Posts Tagged ‘Right to truth’

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.”

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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/

Urgent Appeal: Extortion and Harassment of Victims of Domestic Violence by Police in Assam

June 3, 2010

URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

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Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC/UA/21/210                    Dated: 02 June 2010

Dear Friends,

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) forwards this Urgent Appeal issued by Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding an incident of extortion of money by police from a victim of domestic violence and harassment of social activists in Assam  and requests all to take appropriate actions.

Yours Sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

15, Panjabari Road, Six Mile,

Guwahati-781037, Assam

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-075-2010

2 June 2010

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INDIA: Police extort money from a victim of domestic violence in Assam

ISSUES: Violence against women; domestic violence; corruption; police inaction

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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that police officers in Silchar Police Station, Assam allegedly harassed and threatened a victim of domestic violence in order to extort money from her, and neglected the investigation of her case. The victim’s father-in-law is a senior member of the District Bar Association and she has been unable to find legal support. Gender-based violence remains a major issue in India. The corruption, lack of professional conduct and lack of gender training among police officers adds another difficulty to the already almost insurmountable obstacles that victims face when pursuing redress.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to the information we have received from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human right organisation based in Assam, Ms. Sharmista Das was subjected to severe physical assault by her husband Mr. Rananjay Da and her in-laws.

Shamista’s husband left her and their two daughters on 3 September 2009; she and her mother have heard that he married another woman and went to live with her in Shillong, Meghalaya state. We are told that after her husband left, Sharmista’s in-laws continued to demand more dowry money and to ill-treat her. On 15 September they reportedly expelled her from her home, forcing her to abandon her belongings and wedding gifts, including jewellery, clothing, utensils and furniture. Sharmista and her two daughters then took shelter at her mother’s house.

On 3 November she registered a First Information Report (FIR) at the Silchar police station (Case No. 2126/2009) under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which criminalises the subjection of a woman to cruelty by her husband or his relatives. The officer in charge of the police station, Mr. S. K. Chauhan, reportedly demanded that the victim’s mother, Sima Dutta give him Rs. 5,000.00 (USD 100) before agreeing to investigate the case. He then arrested three of the accused: Sharmista’s father-in-law Mr.Rupendra Mohan Das alias Ratul Das, her mother-in-law Mrs. Mitra Das, and her sister-in-law’s husband Mr. Joydeep Roy Choudhury. However he failed to arrest Sharmista’ husband, the main accused. A female constable allegedly asked for Rs. 900 as remuneration for guarding Mitra Das for the night.

On 4 November the police produced the three accused before a local magistrate who remanded them to judicial custody. On 9 November they were released on bail following the filing of a charge sheet. According to the Indian law, once a charge sheet is filed in court, the prosecution proceedings against the accused begin in the judicial system. Nevertheless there has been a significant delay in initiating this step in the case. Such delay is common with the judicial system in India and often it takes two to three years for even the initial stages of a trial to begin in criminal cases, due to overwhelming case loads. At the time of writing this appeal, the court has not yet framed charges against the four accused and the trial has not begun.

On the same day the police also filed a charge sheet in which they accused Mr. Rananjay Das of being an absconder and avoiding the process of law. Yet the complainant has seen no evidence of a legitimate investigation, or attempt to find him.

Mrs. Dutta further reported that OC Chauhan demanded Rs. 1,200 (USD 25) as a bribe from her on 12 November, which she felt obligated to pay.

Given the lack of progress in this first case, on March 10, 2010, Sharmista filed another FIR in the same police station to recover the things she had had to leave at her home when she was expelled (Case No. 509/10 under Sections 379 and 406, IPC). She also filed an application to the District Magistrate for a search warrant of Rupendra Mohan Das’ and Joydeep Roy Choudhury’s houses (Case No. 155 M/2010, under section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973).

Sub-Inspector Narayan Tamuli is the Investigating Officer (IO) who was entrusted with the execution of the search warrant. When Sharmista and Mrs. Mithu Sen, a social activist, visited the police station on 17 March 2010 to enquire about the progress of the case, they report that OC Chauhan and SI Tamuli intimidated them into paying respectively Rs. 3,000 (USD 64) and Rs. 20,000 (USD 424) as bribes.

