ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
7 June 2006
UA-180-2006: INDIA: Police officer assaults mother and son and then attempts to lodge a false case
INDIA: Torture; impunity; fabrication of records; absence of inquiry
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received the following information regarding the brutal assault upon a mother and her son while they were traveling by motorbike. On 15 May 2006, at about 7pm, Mr. Shukkur and his mother Suhara were going to Suhara’s mother’s house on a motorbike. When they reached a place called Alanchery Mini Road, Sub-Inspector Mr. Vipin Das of Vadakkekad police station flashed a torchlight into Shukkur’s face. Shukkur tried to stop the motorcycle, but before he could do this, the Sub-Inspector along with other police officers started beating Shukkur and his mother with sticks. Shukkur lost control of the motorcycle and both he and his mother fell onto the road. The police officers surrounded Shukkur and his mother and continued beating them. Shukkur and Suhara pleaded with the police not to beat them. However, by the time the police stopped the beating both Shukkur and Suhara had suffered serious injuries.
On the evening of 15 May 2006, Suhara received information that her mother was sick and she wanted to visit her. Since Suhara’s husband was away, she asked her son Shukkur to take her to her mother’s house. They set out from their house on their motorcycle with Shukkur driving and Suhara seated behind. It was on their way that they were assaulted by the police. Finding that both Suhara and Shukkur were injured the police took them to a nearby private hospital, the Raja Hospital, at a place called Muthuvatoor. Once at the hospital, the police took the initiative to get first-aid to the victims but attempted to make a fabricated ‘road accident’ case when they informed the hospital that Suhara and Shukkur had suffered injuries from a road traffic accident. However, when Suhara’s husband Mr. Ummar came to know about the incident, he immediately rushed to Raja hospital, where the Sub-Inspector informed Ummar that it was by mistake that he had assaulted Suhara and Shukkur. But when Ummar questioned the Sub-Inspector why the police assaulted his wife and son in spite of them crying out in pain, the police officer did not offer a reply and soon left the hospital.
On the same day, by about 11pm, both Suhara and Shukkur were discharged from Raja hospital and were admitted at Aswini hospital Thrissur, which is at the district headquarters. After treatment, Suhara was discharged on May 17 and Shukkur on May 20. The AHRC has received a copy of the medical records issued from the Aswini hospital in which the injuries sustained by the victims were recorded. The medical records show that the victims informed the hospital that they suffered injuries from the assault by the police and from falling down from the motorcycle following the initial police attack. The medical certificate issued for Suhara shows that she was suffering from acute pain to several parts of her body and that Shukkur suffered minor as well as major injuries including a fracture of the nasal septum.
It is very common for police in India to use brutal force. In this case, it is alleged that the police officers were on patrol and were checking vehicles at random. It was at this time Suhara and Shukkur happened to pass through the road where the police were conducting their check. The manner in which the police tried to stop the vehicle, in this case a motorbike with a pillion rider, the subsequent assault and the false report they gave at the hospital shows how the police behave towards ordinary people. Suhara and Shukkur are fortunate not to have suffered fatal injuries and were able to give statements. It is also a matter of mere luck that Suhara’s husband came to know about the incident within a short time and was able to intervene. Since the family is financially sound, they are now trying to lodge a complaint at the local Magistrate Court under Section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code which would not have been possible had they been poor. However, the application of law is limitted since the courts can only play a minor role by recording the statement of the complainants and referring the case to the same police for investigation.
The AHRC has come across several cases from India where similar investigations turned out to be a farce, when the police to whom such investigations were referred to tampered with records and never registered a case. This is possible because torture is yet to be made a crime in India. There are no independent agencies in India to investigate cases of police atrocities. The narrow possibility of any legal intervention is limited in cases of torture unless there is an impartial police investigation.
Even in rare cases where the investigation is impartial, the investigating police officer has to depend upon the records maintained at the police station which is under the control of the accused officer. Such records are not maintained in a proper manner since these records are often subjected to tampering and falsification owing to a lack of disciplinary control over the police. There is no legal procedure for these records to be produced before the court in short notice. The records, which are often produced in court after considerable delays since the courts are already overburdened with thousands of pending cases, are regularly tampered with to suit the accused police officers. In the meanwhile the victims, who by then are legally termed as witnesses, receive no protection whatsoever and are often subjected to various pressures by the police to either withdraw their statement or to settle the case outside the court. This is due to the complete absence of a witness protection programme in India. The little the court can do to ensure that the witnesses are not tampered with is to issue a condition while releasing the accused police officer on bail that the accused must not try to influence the witnesses in the case and tamper with the evidence. However, this will be only possible if the accused officer is charged sheeted with a crime, which is to be done by the local police. Since this will take a minimum of two to three years, the officers accused of torture are at absolute liberty to do whatever they like and remain in active service.
