Human Rights

Dalits treated with prejudice and tortured till death

By NM Salih

Attacks on Dalit communities in India are frequent and those responsible are seldom prosecuted. The concerned authorities often seem to choke off the debates and fail to ensure that a case is registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and those responsible for the attack arrested and charged.

The visits of a fact-finding team of Hyderabad-based Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee India (CLMCI)comprising Lateef Mohammad Khan, A. Srinivas,  Kaneez Fathima, M. Mandakini, SQ Masood to the houses of recently killed Dalit youths has brought facts of brutal torture by the police to light. The Armed Police Constable P. Muralinath, who died in the house of DIG Octopus Vivek Dubey in Noida, and Janardhan, who died in lockup due to torture on charges of theft at LB Nagar Police Station, were victims of these fatal incidents. This raises some doubts that Dalits whether policemen or accused, are being treated with prejudice and do not get justice even after death.

The report by the fact-finding team narrates the brutalities against two Dalit youths, a police constable and an accused. Janardhan, who was working as a security guard, was picked up by plainclothes police from his house in the midnight of 2 August. He was kept in lockup under illegal detention and tortured for three days on charges of theft. An oral complaint was made to the Golconda police station which resulted into an alert message through wireless. His family members started searching him but failed to find him. On 4 August LB Nagar policemen brought him to his house and took away two gold chains, a gold ring, two cell phones, TV set, bank passbook and pension passbook. At that time, nobody was present except his sister. According to her, Janardhan's condition was very pathetic, he was not even able to stand up properly and fell many a time while attempting to stand up. When he asked for water and food, he was kicked by the policemen in his stomach. Later in the evening they got the information that he was shifted to Gandhi Hospital where he was declared "brought dead". The dead body was handed over to them after the postmortem. Sadanand, brother of Janardhan, said that there were signs of beatings on his feet, sole and marks of torture on stomach, ribs, near the eyes and on his face. Sadanand said that a case of murder under SC/ST Atrocities Act should be booked against the killers and they should be punished so that no one in future suffers this kind of torture. When the fact-finding team approached the LB Nagar Police, they refused to respond, saying that they do not know anything about the matter. After a series of queries about the incident, they said that a case has been booked in Chilkalguda police station and five policemen were suspended.

In another incident, P Muralinath, an Armed Police Constable, was brutally killed for unknown reasons at an IPS officer's home. Muralinath was sent on orderly work to the house of DIG Octopus Vivek Dubey at Noida for 15 days on 20 July. His wife Kavitha said that in the near future Muralinath was to be promoted to the post of SI. He left Hyderabad according to an order from CPL commandant Abraham Lincoln to reach Delhi immediately. In a phone call to his wife, Muralinath narrated his bad living conditions in Noida. Apart from the work for which he was sent, he was also asked to wash clothes, clean utensils and clean toilets, said his wife. In his last call to her on 28 July, he expressed a kind of fear and said that he will be killed. He asked his wife to go and meet Home Minister Ms. Sabita Reddy, do dharna in front of Assembly and lodge a complaint in Police station, and at any cost save his life. Muralinath also called his sister and told her the same. He also told her that he is beaten on his private parts very badly and he was forced to drink his own urine. When they planned to lodge a complaint, a constable named Venkatesh discouraged them and said a reliever is sent and Muralinath will be called back. On 1 August, they got information that Murlinath has died, on which the family members complained to the Home Minister and State Human Rights Commission. Later they came to know that Muralinath had been buried at Gwalior after postmortem. Deceased Muralinath's wife said that the department did not even give her the news of the death of her husband. Instead, they hid the facts and it was a great conspiracy in which police officials of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi are involved. Ms. Kavita added that only on the basis of his caste, her husband was harassed, and this is not the first incident of this kind as earlier also such incidents happened.

The fact-finding team observed that for a person who is a dalit, whether an accused or a policeman, there is no difference in discriminatory treatment; he is always tortured and killed. The CLMCI demanded that in both cases, the culprits should be booked under SC/ST Atrocities Act and a case of murder under section 302 should be booked and the culprits should be arrested. A CBI enquiry should be ordered about the suspicious death of the constable because there is an inter-state link of IPS officers of three states. The CLMCI also demanded that DIG Octopus Vivek Dubey should be immediately suspended and arrested in the case of the constable's death. The CLMCI also demanded that the five policemen, suspended in the case of lockup death, should be immediately arrested. The family members of the deceased should be given adequate compensation and government employment, it further demanded.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2009 on page no. 11

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