The first three subsections also describe how traditionally marginalized groups are especially vulnerable to abuse. Throughout India, crime victims frequently face police delays or refusal to investigate their complaints of crime. To make a complaint, victims of crime ordinarily locate and travel to the police station with jurisdiction to investigate. The Indian station-based model has encouraged police neglect and abuse of crime victims. Victims of violence, particularly violence that is gender-based, frequently fail to report crime because they fear being physically harmed at the police station or while traveling to it, especially at night.
Crime victims who are poor and without legal counsel are especially vulnerable to police intimidation. Victims who succeed in getting police to register the initial complaint, or First Information Report FIR , face further obstacles at the investigation stage, including police extortion and unwillingness to investigate due to indifference and bias. In contrast, the call center model ensures that a record of a complaint is made because calls are automatically recorded.
Victims who phone call centers can avoid the police discouragement and harassment that occurs at stations, since trained and monitored call center personnel perform initial intake. When call centers maintain databases regarding actions taken and officers assigned to investigate, it is easier for crime victims and the community to hold individual police accountable for inaction and to detect failures and delays motivated by bribery or bias. Police failure to register and investigate cases is detrimental to police work.
In a vicious cycle, the problem starts when crimes go unreported and unpunished. In the climate of public fear, individuals are afraid to cooperate with and provide information to the police, who may be unable or unwilling to protect them from retaliation by criminals. This, in turn, reduces the ability of police to solve cases and prevent crime, even as pressure on police to deal with rising criminality increases.
Police failure to recognize and investigate criminal offenses can also contribute to failure to prevent future crime, as in the case of victims of recurring domestic violence, violating the right of victims to protection from harm through the enforcement of effective criminal laws. Dalits, tribal groups, women, and poor and marginalized communities such as hijras , sex workers, and transgender people are classes of people in India who are discriminated against, and routinely denied equal protection under the law. By failing to register crimes, the Indian police are also violating domestic law.
The C riminal Procedure Code requires police to register an FIR whenever they receive information that on its face suggests the commission of certain criminal offenses such as murder, rape and theft. Despite legal obligations under Indian and international law, police throughout India frequently fail to register complaints of crime. For instance, Lucknow police reportedly registered FIRs for only 4. Senior police say that one key reason for frequent nonregistration of crimes is pressure from political leaders to show a reduction in crime.
The large scale of crime suppression is suggested by the unrealistically low rate of crime reported by the Indian government: in , a total of , violent crimes were registered nationwide, or 19 crimes for every , residents in India. Bangladesh also suffers from under-registration, but has a higher rate of In developed countries like Japan and the US, the rate is more than 1, reported crimes per , residents. According to former police and local activists, this refusal is in compliance with formal state government policy.
On June 12, , Chief Minister Mayawati allegedly signed a secret executive order directing police to refuse to register FIRs for complaints alleging violation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, except for cases of murder and rape. That year, the number of cases registered under the Act fell by 62 percent.
Another reason police do not register FIRs is to circumvent their obligation to investigate. Several police interviewed by Human Rights Watch said in practice, they lacked discretion. To lessen their workload, such officers refuse or delay registering FIRs. My men cannot say that his work hours are over and he is going home. They cannot refuse to work. While police describe a general reluctance to register and investigate crime, these practices disproportionately impact traditionally vulnerable communities.
Crime victims who are poor cannot afford to pay bribes that police ordinarily demand for registration of the FIR, or for the costs of investigation that victims are expected to cover on behalf of the police.
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For instance, in Gyaneshwar Pandey was murdered by the defendants in a case in which he was a witness. Additionally, police say they routinely decline to register complaints they deem frivolous or minor, an assessment that trivializes the impact of crime on the poor and effectively excludes them from police protection. A Lucknow rickshaw driver said:. Indian NGOs say that although police cite different reasons for their failure to register FIRs for poor crime victims, the problem is police bias. Local activists and groups said police routinely fail to register and investigate complaints of crimes against Dalits when the perpetrators are of a high caste.
Instead, they encourage victims to settle disputes privately or threaten them with false arrest. In , an upper-caste mob murdered four members of a Dalit family in Khairlanji village in Maharashtra state for having testified against them in a previous crime.
Although Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange witnessed the murder of his family, the police initially refused to register his complaint and later failed to investigate and arrest the perpetrators. Only when protests sparked widespread mob violence did police promise justice.
Although police registered an FIR for the murder of Tata Ram, a Dalit farmer living outside of Lucknow, they threatened members of his family with false arrest after the family refused to alter their complaint to remove the names of the alleged high-caste perpetrators. Local groups say that police routinely fail to register cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, which criminalizes acts of violence and intimidation against members of scheduled castes and tribes that are committed by non-members. According to Justice Ramaswamy, former Supreme Court judge and member of the National Human Rights Commission, police register complaints as Code offenses instead of Act offenses so high-caste perpetrators do not face the higher sentences imposed by the Act.