According to the victim, when she accompanied the SI to visit the house of her husband’s father Mr. Rupendra Mohan Das, the inspector did not attempt to recover the items listed in the search warrant, although she pointed them to him during the search. Instead the officer reportedly took a few items into his possession. Moreover we have been told that the police officer did not visit the other address mentioned in the search warrant.

On 20 March Sharmista returned to the police station accompanied by two social activists, Mithu Sen and Aleya Islam Laskar, to inquire about the progress of the investigation. According to their testimony, SI Tamuli demanded a further Rs. 50,000 (USD 1,060) from them and threatened them with dire consequences if they didn’t. They report being forcibly kept in detention for over two hours and were eventually released due to the intervention of persons contacted by the social activists.

According to the victim and the activists, Mr. Rupendra Mohan Das, Sharmista’s father-in-law, is an advocate and an influential senior member of the District Bar Association, Silchar, with strong connections with the local politicians. They believe this to be the reason that no advocate of the District Bar is willing to represent Sharmista in a trial against her in-laws. Members of BHRPC have also spoken with some advocates who, requesting anonymity, said that they are under severe pressure not to accept the brief against Das or any member of his family.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

The demanding of bribes from complainants by police officers, sometimes by force or by threat, is frequently documented in India. Nevertheless, only a small percentage of such allegations are investigated, and when they are it is relatively rare for few sanctions to be effectively taken against perpetrators.

Also, according to the BHRPC, Officer Narayan Tamuli himself has been accused, along with two other police officers, of having tortured to death Motahir Ali (of Bhatgram Village under Katigorah Police Station) in Cachar, Assam on 21 September 2007. A departmental enquiry was conducted into the incident and the accused were placed under suspension, but then reinstated. This is despite a magisterial enquiry that concluded that: ‘the police of Kalain Out Post was pro-active on the brutalities inflicted on Motahir Ali simply for the reason that the deceased family could not afford payment of gratification beyond the reach of the poorest family.’

A case was also registered in the Assam Human Rights Commission regarding this incident, yet the accused have not been prosecuted, nor the victim’s family paid any kind of compensation or reparation.
That a police officer with such strong accusations against him was able to remain in full service reveals much about the extent of the impunity in the area. Please see our previous statement for a more detailed analysis of this gap between the extent of corruption in the police system and the limited number of cases effectively investigated.

As this case clearly shows, police officers continue to be encouraged by the lack of any negative consequence if caught violating the rights of civilians. It leaves those without money or influential connections extremely vulnerable, with their access to the justice system blocked.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Although criminalized by the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, the persistent practice of dowry payment remains emblematic of women’s inferior status in India, and is often a cause of extreme forms of gender-based violence. When this sum of money (given by the bride’s family to the groom’s family at the time of the wedding) is considered insufficient, the bride is often mentally and physically harassed by her in-laws. Too often this harassment can extend to the attempted burning murder of the woman. Indian Government statistics show that 8172 cases of so-called ‘dowry deaths’ were reported in 2008 among 81,344 cases of ‘cruelty by husband and relatives’.

It is extremely difficult for the victims of those prosecutions to find support in society, and to find access to effective remedies. The patriarchal structure and the dominating values of Indian society continue to protect and encourage gender-based violence and dowry harassment, and the functioning of the criminal justice system usually reflects the values and customs of a country. According to government statistics, in 2008 the conviction rate in the cases of dowry deaths was only 33% and 22% in the cases of ‘cruelty by husband and relatives’.

The social stigma against women who try to escape such persecutions also impacts on their ability to find redress in India’s corrupted criminal justice system, which tends to work only in favour of its most powerful social elements. The AHRC has reported numerous cases of dowry deaths in which the police simply refused to file the case, or later neglected the investigation because the husband belonged to a rich and influential family, or used the case to extract bribes from the victims and/or the accused. Please see our appeals: Failure of police investigation into alleged dowry death of a womanA failing criminal justice system betrays the poor in India, especially the women and Alleged police inaction into dowry death of a woman for examples of such cases.

