In Six Years, 591 Deaths in Police Custody all over India: HRW Report

Police have killed hundreds of suspects in custody between 2009-2015, alleges rights group and the police often blame the deaths on suicide or illness.

HRW Report

Human Rights Watch(HRW)’s “Bound by Brotherhood”, India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody report released in New Delhi recently, documents habitual torture of undertrials and detainees by Indian police across several states. Despite changes in laws and guidelines and the promise of police reforms since 1997, official data shows at least 591 people died in police custody between 2010 and 2015
Indian police often torture criminal suspects to punish them, to gather information, or to coerce confessions. While police blame most of the deaths on suicide, illness, or natural causes, in many such cases family members allege that the deaths were the result of torture; allegations sometimes supported by independent investigations. The entire report may be read here.
Bound by Brotherhood examines the reasons for the continuing impunity for custodial deaths in India, and recommends steps that authorities should take to end it. It details the scope of the problem drawing on in-depth Human Rights Watch investigations into 17 custodial deaths that occurred between 2009 and 2015. In most of these cases, family members, with the assistance of lawyers and activists, were able to seek new inquiries, thus providing access to witness testimonies, autopsy reports, or police statements.
In each of the 17 cases, the police did not follow proper arrest procedures—including documenting the arrest, notifying family members, or producing the suspect before a magistrate within 24 hours—which made the suspect more vulnerable to abuse and may have contributed to a belief by police that any mistreatment could be covered up. In most of the cases, investigating authorities, mainly the police, failed to take steps that could have helped ensure accountability for the deaths.
Human Rights Watch has called on the Indian government to strictly enforce existing law and guidelines on arrest and detention and ensure that police officers implicated in torture and other ill-treatment, regardless of rank, are disciplined or prosecuted as appropriate.
The New York-based rights group has urged India to implement a string of often-ignored regulations and prosecute officers involved in the alleged mistreatment of prisoners.
While torture is illegal in India, and law enforcement agencies in many countries now say it does little to elicit accurate information, many Indian police are open about their use of the “third degree” _ a term that can encompass anything from a couple slaps to a savage beating _ to extract details or confessions.
An appendix to the Report makes interesting reading:
Appendix II: Table of Right to Information Responses

Name of
Response from RTI Filed to PoliceResponse from RTI Filed to National Human Rights CommissionResponse from RTI
Filed to State Human
Rights Commission
Kazi NasiruddinThe matter has been transferred to the
Central Bureau of Investigation
headquarters in New Delhi.
Case closed because the State
Human Rights Commission had taken
prior cognizance.
The SHRC said it closed
the case after receiving
a report from the
police, but said it
couldn’t share the
police report.
The police responded that the case is
under investigation, but did not share
any further information.
No response.No RTI filed.
Rajib MollaNo response.No response.The SHRC said the case
is still pending but did
not share any further
Safikul Haque
Uttam Mal
Abdul Aziz
No response.Case closed on January 1, 2015, after
the state government submitted a
compliance report and submitted
proof that it had paid 300,000 rupees
(US$4,530) to Haque’s wife, Sakena
Bibi, as per the NHRC’s
No RTI filed.
The police said that Mal did not die in
police custody and he was neither
detained nor arrested by any police
personnel. However, they said that an
investigation was underway and near
completion on the basis of a complaint
filed regarding his death. They did not
share any details of the investigation.
No response.No RTI filed.
No response.The NHRC said it had recommended
that the Uttar Pradesh government
pay a compensation of 500,000
rupees (US$7,500) to Aziz’s family,
but the government refused to accept
the recommendation. Following this,
the NHRC closed the case on
November 19, 2015, and the files
were “weeded out.”
No RTI filed.
Agnelo Valdaris
Altaf Shaikh
Asked to file RTI again with additional
fee. Follow-up RTI filed but yet to receive
Final order is pending in the case.
The commission sent copies of
interim orders passed by it primarily
to seek further information from state
No RTI filed.
No response.The NHRC said it was informed by the
government of Maharashtra that the
victim’s family had sought
compensation in a petition filed in the Bombay High Court. Since the
matter was now in court, the NHRC
said that it closed the case and
“weeded out” the files.
No RTI filed.
Asked to file RTI again saying the fee
should be paid by postal order. RTI filed
again but yet to receive response.
No response.No RTI filed.
B. JanardhanNo response.No response.No RTI filed.
Julfar ShaikhSaid the application had been forwarded
to the relevant Public Information Officer
at the Dharavi police station and they
should be contacted. RTI filed again but
yet to receive response.
The NHRC said it closed the case
since it was being handled by the
Maharashtra State Human Rights
No response.
K. Syed MohammedThe police said that the case had been
transferred to the state’s Central
Investigation Department and therefore
they cannot answer questions. Follow-up
RTI was filed but yet to receive response
from CBI.
No response.No RTI filed.
Sachin Dhage
Senthil Kumar
Shaik Hyder
Shyamu Singh
No response.No response.No RTI filed.
The police said that the case had been
transferred to the state Central
Investigation Department and therefore
they cannot answer questions. Follow-up
RTI was filed but yet to receive response
from CBI.
No response.No RTI filed.
No response.No response.Asked for additional
money to process the
192-pages of
No response.The NHRC said the case is under
investigation and it is therefore
unable to share any documents.
No RTI filed.



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