Warangal: Suspicious Death Of Abdul Mannan: Dying in Police Custody: Onslaught Continues On the Very Idea Of Value For People and For Human Life – NCHRO Fact Finding.
21 May 2019
Warangal, Telangana State
Warangal: A fact-finding team from the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) visited Warangal on Sunday to investigate the allegations of custodial death of Abdul Mannan in Warangal.
Abdul Mannan a petty vendor, a native of Nawla village in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh and a resident of Shivanagar, died on April 27 while in police custody. Circumstances of Abdul Mannan’s Death Underscore Dangers of Dying in Police Custody. The Onslaught continues on the very Idea of value for people and for human life.
Abdul Manan along with his four of his friends was living in a rented house, they used to sell clothes on the streets. On 27th April 2019, Abdul Mannan and his four friends were on their way to do business as usual when the Warangal police team stopped them at Hassanparty, their belongings, and ID cards including Aadhar cards were checked and verified. Meanwhile, another police team searched their room and made inquiries about them from the neighbours.
Later all five of them were taken to an unknown location where their belongings were again checked and subjected to humiliation and torture, They were treated subhuman, the Warangal police yelled racial epithets at them, along with being denied food, water, and medication. The youth alleged that they were kept in illegal confinement and thrown empty bottles when they asked for water.
During police interrogation, Abdul Manan complained of uneasiness and chest pain repeatedly requested to the Police to take him to Hospital which they didn’t even bother to listen, didn’t make any effort to give basic assistance to save a precious life. Later Abdul Mannan’s cousin Shahid took him to the Hospital where he was declared dead. The duo forced to reach the hospital by walk. Warangal Police allegedly tried to hush-up the crime and threatened his friends not to disclose anything related to this brutality or face consequences.
Abdul Mannan was physically fit, the ill-treatment, abusive, inhuman and degrading treatment took his life.
Following a complaint by the brother of Abdul Mannan, the Telangana State Minority Commission issued a notice to the Warangal Urban district collector and the Warangal commissioner of police asking them to submit a detailed report regarding the incident to the Commission.
The NCHRO fact-finding found many human rights violations experienced by Abdul Mannan – his arrest without warrant, being held incommunicado and ultimately his death by torture – as well as the breach of his rights, all at the hands of the police.
NCHRO fact-finding team member, Suresh Kumar, an advocate in the High Court of judicature, said, “As part of our investigations we spoke to the family members of the victim, their neighbours in Shivanagar and to the doctors at MGM hospital.” After our interactions, we concluded that the victim was in no way associated with any criminal activity. He was arrested by the police without any reason and was subjected to mental and physical harassment without being given food or water which led to his eventual death on the same day at the MGM hospital. We are considering this as a custodial death. Throughout the day, as we were conducting our fact-finding, police kept obstructing us in different ways. They kept asking us to come to the police station and speak to them, which we eventually intend to do to get their version. This committee believes that the police are involved in unlawful activities that lead to a person’s death. We are here to bring out the facts in a lawful manner and identify who is responsible for his death., Adv. Suresh added.
There are numerous case studies of people being brutalised by police and these were classified as “cruel”, “inhumane” or “degrading”. The police often characterize custodial deaths as suicides or attribute them to natural causes and officers accused in custody deaths are rarely prosecuted and almost never punished. Police have enjoyed total impunity while family members, lawyers, friends, and supporters have been threatened, disappeared, detained, or tortured if they stand for justice for the victim. Many of the victim’s families are poor and socially marginalized, making them especially vulnerable to further harassment.
Ultimately, police abuse reflects a failure by our central government and state governments to implement accountability mechanisms. The lack of accountability of police is the reason why there is continued impunity for custodial deaths in our country. Despite strict guidelines, the authorities routinely fail to conduct rigorous investigations and prosecute police officials implicated in torture and ill-treatment of arrested persons. Police investigators often close cases relying solely on the accounts of the implicated police officers. Most of the inquiries on custodial torture have rarely served the interests of justice since most of such inquiries is suffering from institutional bias and State interference.
Are police officers more likely to use lethal force on the weaker sections of the society, Minorities, Dalits or People from poor backgrounds? There is definitely a problem when vulnerable sections of people are being tortured by police at much higher rates. This unfortunate state of affairs is unlikely to improve until fundamental changes in public policy and policing are undertaken. Families who lost loved ones at the hands of the police may not receive justice through the courts, but they would want to know that there has at least been some institutional learning from their losses – that this won’t happen to anyone else again.
National Human Rights Commission and courts have laid down arrest guidelines, including policemen are expected to prepare a memo of arrest with the date and time of arrest, ensure a medical examination is carried out on the accused, identify police themselves clearly when making an arrest, police control room should have information regarding the arrest and the place of custody of the arrestee, produce the accused in front of magistrate within 24 hours etc.
When custodial deaths occur, the police need to file a First Information Report and initiate an investigation, and an autopsy is to be performed and filmed. All these records along with the magisterial inquiry report must be sent within two months of the incident to the National Human Rights Commission. These procedures are too often ignored: In nearly 70 percent of deaths in police custody in India in 2015, the victim had not seen a magistrate within the mandatory 24-hour period or had died within 24 hours. It is the job of the Union Home Ministry and the relevant state ministries to ensure that officers understand that these shocking torture practices are not only ineffective but also undermine public faith in law enforcement and do terrible damage to one of the critical pillars of India’s democracy: the Rule of Law.
The NCHRO fact-finding and press conference team included Adv Ragunath, Adv Suresh, Adv Shakeel, Adv Abid, Adv Sufiyan, Ahad, Praveen, Farooq, Thufail, Thabarak, Umar and representatives from the Civil Liberties Committee.
Our Constitution guarantees equality and equal justice to all. An impartial and transparent investigation into Abdul Mannan’s custodial death would only demonstrate the government’s commitment to protecting the country’s fragile human rights, respect for human life and rule of law.