More than four persons per day were killed in police and judicial custody in India between 2001 and 2010. The total of 14,231 persons includes 1,504 deaths in police custody and 12,727 deaths in judicial custody from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010 as per the cases submitted to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The NHRC registered only six deaths in police custody in Jammu and Kashmir from 2001-02 to 2010-11. This is despite the fact that on March 31, 2011 Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in a written reply before the Legislative Council stated that 341 persons had died in police custody in the state since 1990.

The New Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report, Torture in India 2011, released today said that a large majority of these deaths were a direct consequence of torture in custody. These deaths reflect only a fraction of the problem with torture and custodial deaths in India as not all the cases of deaths in police and prison custody are reported to the NHRC. Further, the NHRC does not have jurisdiction over the armed forces and the NHRC also does not record statistics of torture not resulting into death.

“The failure of the Ministry of Home Affairs to introduce the Prevention of Torture Bill drafted by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee headed by Ashwani Kumar, the current Minister of State for Planning, in December 2010 in the Parliament session beginning on November 22 demonstrates India’s lack of political will to stamp out torture,” said Suhas Chakma, ACHR Director.

During 2001-2010, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of deaths in police custody with 250 deaths; followed by Uttar Pradesh (174); Gujarat (134); Andhra Pradesh (109); West Bengal (98); Tamil Nadu (95); Assam (84); Karnataka (67); Punjab (57); Madhya Pradesh (55); Haryana (45); Bihar (44); Kerala (42); Jharkhand (41); Rajasthan (38); Orissa (34); Delhi (30); Chhattisgarh (24); Uttarakhand (20); Meghalaya (17); Arunachal Pradesh (10); Tripura (8); Jammu and Kashmir (6); Himachal Pradesh (5); Goa; Chandigarh and Pondicherry (3 each); Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland (2 each); and Sikkim and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1 each).

“About 99.99 per cent of deaths in police custody can be ascribed to torture and occur within 48 hours of the victims being taken into custody. Though Maharashtra has a total population of 112 million in comparison to 199 million in Uttar Pradesh according to 2011 census, the fact that 76 more persons were killed in police custody in Maharashtra shows that torture is more rampant in police custody in Maharashtra than Uttar Pradesh,” said Chakma.

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