Only 26 police officials convicted for 1888 custodial deaths: Reporttext_fields
New Delhi: Only 26 policemen have been convicted on charges related to custodial deaths of the accused in 20 years, with 1888 people have died in police custody, a report published by the Indian Express stated. The statistics were compiled using the National Crime Records Bureau's annual Crime in India (CII) reports from 2001-2020.
The report assumes significance in the wake of the custodial death of Uttar Pradesh native Altaf, who was taken into remand after being accused of kidnapping and forcing a minor Hindu girl into marriage. He allegedly committed suicide in the police station at Kasganj, UP last Tuesday. Five policemen have been suspended pending investigation.
1185 custodial deaths have been reported in the "persons not on remand" category and 703 in the "persons in remand" category. Of the 839 cases filed against policemen, 518 pertain to those, not on remand. Raja Bagga, Senior Programme Officer, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) was quoted by the Express as saying that the status of pending cases should also be included in the CII data, as court cases tend to run for years in India.
Bagga also pointed out that the 113th report of the Law Commission had recommended the insertion of Section 114 B in the Indian Evidence Act, which puts the burden of proof on the police to explain any injury caused in custody.
Gujarat tops the list of 2020, at 15 custodial deaths out of the 76 reported that year. Other states with high rates of custodial deaths include Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Assam. Since 2017, the NCRB has been releasing data on policemen arrested in custodial death cases. Over the past four years, 96 policemen have been arrested in connection with deaths in custody. However, this data is not available for the previous years.
Prakash Singh, a retired IPS officer who has served as DGP in UP and Assam, was quoted by the Express as acknowledging that police used excessive force in questioning and that sensitisation was needed to promote more "scientific" methods of investigation. However 1888 deaths over 20 years were not unusual for a country of India's size and population density, he added.
The investigation into Altaf's death is progressing with the minor girl he was accused of kidnapping having given her statement in front of police. A case of murder has been charged against "unknown people" under section 302 of the IPC.