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Rising custodial deaths

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken serious note of rising custodial deaths in Jammu and Kashmir. Taking Suo-moto action on the basis of newspaper reports, the NHRC has issued notices to the state government, Defence Ministry and Home Ministry to explain the rise in custodial deaths.
The Commission has asked the Chief Secretary Ashok Jaitly and Director General Police A.K. Suri to send their detailed investigation reports within two months on the reported killings.

A spokesman of the NHRC said the Commission was reacting to news reports which said there had been a rise in deaths in custody in Kashmir. The deaths had triggered public protests in the Valley, he said.

The NHRC has listed six custodial deaths. It has particularly mentioned a newspaper report on the death of Aijaz Ahmad Khatib, allegedly arrested and killed by the Special Operation Group (SOG) in a ‘fake encounter’ on May 20. The State Police Chief had, however, said the man was listed as a militant and was killed in an encounter.

The Commission has also got complaints from residents of various localities in Kashmir Valley. They had sent newspaper clippings to the NHRC headquarters at Sardar Patel Bhawan in New Delhi. According to these reports one Gulzar Ahmad Ganie was taken into custody by troops and later tortured. He succumbed to his injuries in hospital after being released. Another man, Ghulam Mohammed Bhatt, is being treated in hospital after being allegedly tortured by the Border Security Force (BSF). The NHRC also mentioned the deaths of two school students, Shiraz Ahmad Khan and Syed Malik, in similar circumstances. Two other civilians died when they were allegedly asked to neutralize a landmine planted by militants.

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