The Gujarat high court has ordered a probe into the alleged custodial torture of two couples belonging to a Denotified Tribe, stating that they “appear to be victims on account of their birth in a particular community”. According to the Deccan Herald, the police allegedly tortured the four individuals until they confessed to an alleged crime, and then booked them in four other undetected cases.
Justice Nikhil S. Kariel on March 16 ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ahmedabad range, to conduct a probe, and asked why the victims shouldn’t be granted “exemplary compensation”.
“This court is of the prima facie opinion that this is a clear case of extreme excess by the concerned police authorities and whereas even senior officers of the level of Dy SP (deputy superintendent of police) and SP (superintendent of police), who were supposed to hold an impartial inquiry, have just conducted a sham inquiry maybe in order to protect their subordinates,” the judge said.
“The petitioners appear to be victims on account of their birth in a particular community. Though independent witnesses appear to support the fact that the petitioner Nos 1 (Mansukh) and 2 (Rasik) being two brothers and the petitioner Nos 3 (Mina) and 4 (Rina) being their wives are earning their living by way of an honest occupation, yet those aspects have not been at all considered by the concerned officers,” he continued.
“As this court finds that prima facie the petitioners appear to have been falsely implicated in approximately 05 FIRs and whereas the petitioners have undergone pain, agony and suffering on account of a wrong investigation, the term wrong is used since this court has ordered an inquiry but the fact of the petitioners having been arrested, the fact of the petitioners having beaten up by police, the fact of the petitioners having been acquitted by the concerned Trial Courts cannot be ignored or overlooked,” Justice Kariel said, while asking the state government to respond on compensation due to the victims.
The matter dates back to February 4, 2015, when a Dhandhuka police police sub-inspector, Rajendra Karmatiya, arrested Mansukh Kumarkhaniya, his wife Mina, his brother Rasik and his wife Rina in an attempted robbery case. All four belong to the marginalised Devipujak community, and live in Tagdi village, Ahmedabad district. Within a few days, the four were arrested in four other undetected offences registered in different police stations between 2013 and 2015 based on their “confessional” statements, including a murder case filed in Barwala police station, Times of India reported.
While the Barwala police filed a discharge summary in the case a month later, Karmatiya filed chargesheets in the other cases based on the confessions, allegedly extracted under torture. The victims complained against this torture before the magistrate and the high court, with medical certificates supporting their allegations.
All the cases eventually fell through during the trials.
Hardik Jani, the petitioners’ lawyer, told Deccan Herald that women particularly had a terrible time in custody. One of them was pregnant at the time of the arrest, while the other had two young children. “These two women faced a lot of hardship as they were dragged from one police station to another for months before being sent to jail in false cases. The policemen targeted them for being poor and uneducated. We have sought an investigation against the erring cops and exemplary compensation from the state,” Jani said.
The matter will be heard again on April 12.