The National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) in its ‘India: Annual Report on Torture 2019’ released on June 26 on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture stated that a total of 1,731 persons died in custody during 2019 – death of about five persons daily. These included 1,606 deaths in judicial custody and 125 deaths in police custody.
Manipur recorded two while Assam and Tripura recorded one death each during the period. Out of the 125 deaths in police custody, Uttar Pradesh topped with 14 deaths, followed by Tamil Nadu and Punjab with 11 deaths each; Bihar with 10 deaths; Madhya Pradesh with nine deaths; Gujarat with eight deaths; Delhi and Odisha with seven deaths each; Jharkhand with six deaths; Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan with five deaths each; Andhra Pradesh and Haryana with four deaths each; Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal with three deaths each; Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand with two deaths each; and Himachal Pradesh, Telangana with one death each.
Out of the 125 deaths, 93 persons (74.4 per cent) died during police custody due to alleged torture/foul play while 24 persons (19.2 per cent) died under suspicious circumstances in which police claimed they committed suicide (16 persons), illness (7 persons) and injuries (1 person) while the reasons for the custodial death of five (4 per cent) persons were unknown.
Women continued to be tortured or targeted for sexual violence in custody and often, the victims belonged to weaker sections of the society. During 2019, death of at least four women during police custody was reported.
Children remain vulnerable to torture and the NCRB in its “Crime in India – 2018” recorded 3,164 cases of simple hurt and grievous hurt caused by the police on 3,467 minor victims.