at 10.30am when Narain Tamuli brought Mutahir Ali Tapadar out of the station house to take him to court he started administering lathi-blows and kicking incessantly in full view of the people gathered at the adjacent office house of Kalain Gaon Panchayat where flood relief were being distributed. The crowd tried to stop Tamuli in vain. Namar Ali Tapadar and Alimun Nesa Tapadar, brother and wife respectively of the victim, who were also present in the crowd, beseeched Tamuli for mercy with no effect. At this time Tamuli demanded ten thousand rupees from Alimun Nesa but she expressed her inability to pay such a huge sum. Here also Tamuli beaten her and her brother in-law. Being frustrated they went to the Circle Office to file complaint and seek help from Debashis Baishya, circle officer and the nearest magistrate.

When the condition of the victim deteriorated beyond limits Tamuli took him to Kalain Primary Health Centre instead of court. In the PHC too Tamuli kept kicking and beating him. The crowd gathered at a free medical camp, which was then being held there, tried to dissuade him without result. Tamuli continued his ritual until there was no sign of life in the body and it got still. When at 1.30pm Dr Badal Das, in-charge officer of the health centre came and examined he did not declare Motahir Ali dead, though in fact he was, for fear of public fury. Instead, he referred him to the Silchar Medical College Hospital, Silchar where Tapadar was declared dead.

After autopsy of the body of Tapadar at the Silchar Medical College Hospital it was returned to his family members at 1.30am in the night.

Before news came from the Medical College the people could guess the fact and got outraged. Hundreds of local people gathered at 2.00pm around the house of patrol post and started shouting slogans demanding arrest of Narain Tamuli. Police charge them with sticks and bayonet which further infuriated the crowd and they started throwing stones. Police then opened fire and kept firing till 80 rounds were shot. In the firing there was only one severe injury. Shahidur Rahman, 17, who was watching the incident from the roof top of a two storied house, was injured badly in his left leg. He was admitted to Silchar Medical College Hospital; Silchar. .Being terrified by such heavy firing the crowd got dispersed. Then the Police themselves set fire on the patrol post and burnt it down in order to distract the attention of people from the murder case and hush it up. The propaganda that after the death of Mutahir Ali the outraged local people burnt down the patrol post is false and intentional.

The terrified local people shut their mouth tight. At first nobody dared to speak anything about the incident. Subsequently a large number of local people requesting anonymity claimed that some men of police had burnt down the patrol post. They raise two arguments for the claim. Firstly, although there was only one hit and injury the police shot eighty rounds of fire to disperse the mob and no mob can withstand such a large quantity of fire. In fact, exactly this thing happened. The mob got dispersed and fled away after a few rounds of firing. Secondly, fire caught first in the hind part of the patrol post. If the mob had set fire they would have done so in the front part because they were there. Moreover, there is a marsh behind the patrol post house for which it is not possible for the mob to come along this side.

Police registered an FIR against one Faruk Ahmed and other five hundred unidentified persons in connection with the fabricated charges of attempt to murder, causing obstruction to police the performance of their lawful duty etc invoking section 307 etc. of IPC. Police, in connection with this false case, raided, beaten, abused and humiliated family members, relatives and fellow villagers of the victim. Even arrested they arrested three innocent persons, namely Faruk Ahmed, Ibajul Hoque and Imamul Hoque, who were subsequently released on bail by the Gauhati High Court.

When, Saidur Rahmen, the person injured in police firing recovered a little and released from the Medical College Hospital was also arrested by the police which act of the police was termed by the intellectuals of the valley as barbaric and brutal. With the intervention of Barak Human Rights Protection Committee the Superintendent of Jails sent him to the hospital then applied to the court for according permission.

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee thinks that the weight of the arguments can not be denied. There are enough reasons to believe that the police might not have burnt the patrol post themselves but they did so through the agency of hired persons. In fact, the incident of burning down the patrol post is enigmatic and indicative of a deeper and larger conspiracy. The way in which police is desperately over-active in hounding the people in relation to the case of burning down the patrol post despite requests from various quarters not to harass and arrest the innocent people and to call an all-party-meeting to decide further action regarding the case, is indicative of such a conspiracy. The fact of non-registration of an FIR regarding the murder of Mutahir Ali and harassing and arresting innocent people arbitrarily tells of the desperate efforts on the part of the police to save their skin at any cost. The enigmatic web of the whole incident can only be unknotted by an impartial investigation. So the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee strongly demands a CBI probe of the whole incident.