Police stall investigations in cases under the Act, giving perpetrators time to abscond. According to the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, provisions of the Act meant to ensure proper investigation, such as the requirement that crimes be investigated by a high-ranking police officer who completes his or her investigation within 30 days of the violation, have perversely lead to acquittals on the grounds of failure to comply with these provisions.
Discriminatory attitudes and lack of sensitization to the dynamics of crimes involving sexual or domestic violence leave victims without critical police aid or the redress to which they are entitled. Victims often turn to the police only as a last resort and typically when the violence has escalated. Police fail women victims of violence when they promote reconciliation and ignore police obligations to promote safety and enforce the laws. Delhi High Court Judge Aggarwal explained:. Not in these cases. Because these are family matters. Several police officers whom Human Rights Watch interviewed acknowledged that domestic violence faced by victims could constitute a criminal offense.
In fact, police are obligated to inform women who complain of domestic violence of their rights to file a criminal complaint under the Indian Penal Code, to obtain relief under the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act including protection orders and custody orders , to see a Protection Officer, and to free legal services. Shamita Dasgupta, a scholar on violence against women at New York University. But the message going out from police and society should be that this is a crime, you will be prosecuted. Police would say, come tomorrow.
At an Uttar Pradesh police station, a Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed a woman arrive demanding to file a complaint. The sub-inspector in charge was unmoved. They are usually lies and exaggerations. We have experience. We know how to make the distinction. In Binaora village, near Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, year-old Sunita became pregnant after she was raped by her cousin in Her family members beat her and threatened to kill her. Police stations visited by Human Rights Watch reported no or few FIRS registered for rape or sexual assault, suggesting under-registration.
They are generally referred to the local thana [police station]. There were no rape cases registered at this station last year. Moreover, police frequently fail to abide by judicially mandated procedural safeguards against illegal detention. The ICCPR requires that arrest and detention be conducted in accordance with procedures established by law. The Indian Constitution establishes a right to life and personal liberty. The Constitution and Supreme Court judgments also establish procedural obligations for police once they make an arrest.
In DK Basu v.
West Bengal , the Supreme Court established mandatory procedures for police detention. Police stations must post arrest information and send copies of related documents to the area magistrate. Human rights groups say that the police frequently arrest and detain individuals on false charges at the behest of powerful local figures or due to other forms of corruption. In December , Neela was abducted from a field in Atariya village, near Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, and was later raped.
The family fled to Lucknow. According to Guddu, police filed the charges to cover up the fact that Kamlesh died from police torture. Pal and his family had camped outside the panchayat bhawan , a local government office, for two months to protest the August burning and looting of his home in Gokulpur, a village 20 kilometers from Varanasi. He believes that the perpetrators were hired by the local pradhan , or village official, who had recently arrested a political rival Pal had supported. Pal said:. At the station, the Station Officer SO allegedly beat Pal severely, and slapped his wife and children.
You gave her poison. They were never taken back to police custody and they presume the charges were dropped. Police refused to give Pal the post-mortem report, insulting him whenever he came to the station. Months later, when he returned with a state political figure, police gave him the report, which showed that his daughter died of malnutrition, not poison. Police accused Gupta of stealing a mobile phone but did not file charges.
According to Gupta, the police fabricated the accusation because they were bribed by a family against whom he had lodged an FIR:. Police took Gupta to the station. There, a sub-inspector SI threatened to charge Gupta with a more serious crime:. There are also allegations of police making false charges at the behest of local political figures.
For example, Ram Babu, a locally elected official in Habib Pur village, 30 kilometers from Lucknow, said political opponents used the police to retaliate against him after he appointed a Dalit cook to a local school in compliance with a pro-Dalit regulation. According to Ram Babu, in December , police registered a false embezzlement case against him and he fled the area, returning only after he successfully petitioned a court to intervene on his behalf. In the meantime, police broke into his home and threatened his family:.
Police sometimes use torture and other mistreatment to elicit confessions to the charges they fabricate, as the accounts of Nath Pal and Naresh Kumar Gupta, related above, illustrate. Bhageran Mato, a fruit vendor in Varanasi, believes a station officer targeted him for false arrest in retaliation for his organizing other vendors to stop paying bribes to police.
Mato said that at p. Police asked the boy if Mato was the fruit vendor who forced him to steal mobile phones. What is going on? So Mato told police to ask the boy where his house was:. Later, the station officer called Mato to another room, where constables tied him up before beating him:. When Mato regained consciousness he was in the same room but his hands and legs were not tied. The station officer admitted the child was lying and said that Mato would be released the next morning, but he was not.
That night, his family came with a lawyer and secured his release. Despite the procedural safeguards mandated by the Supreme Court in D. Basu, police frequently hold individuals without charge or opportunity to notify outsiders. According to Syed Arif, one of the men arrested, police told the Muslim leaders that police had acted under pressure from Sri Ram Sena and Bajrang Dal, right-wing groups that receive political protection and patronage from the ruling BJP government in Karnataka.
