Tortures in India

from AHRC News
date Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 3:27 PM
subject INDIA: Use of torture to extract confession, anyone surprised?

December 17, 2010
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
INDIA: Use of torture to extract confession, anyone surprised?

The latest news by the WikiLeaks claims that India has systematically
used torture to extract confessions and has allowed its armed forces
to resort to brutal human rights abuses like extrajudicial executions
and disappearances to instil fear, and thus control the population in
the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The report asserts that the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was concerned about
New Delhi's despicable tolerance of the issue and that the government
practically did nothing to prevent torture and has consistently
condoned it. The lack of action by the government and the
impossibility of the government soldiers to be investigated or
punished for engaging in torture has contributed in no less terms
towards the alarmingly high number of extrajudicial executions and
disappearances in that state, the leaked wires claim.

Torture, extrajudicial execution and disappearances are no news to
Indians though. The diplomatic wires leaked by the WikiLeaks and the
sudden news value it has attained in India and abroad is similar to
someone expressing surprise after hearing that the earth's shape is
very close to that of an oblate spheroid and not a perfect sphere. The
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), AHRC's national partners, as
well as other civil society groups in the country and aboard have been
contenting for years, with sufficient proof, that the practice of
torture and encounter killings - a euphemism for extrajudicial
executions in India - is consistent and widespread in the country.
During the past six decades, the practice of torture and the number of
encounter killings have only increased steadily and it never showed a
tendency to decrease.

The AHRC has analysed this issue, and has been arguing that torture
is used as a tool for social control in India. The AHRC has contented
that similar is the state of affairs in other South Asian states like
Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In fact more than 80
percent of AHRC's human rights interventions on its engagement in
South Asia is against torture, all of which is available at

The AHRC has consistently argued that the widespread use of torture
in the region is the result of the failed domestic institutions, in
particular, the police, prosecution and the judiciary and hence is the
central deficit in realising human rights in the region. The AHRC has
been drawing the attention of national governments as well as that of
the international human rights community to this issue, and has been
consistently urging the international community in particular, to work
with the national governments and the civil society in the region to
address this perennial issue, without which there can be no visible
improvement to the protection, promotion and fulfilment of human
rights in the region.

Concerning India, the AHRC has reported, in the past six years, more
than 500 cases with meticulously documented details, including names,
dates, places and even affidavits of victims of torture. Each of these
cases, reported through the Urgent Appeals programme of the AHRC, has
been reported to the Government of India, the respective state
governments and the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture
calling for an immediate intervention and necessary action. The AHRC
has reported when the elected representatives and the law enforcement
officers in the country have publically stated that they believe in
torture as an effective and necessary tool for crime investigation.

The national media has reported at least a dozen incidents in the past
36 months where uniformed police officers where documented torturing
suspects in full public view. The AHRC has consistently argued with
evidence, that today torture in India is not a mere tool for crime
investigation, but it is more often used for extracting bribes, that
it promotes corruption, is used for silencing political dissent and to
instil fear in the population. The AHRC has argued with proof that
torture is most often used against the poor and members of the
minority communities. The Supreme Court of India, over the years and
on several occasions, has held that the practice of torture is
widespread in India and the Court has repeatedly ordered the
government to take remedial actions to contain it. The National Human
Rights Commission and the short-lived National Police Commission has
recommended the Government of India that unless the police is trained
and equipped to discharge their responsibilities, that meets the
operative standards of a civilian service in a democratic state, the
police will continue to use torture as a crude tool to meet their
ends. Yet, the government of India has done nothing to address the
issue so far.

The farcical approach of the Government of India concerning this
serious issue that has made disastrous dents upon the very notion of
democracy in the country is evident from the 242-worded law that it
passed in the lower house of the Indian Parliament - the Lok Sabha -
this year and claimed it to be the law that would suffice the need of
the time and will enable the country to ratify the United Nations
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and is thereby equipped to end torture
in India. The AHRC's analysis of the issue is now available in its
most recent issue of Article 2, which is available here

In states like Chhattisgarh and Orissa, where the national government
as well as the state administrations are engaged in countering modern
India's product to the region - the Naxalites - resulting out of the
despicable neglect of the needs of its rural population, the police as
well as state sponsored private militia like the Salwa Judum, are
engaged in widespread use of torture with impunity. Conditions in
Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir is the several folds multiplied effect
of the same nemesis, where the Indian armed forces, armoured with the
statutory immunity provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act,
1958 is in operation. It defies commonsense and insults intellect to
expect a government that has done practically nothing to prevent
torture in rest of the country where it has to fight no armed
insurgents, not to allow its armed units stationed in Manipur or Jammu
and Kashmir to practice torture or murder civilians.

Those who are from these states, including human rights defenders who
have dared to speak against the government, have faced the wrath of
the Indian administration. Internationally acclaimed human rights
defender and lawyer, Mr. Parvez Imroz, from Jammu and Kashmir is yet
to be allowed to travel outside India, since the government has denied
him a passport. Human rights defenders in Manipur are afraid that they
would be arrested, tortured and even murdered at the behest of the
central government or the absolutely corrupt state administration,
should they dare to speak about torture or about state-sponsored
murders. Environmental activist and human rights defender, Mr. Jiten
Yumnam, in Manipur was arrested last year and charged with a
fabricated case registered under the non-bailable provisions of the
draconian National Security Act, 1980 only because he has been vocal
against corruption within the Manipur state administration. Jiten was
arrested from Imphal airport, while he was preparing to travel to New
Zealand to participate in an international human rights consultation.

Yet, in response to the WikiLeaks news, the government of India has
officially responded that torture in India is its internal affair. The
government spokesperson has claimed that the government views the news
as not serious enough to make a detailed response. Indeed this is
expected. It is the same response of the government whenever it is
questioned about yet another brutal form of human rights violation
practiced in India, caste-based discrimination. What the government
fails to admit is that discrimination has never been an internal
affair of India, though India still has a caste-enslaved population
estimated to constitute 20 percent of the country's population, unable
to free from this brutal social and structural evil. Neither are
torture or extrajudicial executions, issues remote and irrelevant, to
remain as a miniscule family feud between Indians. These are crimes
having universal jurisdiction, that today, the rest of the world
consider these crimes as crimes against humanity.

If the arguments advanced by the government of India are to be
accepted, by condoning apartheid, India was interfering in South
Africa's internal affairs and thereby breaching international law.
India could also be held responsible for violating state sovereignty
and international law for participating in the UN intervention in
Rwanda. Lt. General Shiva Kumar, the third and the last Force
Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda could be
then held for leading an international invasion of Rwanda.

A government that condones case based discrimination, or torture or
extrajudicial executions disserve only contempt. Any government that
obstructs the punishment and prevention calls for global humiliation.
Its leaders can be prosecuted and punished if they travel to civilised

Or is it that the government of India believes that Indians are not
human. Conversely, is it that the government of India that is inhuman?

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional
non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights
issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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