In India two students vanish after being taken into police custody
Vishav Bharti, Ohmynews.com,2006-08-19
The disappearance of two young men after being taken into police custody in India — twice — has their parents up in arms. They have met with the government, and the police. But no one seems to be listening.
The state of Andhra Pradesh is a traditional base for the Maoist movement. Last year, during peace talks between the Maoists and the government, the Maoists gunned down Narsi Reddy, a member of the legislative assembly. In response to Narsi Reddy's murder, the police registered a case against two college teachers and four students.
Malesh Bandari and Manohar Vadera, two of the students wanted by the police, are from the city of Mehboob Nagar. Both attended a prestigious institute in the region, Malesh for physics, Manohar for science.
Their parents, frightened of the police in Andhra Pradesh, accompanied their sons when they went to see the superintendent of police, Shirinivasan Reddy. The superintendent promised them that both boys would be released soon, after the investigation.
When a week had gone by, and the police had neither released the boys nor produced them in court, the parents became worried. They filed a writ in court. Acting on the writ, the judge ordered the police to produce the boys. Eight days after being jailed, the boys were finally produced in court for the trial. One could easily assess the "treatment" they had received while in police custody. They could hardly walk.
During the trial, the court sent both of them to jail. Months later, on March 5, they were finally granted bail.
Police officials, angry that the boys had been bailed out, allegedly threatened the parents, saying that the boys would be killed if they were released. Braving the threats, the parents deposited a guarantee to get the boys out of jail.
Later, in a pamphlet distributed at a conference in Delhi, the parents said that although an auto rickshaw had been hired to bring the boys home from jail, they never made it. It is alleged that the police stopped it and dragged Malesh and Manohar into a jeep.
"After that they were never seen," the pamphlet said.
When the parents met with high police officials to protest the re-arrest, the officials denied having any information about their whereabouts.
"We don't know anything after their release from jail. They might have joined the Maoists," said one official.
On April 18, however, the Maoists issued a public statement in which they denied that Malesh and Manohar had joined them.
Although frustrated, the parents have refused to leave any stone unturned. They have met with members of the legislative assembly, leaders of political parties, and high officials in the home ministry. The case has even made its way into the state legislative assembly of Andhra Pradesh. But to no avail.
When a member of the Indian Parliament, Vithal Rao, talked to Superintendent of police Reddy about the re-arrest, the superintendent assured him that the boys would be released within two or three days — contrary to what the police had been claiming all along, that the boys were released a couple of months ago. But the boys have not turned up.
"The state police have swallowed our children in front of our eyes, like a hawk grabs the chicks. A hen is better than we are as she struggles to protect her chicks under her feathers. We could not even do that as the police stuffed the barrels of guns in our mouths," the parents wrote in an open letter.
"If they have killed our children, and can't return them alive," they said, "at least return their corpses."