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ACHR in Media
ACHR Index: IND/PU/01/03
16 July 2003

Mr. Justice A S Anand
National Human Rights Commission
Sardar Patel Bhawan
Parliament Street
New Delhi-110001

Subject: Complaint against (1) the inhumane torture and custodial death of Mr Suresh Kumar in the custody of Lambi Police under Batinda district of Punjab on 14 July 2003; and (2) for development of measures for prevention of custodial deaths including the prosecution of the perpetrators of custodial death.

Dear Justice Anand,

I am writing to seek your personal intervention against the inhumane torture and custodial death of Mr Suresh Kumar on 14 July 2003. Mr Suresh Kumar, a labourer of Tharajwala village, belonged to Bharatpur Ding village of Rajasthan.

A Dalit, Mr Suresh Kumar reportedly eloped with an upper caste girl on 11 July 2003 from Tharajwala village, Muktsar, Batinda district of Punjab. He reportedly took the girl to one of his relatives' place at Sukhna village. The relatives of the girl reportedly found out the duo, thrashed Mr Suresh Kumar and later handed over to the Lambi police.

The police arrested him on 11 July 2002 and reportedly implicated in a false case for possession of 500 gms of opium. However, the FIR was registered only on 12 July 2003.

According to the FIR a police team had been patrolling the area. A man (the girl's uncle) asked the police to give him a lift. At some distance, a youth (Suresh Kumar), started running on seeing the police. He was caught and 500 gm of opium was recovered from him.

He was produced before the court of judicial magistrate, Gidderbaha, on 12 July 2003 and was remanded to a day's police custody.

However, on 14 July 2003, Mr Suresh Kumar died in police custody.

The station house officer (SHO) of Lambi claimed that Mr Suresh Kumar had complained of nausea on 14 July 2003 morning after which he was shifted to civil hospital, Malout, from where doctors referred him to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot. Mr Suresh Kumar died on the way to the hospital, he said.

The question arises since Mr Suresh Kumar was in police custody, how could he get hold of a poisonous substance in jail.

Mr Suresh Kumar has been subjected to third degree torture at Lambi police station as a result of which he died.

An autopsy has been conducted in the Mukstar civil hospital. The autopsy report reportedly concluded that Suresh Kumar died of internal abdominal injuries inflicted by a blunt weapon, clearly establishing the torture and custodial death of Suresh Kumar.

I shall be grateful if the NHRC could kindly intervene in the custodial death of Mr Suresh Kumar by taking the following measures:

-         Direct the State government of Punjab to order a judicial inquiry into the custodial death of Suresh Kumar and submit the report to the NHRC within four weeks;

-         Direct the State government of Punjab to suspend all the concerned police officers responsible for the custodial death of Suresh Kumar with immediate effect in order to ensure that they do not interfere with the investigation process;

-         Direct the State government of Punjab to forward the post mortem report which should have been conducted in full conformity with the guidelines of the NHRC;

-         Direct the State government of Punjab to pay an interim compensation of Rs 500,000 (five lakhs) to the family of Mr Suresh Kumar within six weeks from the issue of notice by the NHRC and that the same be recovered from the guilty police personnel;

-         Establish a legal cell within the NHRC for prosecution of the culprits responsible for custodial death;

-         Direct the Government of India to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and

-         Take any other measures that the NHRC deems fit.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely


Suhas Chakma

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