To support this appeal please click here: 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please join us in expressing your concern, and in asking for the thorough investigation of this case of corruption and domestic violence.

Please be informed that the AHRC will write a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

——————————————————

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

Dear ,

INDIA: Police extort money from a victim of domestic violence in Assam

Name of victim: Sharmista Das, resident of Narsing Road, Shibam Apartment Ground, Ambicapatty, Silchar, Cachar, Assam
Names of the perpetrators of domestic violence:
1. Mr. Rananjay Das alias Rupam Das, resident of Sri Sumit Endow, Moulavi Road, Ambicapatty; the victim’s husband
2. Sri Rupendra Mohan Das alias Ratul Das, the victim’s father-in-law
3. Mitra Das, the victim’s mother-in-law
4. Joydeep Roy Choudhury, the husband of the victim’s sister-in-law
Names of the police officers involved:
1. Mr. S K Chauhan, Officer-in Charge (OC)
2. Mr. Narayan Tamuli, Sub Inspector (SI) of Police
3. A female constable, name unknown.
All staff of of Silchar Sadar Police Station

Date of incident: Between 3 November, 2009 and 2 March 2010
Place of incident: Silchar Sadar Police Station, Cachar District, Assam

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the case of Sharmista Das, a victim of domestic violence who was harassed by police officers who failed to investigate her case properly.

According to the information I have received from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Sharmista Das and Mr. Rananjay Das got married in 2003. Considering the dowry she brought for her wedding as insufficient, the victim’s husband and his family started to physically and mentally abuse the young woman. The victim reports having frequently been subjected to ‘severe physical assault’. The victim’s husband left her and her two daughters on September 3, 2009.I am further informed that on September 15, 2009 Sharmista’s in-laws reportedly drove her away from her home, forcing her to abandon most of her possessions and wedding gifts, including jewellery, clothing, utensils, furniture, furnishings etc. Sharmista then took shelter at her mother’s house with her two daughters.

I am told that on November 3, 2009, she registered a First Information Report at the Silchar police station (Case No. 2126/2009 under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 yet police officers not only showed unwillingness to investigate the case properly, but extracted money illegally from the victim. First, the Officer in Charge of the police station, Mr. S K Chauhan, forced the victim’s mother, Sima Dutta, to give him Rs. 5000.00 before accepting to investigate the case and asked for additional Rs 1,200 on 12 November, which I am told she gave out of fear. I am moreover informed that a lady constable asked for Rs 900 to keep one of the accused for a night in detention.

Following the filing of the FIR, the police arrested three of the suspects: Sharmista’ father-in-law, her mother-in-law and the husband of her sister-in-law but they failed to arrest the main accused, her husband. According to Sharmista, the police did not carry the investigation properly actually neither did they try to arrest her husband. Nevertheless, in an attempt to justify their inaction, the police told the court that they could not arrest Mr. Rananjay Das and that he was avoiding the process of law.

Despite the filing of a charge sheet against the four accused on November 9, no prosecutions have taken place against them yet. According to the victim and local social activists, the victim’s father-in-law is an influential member of the District Bar Association, and the local lawyers have been under pressure not to represent Sharmista in a case against her in-laws.

I am aware that on March 10, 2010, Sharmista tried to recover the belongings she had to leave at her matrimonial house by filing another FIR in the same police station (Case No. 509/10). She also applied for a search warrant of Rupendra Mohan Das’ and Joydeep Roy Choudhury’s houses at the District Court magistrate on the same day. (Case No. 155 M/2010)

I am appalled to learn that the police officer who was made the investigating officer of the case, and entrusted with the execution of the search warrant, Sub-Inspector Narayan Tamuli, has been accused of having tortured to death a young man, Motahir Ali, in order to extract bribes from him. Although different inquiries were launched in the case and found him guilty, no sanctions were taken against this officer.

When Sharmista and Mrs. Mithu Sen, a social activist, visited the police station on 17 March 2010 to enquire about the progress of the case, they report that OIC Chauhan and SI Tamuli intimidated them into paying respectively Rs. 3,000 (USD 64) and Rs. 20,000 (USD 424) as bribes.