Even this time, the police agreed that we had not done anything illegal. But they said that there was pressure from above because the Hindu groups were protesting. Similarly, police never charged year-old Arun Kumar with a crime, but held him at the JP Nagar police station for three days beginning on January 10, Police frequently fail to produce suspects before a magistrate within 24 hours, and do not permit suspects to inform their families of their detention or consult an attorney.
You might disagree, but we cannot do all work by the book. Then the police would be completely ineffective. Police say they do not permit suspects to meet with relatives and lawyers because evidence would be destroyed. The lawyers are not supposed to act as couriers of information but in effect that is what they do, making our work impossible. These periods of unregulated and incommunicado detention render suspects vulnerable to police torture and other ill-treatment.
A sub-inspector SI , accompanied by five constables in civilian dress, accused him of possessing stolen gold and jewelry. Police then threw Seth into a non-police vehicle and took him to a deserted railway line. Scared, Seth took police to his shop and let them confiscate all of his merchandise. When Seth protested, constables beat him and the sub-inspector broke two of his fingers. Police then bent his head back and poured gasoline in his ear.
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Seth said:. Later that day, Seth was taken the police station and put in lockup. At night, police showed him a television, two mobile phones, and some jewelry and told him to sign a blank piece of paper. Seth said when he refused to sign, the SI started verbally abusing and beating him. Police then took Seth to a room where journalists were waiting:. Seth said that while senior police told local media in June that his case would be independently investigated, nothing has happened. All of my money was robbed away. I used to run a shop, now I must go to another shop as a wage earner.
Basu v. West Bengal establish detention procedures such as medical examination of individuals in custody upon arrest and every 48 hours. These legal protections are insufficient because too many police continue to view the use of force to obtain confessions and information as an acceptable and necessary tool for investigating crime and enforcing the law. In our investigations and interviews with police officers and victims, Human Rights Watch heard accounts of various forms of torture and ill-treatment. Police beatings with lathis , or batons, over varying periods of time is the most common type of abuse described by victims and local human rights groups.
Victims of street abuse report that police dragged them by their hair along the street toward police vehicles, and that constables beat them with lathis in front of bystanders. Victims of abuse in police stations and chowkis describe severe and recurring violence. A man who worked in the Bangalore police for five years as a volunteer described common methods police use to elicit confessions, which were consistent with those recounted by victims and described in reports by local groups:. Human Rights Watch also heard reports of sexually abusive and degrading treatment occurring in police stations.
Victims provided details of police beatings that occurred in the station courtyard, committed by constables at the direction of or with the active participation of sub-inspectors and other superior officers. Some victims also described intensification of police violence over the period of detention, with police committing the most severe beatings late at night, after they returned from patrolling duties and while they were drunk.
The torture of year-old Ram Chandra Prasad in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, over the course of five nights exemplifies this pattern. Prasad worked as an assistant to a pharmacist at a small hospital to support himself as he pursued his art degree. On December 16, , a friend working at the same clinic was shot and killed.
Police picked up Prasad the next day, taking him to the Cholapur police station courtyard, where they pulled his arms around a pole supporting a verandah and used their lathis to cane his legs, telling him to confess to the murder of his friend. Caning him again that night, police told Prasad that if he confessed, he would be booked on a lesser offense. Prasad refused. Prasad refused:. Then constables beat Prasad with their lathis for a half hour.
The next day, the Station Officer again told Prasad to confess. Prasad was released the next day, after family and others from the village blockaded the main road to protest. Prasad said that although the next day the Station Officer was demoted and transferred, he never received compensation. Because his parents had to borrow money to pay for his medical bills, Prasad cannot afford to pursue his art degree. He said that the Station Officer has sent people from other villages to tell him to keep quiet. Individuals who are poor and socially or politically marginalized are particularly vulnerable to police torture and mistreatment.
Poor criminal suspects are unable to bribe police to secure their release and are unlikely to have connections to local political figures who can intervene. As a result, they are targets for prolonged detention and repeated violence. Police booked them for allegedly stealing a car and firing at police while trying to escape in it.
He told Human Rights Watch:. Police later transferred Singh to Dasna jail. God knows what happened. Police took Singh to a local hospital on January 23, , and later to Meerut hospital, where he died on January 27, According to his family, a post-mortem showed that his rectum and urinal passage were not functional, and an x-ray report showed fractures in his right hand, neck, and spinal cord.
The two men police arrested with Singh were ultimately acquitted. Women and girls, especially those who are poor, are at risk of abuse by police when in custody as criminal suspects, especially when being escorted by male police to court. Kamalamma, a year-old resident of Virasandra village in Karnataka, described being sexually molested by police in March in her home. She and her husband had contracted to sell 20 trees on their farm to a local business.