Neharul Ahmed MazumderSecretary General

INDIA: Will the 40th All India Police Science Congress consider the killer cop in Assam as one among them?

June 4, 2010
[AHRC Article] INDIA: Will the 40th All India Police Science Congress consider the killer cop in Assam as one among them?Get pdf version
FOR PUBLICATION AHRC-ART-056-2010
June 4, 2010

An Article by Mr. Waliullah Ahmed Laskar published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The Campaign against Torture is one of the core thematic activities of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). With a view to promote local debates on torture and to encourage ordinary individuals, human rights activists, scholars and jurists to write and debate about the subject in India, the AHRC has called for articles and papers on the question of torture, of which a selected few will be published by the AHRC. The following is the first in this series.

INDIA: Will the 40th All India Police Science Congress consider the killer cop in Assam as one among them?

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar*

There is nothing new about the police officers in the Indian state of Assam who enjoy immunity for the crimes they commit on behalf of their political bosses. They are awarded perks and promotion for their crimes. Most criminals in police uniform enjoy such immunity because they know to please those who are in power.i This de facto impunity is in addition to the statutory impunity provided to the state security agencies by laws, often referred to as ‘draconian’ and ‘repressive’, like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958; the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955; the Assam Police Act, 2007; and the wrong interpretation of Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Nobody is surprised in Assam these days by reports of crimes committed by police officers and many of these criminals are rewarded with service medals, promotions and postings in important police stations where they have abundant opportunities to demand and collect bribes.

The case discussed here is a little different. On 21 September 2007, the state police tortured and killed Mr. Motahir Ali Tapadar, a 38-year-old labourer, from Bhatgram village residing under the jurisdiction of Katigorah Police Station in Cachar district of Assam. The police officers tortured Motahir first inside a Police Patrol Post, and later in full public view, at a government health centre in front of the public and the doctor treating him. The police killed Motahir since he was unable to pay bribes to the police.

A magistrate inquired about the incident and the report was kept hidden by the government. The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)ii , an Assam based human rights organisation that is following the case obtained the Magisterial Inquiry Report,iii after lot of effort and using the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI). The content of the report exposes the criminal nature of the police officers involved in the incident.

Portions from the report as recorded by the inquiring magistrate, the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of Cachar, is reproduced below with a view to explain to the reader the incident and the criminal involvement of the police officers that resulted in the murder of an innocent person:

‘A petty quarrel between Mr. Motahir Ali and his neighbour Mr. Sahab Uddin took place at about 11am on 20 September 2007 in front of their houses concerning a minor quarrel between the children from the two neighbouring houses over toys or games resulting in an argument between the elders that led to the scuffle. Sahab and Motahir went to the Police Patrol Post at Kalain and lodged a complaint against each other. Mr. Narayan Tamuli, the Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) who was also the officer in-charge of Kalain PP accompanied by his constables arrived at the respective houses of the complainants and took them to the PP and detained them at the patrol post.’

‘Some persons from Bhatgram and the relatives of the detainees went to the patrol post with a request to bail the detainees out and to settle the case amicably. Alimun Nesa, Motahir’s wife took food to the patrol post for her husband in the evening. Motahir was quite fine at the time. Alimun met officer Tamuli and pleaded for the release of her husband from police custody, stating the background of the argument. Tamuli demanded Rs. 10,000 from her as bribe to release Motahir. She informed Tamuli that they are too poor to raise the money. However, Alimun informed Motahir that she could collect Rs. 500 or Rs. 600 from her neighbours and give it to Tamuli.’

‘Tamuli refused to accept any lesser amount than what he initially demanded and denied to release Motahir. On the same night Tamuli and his subordinate officers tortured Motahir. On the next day morning Alimun again went to the patrol post and found her husband lying on the lockup floor. He could hardly move or speak. Motahir could somehow express to his wife that he was brutally beaten and kicked by the police officers on the previous night and that he feared that he is badly injured in his abdomen. He further told to his wife that there is no chance of him surviving another day since he was seriously injured from the torture.

‘When Motahir’s condition deteriorated Tamuli dragged him into three-wheeler (auto rickshaw) and took him to Kalain Primary Health Centre (PHC). At the PHC, Tamuli and his subordinate officers, police constables stationed under Tamuli at Kalain patrol post, continued their brutal assault upon Motahir in front of the doctor and the hospital staff. The public present at the PHC witnessed the assault and tried to dissuade the police but they failed. Dr. Badal Das, the doctor in-charge of the PHC reportedly examined Motahir and after discussion with Tamuli, decided to send Motahir to Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) for treatment but he died on the way.’

The report further says: ‘[i]t is revealed from the hearing that Motahir was a day labourer and the family had a hand to mouth existence. His family consisted of his wife and three minor children. His wife was expecting another child at the time of the incident. Motahir was a peace loving man and there were no former public complaints against him. It is stated by Alimun, the helpless widow of Motahir that a minor quarrel amongst the neighbours’ children over toys developed into an insignificant scuffle between the elders – resulting in the filing of a police case and arrest of Motahir by the Kalain police. The inhuman torture inflicted upon Motahir for non-payment of the bribe and the brutality by the police in public and the subsequent death of a simple day labourer in the Kalian PHC before the noon of 21 September 2007 in front of the doctor of the hospital and his staff is a bitter experience for the people of Kalain.’ [Emphasis added].

‘One Mr. Ramzan Ali, Constable under Tamuli administered the point of his lathi (stick) at the abdomen of Motahir while he was admitted at the Kalain PHC resulting in total silence of the body [sic] of Motahir. It is stated the constable’s last stroke made the way or caused the circumstances for demise of Motahir.’

The report concludes that ‘the police at Kalain patrol post was pro-active in committing brutalities upon Motahir simply for the reason that the deceased’s family could not afford payment of bribes to the police officers…’

Regarding the consequent arson and destruction of public properties by the angry public, the Magistrate states that: ‘the news of death spread at Kalain and adjacent areas and the public in the locality got infuriated. Hundreds of local people gathered at around 2pm in front of the patrol post and Gaon Panchayath Office and shouted slogans and pelted stones at the patrol post. Police tried to gain control over the situation with their existing force but could not succeed. Then the police opened fire injuring one person but there was no casualty though it is claimed that 80 rounds were fired to disperse the angry crowd.’

‘The patrol post caught fire and it was completely gutted. Nearby GP office of Kalain also caught fire and was burned to ashes resulting in the loss of public documents and properties. There was little attempt to save the public properties and it was left at the whims of the excited public who took their own course of action.’ The magistrate added, “[h]owever, the actual cause of fire in both the offices are yet to be ascertained.”

Commenting on the report, Mr. Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, Secretary General of BHRPC, said: ‘[s]o far as the conclusion of the inquiry concerning the death of Motahir Ali is concerned the BHRPC is substantially in agreement with the findings. However the organisation sticks to its own findings regarding the incidents of the aftermath.’ He points to the BHRPC fact-finding report that observed: ‘hundreds of local people gathered at 2pm around the patrol post and started shouting slogans demanding arrest of Narain Tamuliiv. Police charged them with sticks and rifle butts which further infuriated the crowd and they started pelting stones at the police. Police then opened fire and fired 80 rounds. In the firing there was only one severe injury. Mr. Shahidur Rahman, aged 17 years, who was watching the incident from the roof of a two-storied house, was injured badly in his left leg. He was admitted to SMCH. Being terrified by such heavy firing the crowd dispersed.’

‘Then the police themselves set fire on patrol post and burnt it down in order to distract the attention of people from the murder and hush it up. The propaganda that after the death of Motahir Ali the outraged people set on fire the patrol post is false and intentional.’

The report further says: ‘the terrified public at first were silent. Nobody dared to speak anything about the incident initially. Subsequently a large number of people requesting anonymity claimed that some men arranged by the police had set on fire the patrol post. They raise two arguments to substantiate this claim. First, although there was only one person who was hit and injured among the police, the police fired eighty rounds to disperse the mob and no mob can withstand such a large quantity of firing. The mob dispersed and fled after a few rounds of firing. Secondly, the fire was first found at the backside of the patrol post. If the mob had set fire the patrol post they would have done so from the front because they were there. Moreover, there is a marsh behind the patrol post which prevented the mob from accessing the patrol post from the back side.’

The police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against one Mr. Faruk Ahmed and other five-hundred unidentified persons and fabricated charges against them including attempt to murder and causing obstruction to the police in the performance of their lawful duty, invoking among other legal provisions, Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The police in connection with this false case, raided, assaulted, abused and humiliated the family members, relatives and fellow villagers of the victim. Even they arrested three innocent persons, namely Mr. Faruk Ahmed, Mr. Ibajul Hoque and Mr. Imamul Hoque, who were subsequently released on bail by the Guwahati High Court.

When, Mr. Saidur Rahmen, the person injured in the police firing, recovered a little and was released from the SMCH, the police arrested him again. There are good reasons to believe that the police might not have burnt the patrol post themselves but they did so with the help of hired criminals. In fact, the incident of burning down the patrol post is intriguing and indicative of a deeper and larger conspiracy. The manner in which the police was desperately over-active in hounding the people in relation to the case despite requests from various quarters not to harass and arrest the innocent people, is indicative of such a conspiracy.

At the intervention of BHRPC and based on the complaint of Alimun Nesa, a case was registered at Katigorah Police Station as Katigorah PS Case No. 484/07, dated 4 October, 2007 under Section 302 (murder) read with Section 34 (conspiracy to commit a crime) of the IPC against Tamuli, Assistant Sub Inspector Mr. Promod Nath and Police Constable Mr. Ramzan Ali Choudhury. The accused applied for an anticipatory bail at the Guwahati High Court and the court granted them an ‘interim bail’ with the direction to the accused to surrender before the trial court. At their appearance before the trial court all the three accused were remanded to judicial custody on 11 March, 2008. Later they were released on bail by the High Court. v

The Superintendent of Police (SP) of Cachar stated on 18 July 2008 that the investigation of the case is almost complete and the final case diary will be submitted soon to the court. It needs to be seen what duration constitutes this ‘soon’? vi

In a subsequent petition, the Guwahati High Court ordered that ‘[i]t is directed that if the case is not forwarded to the Crime Investigation Department (CID) the same shall be done immediately and the CID shall investigate the case in prompt and proper manner.’ vii

Does not the word ‘prompt’ mean ‘without delay’? How much time constitutes ‘delay’?

The BHRPC also submitted a complaint regarding the case before the Assam Human Rights Commission on 6 December, 2007. The Commission registered a case vide Case No. 6404/2007 dated 18 July 2008 and issued a notice to the state government asking for a report. The Commission sent a letter to the BHRPC with the report asking for its comments on the findings in the report. viii

The BHRPC on 3 December, 2008 sent its comments expressing its agreement regarding the conclusion drawn in the Magisterial Inquiry Report about the facts and circumstances concerning the death of Motahir and requested the Commission to allow an interim relief to the relatives of the victim by way of compensation and urged to recommend the prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime as it is the mandate of the Commission to do so under its constituting statute, the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

The BHRPC, however, disagreed with the findings in the Magisterial Inquiry regarding its observations about setting fire on the police post and the GP office, the police firing on the people, registering of false case against them, the arrest of many protestors in connection with that false case and the harassment of many others. The BHRPC requested the Commission to conduct an independent investigation into these issues. But since then Commission did not respond, despite the BHPRC sending repeated reminders.

It was later known that a departmental inquiry into the incident was conducted by Mr. R.C Tayal, Inspector General of Police (IGP) and that the inquiry report was submitted to the government on 22 September, 2007. Pursuant to the report, the three accused were placed under suspension on 11 March 2008ix and a departmental proceeding initiated against them on 21 March 2008.x But nobody knows what happened to the proceedings and when and how the accused police officers got reinstated to the service. They were soon promoted.

Tamuli was promoted from the rank of Assistant Sub Inspector to Sub Inspector and secured a posting at Sadar Police Station, the main police station in Silchar city. Silchar city is regarded as the cultural and business capital of the entire Barak valley. BHRPC recently documented another case involving Officer Tamuli. xi

He was the investigating officer in a case registered at the Silchar PSxii and was also entrusted with the responsibility of the execution of a search warrant.xiii The complainant in both the cases was Mrs. Sharmista Das, a victim of domestic violence who was driven away from her matrimonial house by her in-laws who took away all her belongings that she received as her wedding gifts.

The victim alleged that Tamuli took bribe of Rs. 20,000 from her and demanded another Rs. 50,000 after illegally detaining her and two others when they visited the police station on 20 March, 2010. They had visited the police station to know about the progress of the investigation in the case. Social activists had accompanied Sharmista on that occasion. However Tamuli detained them demanding bribe. They could only come out of the station since the social activists who accompanied Sharmista had contacted their colleagues to secure their release from illegal custody.

When the entire system protects a murderer police officer there is little hope left to obtain justice.

The BHRPC filed an application on 24 May 2010 under the RTI, demanding the Assam Police to provide: 1) a copy of the report of the departmental enquiry into the custodial death of Motahir Ali; 2) details of the actions taken against the accused/responsible police personnel by the department; 3) if no actions have been taken the reasons thereof in detail; 4) details of the progress in investigation in Katigorah Police Station case No. 484/07; 5) details of the progress made and procedures taken by the CID in the case; 6) copy of the charge sheet submitted by the Katigorah Police or the CID in Katigorah PS Case No. 484/07; 7) if no charge sheet has been submitted the reasons thereof in detail with a copy of the final report regarding the case; and 8) any other information held by the office of the Director General of Police (DGP) or any office of the Assam Police regarding the order of the Guwahati High Court in Criminal Miscellaneous Case No. 484/07 and the custodial death of Motahir Ali. The BHPRC is yet to receive any reply for these questions.

In summary, here is a police officer who was once in-charge of a police patrol post in a remote village who arrests an innocent person, demands bribes and on refusal to pay torture the man throughout the night and kills him the next day in front of hundreds of people. The local people get agitated and demand immediate arrest of the killer officer. Police respond by opening fire at the public. The police also reportedly set fire to their patrol post and an adjoining public office allegedly for two reasons: to divert the attention of the public and to persecute the public for daring to protest against the murder by implicating innocent persons with false charges of arson, rioting, destruction of public properties etc.

After the intervention of human rights groups the police department conducts an inquiry and suspend the accused officers. A magisterial inquiry is also conducted which concludes that the officers killed the victim because his family could not meet the excessive demands for bribes made by the police officers. An FIR is also against them. The officers are arrested and then released on bail. On a petition, the High Court orders prompt investigation by the CID of the Assam Police into the case. The State Human Rights Commission also registers a case, issues notice to the authorities asking for report and then asks for comments from the petitioner on the report.

Meanwhile the officers get reinstated and their leader gets a posting in an important police station in the state with a promotion. Meanwhile the State Human Rights Commission also shelves the case file. No compensation to the victim’s family is paid even after 3 years. No charge sheet is filed and trial started against the officers. In the meanwhile the accused officer continues committing crimes and remains in active service.

The authorities cleverly deceived the public by showing that some actions are being initiated while indeed they were protecting the officers. This case, therefore, shows that the police officers will continue demanding bribes and in case of refusal they could hurt you or even kill you. The case proves that nothing will happen in consequence to the officers and after an initial period of suspension at the most, they will be soon reinstated to service and may be even promoted.

While top-ranking police officers discuss issues concerning policing in the country and express concern about their lost ground with the ordinary Indian in the 40th All India Police Science Congress, we wish that you will try to understand why the ordinary people of this country consider you as nothing more than criminals paid at our expense.

*The author of this article is a journalist and human rights defender associated with Barak Human Rights Protection Committee, a human rights organisation based in Assam, India. The author can be contacted at + 91 9401134314

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Footnotes:

i For cases of human rights violations with impunity see: VIOLATION CASES at https://bhrpc.wordpress.com/
ii For more information about BHRPC visit https://bhrpc.wordpress.com/
iii Magisterial Enquiry Report of Custodial Death of Motahir Ali vide NO. MISC. CASE. 1/2007/28 dated Silchar, the 9th April, 2008 published by BHRPC at the URL:https://bhrpc.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/magisterial-enquiry-report-on-custodial-death-of-motahir-ali/, accessed on 1 June 2010
iv Wali Laskar, Custodial Murder of Motahir Ali Tapader and Subsequent Police Atrocity in Barak Valley of Assam, Countercurrents.org, 31 October, 2007, accessed on 1 June 2010 at the URL:http://www.countercurrents.org/laskar311007.htm
v Order of the Gauhati High Court in B. A. No. 1074/08
vi Letter of the SP, Cachar addressed to ADC, Cachar vide No. G/SR/3680 dated 18/07/08
vii Order of the Gauhati High Court in Smti. Alimun Nesa Vs Shri Narayan Chandra Tamuli and others (Crl. M.C. No. 208 of 2008 in B. A. No. 1074/08)
viii AHRC CASE No. 6404/2007/14 dated 18-0702008
ix Assam Police Order vide D.O. No. 703 dated 21/03/08
x Assam Police Order vide DP No. 01/08, 02/08 and 03/08
xi BHRPC, Brief Summary of the BHRPC Fact-finding Report on Incidents of Extortion and Harassment of a Victim of Domestic Violence by Police in Silchar accessed on 1 June 2010 at the URL:https://bhrpc.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/brief-summery-of-the-bhrpc-report-on-sharmista-case/
xii Silchar PS Case No. 509/10 under sections 379 and 406, IPC
xiii A search warrant under section 94 of the Cr PC vide Case No. 155 M/2010; for details please see: Asian Human Rights Commission Urgent Appeal: Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-075-2010 available athttp://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2010/3466/

