Posts Tagged ‘Magisterial Inquiry’

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

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Urgent Appeal Regarding an Incident Where Central Reserve Police Force open fire indiscriminately in a market place in Assam, killing one

June 10, 2010

URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Get Pdf version of the document
Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC Case No 58/2010/UA/23/210 Dated: 10 June 2010
Dear Friends,
Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) forwards this Urgent Appeal issued by Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding an incident Central Reserve Police Force open fire indiscriminately in a market place in Assam, killing one
with request to all to take suggested actions.
Yours Sincerely
Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
15, Panjabari Road, Six Mile,
Guwahati-781037, Assam

INDIA: The Central Reserve Police Force open fire indiscriminately in a market place in Assam, killing one

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-084-2010

10 June 2010
——————————————————
INDIA: The Central Reserve Police Force open fire indiscriminately in a market place in Assam, killing one

ISSUES: Extrajudicial execution; impunity; militarisation; excessive use of force
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that on 23 May 2010, a team of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel opened fire indiscriminately and without warning in a small market place in Panchaboti, and later shot dead Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, an innocent person on mere suspicion. The attitude of the CRPF has raised suspicions that they may try to use a complaint they have filed against two persons they arrested to justify their murder. This case must be immediately investigated to challenge the impunity surrounding the numerous human rights violations committed by security personnel in North-East India.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to the information we have received from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee who carried a fact-finding investigation into the case, on 23 May 2010 at 4.30pm, a team of 11 or 12 CRPF personnel opened fire indiscriminately and without warning in Panchaboti, a small market place in Cachar, Assam, spreading panic among the shoppers and merchants present who tried to escape by finding shelter in nearby shops and houses. Witnesses report having seen one man, later identified as Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, running through a small field in direction of the nearby river, Sonai, and jumping into the river while the CRPF personnel were shooting at him. According to the witnesses, no provocation triggered the firing. (Photo: Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, Source: BHRPC, Assam)

Following the firing, the CRPF arrested two persons: Moniruddin Barbhuiya, aged about 32 years, son of Abdul Majid Barbhuiya of village Bidruhipar, Sonai Police Station, Cachar, Assam and Mr. Abdul Khalik, aged about 25 years, son of Siraj Uddin of village Sundari Part-II, Sonai Police Station, Cachar, Assam. The CRPF claim that they were there on a routine patrolling when they observed suspicious behaviour from Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and Iskandar. They further state that when they challenged them, the three suspects tried to run away thereupon the CRPF opened fire. According to the CRPF, the suspects are ordinary criminals who do not belong to any organisation and Moniruddin was found in possession of a 9mm pistol and four bullets.

The CRPF handed over both arrestees to the Palonghat police out post under Dholai Police Station at 9pm on that day. The Dholai police registered a case against Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and another unnamed person (vide Dholai Police Station Case No. 99/2010 dated 23 May 2010 under Section 47 of the Indian Arms Act, 1959). According to the fact-finding team, the First Information Report has been drafted in such a way that Iskandar can be incriminated as the third accused and therefore could be used by the CRPF to justify its crime.

On 24 May the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Dholai Police Station produced the two accused before a magistrate praying for police custody of the accused which was granted for seven days. They were then sent to the judicial custody.

At about 1pm on 26 May, some people of the Sundari Part-II village saw a dead body adrift in the Sonai river. They informed Kachudaram police outpost and at about 3pm, police officers from the outpost and the police station came and sent the body to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital for autopsy. At about 11am on 27 May the police handed over the body to Monijun and the last rites were performed at about 2.30pm on the same day.

According to the persons who performed the pre-funeral rituals like washing of the body, they saw two bullet holes in the body: one on the victim’s waist and the other one on the left side of his neck. Nevertheless the autopsy report has not yet been provided to the family and Monijun and other villagers fear that the CRPF may want to interfere with the content of the autopsy report.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

According to the police sources, Moniruddin, who was arrested in possession of the pistol, told that he is a labourer who worked in Mizoram for many months and found a pistol near a river, picked it up and was trying to sell it. He stated that Iskandar had nothing to do with them.

Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, is a small business man from Bidruhipar village. He had left his family house and told his wife, Monijun, that he was going to the Panchaboti area to collect betel nuts and that he would latter visit his sister Champarun Nesa at Krishnapur, Amragat and asked his wife not to worry if he did not return on the same day. When on 24 May, Monijun heard about the firing, she contacted her sister-in-law who informed her that Iskandar did not visit her the day before. Monijun subsequently contacted all the relatives of her husband but none had any idea where her husband was. On 25 May, she and her sister-in-law Sitarun Nesa went to Sonai Police Station and informed the police in writing about her husband’s disappearance. This is entered in the general diary of the police station vide GD Entry 601 dated 25 May 2010.

