A year later, the scourge of prison violence in India is not abating
June marked the first anniversary of the bloody and shocking death in custody of a father-son duo in Sathankulam, Tamil Nadu, during the pandemic. The deaths had sparked outrage in India, especially since it occurred days after the brutal murder of a colored man, George Floyd, by cop Derek Chauvin during his arrest in Minneapolis, United States.
A year later, the scourge of prison violence in India has not abated. On June 23, another man was beaten to death by police for violating containment standards in Tamil Nadu. About ten days ago, three family members accused of theft committed suicide after allegations of police torture in Goa. A young Muslim named Junaid has died after being beaten up in custody a few weeks ago in Nuh district, Haryana.
A report titled “India: Annual Report on Torture 2020”, released by the National Campaign Against Torture in March, shows that there has been an increase in the number of deaths in custody over the past year and more ‘one suicide every week due to torture in detention. .
The upsurge in prison violence testifies to the inadequacy of the judicial response, the absence of political will and the collusion of the state apparatus, which has successively failed to understand the need to carry out large-scale police reforms. .
Of the many systemic failures of our criminal justice system to ensure justice and to uphold equal rights for all, violence in detention is most egregious because of its persistent and horrific nature that transforms the very protectors of the law. law in perpetrators of crimes. Some of the most horrific incidents of brutality involve the police, charged with maintaining the rule of law.
More astonishing than the brutality is the complacency with the routine nature of this practice. Police officers have openly said in interviews that torture is necessary to extract a confession from a defendant.
From the movie industry’s boisterous celebration of the idea of a violent police force to public performances involving the glorification of encounter killings, our response has indirectly legitimized barbarism. With the exception of a few cases of selective outrage, we have failed to sympathize with the poor, the majority of whom have been harassed by a discriminatory and punitive system.
Criminal records amply prove that minorities and the poor are disproportionately targeted during police custody. According to the “India: Annual Report on Torture 2019”, of the 125 people who died in custody in 2019, 60% were from poor and marginalized communities, including Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims.