» 07/01/2008, 00.00
More than 1,500 people die of torture in Indian prison, human rights activist says
Commenting data from a report released this year on violence in his country, Lenin Raghuvanshi slams the arbitrary use of force by law enforcement to extract confessions. In the five years covered by the report, from 2002 to 2007, almost 7,500 died in custody.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – “Torture is legalised state terrorism,” said Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) as he commented a report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights titled Torture in India 2008: A State of Denial which found that 7,468 persons, at an average of 1,494 persons per year, died in prison and police custody between 2002 to 2007. An equal number of persons, if not more, were killed by the army and state paramilitary forces custody in insurgency affected areas, a large number of these deaths the result of torture.
In the country’s 12,000 police stations all over the country there is frequent use of torture and use of deadly force at local police stations in India.
India has the highest number of cases of police torture and custodial deaths among the world's democracies and the weakest law against torture.
The police often operate in a climate of impunity, where torture is seen as routine police behaviour to extract confessions.
The report analyses patterns and practices of torture in police custody with special focus on torture by prison guards, the military, armed opposition groups like the Naxalites (Indian Maoists) in north-east India, other public officials and non-state actors like upper castes, recovery agents of the Banks, Panchayats and so-called civil society organisations.
Lenin Raghuvanshi, recipient of the 2007 Gwangju Prize for human rights, stressed that reported cases of abuse is highest among Dalits, Tribals and minority communities.
The Indian system based on castes is diabolic and perpetuates discriminations and crimes against the weakest.
The system is guaranteed by collusion between police and upper castes, which favour the stronger according to a semi-feudal order of things.
“India,” said the activist, “has to immediately ratification the UN Convention Against Torture,” but sadly it wants to preserve the “nexus between police and feudal of upper-caste.”
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