Furthermore, when Sharmista accompanied Narayan Tamuli to visit the house of her father-in-law, the inspector did not recover the items listed in the search warrant but reportedly took several miscellaneous items in his possession instead. It is further alleged that he did not visit the other address mentioned in the search warrant.

And worryingly, when, on March 20, Sharmista returned to the police station, accompanied by two social activists Mithu Sen and Aleya Islam Laskar, S. I. Tamuli reportedly forcibly kept them in detention for over two hours and threatened them, in order to get them to give him Rs. 50,000 as a bribe.
I consider Sharmista’s case to be a clear illustration of the damage done when a police officer is allowed to keep his position of power, despite strong accusations of corruption being taken against him or her.

It further highlights the advantage experienced by the wealthy and influential in distorted, corrupted policing system. Women victims of gender-based violence are often the most vulnerable, since they must defend their case while facing extreme social and systematic stigma; in most cases they do so in isolation and without resources.

Given the seriousness of the situation, I therefore urge the government of India to promptly ask for an impartial investigation – conducted by a police officer who do not belong to the same police station – into these allegations of corruption and intimidation, during which the officers involved should be removed from duty. If enough evidence is gathered, Mr. S K Chauhan and Mr. Narayan Tamuli must be prosecuted. In the meantime other police officers must be appointed to conduct the investigations into the cases filed by Sharmista, and execute the search warrants.

I also urge the authorities to provide Sharmista with the services of a lawyer of her choice, and to probe the allegations of pressure exerted by Ratul Das on the local lawyers. Adequate measures must be taken to guarantee the protection of Sharmista, her mother, other witnesses and her lawyers. The victim is entitled to compensation for the prejudices undergone; please ensure that these are swiftly processed.

I look forward to your intervention in this case,

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. Ms. Krishna Tirath
Minister of State
Ministry of Women and Child Development
6th Floor, ‘A’ Wing
Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi – 110001
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23381495
Email: secy.wcd@nic.in

3. 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)

URL of the Appeal: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2010/3466/

URL of the automatic system to send the appeal: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=UAC-075-2010

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

Copied by

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Brief Summery of the BHRPC Report on Sharmista Case

May 25, 2010

Brief Summery of

The BHRPC Fact-finding Report

on Incidents of Extortion and Harassment of a Victim of Domestic Violence by Police in Silchar

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

Report in Portabel Document Format (pdf)

Assam police in India extorted a victim of domestic violence and harassed her mother and other two social activists for bribes. Instead of investigating the complaints filed by the victim police in the Silchar Sadar Police Station (PS) in the district of Cachar, Assam, threatened and harassed them while shielding the accused.

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) received information that the Officer-in Charge (OC) of the Silchar Police Station Mr. S K Chauhan and Sub Inspector (SI) of police Mr. Narayan Tamuli forced Sharmista Das, daughter of Late Rishikesh Dutta, resident of Narsing Road, Shibam Apartment Ground, Ambicapatty, Silchar, Cachar, Assam, and her mother Sima Dutta to pay them Indian rupees 30,100.00 (thirty thousand and one hundred) and attempted to get another Rs. 50,000.00 (fifty thousand) by virtual detention and threat of dire consequences between 3 November, 2009 and 2 March, 2010.

Sharmista Das was married to Mr. Rananjay Das alias Rupam Das, S/o Sri Rupendra Mohan Das alias Ratul Das, resident of Sri Sumit Endow, Moulavi Road, Ambicapatty, under Silchar police station in Cachar, on 22 January, 2003 under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. According to her, her husband and in-laws were not satisfied with her as she did not brought ‘enough’ dowry to her matrimonial house. They started demanding huge amount of money from her which she was unable to meet. Consequently they started abusing and ill-treating her. They even frequently subjected her to severe physical assault, she alleged. In the meantime she was blessed with two daughters. Ultimately her husband left her alone with the kids on 3 September, 2009. Since then there was no communication from his side. But Sharmista and her mother claimed that they had information that he married another girl and he was staying with her in Shillong, Meghalaya.

She stated that after her husband had disappeared the in-laws started demanding dowry and ill treating her afresh. At last they drove her away from her matrimonial house on 15 November, 2009 forcibly robbing her of all jewellery and other necessary items. She took shelter at her mother’s house with her two daughters.

