//INDIA: Police assault a tribal woman in Kerala

INDIA: Police assault a tribal woman in Kerala

21 oct 2011

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Nervazhi, a human rights organisation working in Kerala, concerning the case of police assault upon a tribal woman. It is reported that Mrs Paru, aged 65 years went to the Malakkapara Police Station concerning a complaint Paru had filed at the station of theft at her home. The case was settled at the police station and the suspect admitted the crime and handed over the stolen articles from Paru’s house at the station. However, the Assistant Sub Inspector of Police caned Paru inside the police station in which Paru suffered injuries. The case when brought to the attention of the State Legislative Assembly, caused serious debates about the manner in which the state police behave and the impunity the force enjoy for the atrocities they commit.

CASE NARRATIVE:

The victim in the case, Paru, is the member of a tribal community living near Sholayar Power House, near Peringalkuthu in Thrissur district, Kerala state. Since the death of her husband, Neshamani, Paru lives alone. Paru receives a pension of Rs. 6000 since the death of her husband. On 4 October, Paru had been to the nearest town, Chalakkudi, to collect pension from the bank. On the way back home she had purchased a mobile telephone, a DVD and a silver anklet for her granddaughter from the pension money and Paru had Rs. 2500 with her. Paru reached home at about 4pm.

On the same day night, Subish, a neighbour had come to Paru’s house to watch television. Paru had slept by the time Subish left. At sometime in the night when Paru woke up she saw that the cupboard in which Paru had kept the new telephone and the balance money is open. Soon Paru realised that the money and the telephone had been stolen from the cupboard. Paru immediately went to the house where Subish’s elder brother Vinish stays. However Subish was not there.

On 6 October, Paru went to Malakkapara Police Station and lodged a complaint. A young police constable who was at the station recorded Paru’s complaint and promised Paru that when the Assistant Sub-Inspector arrives, he will seek permission from the officer to investigate the complaint. Paru later received information that she should present herself in the morning at the Malakkapara Police Station on 10 October. Accordingly, Paru went to the police station accompanied by her son-in-law Bagyaraj and nephew Sudhir.

At the police station, Paru met Subish, Vinish, elder sister Pushpa and her husband Mani and their son-in-law Manikandan. At the police station, Assistant Sub Inspector Mr Joy was present and in his presence, Subish admitted that he had taken the money and the telephone. Subish returned the telephone, and said that he would return the money soon. Then Paru and Subish shook hands and decided to leave the station.

However when Paru shook hands with Subish, Mani and Manikandan said that instead of shaking hands, the police should cane Paru. Hearing this the Assistant Sub Inspector Joy grabbed a cane and hit Paru on her right thigh. Then the officer pulled Paru holding her right hand and forced her on to the floor. Then the officer caned Paru on her foot until it started bleeding. Those who accompanied Paru could do nothing since they were afraid of the officer. Paru soon lost became unconscious and the officer stopped canning Paru. Paru’s relatives carried Paru out from the police station and sprayed water on her face for her to regain consciousness. Then the officer came out and ordered that Paru should sign a register kept at the police station. Due to fear Paru signed the register, in which it was written that the case between Paru and Subish was compromised and thus Paru has no further complaints.

Paru and her relatives returned home. However, once at home, the pain on Paru’s legs increased and Paru soon became unable to walk. On 12 October Paru went to Chalakkudi and was admitted at the Chalakkudi Thaluk Hospital for treatment. Paru is still at the hospital.

The incident was brought to the notice of the state legislative assembly upon which there was a big debate between the government and the opposition. The government has promised that the incident would be investigated. However, Nervazhi and the AHRC suspects that there would not be any proper investigation in the case nor would the officer be punished.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities listed below asking for their urgent intervention in this case. The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture calling for an intervention in this case.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-209-2011