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India
01.08.19
Urgent Interventions

Impunity for Extrajudicial Killings in West Bengal

CASE IND 19082019

TheInternational Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in India.

Description of the Situation:

The OMCT International Secretariat has been informed by reliablesources of the extrajudicial killings of five men, one of them a minor, by thepolice. These cases are part of a pattern of systematic and gross human rightsviolations against poor and marginalized communities in the West Bengal regionand reveal a culture of impunity.

On 7 May2019 Gautam Mondal, a physicallychallenged Dalit man of about 30 years of age was tortured to death in policecustody. Three days before his death, Mondal was returning from work when hewas caught in a clash at the railway station between passengers and railwaypersonnel for cancelled trains. Although not having participated in the violentfight, police arrested Mondal and brought him to the police station. When hismother was able to visit him on 4 May 2019, Mondal reported that he has beenseverely tortured, and his mother saw marks of injuries all over his body.Shortly after, Mondal was sent to the Dumdum Correctional Home. The policereported that this transferal had been ordered by the Magistrate. However,investigations by a local non-governmental organization revealed that thepolice did not produce Mondal before a court but instead, it was a policeofficer who also works as a court clerk, who made the order on behalf of the Chief JudicialMagistrate. Four days after his arrest, the policeinformed the family that Mondal had died in custody. A post-mortem examinationwas only conducted after protests by the family and villagers. The familysubmitted a criminal complaint to the police. However, the police refused toregister the complaint.

Baser Ali, 38 years old and a dailylaborer from Assam was shot by personnel of the Border Security Forces on 15May 2019. On that day, Ali had gone to take a bath in the Kaljani River at 7 inthe morning when four members of the Border Security Forces surrounded him withspeed boats as they reportedly suspected Ali to be involved in cow smuggling.The police drove over his body leaving him gravely injured. They subsequentlydragged him to the board of the river and shot him in the neck at close range.Later on the same day, the police from Tufanganj Police Station arrived at the crimescene and drove the body to the police station. The next day on 15 May 2019,the Magistrate of Tufanganj went to the police station to inquest the body andto direct the police to note areas of injuries on the body. Shortly after, apost mortem examination was performed. On the same day, the brother of thevictim lodged a complaint at the Tufanganj Police Station against the BorderSecurity Force personnel. The complaint has been registered but theperpetrators have not been identified yet.

On 19February 2019, 43-year-old Gautam Mondalof Mahishyaparawas tortured to death in police custody. The day before on 18 February 2019,police officers of the Domkal police station forcibly entered the house ofMondal, dragged him to the courtyard and pushed him to the ground and startedbeating him with their boots and sticks. He was subsequently brought to theDomkal police station. The police did not provide any reasons for his arrest.When family members of Mondal arrived at the police station, they witnessed theslapping and kicking of Mondal by police officers. Mondal was writhing in painand asking for water. The next day, the wife, brother and brother in law of thevictim went again to the police station. When they requested Mondal’s release,the officer on duty asked for money in return. Unable to produce the money,they returned home. A witness reported that later the same day he had seenMondal arrive at the court premises with a police vehicle. The police tried tomove him out of the car but he was not able to walk as he seemingly trembled inpain. Before he was able to enter the court, he fell on the ground and diedimmediately. His corpse was brought to the Murshidabad Medical College andHospital where the attending doctor declared him dead. A post-mortemexamination declared that Mondal had died of an unnatural cause. Mondal’s wifesubmitted a complaint to the police on 20 February 2019 but till date, no action has been taken.

Rabiul Sheikh, a 26-year-old resident ofCooch Behar was shot dead by the Border Security Force (BSF) on 9 July 2019.Rabiul was involved in illegal cattle trade over the border to the territory ofBangladesh. When returning from Bangladesh, members of the BSF fired gunshotsat Rabiul and his two friends who were with him. One shot entered his head andhe sunk into the pond they were crossing. His two friends were able to escape.Later, his body was brought back to the camp of the BSF by the Sahebganj Policeand personnel of the BSF where an inquest was conducted on his body by policepersonnel and where he was identified by family members. Having said this, theinquest conducted was not constitutionally valid as Sheikh was not declareddead by any authorized medical practitioner. The wife of the deceased lodged acomplaint with the Sahebganj Police station against the BSF but no action hasbeen taken so far.

Tarun Mondal, a 17-year old who belongedto a low caste community from Natun Rajapur village, was tortured to death onthe night of 21 June 2019. Mondal was spotted by BSF officers when he wassmuggling cattle across the border to the territory of Bangladesh. They firedshots at Mondal that hit him below his right knee. When he fell on the ground,BSF officers hit him with their boots and rifles. Mondal fell unconscious andthe BSF officers left. In the morning, Mondal’s dead body was picked up by theRanitola Police and sent for a post-mortem examination to a nearby hospital.Although the police registered a case of unnatural death on 22 June 2019, noactions have been taken.

The OMCT condemns the extrajudicialkillings, torture, and arbitrary detention of the above-mentioned individualsand urges the Indian authorities to conduct prompt, effective, thorough andimpartial investigations into the incidents and bring the perpetrators tojustice.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Indianauthorities, urging them to:

· Carry out immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigationsinto the events described above in order to identify all those responsible andhold them accountable before a competent, independent and impartial tribunaland apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

· Ensure thatadequate, effective and prompt reparation, including adequate compensation andrehabilitation, is granted to the families of the victims for the violation oftheir human rights;

· Guaranteethe safety of Human Rights Defenders who document and highlight cases oftorture, extra-judicial killings, disappearances and arbitrary detention inWest Bengal;

· Takeimmediate steps to end the killing and torture of hundreds of people each year at the West Bengal-Bangladesh border by India's Border SecurityForce (BSF);

· Ratify theUN Convention against Torture that India signed in 1997;

· Ensure therespect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country inaccordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses:

· Mr. Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, Fax: +91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in or manmo@sansad.in

· Mr. Amit Shah, Union Minister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +9111 2309 2979. Email: dirfcra-mha@gov.in

· Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India,Email: hshso@nic.in

· Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court ofIndia, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in

· Justice (Retd.) H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the National HumanRights Commission of India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

· Mr. Khaleel Ahmad, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, NationalHuman Rights Commission of India, Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in

· H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Missionof India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96,Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

· H.E. Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri, Embassy of India to the EuropeanUnion, Belgium and Luxembourg in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 26451869

· Ms. MamataBanerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, Fax: +33 2214 5480. E-mail: cm@wb.gov.in/ cm@wb.nic.in

· Mr. AlapanBandyopadhyay, Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal, Fax: +33 2214 4328.E-mail: cs-westbengal@nic.in

· JusticeGirish Chandra Gupta, Chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission,Fax: +33 2337 9633. E-mail: hrcwb2013@gmail.com

Please also write to the diplomaticrepresentations of India in your respective countries.

***

Geneva, 20 August 2019

Kindly inform us of any actionundertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

Created in 1985, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is the maincoalition of nongovernmental organisations (NGO) fighting against torture,summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman ordegrading treatment, as well as for the protection of human rights defenders.With more than 200 affiliated organisations in its SOS-Torture Network, OMCTaims at accompanying, reinforcing and protecting anti-torture organisations inparticular in erosive environments and provides a comprehensive system ofsupport and protection for human rights defenders around the world.

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