By Tejang Chakma
Arunachal Pradesh recorded the third highest number of deaths in police custody with 10 cases among the northeast states of India during 2001-2010. Assam tops the list with 84 deaths followed by Meghalaya with 17.
The statistics were revealed by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its report, ‘Torture in India 2011’, released on 21 November 2011. The report stated that a total of 14,231 persons, i.e., more than four persons per day, died in police and judicial custody across the country from 2001 to 2010 as per the cases submitted to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). These included 1,504 deaths in police custody and 12,727 deaths in judicial custody.
The report noted that about 99.99% of deaths in police custody can be ascribed to torture and occur within 48 hours of the victim being taken into custody.
Overall, Arunachal Pradesh recorded 19 deaths, 10 in police custody and 9 in judicial custody. According to the report, the NHRC data does not reflect the actual extent of custodial deaths in India. Many of the cases are not reported to the NHRC. Giving an example, ACHR quoted the custodial death of Jumchi Nguso (35 years) due to alleged torture at the Naharlagun police station in Papumpare district of Arunachal Pradesh on 15 July 2010. ACHR filed the complaint (registered by NHRC as No. 23/2/10/2010-AD) and NHRC closed the case after the State government of Arunachal Pradesh awarded compensation of Rs 5 lakhs. Yet, the NHRC statistics show that there was no custodial death in Arunachal Pradesh during for 2010-2011.
Out of the 10 cases of death in police custody in the state, one of the victims belong to the Chakma community. The victim identified as Bajibo Chakma, son of Gyana Ranjan Chakma of Shanitpur village under Diyun police station in Changlang district, died in the lock-up of Miao police station under Miao Sub-division in the district on 18 April 2008.
Bajibo Chakma, had allegedly eloped with a Chakma girl of Dharmapur-I village under Miao police station in the first week of April 2008. The girl’s family lodged an FIR with the Miao Police station and a case (Miao P.S. case no. 02/08) of kidnapping was registered by the police. The police allegedly asked some villagers from Dharmapur village to find out Bajibo Chakma. On 18 April 2008 at about 10.30 am, the villagers handed him over to Miao police Station. After 4-5 hours in custody, Bajibo Chakma died under mysterious circumstances.
On 19 April 2008, after the post mortem was conducted, the Sub-Inspector of Maio police station, N.W. Wangham allegedly tried to hand over the dead body to Uttara Kanto Chakma, father-in-law of the victim. When he refused to receive the body, the police allegedly buried the body by hiring labourers.
It was alleged that Bajibo Chakma was tortured in custody, resulting in his death.