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Posted on 2010-06-04

URL: http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2010statements/2583/

Magisterial Enquiry Report on Custodial Death of Motahir Ali

May 25, 2010

Click here to download the document (pdf)

GOVT. OF ASSAM

OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER::: CACHAR::: SILCHAR

****

NO. MISC. CASE. 1/2007/28                                                                         Dated Silchar, the 9th April, 2008

To

The District Magistrate,

Cachar, Silchar.

Sub: –  Enquiry report in respect of circumstances leading to death of one Motahir Ali,          S/O Lt. Akaddas Ali of Vill. Bhatgram, P. S. Katigorah and burning of Kalain     Police Out Post and G. P. Office.

Ref: –  Your Order No. CCL. 3/2007/Pt/05 dtd. 21.09.2007 & subsequent letters

thereon.

Sir,

In pursuance to the order issued vide No. Cited above, I have the honour to furnish following enquiry report on the circumstances leading to the death of one Md. Motahir Ali aged about 38 years S/O Lt. Akaddas Ali of Vill. Bhatgram, P.S. Katigorah, Cachar on 21.09.2007 and the burning of the Kalain Police Out Post and Kalain Gaon Panchayat Office on that day.

On receipt of the order under reference, a Public Notice bearing Memo No. Misc. Case No.1/2007 dtd. 26.09.07 was issued by the undersigned marking copies to the all concerned including the Superintendent of Police, Cachar and Deputy Director, Information & Public Relations, Barak Valley Zone, Silchar to facilitate the enquiry and for causing wide publicity in local news paper viz. The Samayik Prasanga published substance of the Notice as news item.

As per the Notice issued the date time and venue was pre-notified from 11:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M on 28.09.2007, 29.09.2007 and on 01.10.2007 at PWD Inspection Bungalow, Gumrah situated next to Kalain and Bhatgram village.

Interested persons, private or officials, organisations, relatives of the deceased person were invited to furnish statements in terms of references of the public Notice dtd. 26.09.2007.

I visited the Gumrah PWD I.B in time on 28.09.2007, 29.09.2007 and 01.10.2007 and conducted the enquiry.

As per the information obtained: – a petty quarrel between Md. Motahir Ali and his neighbour Sahab Uddin of Village- Bhatgram took place at about 11:00 A.M on 20.09.2007 in front of their houses centring around a very minor quarrel amongst the kids of two neighbouring houses over playthings or games. The quarrel between the elders led to the scuffling later on. Shri Sahab Uddin and Motahir Ali went to the Police Out Post at Kalain and lodged complaint against each other. Shri Narayan Tamuli, ASI i/c Kalain Police Out Post accompanied by his constables arrived to the houses of complainants and took them to the Out Post and kept them under detention. Some respectable persons of Bhatgram and relatives of the detainees went to the Out Post with request to bail them out and settle the case amicably. Olimun Nessa, W/O Motahir Ali who were observing the holy Ramjan fasting took food to her husband in the evening and served in the Lock up. Motahir Ali was quite normal at that time. Alimun Nessa met Narayan Tamuli and pleaded for release of her husband from the police custody stating the background of the quarrel. Sri Tamuli demanded Rs. 10,000/- (Rupees ten thousand) only from her as the price of release. She stated that they are too poor to afford the payment. However, she stated that she could collect Rs. 500/- to Rs. 600/- from her neighbour on request and give it to Sri Tamuli. But Sri Tamuli turned deaf ear to the submission made by Alimun Nessa. As she was not obliging, Tamuli denied release of her husband. The in-charge and his staff tortured Motahir Ali mercilessly whole night of 20.09.2007. Next morning i. e. on 21.09.2007 Olimun Nessa went to the Police Out Post and found her husband was lying on the floor of the lock up and could hardly move or speak. Md. Motahir Ali could express that he was brutally beaten and kicked by the police staff and he badly inflicted injury in the abdomen. He further told to his wife that there is least chance of his survival after whole night brutal rituals by the policemen.

