New Delhi: The custodial torture and killings of two young Muslim men in Bihar on 7 March has drawn flak from eight former DGPs (Director General of Police) who said that “such interrogation methods as alleged have no place in policing”.
Gufran Alam (30) and Taslim Ansari (32) were picked up by Sitamarhi police on 6 March for questioning in connection with a case of theft and murder. They reportedly died within 20 hours of being in custody. Photographs and videos of their bodies show that nails were hammered into their thighs, wrists, and soles.
In a letter to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the former DGPs said: “There must be zero tolerance against such actions, regardless of the antecedents of the accused, or intentions of the police personnel involved. Prompt action by police and the state government against the erring personnel is welcome and reassuring.”
The signatories included former DGPs Julio Ribeiro from Punjab, Prakash Singh from Assam and Border Security Force, P.K.H. Tharakan and Jacob Punnoose from Kerala, Kamal Kumar from Hyderabad, Sanjeev Dayal from Maharashtra, Jayanto N. Choudhury from Assam and National Security Guard, and N. Ramachandran from Meghalaya.
“All efforts must be directed towards apprehending the perpetrators at the earliest and protection be provided to the victims’ families. It is only prompt and decisive action by the police against their own delinquents that can maintain faith in the rule of law”, the letter stated.
“As former DGPs from across the country, we urge state government to allocate adequate budgets and forensic facilities, and strongly advise police leadership to ensure regular training of field police personnel,” it said.
“This is essential if capacities are to be built up as required for contemporary policing skills. At the same time, experts must be enlisted to help initiate the behavioral changes required,” the letter added.
A group of former civil servants had also sent a letter to the chief minister on 15 March, demanding that the victims’ families be provided with legal assistance, among other things.
The chief minister is yet to make a comment on the matter.
The case and its aftermath
Eight policemen have been implicated in the case. Five of them have been suspended, but are absconding.
The FIR filed in the case doesn’t name any policeman, and the port-mortem report is still awaited. The families of the victims are planning to approach the State Human Rights Commission and the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court once the post-mortem report is out, which they say will strengthen their case.
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