India has signed the International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, India resisted ratifying the Convention on the ground that the domestic law in India is capable of serving the intention of the Convention. The AHRC has received hundreds of cases of a similar nature from India where atrocities committed by police and other law enforcement agencies in India, even after being widely reported through media and having convincing medical evidence, are often not prosecuted. The possibility of obtaining compensation for the victims is also highly inadequate since as of today to obtain compensation the victim must approach a civil court; and cases in civil courts can take decades. The compensation even if granted will not be sufficient to meet the medical expenses of the victim. In the meanwhile the victims are forced to withstand the pressure from the accused officers who continue in active service.
Please write to Mr. M. N. Jayaprakash, the Superintendent of Police, Thrissur District seeking for an immediate and proper investigation into the incident. Please also send a copy of your letter to the other authorities named below.
Mr. M. N. Jayaprakash
Superintendent of Police
Civil Lane, Thrissur
Fax: + 91 – 487 – 2361000
ail: [email protected]
Dear Mr. Jayaprakash
INDIA: Police officer assaults mother and son and then attempts to lodge a false case
Name of victims:
1. Mr. K. U. Shukkur, aged about 18 years, son of Ummar, Kooriyattil House, Punnayoor village, Chavakkad Thaluk, Punnayoor, Thrissur District, Kerala State
2. Mrs. Suhara, aged about 38 years, wife of Ummar, Kooriyattil House, Punnayoor village, Chavakkad Thaluk, Punnayoor, Thrissur District, Kerala State
Names of perpetrators: Mr. Vipin Das, Sub-Inspector of Police, curretly stationed at Vadakekkad police station, Chavakkad Thaluk, Thrissur District, Kerala State and other police officers attached to the same police station
Place of incident: Near Alachery Mini Road, Vadakekkad, Thrissur District
Date of incident: 15 May 2006.
I am writing to you calling for your immediate intervention into the alleged case of brutal assault upon a mother and son while they were traveling on a motorbike on 15 May 2006. The police officer, Sub-Inspector Mr. Vipin Das is alleged to have flashed a torchlight into the face of Mr. Shukkur who was driving the motorcycle and is also alleged to have beaten both victims with sticks while the motorcycle was still in motion. It is alleged that they fell down and they were surrounded by Mr. Vipin and his fellow officers and were beaten continuously. As a result, both Shukkur and Suhara suffered injuries and were hospitalised.
Mr. Vipin Das then took the victims to Raja hospital and tried to make a false ‘road traffic accident’ case in order to avoid prosecution for the crimes he had committed. It was only after the intervention of Suhara’s husband that the victims were able to give a proper statement and obtain adequate treatment.
I am deeply concerned about the manner in which the police officers under your jurisdiction use brutal force. It is mere commonsense that a sudden bright light flashed into the eyes of a driver is likely to cause an accident. It is equally shocking to know that the police officer not only flashed the light upon Shukkur, but also beat both him and his mother while they were still on the motorbike and even after they fell down. It appears that the police officer was entirely unconcerned whether his actions would result in loss of human life.
I am also informed that there are possibilities for the accused police officer to tamper with the records kept at the police station which must show details of their duty on 15 May 2006, particularly the movement register. I request you to make sure that the records maintained at the Vadekekkad police station during the relevant period are not tampered with by the accused police officer or his colleagues. I am also informed that the police officers involved in this case are still serving at the same police station which also entertains jurisdiction over the place where the victims reside. It is alleged that as long as the police officers remain in active service within the same jurisdiction they are likely to put pressure upon the victims to withdraw their complaint. It is reported that the victims intend to approach the Chavakkad Magistrate’s Court with a complaint against the police officers. I request your office to provide all possible assistance to the court by impartially investigating the case and placing before the court all relevant records of this incident and also the finding of your investigation.
In this context, I also request you to take immediate steps to ensure that an impartial investigation into the case is held and to make public the result of the investigation. I also request you to make sure that if the police officers are found guilty of the alleged crime, to register criminal cases against them and also to initiate steps to dismiss the officers from service. I also request you to take all possible steps to make sure that similar instances are not repeated within your jurisdiction.
PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:
1. Mr. C. K. Achudanendan
North Block, Secretariat,
Tel: 91-471- 2333812/ 2333682
Email: [email protected]
2. Mr. Raman Srivastava, IPS
Director General and Inspector General of Police Kerala Police Headquarters Vazhuthacaud, Trivandrum Kerala INDIA
Email: [email protected]
3. Justice A.S.Anand
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
Tel: +91-11 23382742
Fax: +91-11 23384863
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
4. Prof. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Mr. Safir Syed
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9230
Fax: +41 22 917 9016 (general)
E-mail: [email protected] / [email protected]
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission ([email protected])