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Dead Men's Tale: Death in police custody, Delhi 2000

26 Dec 2000

This year there have been 9 deaths in the custody of the Delhi Police and 1 in the custody of the CBI, which we have investigated. Of the 9 deaths in police custody, 4 have been explained away as suicides and 3 have been attributed to public beating. In the remaining 2, the police admit that their men were involved in the beating of the victim. However, they deny that these deaths are "custodial" as they did not occur within the confines of a police station.The official message is very clear — Delhi Police has been given a clean chit as far as responsibil¬ity for custodial deaths is concerned. Interestingly, FIRs have been filed against the police in only two cases. In both the police deny that their men were responsible for the deaths. If the police is so conscious of its own lapses and is ready to punish its own officers for their slightest negligence, then why does it not register FIRs against these officials? Clearly, these punish¬ments are meant to be internal disciplinary actions by which the unruly lot within the police force get to spend some months in the District Lines on half pay. The real significance of these custodial deaths lies in the fact that they unmask the police's grand theories of scientific interrogation and belief in human rights. Why have ten deaths taken place this year? What is the nature of the action taken by the police and the executive authorities? Has compensation been given to the families of the victims? This brief report seeks to provide the context of these deaths and their follow up.

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