When the condition of Motahir Ali deteriorated Tamuli dragged him to an Autorickshaw and took to Kalain Primary Health Centre instead of sending him to Court. In the primary Health Centre Sri Tamuli and his colleagues repeated the brutality upon Md. Motahir Ali. The public present thereby witnessed the torturing and tried to dissuade police but in vain. Dr. Badal Das, in-charge of Kalain Health Centre reportedly examined Md. Motahir Ali and after discussion with the in-charge of the Police Out Post, they decided to send the patient to Silchar Medical College & Hospital for treatment but he died on the way.

The death news spread at Kalain and adjacent areas and public in the locality got infuriated. Hundreds of local people gathered at around 2.00 P.M. in front of the Kalain Out Post and G. P. Office and started slogans and pelted stones at the Out Post. Police tried to control with their existing forces but could not succeed. Police opened fire injuring 1 (one) person but no casualty was there though it has been claimed that 80 round fire were opened at that time to disperse the angry crowd. The Out Post caught fire at that time and it got completely gutted.  Nearby Gaon Panchayat Office of Kalain also caught fire and burned to ashes resulting loss of public documents and properties. There was a little attempt to save the public properties and it was left at the whims of the excited public who took their own course of action.

The dead body of Motahir Ali was brought to Kalain so to say to his residence amidst tight police coverage and handed over to the relatives of the deceased who was buried by them by mid-night of 21.09.2007. No untoward incident took place as there was sufficient police security.

The information and particulars were made available from the statements of public, public organisation and media report.

It is revealed from the hearing that Late Motahir Ali was a day labourer and lived from hand to mouth. His family consisted of his wife and 3 (three) minor children. His wife was an expecting mother at that time. Late Motahir Ali was a peace loving man and there was no public complaint against him. It is stated by Olimun Nessa, the helpless widow of Late Motahir Ali that a minor quarrel amongst the neighbours children/playboys developed an insignificant scuffling between the elders—resulting filing a police case and arrest by the Kalain police and detaining them in police custody. The inhuman torture inflicted upon Motahir Al for non-payment of the gratification and gearing up the brutality by the police staff and subsequent death of the simple day labourer in the Kalian P.H.C. before the noon on 21.09.2007 in front of the doctor of the hospital and his staff is bitterly experienced by the people of Kalain. One Mahmudur Rahman Laskar S/O Mushriqur Rahman Laskar aged about 40 years, one of the members of Azad Club, Kalian stated that Sri Tamuli i/c Kalain Out Post and his staff behaved in an inhuman manner and brutally tortured late Motahir Ali.

One Sri Ramzan Ali, Constable under Sri Tamuli administered the point of lathi straightway at the abdomen of Late Motahir Ali at the Kalain Primary Health Centre resulting total silence of the body of Motahir Ali. It is stated the constable’s last stroke made the way or caused the circumstances for demise of Motahir Ali. However, post mortem report and final opinion on the cause of death are available in the report of the concerned doctor of the Silchar Medical College & Hospital.

One Smt. Lila Acharjee and another Smt. Saraswati Adhikari W/O Nishi Ranjan Acharjee and Jyodev Adhikari aged being 45 years and 55 years respectively deposed that Motahir Ali was inhumanly tortured by the police.

From the local enquiry, it reveals that the police of Kalain Out Post was pro-active on the brutalities inflicted on Late Motahir Ali simply for the reason that the deceased family could not afford payment of gratification beyond the reach of the poorest family.

As regard the circumstances leading to the causes of the setting fire of both Out Post and the G. P. Office, inadequacy of preventive action plan have been observed by the public. However, the actual causes of catching fire on both the offices are yet to be ascertained.

As gathered, there was a separate Police Case at Katigorah P.S. under Katigorah P.S. Case No. 484/07 U/S 302/34 IPC wherein separate course of action have been initiated against the erring officials and the public involved and the Hon’ble trailing court has passed appropriate order on the same.

This is for favour of your perusal and necessary action.

Yours faithfully,

Signature Illegible

09.04.08

(H. A. Laskar)

Addl. District Magistrate

Cachar :: Silchar

Text Box: Yours faithfully, Signature Illegible 09.04.08 (H. A. Laskar) Addl. District Magistrate Cachar :: Silchar

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Waliullah Ahmed Laskar