The day after the wood was cut, a sub-inspector [SI] from Bethmangala police station and two other police came to the farm and demanded three pieces of wood the couple had kept to thatch their roof, and which they had stored in front of their house. Kamalamma was alone, and told the police to return when her husband was available.
She said she sat in front of the wood to prevent the police from taking it:. Kamalamma filed a complaint against sub-inspector Jayanna with police, but he died shortly after the incident. She is still traumatized by the abuse she suffered. Some socially and politically marginalized communities are subject to frequent physical harassment and street beatings by police, in some cases explicitly sanctioned by senior police. They used to be there earlier also, but now we have cracking-down.
Two officers dragged her through a busy traffic circle to their jeep. She said:. Human Rights Watch also interviewed six women in the sex industry in Bangalore who described being beaten and sexually harassed by police on the street, including women police. Another woman said that a female sub-inspector at Ashok Nagar, near MG Road, beat her and threatened her.
I will kill you and show you as an unclaimed body. Byatha N. Jagadeesha, a lawyer at the Bangalore-based Alternative Law Forum who works with women who engage in commercial sex work, told Human Rights Watch that female police beat sex workers more often than did male police, who believe they can abuse their authority to coerce the women into providing sexual services. Women who engage in commercial sex work said police behavior varied. But there are others who are cruel. In every police station, there will be two or three police persons that will harass, want to rob us or want free sex.
Sometimes other police people will even warn us about these types, but no action is taken to punish the bad ones. Indian law does not impose penal sanctions on sex workers for offering their services. However, people we interviewed said that police at times register false robbery cases against sex workers in order to harass them. One woman said that the police blackmailed a client into filing a complaint against her by threatening to inform his family about his encounter with a sex worker. I was badly beaten. The case is still going on. When he protested that he had paid for his rickshaw license and his revenue dues, the officer and two others began hitting him with their lathis , causing his fingers to bleed and back pain that lasted for two to three days.
In no case may children apprehended by the police be held in a police lockup or jail. Within 24 hours of detaining a child, the police are required to produce the child before a special Juvenile Justice Board, consisting of a magistrate with special knowledge or training in child psychology or child welfare and two social workers, at least one of whom must be a woman. However, according to Prakash Kariyappa, an investigator for Bangalore-based South Indian Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring SICHREM , police sometimes fail to place children immediately with officers designated for work with juveniles and hold them for longer than 24 hours before presenting them to a magistrate or juvenile justice board.
Bangalore police have beat and administered electric shocks to boys, particularly those living on the street or from poorer families, whom they accuse of petty theft. Kariyappa, who has interviewed numerous child victims of police violence, said that police periodically round up local teenagers whom they previously have arrested and sometimes torture them, usually over the course of a week, seeking to get them to confess to new crimes or implicate others.
Police use electric shocks because they leave few visible marks that could be discovered during the examination of a child at an observation home. During a visit to an observation home in Bangalore in December , several children told Human Rights Watch that police had subjected them to electric shocks and beatings during questioning. Some of the children said the police had threatened retribution if they complained of being beaten.
He was kept in a police lock-up for four days before being produced before a magistrate judge. The police listed his age as Five boys described being arrested and beaten severely until they identified accomplices. One boy said:. I hope that with better training, they will learn to become humane, a little kinder. Police sometimes detain and beat family members and friends of criminal suspects when they are unable to apprehend the suspects.
So an associate is caught, who is harassed. Even when initially detained for information, family members of criminal suspects are vulnerable to police ill-treatment and extortion. But once Vikram surrendered himself at the police station, the beatings continued. Then the SI directed constables to place the brothers in chairs, stand on their thighs, and beat the soles of their feet.
Vikram was beaten for the rest of the night. In August , year-old Narayan phoned his father S. Police questioned various family members at the police station, but let them go. Janardhan told Human Rights Watch:. They also used a wooden roller on my legs. It was really painful.
Living in the tension of the already and the not yet
I thought I would never walk again. After releasing him, they told him to tell everyone that his father was being beaten. An inspector, assistant sub-inspector, and head constable took Janardhan to a guesthouse in Tirupati. At the guesthouse, a police officer gave Janardhan medicine and told him to sign blank sheets of paper. The police held him for two days, as his wounds healed. When they released him, they told Janardhan to pretend that he had come to Tirupati independently to look for Narayan. The police warned him that if he complained about the abuse he suffered, his other son, Bhaktachalam, would be framed as a drug smuggler.
A common reason police beat criminal suspects is to obtain confessions or other information. They are required to produce suspects within 24 hours of making an arrest, and too often rely on the confession, or information gleaned from or planted in it, to justify keeping the suspect in police custody for continued questioning. Confessions made in police custody are ordinarily not admissible as proof of guilt.
They say they frequently use these methods because of large caseloads, limited time, and unrealistic demands from superiors to resolve cases quickly. A sub-inspector working outside of Varanasi told Human Rights Watch:. The Law Commission of India recognized the long-standing problem in its only report on custodial crimes:.
No police officers Human Rights Watch spoke with described seeking voluntary confessions; most operated under the assumption that suspects would not confess to crimes unless they were beaten. We have to get it from him. Some of the police officers interviewed by Human Rights Watch appeared unaware that interrogation techniques exist that do not involve the use of force. An inspector in Bangalore told Human Rights Watch:.
In well-functioning criminal justice systems, trained police investigators build cases on forensic evidence and witness accounts and, armed with such evidence, often obtain voluntary confessions that are less likely to be recanted. Another problem is that police seek confessions instead of gathering other evidence, a process they described as time-consuming and often fruitless.
Police say they are disinclined to gather forensic evidence because it takes between two and six months to get forensic reports back from state and regional laboratories. Other police say they rely on confessions because they do not know how else to conduct criminal investigations, having never received such training. In interviews, several police told Human Rights Watch they beat criminals to punish them and deter them from committing crime again.
Some police appear to believe that delivering punishment was a central responsibility of police, notwithstanding its implicit and illegitimate presumption of guilt. Some police said they committed beatings of suspects under orders. According to another constable in Uttar Pradesh:. Police officers also said that the public approved of their infliction of beatings as punishment, in some cases requesting it. Sometimes we do beat him to teach him a lesson. The Indian police can be broadly categorized as committing two types of unlawful killings.
In the first, suspects die during custodial torture or by execution and police deny all responsibility, claiming instead that there were other causes for the deaths. In parts of India, police commit both kinds of killings with impunity. The absence of records including post-mortem examinations and registries of arrest and detention ordinarily make it difficult if not impossible to disprove police accounts. Police often deny responsibility for killings, even when evidence suggests a victim died in police custody.
For instance, the police deny any involvement in the August 13, , death of Krishnamurthy, a building contractor in the Kolar Gold Fields area in Karnataka, although he was last heard from while in police custody.
According to his family, the night he died Krishnamurty and two friends had gone to dinner at a hotel restaurant, where they quarreled with a non-uniformed man who claimed to be a police officer. The constable sent Krishnamurthy to the police station. Before reaching the station, Krishnamurthy used his mobile phone to call and alert his friend Parashar Reddy.
Hours later, Krishnamurthy called Reddy again and said the police had beaten him severely. According to Kumar:. The constable later claimed that he found Krishnamurthy driving while drunk, stopped him and told him to park and sleep it off. Still at the station, Kumar asked the police to accompany him to the temple but they refused. The next day, Kumar tried to file a complaint against the police. He said that the friends who had been with Krishnamurthy at the restaurant and in the car changed their stories and supported the police version, denying having seen Krishnamurthy being taken into custody.
One of them later called Kumar to apologize. Similarly, the police deny any involvement in the death of Abdul Khalid, even though his wife witnessed his arrest. On June 18, , at 3 a. Sakia Begum recognized one of the police officers as a constable at a local police station who had previously extorted money from her husband. She ran to the police station but found it locked and empty:. Despite protests by friends and relatives, police refused to register an FIR in the case. Police refusal to take a body for a post-mortem examination makes it virtually unfeasible to investigate possible police involvement in killings.
That is particularly true in cases where victims have reason to suspect police officials of having committed the crime but no one witnessed police apprehending the victim or the killing itself. The constable had previously threatened her husband with harm unless he gave him money or information on local criminals. According to Shama:. In some cases where witnesses can attest that police took custody of an individual later found dead, police have admitted they had custody but claimed that the death resulted from sudden illness or heart attack.
To foreclose inquiry into such deaths, police deny family and friends access to the body and fail to deliver the body for a post-mortem examination. No post-mortem examination was conducted. As discussed earlier in this chapter, police then filed what appear to have been unsubstantiated charges accusing family members of the murder. Another police tactic is to claim that the detained individual committed suicide. She died at the station and police claimed it was a suicide. While in the cases described so far police deny responsibility for killings, in other cases police publicly acknowledge killing individuals, often alleged organized crime figures, terrorists, and violent criminals.
The frequency of fake encounter killings, characterized by police acknowledgment of involvement but false denial of malfeasance, is unclear. The Indian government reports that in , police killed individuals designated as civilians and injured ; in , police killed and injured Human Rights Watch is not in a position to determine how many incidents are genuine police shootings in self-defense rather than shoot-outs staged or falsely reported by police.
The National Human Rights Commission has not released nationwide data on killings by police fire since ; that year, it reported receiving 84 complaints of fake encounter deaths. However, considering the scale of this practice in many locales, it is unlikely that local officials and senior police officers are unaware of the involvement of police in such killings.
