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UA 69/93 - India: death in custody: Mr Satyavan

, رقم الوثيقة: ASA 20/012/1993

Mr Satyavan, a truck driver aged 35 from Jharoda Khalan village, is reported to have died, allegedly as a result of torture in Najafgarh police station in Delhi on 2 March 1993. Mr Satyavan, an alleged drug addict, was first arrested on 25 February 1993 and released two days later, apparently after his family had paid a large sum of money to the police. Villagers allege that he was rearrested when his relatives failed to meet demands from the police for more money. The Sub-divisional Magistrate and the police's vigilance branch have reportedly begun inquiries into his alleged torture and death. AI is calling for an independent and impartial inquiry.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 20/12/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 69/93 Death in custody 12 March 1993
INDIA: Mr Satyavan, 35, truck driver
Amnesty International is concerned that Mr Satyavan from Jharoda Kalan village died allegedly
of torture in Najafgarh police station in Delhi on 2 March 1993. The organization is further
concerned that Satyavan's death, the first in custody recorded by Amnesty International
in Delhi for over a year following some 45 deaths recorded there during the previous seven
years, is a retrograde step in the protection of human rights in India.
Satyavan, a father of five children and an alleged drug addict, had first been arrested
on 25 February 1993 only to be released two days later apparently after his relatives had
paid a large sum of money to the police. Villagers allege that when his relatives failed
to meet further demands for more money from the police, he was re-arrested at 1 pm on 2
March by the Station House Officer. He was reportedly beaten in custody until he died
later that afternoon, at about 3.30 pm.
The police control got a phone call at 6.15 pm on 2 March saying that Satyavan's body had
been carried into the village by two of his friends, Balraj alias Billoo and Ishwar Singh,
who had been arrested with him. According to a senior police officer they had told him
that they had all been beaten in the police station until Satyavan collapsed. They were
then apparently ordered to take Satyavan's body back to the village. His death only came
to the attention of the media because some seven hundred people protested in the village,
demanding immediate action against the police.
The Station House Officer has subsequently been transferred and the head constable suspended.
In addition to the inquest proceedings into the allegations by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate,
the city's police's vigilance branch has also reportedly begun an inquiry. A case of culpable
homicide not amounting to murder has been registered and handed over to the crime branch.
An editorial in the Indian Express, 5 March 1993, comments that "Satyavan's death points
to a high degree of lawlessness in police stations and the virtual absence of supervision
by higher authorities" and that "the delay in bringing charges of murder or rape against
errant policemen contributes to a commonplace attitude in police stations that they are
accountable to no one." The Hindustan Times of 4 March 1993 comments that "justice demands
a proper enquiry into the incident and deterrent punishment to those who have brought a
bad name to the police." Satyavan's death closely follows a statement made on 16 February
1993 by Prime Minister Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, in the presence of senior police officials
in which he urged the police not to commit excesses against those in custody.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International has documented the cases of 484 people who have died in the custody
of the police or security forces throughout India between January 1985 and November 1992
allegedly of torture, although the actual number of such cases is thought to be considerable
higher. Some 45 deaths in custody were recorded in Delhi in this period. Although there
is an increasing recognition by officials of the seriousness of the problem, India's record
on ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice is extremely poor. Impartial
judicial inquiries are rare and only 6 cases are known in which police officers have been
convicted for such crimes between 1985 and October 1991. However, this year a court in
Kerala convicted five policemen for murdering a man in their custody and in the first week
of March, India's Supreme Court ordered the Additional Solicitor General to expedite the
prosecution of a sub-divisional magistrate and five policemen for the death in custody
of Jagwinder Kumar in August 1990.
Page 2 of UA 69/93
The majority of those who have died in police custody were criminal suspects who were tortured
in order to extract a confession or information. In some states, people have died in custody
after arrest on suspicion of involvement in or support for armed groups advocating greater
autonomy or independence. Some appear to be innocent of any crime. Cover-ups have extended
to senior police, officials and even some members of the medical profession and magistrates.
In March 1992, Amnesty International published its report entitled India: Torture, rape
and deaths in custody (AI Index: ASA 20/06/92) and called on the government to implement
a ten point program for the prevention of torture in India. The government has now created
a special cell in the Home Ministry to investigate such cases and announced plans last
autumn to strengthen legal safeguards to protect persons held in police custody from torture
as well as investigation procedures in cases of custodial death. But neither the legal
proposals made by the government nor Amnesty International's recommendations have, to date,
been implemented.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters
either in English or your own language:
- expressing concern that, despite repeated condemnation of custodial violence by senior
government officials, Mr Satyavan died on 2 March 1993 allegedly from torture by the police;
- urging the authorities to promptly institute an impartial and independent inquiry into
his death and to ensure that if police personnel are found responsible for causing his
death they be brought to justice, and that the family be granted prompt and adequate
compensation;
- urging the authorities to implement proposals to strengthen legal safeguards for those
in custody and the recommendations made in Amnesty International's ten point program to
prevent torture, including ensuring that all detainees are brought before a magistrate
within 24 hours, be allowed immediate access to a lawyer and to a medical examination by
an independent doctor.
APPEALS TO
1) Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao
Office of the Prime Minister
South Block, Gate No 6
New Delhi 110 001
India
Telegrams: Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao,
New Delhi, India
Faxes: + 91 11 391 6781
(Ministry of External Affairs)
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
2) Mr S.B. Chavan
Minister of Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
North Block
New Delhi 100 001
India
Telegrams: Home Minister, New Delhi, India
Faxes: + 91 11 391 6781
(Ministry of External Affairs)
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
1) Mr M.B. Kaushal
Commissioner of Police
Office of the Police Commissioner
MSO Building
Indraprashtra Estate
New Delhi - 110 002
India
2) Dr M. Godbole
Home Secretary
Ministry of Home Affairs
North Block
New Delhi 110 001
India
and to diplomatic representatives of India accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section
office, if sending appeals after 23 April 1993.

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