She eventually on 3 November, 2009 filed a complaint against her husband and in-laws hoping for justice for wrongs done to her. On the basis of the complaint a First Information Report (FIR) was registered in the Silchar police station vide Silchar PS Case No. 2126/2009 dated 3 November, 2009 under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). Instead of investigating the case, Mr. S K Chauhan, the OC of the PS, started demanding bribes. At first Mrs. Sima Dutta was forced to pay him Rs. 5000.00 (five thousand) that day otherwise the OC refused to investigate the case. The OC then arrested all the accused except the prime accused Mr. Rananjay Das. Mrs. Dutta had to pay another sum of Rs. 900.00 (nine hundred) to a lady constable. They revealed that the constable demanded the payment as remuneration for guarding the lady accused Mitra Das for the night. Showing the main accused Mr. Rananjay Das as an absconder the police filed charge sheet in the court on 9 November, 2009. Sharmista claimed that the police did not investigated the case properly and did not exercised due diligence and wilfully neglected the arrest of accused No. 1. The OC also took another sum of Rs. 1,200.00 from Mrs Dutta on 12 November, 2009 which she paid for fear of attracting wrath of the OC, she claimed.

Sharmista stated that when she was driven away from her matrimonial house she left there hundreds of items that she received as her wedding gifts. These were the items of jewellery, apparels, utensils, furniture, furnishings etc. She filed a complaint on 10 March, 2010 to recover these things. The case was registered as Silchar PS Case No. 509/10 under sections 379 and 406, IPC. She also filed another application in the court district magistrate for a search warrant under section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) vide Case No. 155 M/2010. SI Narayan Tamuli was made the Investigating Officer (IO) of the police case and he was also entrusted with the execution of the search warrant. Sharmista and Mrs Mithu Sen, a social activist, visited the police station on 17 March, 2010 to enquire about the investigation of the case and the execution of the search warrant. They paid Rs. 3000.00 (three thousand) and Rs. 20,000.00 (twenty thousand) to Mr. S K Chauhan and Nrayan Tamuli respectively under threat.

Sharmista alleged that S. I. Narayan Tamuli visited the house of Shri Rupendra Mohan Das at Moulavi Road, Ambicapatty, Silchar accompanied by her to execute the search warrant. He did not recover the items listed in the search warrant which she had shown there. Instead, he bullied her and took a few insignificant items as the accused were pleased to allow him. He never visited the other address mentioned in the search warrant.

So, she along with Mithu Sen and Aleya Islam Laskar, another social activist, visited the police station at 12 noon on 20 March, 2010 to know about the progress of the investigation relating to her complaints, S. I. Narayan Tamuli demanded Rs. 50,000.00 (fifty thousand) from them. They stated that Mr. S. K. Chauhan abused and threatened them with dire consequences and forcibly kept them in detention for over two hours in order to force them to pay the amount demanded by Mr. Tamuli. They could come out from the police station because the activists had connections.

Corruption of this magnitude and brutality with impunity is easily understandable for a person who knows that Mr. Narayan Tamuli himself is accused No. 1 in a case of murder for bribes. It is Katigorah P S Case No. 484/07 under sections 302 and 34 of the IPC where SI Narayan Tamuli, ASI Promod Nath and Constable Ramzan Hussain Choudhury were charged with causing death by torture of Motahir Ali of village Bhatgram under Katigorah police station in Cachar, Assam on 21 September, 2007. A departmental enquiry was conducted into the incident by R C Tayal, IPS, Inspector General of Police on 22 September, 2007. The accused were placed under suspension on 11 March, 2008 vide D. O. No. 703 dated 21 March, 2008 and then reinstated. A magisterial enquiry was also conducted vide No. MISC. CASE.1/2007/28 dated 9 April, 2008. This enquiry unequivocally concluded 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.’ A case was also registered in the Assam Human Rights Commission regarding this incident vide AHRC Case No. 6404/2007. But till date neither the accused were prosecuted nor the family of the deceased was adequate compensation or any other type of reparation. That much paper work was made possible by the support of the people to the efforts of BHRPC.