Doubtlessly, senior officers have also been involved in planning or ordering fake encounters. While some senior police denied the practice, low-ranking officers appear to regard it as a necessary crime control tactic. The sub-inspector quoted immediately above also told Human Rights Watch that, just days earlier, he had been ordered by a superintendent of police to commit a killing. Asked if he would do it, the sub-inspector said:. Police officers claim that fake encounter killings only target individuals who are a danger to the public, an assertion often disputed by family members and rights activists.
Regardless of their motive, fake encounter killings violate domestic law and the prohibition against arbitrary deprivations of life under international law. In police accounts, encounter killings ordinarily occur in the early hours of the morning. The police virtually always claim that the suspect opened fire upon spotting police, and was killed when police returned fire.
In some cases, police say a suspect in custody fled and that, when they found him or his hideout, the suspect opened fire. In other cases, police claim they exchanged fire with a suspect fleeing arrest or leaving the scene of the crime, or with a suspect caught during the commission of a crime. In the latter two types of claims, perhaps to justify the absence of bullet-casings from a non-police handgun, police often claim the suspect snatched the handgun of a police officer and turned it on him, leaving the officer no option but to kill him in self-defense.
In many encounters alleged to be faked, police do not report sustaining injuries. When asked about newspaper accounts of exchange-of-fire encounters, the sub-inspector who admitted committing fake encounter killings said:. Individuals facing criminal charges or their family members are frequently the target of allegedly fake encounter killings. The police had already lodged several criminal cases against Yadav, and suspected that he was involved in the death of a police officer. Annirudh Yadav, the lawyer handling the case, told Human Rights Watch that the police story does not hold up:.
He then disappeared. In written statements, police said Patel and an accomplice stole a cashbox from a small shop in Harahua market at p. Sub-inspector Ravindra Bhusan Maurya of the Harhua police post, drinking tea at a nearby shop, heard noises and called Mahendra Pratap Yadav, inspector for the Badagaon police station, on his mobile phone. Yadav pursued Patel and his accomplice in his jeep from one direction, while Maurya approached from the other. Finding themselves cornered, Patel or his accomplice opened fire. Police fired back in self-defense, killing Patel while his accomplice escaped in the darkness.
Two hours after Patel left on his motorcycle for the dinner, one of his brothers received an anonymous call saying that Patel had been in an accident. A neighbor also received an anonymous call saying Patel was at Pragya Hospital Harahua, but when they later checked they found the hospital had no record of him having been there. The next morning, the family read in the newspaper that Patel had been killed in an encounter while supposedly robbing a shop. A newspaper reported that Sanjay Singh, who allegedly was killed in an encounter with police on June 16, , had been taken into police custody in the presence of his family days before.
Nevertheless, the family feared that Singh would be encountered and spent the next two days writing letters to state ministers, senior police, and the state human rights commission. According to Ajay Kumar:. Santosh Kumar Singh, known as Sanjay, was also taken into police custody in the presence of his family and later reported dead in an encounter with police.
However, no FIR has been registered against police. While allegations of police abuses are frequently reported in the Indian media, only 28 percent of the , complaints filed against police between and resulted in police department, magisterial or judicial inquiries, according to the Indian government. During the same period, prosecutions of 8, officers were initiated, but only 1, trials were completed and officers convicted.
Independent investigations are critical to reducing impunity for police human rights violations. Internal police investigations in India have not fulfilled this role. In some states, internal disciplinary proceedings are hampered by the lack of a police ombudsperson or dedicated internal monitoring unit. In the Indian Supreme Court ordered the states to create police complaints authorities to investigate complaints of police misconduct, but only about half the states have done so.
Most existing bodies do not function properly, and, according to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, none have staff to conduct independent investigations. Community-led protests in response to particular incidents of police violence sometimes trigger temporary suspension or transfer of junior- and low-ranking police. Government data shows that internal disciplinary proceedings do not ordinarily result in serious disciplinary actions against perpetrators.
In some cases documented by Human Rights Watch, ad-hoc or informal internal investigations resulted in local police and political figures publicly promising action or compensation to victims, which they ultimately failed to deliver. Sub-inspectors and constables interviewed by Human Rights Watch express a fear of prosecution for the abuses they carry out, reflecting the success of high-profile cases against police.
They say they nevertheless follow illegal orders because they fear their superior officers. One sub-inspector said:. But of course, if there is an inquiry, we are the ones that are punished. In the cases we documented, some victims of police abuse did not pursue criminal cases against police because they feared retaliation. Many described to Human Rights Watch harassment and intimidation by police and others in their community. For instance, when Bhageran Mato, whose case is described in Chapter IIIabove, wrote a letter to senior police officials and succeeded in getting a complaint lodged with a magistrate judge, he was threatened by police, his former attorney, and local media.
