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UA 382/94 - India: "disappearance" / fear for safety: Raj Kumar

, رقم الوثيقة: ASA 20/038/1994

Raj Kumar, aged 22, from Ludhiana, Punjab, has not been seen since he appeared at a press conference on 4 October 1994 in the presence of Ludhiana police who took him away. The police have denied that he is in their custody, and there are fears for his safety. He had been attending hearings in connection with a judicial inquiry after he had been unlawfully detained and tortured by Punjab police in August. Police have also reportedly made unsuccessful attempts to abduct two women, Rangilo and Bangarin, one of whom had been detained in August with Raj Kumar.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 20/38/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 382/94 "Disappearance" / Fear for safety 21 October 1994
INDIA Raj Kumar, aged 22
Raj Kumar, from Ludhiana, Punjab, has not been seen since he appeared at a
press conference on 4 October 1994 in the presence of Ludhiana police who then
took him away. However, the police have denied that he is in their custody,
and Amnesty International fears for his safety.
Raj Kumar was reportedly detained and tortured by Punjab police in August on
allegedly fabricated charges of theft. Relatives filed a habeas corpus
petition on his behalf, and he was released on orders of the High Court after
a warrant officer found him in police custody. A judicial inquiry into his
illegal detention was later ordered.
On 3 October, Raj Kumar came to the Punjab and Haryana High Court along with
two women, Rangilo and Bangarin, one of whom had been detained with him in
August, to attend the hearing of the district and sessions court in connection
with the judicial inquiry. He came to the court despite reports that the
Ludhiana police had urged him not to pursue giving evidence in the case. Outside
the court, policewomen reportedly tried to abduct the two women, who sustained
minor injuries in the scuffle, but were not taken by the police.
Three plainclothes policemen then entered the court building and dragged Raj
Kumar out of the court. This was witnessed by the judge and several other
witnesses. The police claimed that Raj Kumar was "suffering from plague" and
covered his mouth with a piece of cloth as they took him out of the building.
Many people were too afraid to come to his assistance fearing that they might
catch the disease.
Raj Kumar appeared at a press conference the following day and reportedly stated
that he had not been abducted by the police. However, he was then taken away
by the police, and has not been seen since. A delegation from the Punjab Bar
Association tried to meet with Raj Kumar through Ludhiana police but were
informed that he was not in their custody.
On 14 October, Rangilo and Bangarin reportedly went to the High Court to complain
about the abduction of Raj Kumar. Police again reportedly tried to abduct them,
but were again unsuccessful.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International regularly receives reports alleging that in Punjab men
and women believed by the authorities to be members or sympathizers of Sikh
opposition groups, or their relatives, are held in unacknowledged detention
or have been killed in police custody, often after torture. Their deaths or
"disappearances" are wrongly attributed by officials to an "encounter" between
militants and the police, to an "escape" during such an "encounter" or to other
improbable causes. Even though legal safeguards against unacknowledged
detention exist in India's criminal law and procedural code, they are often
simply not adhered to and prisoners are held in unacknowledged detention for
weeks and sometimes months.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams, faxes and airmail letters either
in English or in your own language:
2
- expressing concern at reports that Raj Kumar was taken away by the police
after a press conference on 4 October but that the police now deny knowledge
of his whereabouts;
- urging the government to establish and acknowledge where he is. If he is
indeed in police custody, he should immediately be released if he is not charged
with a recognizably criminal offence;
- seeking assurances that he will be humanely treated while in police custody,
given immediate access to lawyers and relatives, and promptly brought before
a magistrate.
APPEALS TO
Beant Singh
Chief Minister of Punjab
Office of the Chief Minister
Chandigarh
Punjab, India
Saluation: Dear Chief Minister
Faxes: +91 172 545 058 (Office hours only)
Telegrams: Chief Minister Punjab, Chandigarh, Punjab
S.B. Chavan
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry for Home Affairs
North Block
New Delhi 110 001, India
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister
Faxes: +91 11 301 6781 ATTENTION HOME MINISTRY
Telegrams: Home Minister, New Delhi, India
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
K.P.S. Gill
Director General of Police
Police Headquarters
Chandigarh
Punjab, India
Mr Dinesh Singh
Minister of External Affairs
Ministry of External Affairs
South 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 2 December 1994.

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