According to the villagers and the police officials, the victim had never been involved in any crime and had no previous confrontations with the police. Mr. Kutub Ahmed Mazumber, a member of the Assam Legislative Assembly also told that he knew Iskandar personally and that Iskandar was a very good person.

On 28 May, hundreds of people held a condolence meeting, presided by Nazrul Islam Ahmed, Vice President of Sonai Anchalik Panchayat. Three resolutions were passed condemning the killing and terming it as an intentional murder of a law-abiding and peace-loving citizen by power fuddled unscrupulous security forces; expressed condolence to the family for their loss and demanded compensation to be paid to the family by the government and prosecution initiated against the CRPF personnel involved in the case.
Monijun filed a complaint before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Cachar on 29 May praying for the court to direct the police to conduct a proper investigation of the murder, after having a case registered against the CRPF under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The complaint was forwarded to the Sonai Police Station and was registered as an FIR vide Sonai Police Station Case No. 126/10 dated 4 May 2010.
Iskandar was the only earning member of a family of six and his death leaves his wife and their four children without stable incomes and resources.

BACKGROUND COMMENTS:

The military and paramilitary forces heavily deployed in North-East India have repeatedly demonstrated their disdain toward the principles of proportionality and restrain in the use of force which should govern the functioning of security forces in a democratic country. The AHRC has been documenting numerous cases of human rights violations committed by the security forces deployed in the region, in which people may be harassed, tortured, raped or killed with the police being unable and unwilling to investigate the case and to provide protection to the victims. Please see UAC-080-2010 another case, which took place on the same day as Iskandar’s killings, in which the rights of the ordinary citizens of Assam were violated by security forces and in which the police refused to file the case.

The UN basic principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials are the relevant guidelines to the democratic functioning of security agencies. This indiscriminate firing in Panchaboti disrespects Principle 4 according to which the law enforcement officials should only use force and firearms as the last resort, if ‘other means remain ineffective’ and Principle 5 mandates the law enforcement officials to exercise restraint in the use of force and firearms in order to minimise damage and injury and to respect and preserve human life.

More specifically, Principle 10 states that ‘law enforcement officials shall identify themselves as such and give a clear warning of their intent to use firearms, with sufficient time for the warning to be observed, unless to do so would unduly place the law enforcement officials at risk or would create a risk of death or serious harm to other persons, or would be clearly inappropriate or pointless in the circumstances of the incident.’ Not warning of their intention before shooting is an act of carelessness and negligence from the CRPF personnel which could have resulted in further losses. The incident proves how little human life is valued by the members of the paramilitary forces.

The attitude of the CRPF have raised suspicions that they may try to use the FIR and to manipulate the post-mortem report to preserve themselves from a legal process. Regarding the large record of human rights violations committed in the North-Eastern Indian States which went uninvestigated and unpunished, it is necessary to make sure that Iskandar’s family will have access to an independent process, as reminded in Principle 23 of the UN basic principles.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please join us in writing to the following authorities to express your concern regarding this case of slaying and ask for its proper investigation and the prosecution of the perpetrators. Also join us in

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, calling for his intervention in this case.

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To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Please investigate the CRPF firing in Panchaboti market in Assam

Name of victim: Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, 42 (aged about 42, son of late Abdul Matlib Barbhuiya) resident of Bidruhipar, Cachar District, Assam
Names of alleged perpetrators: Between 11 and 12 Central Reserve Police Force personnel from A147 Battalion led by Mr Muatoshi Dubichu, Deputy Inspector of Police and in-charge of Shachinpur Camp
Date of incident: 23 May 2010
Place of incident: Panchaboti market place, Cachar District, Assam.

I am writing to draw your attention to the killing of Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya after a team of Central Reserve Police Force Police opened fire indiscriminately and without warning in a small market place in Panchaboti, Cachar, Assam on 23 May 2010 at about 4.30pm.

According to the information I have received from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), witnesses report having seen one man, later identified as Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, running through a small field in direction of the nearby river Sonai and jumping into the river while the CRPF personnel were shooting at him. According to the witnesses, no provocation triggered the firing and the CRPF personnel did not warn about their intention to open fire beforehand.