In the present case, it is also notable that Mr. Rupendra Mohan Das, the father-in-law of Sharmista is an advocate and a very influential senior member of the District Bar Association, Silchar, Assam. He is also well connected with the big politicians of Barak valley, the southern part of Assam. Sharmista, her mother and the two social activists stated that no advocate of the District Bar is willing to represent Sharmista. Members of BHRPC also talked with some advocates who, requesting anonymity, told that they are under severe pressure not to take brief against Rupendra Mohan das or any member of his family. They did not want to risk their life and career.

Neharul Ahmed Mazumder

Secretary General

BHRPC

A Case of Human Rights Violations Involving Extortion and Harassment of a Victim of Domestic Violence by Police

May 14, 2010

A Case of Human Rights Violations Involving Extortion and Harassment of a Victim of Domestic Violence by Police

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Assam police in India extorted a victim of domestic violence and harassed her mother and other two social activists for bribes. Instead of investigating the complaints filed by the victim police in the Silchar Sadar Police Station (PS) in the district of Cachar, Assam, threatened and harassed them while shielding the accused.

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) received information that the Officer-in Charge (OC) of the Silchar Police Station Mr. S K Chauhan and Sub Inspector (SI) of police Mr. Narayan Tamuli forced Sharmista Das, daughter of Late Rishikesh Dutta, resident of Narsing Road, Shibam Apartment Ground, Ambicapatty, Silchar, Cachar, Assam, and her mother Sima Dutta to pay them Indian rupees 30,100.00 (thirty thousand and one hundred) and attempted to get another Rs. 50,000.00 (fifty thousand) by virtual detention and threat of dire consequences between 3 November, 2009 and 20 March, 2010.

Sharmista Das was married to Mr. Rananjay Das alias Rupam Das, S/o Sri Rupendra Mohan Das alias Ratul Das, resident of Sri Sumit Endow, Moulavi Road, Ambicapatty, under Silchar police station in Cachar, on 22 January, 2003 under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. According to her, her husband and in-laws were not satisfied with her as she did not brought ‘enough’ dowry to her matrimonial house. They started demanding huge amount of money from her which she was unable to meet. Consequently they started abusing and ill-treating her. They even frequently subjected her to severe physical assault, she alleged. In the meantime she was blessed with two daughters. Ultimately her husband left her alone with the kids on 3 September, 2009. Since then there was no communication from his side. But Sharmista and her mother claimed that they had information that he married another girl and he was staying with her in Shillong, Meghalaya.

She stated that after her husband had disappeared the in-laws started demanding dowry and ill treating her afresh. At last they drove her away from her matrimonial house on 15 September, 2009 forcibly robbing her of all jewellery and other necessary items. She took shelter at her mother’s house with her two daughters.

She eventually on 3 November, 2009 filed a complaint against her husband and in-laws hoping for justice for wrongs done to her. On the basis of the complaint a First Information Report (FIR) was registered in the Silchar police station vide Silchar PS Case No. 2126/2009 dated 3 November, 2009 under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). Instead of investigating the case, Mr. S K Chauhan, the OC of the PS, started demanding bribes. At first Mrs. Sima Dutta was forced to pay him Rs. 5000.00 (five thousand) that day otherwise the OC refused to investigate the case. The OC then arrested all the accused except the prime accused Mr. Rananjay Das. Mrs. Dutta had to pay another sum of Rs. 900.00 (nine hundred) to a lady constable. They revealed that the constable demanded the payment as remuneration for guarding the lady accused Mitra Das for the night. Showing the main accused Mr. Rananjay Das as an absconder the police filed charge sheet in the court on 9 November, 2009. Sharmista claimed that the police did not investigated the case properly and did not exercised due diligence and wilfully neglected the arrest of accused No. 1. The OC also took another sum of Rs. 1,200.00 from Mrs Dutta on 12 November, 2009 which she paid for fear of attracting wrath of the OC, she claimed.

