A father and his family, including a minor son, are being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment in the name of national security. The authorities must stop pursuing discriminatory policies against the populations, including religious minorities. We have taken this case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
A 67-year-old man was arrested at the end of 2022 for complaining of the arbitrary detention and brutal torture of his son that included beating, rape, and electric shocks. Police accused the young man of cow smuggling, which is a crime in India. After demanding a bribe from the family, the police released the son. He was in such critical condition that he was immediately rushed to the hospital, where he stayed for several weeks. Subsequently, the father of the torture survivor submitted a complaint to the police superintendent. Five police officers were arrested but released and re-instated a few days later. India has neither ratified the Convention against Torture nor has it enacted a law criminalizing torture. The country is, therefore, unable to provide meaningful accountability and fight against impunity.
Four family members remain in detention based on trumped-up charges, including the elderly father and three of his sons, one being a minor
Since the registration of the case, the father and his family, belonging to the Muslim minority, have been repeatedly subjected to a series of harassment and violence. The police first arrested the father and three other sons and accused them under the National Security Act (NSA), which allows for months-long detention without judicial review. All three were brutally tortured and asked to drop the complaint. The father sustained serious injuries, including fractured bones, and had to spend some time in hospital but was then transferred to a detention center again. Later, the 15-year-old son was arrested and is still detained in an adult prison. A few months later, police evicted the mother of the family and two other children from the house. The mother was detained and only released on bail four months later. In summary, four family members remain in detention based on trumped-up charges, including the elderly father and lead applicant in the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention submission and three of his sons, one being a minor.
This case is sadly illustrative of many similar such cases. Since India’s independence, Muslims have faced systematic discrimination and violence. Anti-Muslim sentiments have heightened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has pursued a Hindu nationalist agenda since coming to power in 2014.
The law authorises preventive detention for up to 12 months on too broad and undefined grounds
Over the last months, the government has increasingly misused the National Security Act (NSA) to detain minorities, human rights defenders, and journalists arbitrarily. The NSA authorises preventive detention for up to 12 months on the grounds of "the defence of India", "the security of India" or "the maintenance of public order", all terms that are too broad and undefined. Moreover, it is nearly impossible to receive bail under the NSA.
The Indian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release all family members who complained about torture and should refrain from further harassing the victim's family. The government should also amend its draconian security laws, including the NSA, that have been criticized by international human rights bodies.
For more information: Claire-Marie Germain: email@example.com
India: Serious concerns over violence against student protesters in Manipur
- Urgent Interventions
India: Arbitrary detention and criminalisation of Afreen Fatima's father
India: Arrests and raids target critics of government