He said:. Mato refused to withdraw his complaint and on November 27, , his shop and those of nearby vendors were destroyed. According to Mato, police told the shopkeepers who had helped secure his release to lodge a complaint against him and to sign papers saying he did not appear to have been tortured. The potential for police intimidation or harassment of individuals complaining of abuse is high because registration of the FIR may require a visit to the very station where the abuse occurred, or interaction with the offending officer.
Police motivated to cover-up an abuse can refuse to register an FIR or inaccurately record it and witness statements. Another major hindrance to criminal prosecution of police is Section of the Criminal Procedure Code, which requires state government approval for prosecution of state police. At any stage of the inquiry, the NHRC can recommend that the government provide immediate interim relief to victims in the form monetary compensation.
In practice, when the NHRC finds a prima facie case of a human rights violation, it usually recommends that the government provide immediate interim relief in the form of compensation but does not recommend prosecution of or disciplinary action against individual offenders. Interim compensatory relief orders are inadequate for victims who seek other support, such as restitution for what can be long-term medical and psychological care.
In , the Human Rights Act was amended. A amendment permits the NHRC to transfer complaints to state human rights commissions SHRCs , undercutting the discretion of complainants who want to pursue their claims with the NHRC in light of its expertise and greater resources. The 18 SHRCs vary greatly in resources and will to act, and some exist only in name. The national government elected in May has committed to initiating new police reforms.
The Indian government at the highest levels should work with state governments, the police, civil society organizations, and the general public to bring about the needed change. Two-track reform is called for.
First, renewed commitment by national and state officials to discipline or prosecute as appropriate police officers who commit human rights violations is essential, with benchmarks to measure progress in implementing the commitment. Consistent and determined prosecution of serious offenders regardless of rank is critical to ending abuse. It sends a strong signal to the police and public that human rights violations are unacceptable and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This chapter includes a series of concrete recommendations on ending impunity.
Second, and in the long-run, a sustainable drop in police abuses in India requires an overhaul of police laws and regulations, and institutional structures and practices that facilitate the abuses. While human rights violations are never justifiable, improvements in these areas are also critical to building professional, rights-respecting police forces.
This report was written by Naureen Shah, Leonard H. It was reviewed by James Ross, legal and policy director, and Joseph Saunders, deputy program director. Andrea Cottom, senior associate for the Asia Division, and Pema Abrahams, associate for the Asia Division, provided administrative and technical assistance, and Grace Choi provided production assistance to the report. We are very grateful to the many other local NGOs, activists and lawyers who generously assisted us.
We also wish to thank the police experts and scholars, particularly those at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, for their invaluable insight on police practices. Above all, we would like to express our gratitude to all the victims, witnesses and police who agreed to be interviewed for this report regarding their personal experiences. Skip to main content. August 4, Political Interference and Stalled Efforts at Reform Decades of partisan policing—politically motivated refusal to register complaints, arbitrary detention, and torture and killings sometimes perpetrated by police at the behest of national and state politicians—have resulted in an unprecedented level of public distrust and fear of the police.
As one police officer told Human Rights Watch: The problem is that law enforcement is only possible up to a limit. Anti-social elements are protected by the powerful. Police is supposed to be tough on criminals. But criminals are protected, supported and rewarded, so the police who act against them are helpless. No officer is in a position to protect anyone else. They are barely able to protect themselves. Human Rights Violations by Police In this report, Human Rights Watch documented four abuses frequently committed by police in parts of India: failure to investigate crimes, arbitrary arrest and illegal detention, custodial torture, and extrajudicial killings.
Illegal Arrest and Detention , Police Torture and Ill-Treatment Police officers sometimes make arrests in retaliation for complaints of police abuse, in return for bribes, or due to political considerations or the influence of powerful local figures. A Bangalore police officer admitted: We do use some extralegal methods. Prasad told Human Rights Watch: After they finished tea they pulled off my shirt and trousers. The constable kicked me, and then constables came and held my hands and legs. They drenched me with a bucket of cold water For one and a half hours, I was beaten like this I felt my veins, it felt like they would burst.
We are poor people. If we gave the police [money], probably it would have helped my boy. One woman told Human Rights Watch, I was standing on the street. Impunity for Extrajudicial Killings Officer Singh, discussed above, described to Human Rights Watch how senior officers boast of ordering killings.
She told Human Rights Watch: We were looking all over for him Meanwhile, our neighbors called the police to say that there was a body lying in the field near our house. The police took my son there for identification. It was my husband. Key Recommendations The government that came to power after the May elections has committed itself to initiating police reforms.
Overhaul police structure s and improve working conditions Improve conditions for rank and file officers : low-ranking police are overworked and often exhausted due to the requirement they be available for duty 24 hours a day. Some live in filthy, cramped barracks. They are demoralized by limited promotional opportunities and relegation to menial tasks. In such conditions, they are likely to fall into abusive patterns of behavior.