Sharmista stated that when she was driven away from her matrimonial house she left there hundreds of items that she received as her wedding gifts. These were the items of jewellery, apparels, utensils, furniture, furnishings etc. She filed a complaint on 10 March, 2010 to recover these things. The case was registered as Silchar PS Case No. 509/10 under sections 379 and 406, IPC. She also filed another application in the court district magistrate for a search warrant under section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) vide Case No. 155 M/2010. SI Narayan Tamuli was made the Investigating Officer (IO) of the police case and he was also entrusted with the execution of the search warrant. Sharmista and Mrs Mithu Sen, a social activist, visited the police station on 17 March, 2010 to enquire about the investigation of the case and the execution of the search warrant. They paid Rs. 3000.00 (three thousand) and Rs. 20,000.00 (twenty thousand) to Mr. S K Chauhan and Nrayan Tamuli respectively under threat.

Sharmista alleged that S. I. Narayan Tamuli visited the house of Shri Rupendra Mohan Das at Moulavi Road, Ambicapatty, Silchar accompanied by her to execute the search warrant. He did not recover the items listed in the search warrant which she had shown there. Instead, he bullied her and took a few insignificant items as the accused were pleased to allow him. He never visited the other address mentioned in the search warrant.

So, she along with Mithu Sen and Aleya Islam Laskar, another social activist, visited the police station at 12 noon on 20 March, 2010 to know about the progress of the investigation relating to her complaints, S. I. Narayan Tamuli demanded Rs. 50,000.00 (fifty thousand) from them. They stated that Mr. S. K. Chauhan abused and threatened them with dire consequences and forcibly kept them in detention for over two hours in order to force them to pay the amount demanded by Mr. Tamuli. They could come out from the police station because the activists had connections.

Corruption of this magnitude and brutality with impunity is easily understandable for a person who knows that Mr. Narayan Tamuli himself is accused No. 1 in a case of murder for bribes. It is Katigorah P S Case No. 484/07 under sections 302 and 34 of the IPC where SI Narayan Tamuli, ASI Promod Nath and Constable Ramzan Hussain Choudhury were charged with causing death by torture of Motahir Ali of village Bhatgram under Katigorah police station in Cachar, Assam on 21 September, 2007. A departmental enquiry was conducted into the incident by R C Tayal, IPS, Inspector General of Police on 22 September, 2007. The accused were placed under suspension on 11 March, 2008 vide D. O. No. 703 dated 21 March, 2008 and then reinstated. A magisterial enquiry was also conducted vide No. MISC. CASE.1/2007/28 dated 9 April, 2008. This enquiry unequivocally concluded 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.’ A case was also registered in the Assam Human Rights Commission regarding this incident vide AHRC Case No. 6404/2007. But till date neither the accused were prosecuted nor the family of the deceased was adequate compensation or any other type of reparation. That much paper work was made possible by the support of the people to the efforts of BHRPC.

In the present case, it is also notable that Mr. Rupendra Mohan Das, the father-in-law of Sharmista is an advocate and a very influential senior member of the District Bar Association, Silchar, Assam. He is also well connected with the big politicians of Barak valley, the southern part of Assam. Sharmista, her mother and the two social activists stated that no advocate of the District Bar is willing to represent Sharmista. Members of BHRPC also talked with some advocates who, requesting anonymity, told that they are under severe pressure not to take brief against Rupendra Mohan das or any member of his family. They did not want to risk their life and career.

BHRPC once again urges the authorities to:

  1. Register a case against Mr. S K Chauhan and Mr. Narayan Tamuli under section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for demanding and accepting bribes and sections 389, 342 and 506 of the IPC for putting Sharmista and her companions in fear of accusation of offence in order to commit extortion, for their wrongful confinement and for criminal intimidation respectively.
  2. Conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations resulting prosecution.
  3. Entrust other officers in places of Mr. Chauhan and Mr. Tamuli and particularly for investigating the cases filed by Sharmista Das and for executing the search warrant.
  4. Provide Sharmista with the services of a lawyer of her choice to represent her in her cases.
  5. Guarantee adequate security to Sharmista, her mother, other witnesses and her lawyers.
  6. Provide Sharmista and other persons subjected to harassment with adequate compensation.
Neharul Ahmed MazumderSecretary General

Date: 14 May, 2010

Place: Silchar, Assam