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UA 304/94 - India: fear of further killings in custody in Rajasthan: Shankarlal Soni, Chhitarlal, Ramuda, Mahesh Jain, Rajendra Singh, Mahiman Kaushik

, رقم الوثيقة: ASA 20/030/1994

The above named people have recently died in police custody in the state of Rajasthan and there is serious concern for the safety of others held by police there. The latest reported death was that of Shankarlal Soni, who died, reportedly as a result of torture, in Roopnagar police station on 28 July. Local people have protested to the district administration about his death.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 20/30/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 304/94 Fear of further killings in custody in Rajasthan 17 August 1994
INDIA Shankarlal Soni
Chhitarlal
Ramuda
Mahesh Jain, aged 25
Rajendra Singh
Mahiman Kaushik
At least six people have died recently in police detention in the northern
Indian state of Rajasthan, including three in July 1994. This rate of deaths
in custody is unprecedented, even in a country where such killings have been
frequent, and Amnesty International is deeply concerned for the safety of others
held by police in Rajasthan. The organization fears that if the government
fails to take urgent and immediate steps to guarantee the lives and safety
of such detainees, more will die.
The most recent of the six reported deaths was that of Shankarlal Soni who
died, reportedly as a result of torture, in Roopnagar police station on 28
July. It was reported that he had been severely beaten and local people protested
to the district administration about his death.
The other five deaths occurred as follows:
- 14 April - police from Kota police station arrested a man named Chhitarlal.
He died in their custody on 17 April. After public protests about his death,
seven police officers were transferred. Police have implied that Chhitarlal
died from beatings by villagers before he was detained. The press have
dismissed this police version as "cooked up".
- April - Ramuda, a beggar, was picked up by police from Mahamandir police
station in Jodhpur. He was taken to Mahatma Gandhi hospital where he was
declared dead on arrival. Police claim he was drunk and physically weak and
had attacked a constable with a knife, but press reports again question this
version of events.
- 20 May - Mahesh Jain was arrested by police from Kota police station on 20
May on suspicion of theft. Police reportedly demanded a bribe from his relatives
for his release. He was taken to Agra to be interrogated, and his brother was
also arrested. Police claim that they took Mahesh Jain to hospital after he
fell ill while in their custody. Mahesh Jain died in a Bharatpur hospital.
His body was not returned to his relatives. His brother was released. The
press have reported that Mahesh Jain's death was the result of police brutality.
- July - Rajendra Singh from Haryana state died in custody of police in Churu
district, Rajasthan. At first, the police claimed that he had committed suicide
but when his father investigated the claim they stated that he had been murdered
by another detainee. The accused detainee has denied the charge and Rajendra
Singh's wife has claimed that the police killed Rajendra Singh.
- July - Mahiman Kaushik was taken unconscious to hospital, but died on the
way there, reportedly as a result of police torture in Atalbandh police station
of Bharatpur. His relatives have filed a case of murder.
Current legal safeguards fall far short of offering adequate protection to
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detainees and safeguards that do exist are often disregarded, especially when
detainees are poor and underprivileged. Custodial violence has repeatedly
been condemned at the highest levels of the Indian government, but this official
condemnation alone is not enough, as shown by these most recent deaths. Each
death must be fully investigated and any police personnel found responsible
must be brought to justice. Legal safeguards must be strengthened in order
to protect detainees from torture, including measures to ensure that all
detainees are brought before a magistrate within 24 hours, and be allowed
immediate access to a lawyer and to an independent medical examination. In
May 1994, the government introduced into parliament proposals to strengthen
legal safeguards to protect police detainees from torture. Amnesty
International urges that these safeguards are now implemented as a matter of
urgency.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Over 500 people have died in custody of police and security forces throughout
India between 1985 and 1994 allegedly as a result of torture. Amnesty
International has been appealing to the Indian authorities to take effective
steps to halt these violations since March 1992 when it published India: Torture,
rape and deaths in custody and called on the government to implement a 10-point
program for the prevention of torture. The 10-point program has, to date,
not been implemented.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams, faxes and airmail letters:
- expressing deep concern that despite repeated condemnation of custodial
violence by senior government officials, six people have died in police custody
over the past four months, allegedly as a result of torture by the police in
Rajasthan;
- urging the authorities to promptly institute an impartial and independent
inquiry into all six deaths and to ensure that if police personnel are found
to be responsible for causing the deaths they be brought to justice, and that
the families of the victims be granted prompt and adequate compensation;
- urging the authorities to implement proposals introduced into parliament
in May 1994 to strengthen legal safeguards for those in custody and to implement
the recommendations made in Amnesty International's 10-point program for the
prevention of torture, including measures to ensure that all detainees are
brought before a magistrate within 24 hours, and are allowed immediate access
to a lawyer and to a medical examination by an independent doctor.
APPEALS TO
Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat
Chief Minister of Rajasthan
Office of Chief Minister
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Telegrams: Chief Minister, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister
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 11 301 9817
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
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COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Mr S.B. Chavan
Minister of Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
New Delhi 110 001, India
Mr Rajendra Shekhar
Director General of Police
Police Headquarters
Jaipur, Rajasthan, 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 28 September 1994.

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