|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Discuss | Email | Print | Get latest news on your desktop
AP: Cops guilty of torturing Muslim youths go scot-free
Vicky Nanjappa | November 18, 2008 11:32 IST
Human Rights Watch has slammed the Andhra Pradesh government for the detention and torture of over 100 youths from the Muslim community, who were arrested after a spate of terror attacks in Hyderabad last year.
The state police allegedly detained several youths after the Mecca Masjid and twin blasts -- 21 were later released when no evidence was found against them.
The HRW has asked the state government to prosecute the police officials responsible for the torture of the innocent youths.
On November 13, the Andhra Pradesh government finally admitted that the innocent youths had been tortured and announced compensation of Rs 30,000 for each of them. It also promised additional financial assistance through government loans. However, the state government is yet to initiate criminal proceedings against any of the police officers involved in the torture of the detained youths.
Many of the youths, arrested immediately after the twin blasts in Hyderabad, were detained illegally. The Criminal Procedure Code and the Constitution requires a detainee to be produced in court within 24 hours of the arrest. Some of the detainees claim that they were produced before a magistrate after five to 10 days.
Families were not notified of the detention, and were not informed of the whereabouts of their relatives when they inquired at the police stations or lodged missing person reports. In some cases, detainees said, they were taken for interrogations to unknown locations instead of a police station. Some detainees said that they were beaten by the policemen and subjected to 'third degree' methods.
In 2007, the Andhra Pradesh Minorities Commission investigated the allegations. After interviewing those charged, while they were awaiting trial in jail, it reported that their injuries were 'not self inflicted, these obviously arose during police custody --custodial atrocities on young detainees stand proved.'
The APMC pointed out that the detainees had not been produced before a magistrate within 24 hours and this "shows how the system has failed to protect the rights of the detainees." The commission said that the detainees bore scars from violence, and some had been subjected to electric shocks.
In February 2008, relatives of victims and human rights activists told a visiting team of investigators from the National Commission for Minorities about the illegal detention and torture of the young Muslims. In its report, the commission noted that it had received complaints about the detainees being subjected to physical and mental torture, and that no lawyers were present during interrogation.
According to the detainees, the police officials often altered the date of their arrest in the official documents before producing them in the court. In its report, the commission expressed concern that the state police had denied all accusations of torture, and noted "action should be taken against those who failed to carry out their responsibilities within the framework of law and established procedures."
However, not a single policeman involved in the detention and torture of the innocent youths have been charged or prosecuted. Andhra Pradesh Minister for Minorities' Welfare, Mohammad Shabbir Ali, who announced the compensation for the victims, said that he does not want to blame the police because they "do their work based on information, and sometimes information can be wrong."
Says Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, "Over and over again, the police response to terrible bombings has been to round up people, simply because they happen to be Muslims. This stigmatises and alienates an entire community and makes counter-terrorism efforts even more difficult.
Email | Print | Get latest news on your desktop