Minimum standards for housing and work hours should be developed, for instance, a requirement that station house officers announce and adhere to a monthly work schedule with maximum hours of work and provide for mandatory leave. Increasing the number of junior-ranking officers trained and authorized to conduct investigations and register complaints, and training constables to assist in crime investigations, is critical. The lack of crime investigation t raining and equipment effectively discourages officers from building cases on forensic evidence and witness statements, rather than coerced confessions.
The investigation curriculum at police academies must be bolstered, including in the use of forensic tools and non-coercive interrogation techniques. E very investigating officer should have access to basic forensic equipment. T he training and roles of low-ranking police should be enhanced to include investigation assistance.
Create a culture that rewards respect for human rights and professional conduct : the skills and potential of junior- and low-ranking police are often underdeveloped, with many staying at the same rank their entire careers. Frustrated officers with nothing to lose are more likely to engage in abusive behavior. To change this environment, provide incentives for better police behavior. Fill more senior- and junior-ranking positions by promotion, rather than direct recruitment.
Senior police should actively encourage junior-ranking officers to innovate police station procedures and publicly laud such work. Enforce the law and hold abusers accountable for violations Create a system of effective independent investigations into complaints of police abuse and misconduct : i ndependent and effective investigations into complaints against police are rare in much of India. To reduce impunity, the central and state government should bolster the capacity of the national and state human rights commissions to undertake independent investigations, including the number of investigative staff.
Enact laws against torture : s trong domestic laws are critical to signaling police that torture is never a permissible means to extract confessions or other information from criminal suspects. The Indian parliament should ratify the Convention Against Torture and amend the Indian Evidence Act to make inadmissible any evidence obtained on the basis of a police interrogation that involved the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or other illegal coercion. Require the reading of rights to suspects and put safeguards into place to deter torture : e xisting laws regarding arrest and detention are frequently flouted, regarded by some police as impractical.
A more detailed set of recommendations is included at the end of this report. A Dangerous State of Disrepair The police are unequal to these tasks due to a dearth of trained personnel and necessary equipment. Poor Infrastructure The deteriorating state of the police is most visible at police stations. A police officer in charge of a Bangalore police station described a case in which parents told police their daughter had been kidnapped from the area: If the family were to wait for the police to respond, it would be days before the expense amount [was authorized] and the policeman able to reach the spot using public transport.
So, if the father wants results, he will offer to provide transport. We even have to buy paper to write the FIRs. Every week, we are sending at least 8 or 10 statements to a number of officers so we have to make multiple copies. How do we fund this? With our salaries? But if we ask the victim to supply the paper, we are accused of corruption. Gupta explains: Law and order in the present day is much like a conflagration that starts with a spark. The cause of trouble is often obscure but the spread is rapid and the effect is widespread.
At the police station level, the station House Officer perceives local incidents but not their wider repercussions. At district or higher levels, senior officers perceive the repercussions but not the causes Without a communication network linking all levels, there can obviously be no upward flow of information and intelligence or downward control and direction of action Inefficient Deployment of Personnel The Indian police suffer from a shortage of personnel. Sub-inspector Jagmohan Prasad, Gonda district, Uttar Pradesh, explained: Here we do everything in one day: law enforcement, attending to VIPs and all that during the day.
Then patrolling at night. In between, we have to write our reports, do investigation. We sleep at about 4 a. And have to be back on the job by 9 a. We register 10 to 15 complaints a day. Then our increment [pay] is cut as punishment Our officers have to realize that there is a limit to what we can do.
An inspector in charge of a police station in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, said: With all the mental stress, the hour law and order duty, the political pressure, a person may turn to violence. How much can a person take? We have to keep watch on an accused person, their human rights, but what about us?
Living like this 24 hours. We are not claiming that our power makes us born to work all the times. Sometimes we beat or detain illegally, because our working conditions, our facilities are bad. So we are contributing to creating criminals, militants. I tell my men that a victim will only come to the police station because we can give him justice, so we should not beat him with a stick. But often the men are tired and irritable and mistakes take place. No system can remain healthy if such a large chunk of its personnel vegetate and waste out after working for nearly 30 years in the same rank at which they entered the system.
Within one year, we were exposed to [investigation techniques] two or three times. He asked the people to make such politicians accountable for their wrongdoings, who he said made wealth in getting diesel permits and now rode land cruisers. Without naming anyone he said some politicians were doing politics in the name of Islam to further their vested interests.
He said salaries to teachers would be paid through people so to improve their performance and make them answerable to the people. Mr Khan said as the PTI was fighting war to secure future of the youth so they should strengthen the party. He said that if any minister in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was found involved in any wrongdoing, he would face action.
He also said that bureaucracy would be made to serve the masses.
The PTI chief announced to set up playgrounds in each district of the province to provide recreation and sports facilities to youth. Someone please tell Imran Khan that it is no longer an election campaign. So, it is time to stop saying "we wil I think Imran Khan is not coming out of the euphoria he got out of his pre-election campaigns.
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