Ground Report | New Delhi: Custodial death in India; Over the past two decades, 1,888 people have died in police custody across India, with 893 cases registered against policemen while only 358 police officers and justices were formally accused.
Custodial death in India
Official records show that only 26 policemen were convicted during this period. In terms of custodial deaths, the western state of Gujarat was at number one and Uttar Pradesh at number two.
According to a report by the National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT), about five people died in custody every day in the year 2019. The cases registered by the NCAT show that the situation in India is far worse than the crime statistics. Its report states that the number of deaths in the year 2019, the country’s official crime bureau believes, occurred in a period of 20 years.
Physical assault by police has been recorded in only 6% of cases since 2014. In 2019, only 2.4% of the 85 deaths in police custody were attributed to police assault in this year’s report. However, the NGO National Campaign Against Violence attributed 76 percent of the 124 deaths in police custody during the same year to violence or ill-treatment.
There have been many horrific cases of custodial death in India in recent times, but the death of a young man Altaf at a police station in Uttar Pradesh earlier this month created a storm.
Altaf died in police custody
However, police claim that the 22-year-old Muslim man hanged himself from a tap in the washroom just two feet above the ground, or 61 cm, using the drawstring of the hood of the jacket. But Altaf’s family alleges that he was murdered and the relatives have demanded that the investigation of Altaf’s death be done by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Since 2017, 255 people have died in police custody but 144 cases have been registered in this regard, according to crime statistics in India. (84 police officers have been arrested, and charge sheets have been filed in 56 cases.)
The NCAT analysis showed that 125 people who died in custody in the year 2019 were from poor and lowly communities. Of these, 13 people were Dalits while 15 others were Muslims. The report also said that out of 111 custodial deaths, 55 died due to suicide. Uttar Pradesh tops the list in terms of alleged suicides, while Andhra Pradesh is at number two.
NCAT analysis shows that physical assault by police has been recorded only since 2014 and in only 6% of cases. In 2019, only 2.4% of the 85 deaths in police custody were attributed to police assault in this year’s report. However, the NGO National Campaign Against Violence attributed 76 percent of the 124 deaths in police custody during the same year to violence or ill-treatment.
India Justice Report (IJR) 2019 notes that prison conditions are a health hazard for inmates. According to the Model Prison Manual, there should be at least one medical officer for every 300 inmates and there should always be one doctor in the Central Prisons. 2016. Of the 20 states and Centrally Administered Territories (UTs) studied in the report, 12 had a shortage of 50% or more medical officers.
According to the Prison Statistics of 2018, the incarceration rate in prisons across India was 117%. Uttar Pradesh had the highest rate at 176.5%.