India has the status of largest democracy despite of this fact torture and organized violence against the marginalized remains entrenched in police department and it is a part of regular routine law –enforcement strategy.
Dalits, adhivasis and other backward low caste people suffer atrocities and discrimination in all spheres of life. In country like India where the caste system dictates the lives of India’s citizens, low deprived caste or untouchable communities are denied the right to be treated equally and the rights to have equal protection before law.
One of the most gruesome human rights violations the low caste people face from governmental bodies is the widespread use of torture by the police.
The torture is used for intimidating the victim to speak truth, or to push low caste torture victim to admit to false crimes.
The majority of low caste underprivileged people are targeted because of their inability to pay bribe to the police, insufficiency to fight a case for long and also because there is a general impression in Indian society that poor low caste dalits and tribals are not only do menial work but also from the major source of anti-social and criminal elements.
Because of these factors the low caste or untouchable community is an easy target for torture, the policemen who torture do not get sentenced for his heinous crime, and the mechanism of justice for the common man is lost.
There are two main aspects of police torture against low caste people. First, the historical, social and political factors that perpetuate police torture. Second, the condition the majority of the untouchable community lives in today and in what circumstances the torture is executed.
Historical Causes of Torture
There are two main causes for the rise and development of heinous crime like torture against deprived caste. First is impression of low or deprived caste people on rest of the society i.e. there is general impression in Indian society that poor dalits and tribals are not only do menial work but also form the major source of anti-social and criminal elements.
Secondly, thinking and tradition of upper caste people. Historically, a culture of silence has been permeated in Indian society. Privileged upper caste people believe that they are beyond the law and for governing underprivileged low caste or untouchable community laws are made.
Discrimination between low caste and upper caste people started from vedic and later vedic period and it is still continue in modern Indian society. This biased behavior prevalent in Indian society is also reflected in governmental bodies. That is why one finds most of the custodial tortures, violence and death are committed against marginalized and deprived caste.
Many dalits are tortured and subjected to humiliation and degrading treatment in public like garlanded with slippers and sandal, colouring their face black and white including force riding on donkey etc. Indian police practice community punishment to demoralize dalit community.
Demoralizing lower caste is very common to make them silent, so they cannot raise their voice. When aperson from upper caste commits crime, after trial the person is punished.
However, when it comes to the lower caste entire community is punished. This punishment does not originate from court of law, but carried out by upper caste in collusion with, police who provides sound support in punishing lower caste.
Uttar Pradesh, for instance, constitutes more than 30% of the total population in India. The deprived caste people are discriminated daily because they are considered untouchables in country like India, where the caste system still dictates the lives of the population.
The caste system also leaves the Dalits and Tribals communities marginalized living on the outskirts of society. Because of the caste system and other forms of discrimination the majority of deprived low caste people live on the brink of poverty.
The children are not receiving proper education, and the income of families are from menial, low income jobs such as glass making, lock making and weaving, often in the cottage industry. Most deprived caste communities live in highly congested areas without proper drainage and electrical facilities.
The promises of development made by political parties are empty and little has been done to improve the economic and social standards of deprived caste people. The money allocated to these communities is instead filling the pockets of corrupt politicians. With no education and proper leadership the communities often fall for the same traps election after election.
How the torture happens
India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) released figures recorded from 2008-201, showing that within the 4 years there were 4,034 custodial deaths and 1,836 cases of custodial torture registered in India.
The worst affected state was Uttar Pradesh, with 999 registered deaths and 1,552 registered cases of torture, but most of the cases go unregistered. The huge amount of the victims in these cases was deprived caste people. Police torture is so widespread in Uttar Pradesh, it is believed among many aid organization like PVCHR and NHRC that all policemen have directly or indirectly, been involved in police brutality and torture.
By definition, torture involves the dehumanization of the victim which is made easier if the victim is from a marginalized deprived class people. To enable torture, the lack of human sympathy is considered necessary for the torturer.
The torture by police officers often occurs in disclosed locations or unofficial rooms in police stations. When suspects and witnesses are picked up illegally by the police authority and tortured for a number of days or weeks, it is often not recorded until the victims of torture admit to criminal activity.
Methods for torture include assault, physical abuse, custodial death, threats, psychological humiliation, and deprivation of food, water, sleep, and medical attention.
For women, torture also includes practices such as custodial rape, molestation and other forms of sexual harassment. The most gruesome forms of torture usually occur in the course of the investigation and interrogation of the alleged suspects.
In 2009, the Human Rights watch analyzed the effectiveness of the Indian police forces and documented human rights abuses committed by police officers. For the report more than 80 officers and 60 victims of the police officer abuse were interviewed from 19 police stations in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, and Delhi. In the report many officers
Today where everyone pretend themselves as modern as technology of this period are but when it comes to the matter of deprived caste, this so called modern upper caste people become rudimentary and follower of tradition and culture.
Because of this caste system there is a legal, social, political and economic discrimination against deprived caste daily. Police torture is a manifestation of social discrimination. Therefore ending police torture goes hand in hand in socially, economically, and politically strengthening the deprived caste.
Today there are many organizations working towards helping the deprived community out of situations which breed violence and discrimination. Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights a non- governmental organization who working towards these community from the grass roots level. They were not only providing psycho –legal support to the victims of these deprived community in their cases of police torture but also connect these communities with the various schemes launched by government for the welfare of the lower deprived caste people like MNREGA etc.
There is no doubt that PVCHR working incredibly towards the deprived caste victims by providing legal as well as psycho-social support. As an intern and observer of PVCHR I have a suggestion which hopefully enhance your effort towards the aim of making India as torture free country.
The very essence of Indian Law System is to provide compensation to victims with proper prosecution of wrongdoer who commit the crimes and it is a basic right of any victim who suffer violation of his rights. According to my observation in your case solving procedure it was missing.
by Ms. Nidhi Gupta (Student of National Law University & judicial academy)