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UA 357/93 - India: torture / deaths in custody: Four deaths in custody in three weeks in Andhra Pradesh: P Ashalu, Khader Babu, Pochamma, and a five- month-old child

, N° d'index: ASA 20/039/1993

Four people have died in police custody in Andhra Pradesh state within three weeks in September 1993. On 7 September, in Warangal, a five-month- old child died allegedly after being hit in custody by police who were questioning its mother, Sofia. On 17 September, Pochamma, a tribal girl aged 20 from Meharnagar village died in hospital after being tortured by police in Pochampally, Nalgonda district. On the same day, in Khammam district, Khader Baba died in custody, reportedly after being tortured. On 21 September the government announced a judicial inquiry into his death and three officers were suspended. Also on 21 September P Ashalu, a doctor aged 60 who suffered from high blood pressure and tuberculosis, died in custody, allegedly after being denied medical treatment.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 20/39/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 357/93 Torture/Deaths in custody 7 October 1993
INDIA: Four deaths in custody in three weeks in Andhra Pradesh:
P. Ashalu, doctor, aged 60
Khader Babu, aged 28
Pochamma, female, aged 16
and a five-month-old child
Amnesty International is deeply concerned for safety of detainees in the
Southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Four people died in police custody within
three weeks in September 1993. These deaths demonstrate that the government
must take immediate and urgent steps to protect all detainees in the state,
to ensure the investigation of all allegations of torture and to bring the
perpetrators to justice.
On 7 September, in Warangal, a five-month old child died allegedly after being
hit in custody by police who were questioning its mother, Sofia.
Pochamma, a tribal girl from Meharnagar village died in hospital on 17 September
after four days in police custody in Pochampally, Nalgonda district. Her father
said that she was slapped by police in his presence and then taken away. A
local human rights group found that Pochamma had been tortured by the police.
On the same day, in Khammam district, Khader Baba died in custody. The press
reported that his body had severe injury marks and two fractured ribs. The
government announced a judicial inquiry into his death on 21 September 1993,
and two constables and a sub-inspector were suspended for their suspected
involvement in the death. On 21 September, P. Ashalu died in custody in Ildenu
town, Khamman district. He allegedly suffered from high blood pressure and
tuberculosis. Mr Ashalu's sons claim he died because police failed to provide
necessary medical care and refused to produce him in court as he refused to
pay them a bribe. In all four cases police claim that the detainees died of
natural causes.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
At least 484 people have died in custody of police or security forces throughout
India between January 1985 and November 1992 allegedly as a result of torture.
Some 34 deaths in custody were recorded in Andhra Pradesh in this period.
At least 12 have been reported in the state this year. 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. The deaths in
Andhra Pradesh happened in the same month that Home Minister, S.B. Chavan,
told the most senior police officials in the Andhra Pradesh's capital's National
Police training academy that custodial deaths constituted murder; that they
gave a bad name to the Indian police and that researchers "should find new
ways and sources to extract information from the arrested persons without
killing them"
Most of those who die in police custody are criminal suspects who are tortured
in order to extract confessions or information. Some appear to be innocent
of any crime. Cover-ups extend to senior police, officials and even some members
of the medical profession and magistrates. In March 1992, Amnesty International
published 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 responded to half of the cases and
announced plans last autumn to strengthen legal safeguards to protect persons
held in police custody from torture. But neither the legal proposals made nor
Amnesty International's recommendations have, to date, been implemented,
although the government has repeatedly condemned custodial violence at the
highest levels.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes and airmail letters
in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern that, despite repeated condemnation of custodial violence
by senior government officials, four people have died in police custody during
three weeks of September 1993 allegedly from torture by the police in Andhra
Pradesh;
- urging the authorities to promptly institute an impartial and independent
inquiry into all four deaths and to ensure that if police personnel are found
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 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
Mr P.V Narasimha Rao
Office of the Prime Minister
South Block, Gate No. 6
New Delhi 110 001, India
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Telegrams: Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, New Delhi,India
Faxes: +91 11 391 6781 (Ministry of External Affairs)
ATTENTION Prime Minister Narasimha Rao
Mr Vijay Bhaskara Reddy
Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
Office of the Chief Minister
Hyderabad 500 001
Andhra Pradesh, India
Salutation: Dear Minister
Telegrams: Chief Minister, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh,India
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Mr S.B. Chavan
Minister of Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
New Delhi 110 001, India
Mr J.N. Dixit
Minister of State for External Affairs
Ministry for External Affairs
South Block
New Delhi 100 001, India
Mr Kannabiran
APCLC
128, East Marredpalli
Secunderabad 500 026
Andhra Pradesh 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 18 November 1993.

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