By Special Correspondent
New Delhi: Reacting to the data about torture and deaths in police custody stated by the government in Parliament, rights group NCHRO said on Thursday that it is a matter of deep concern how police force is abusing law meant for protection of people’s rights.
After a Congress MP raised the question in Parliament about whether there has been a rise in custodial deaths and torture in India, the Minister for State and Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, responded with data from the National Human Rights Commission.
The Minister said that a total of 136 people had died in police custody in 2018, 112 in 2019 and 100 in 2020, while 542 people were tortured in police custody in 2018, 411 in 2019 and 236 in 2020. The minister did not give the community-wise data but it is believed that most of the victims belong to religious minorities and weaker sections.
Along with the question about torture and deaths in police custody, it was also asked whether there was any data available about police violence during the unjust lockdown imposed last year in light of the coronavirus situation. To this, however, the response was that there is no such data available.
The data that has come to light about torture and deaths in police custody is deeply worrying. Human Rights Organisations the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) has itself filed many complaints in the National Human Rights Commission against police atrocities. The data, it is depressing to say, is not surprising. There has been rampant police violence in the last few years. This is not entirely new, but the impunity with which the police have been committing atrocities, torturing people, and killing them in custody speaks to the wicked nature of the Indian political scenario.
Although the said Minister has responded saying that the responsibility to prevent such atrocities lies primarily with the State governments, there is an eerie pattern to be seen here. In the states ruled by the BJP, cases of custodial violence and deaths are especially rife. A majority of cases filed by the NCHRO against police violence are in states ruled by the BJP. This is not to say that atrocities by the police are excusable anywhere else, however.
NCHRO said that the autocratic and violent way in which the government has been conducting itself raises an alarm for all of us. The NCHRO stands firmly with the victims and those who have been fighting against State violence, it added.
“We must also remember that the reality might very well be worse than the data shows, and not all atrocities are covered by the NHRC either. Insofar as the data presents the grim reality, we all should be all the more dedicated in our struggle against undemocratic forces in the country, and resist every manner by the government that is aimed at oppressing the people of this country”.