I know that on the morning of that day, Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, 42, a small business man from Bidruhipar village went to the area to collect betel nuts. After he did not return home for a few days, his wife, Monijun contacted all his relatives to enquire about his whereabouts and since no one was able to inform her about them, she and her sister-in-law Sitarun Nesa went to Sonai Police Station and informed the police in writing about her husband’s disappearance (Entered in the general diary of the PS vide GD Entry 601 dated 25 May 2010).

I am informed that following the firing, the CRPF arrested two persons: Moniruddin Barbhuiya (32, son of Abdul Majid Barbhuiya of village Bidruhipar, Sonai Police Station, Cachar, Assam) and Abdul Khalik (25, son of Siraj Uddin of village Sundari Part-II, Sonai Police Station, Cachar, Assam). The CRPF claim that they were there on a routine patrolling at that time when they observed suspicious behavior from Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and Iskandar. They state that when they challenged them the three suspects tried to run away following which the CRPF opened fire. According to the CRPF, Moniruddin was found in possession of a country made 9mm pistol.

I know that the CRPF handed over both arrestees to the Palonghat police outpost under Dholai Police Station at 9pm on that day. The Dholai police registered a case against Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and another unnamed person (ie. Iskandar), (vide Dholai PS Case No. 99/2010 dated 23 May 2010 under sSection 47 of the Indian Arms Act, 1959). On 24 May the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Dholai Police Station produced the accused before a magistrate praying for police custody for them which was granted for 7 days. They were then sent to the judicial custody.

I am concerned that the FIR has been drafted in such a way to lead the police investigation to conclude that Iskandar was the third suspect and that it may be an attempt by the CRPF to promote a version of the event which would justify the indiscriminate firing. This version is contradicted by a statement from one of the arrestees, Moniruddin, that he had found the pistol when he was working in Mizoram and was trying to sell it in the market that day and that Iskandar had nothing to do with them. I am informed that according to the villagers and the police officials, Iskandar had never been involved in any crime and had nothing against him in the police record. A member of Assam Legislative Assembly, Mr. Kutub Ahmed Mazumder, also confirmed that Iskandar was ‘a very good person’.

I know that Iskandar’s body was discovered at about 1pm on 23 May by some villagers from Sundari Part-II adrift in the river Sonai. They informed Kachudaram police outpost under Sonai Police Station and at about 3pm, police came and sent the body to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital for autopsy. At about 11 am on 27 May the police handed over the body to Monijun and the last rites were performed at about 2.30pm.

The persons who performed the pre-funeral ritual bathing of the body saw two bullet holes in the body: one on the victim’s waist and the other one on the left side of his neck. Nevertheless the autopsy report has not yet been provided to the family and I am aware that Monijun and other villagers fear that this might be because the CRPF wants to change its content.

I know that Monijun has filed a complaint before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Cachar on 29 May praying for the court to direct the police a proper investigation of the murder after having a case registered against the CRPF under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The complaint was forwarded to the Sonai Police Station and was registered as an FIR vide Sonai Police Station Case No. 126/10 dated 4 June 2010.

Additionally, as required by the directives issued by the National Human Rights Commission of India, the post-mortem examination must be video graphed and a separate report about the incident must be send to the Commission.

I know that reports of extrajudicial executions and human rights violations committed by security forces which are heavily deployed in the State of Assam are numerous and often go uninvestigated, promoting the impunity of the perpetrators and encouraging further exactions.

I therefore urge you to promptly intervene into this case by:

1. Launching an independent and impartial investigation into the case registered as FIR vide Sonai Police Station Case No. 126/10 dated 4 May 2010 in Sonai Police Station;
2. Taking appropriate measures to guarantee the protection of the victim’s families and of the witnesses against threats and intimidation from CRPF personnel;
3. Making sure that all the CRPF personnel involved in this murder are temporarily suspended from their duty during the course of the investigation. If enough evidence is gathered, they should be brought before a civilian court and face sanctions which are proportionate to the damage they inflicted;
4. Providing adequate compensation and interim relief to the victim’s family: Iskandar was the sole earning member of a family of 6 and his death leaves his wife and their four children without stable incomes and resources;
5. Providing the post-mortem report to the family without delay.

I am looking forward to your intervention.

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Tarun Gogoi
Chief Minister of Assam
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2262069

2. Chief Secretary
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2260900
Email: psccy_it@assam.nic.in

4. Director General of Police
Assam, Ulubari
Guwahati-7, Assam
INDIA

Thank you

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Posted on 2010-06-10
AHRC URL: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2010/3477/
BHRPC URL:

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