NHRC notice to the DGP, Jharkhand over the reported death of a suspected Naxalite supporter in police custody in Hunterganj, Chatra District (26.11.2019)

Delhi, 26th November, 2019

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media a report that a resident of Kedi Mau villagein Hunterganj of Chatra District, , Jharkhand was taken into custody by the police on 24.11.2019 on suspicion of being a supporter of Naxalites and later died. The family members of the deceased and the villagers have, reportedly, alleged that the victim was a farmer and he had been illegally arrested, physically tortured and killed by the police personnel. Reportedly, the police team asked him to guide them in the forest to arrest some Naxalites.

The Commission has observed that even if, the police personnel had apprehension that the victim was involved in the Naxal activities, his death in police custody cannot be justified in any manner. Apparently, the victim died in police custody and the sequence of events is indicative of possible abuse of power by the police force, violating the right to life of the deceased. A precious life has been lost and it is indeed a matter of concern for the Commission.

Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Director General of Police, DGP, Jharkhand calling for a detailed report in the matter within, six weeks including the Inquest report, Magisterial Enquiry Report under section 176 (1a) Cr.P.C, Post-mortem examination report along with video CD and record of treatment at primary health centre and the district hospital where the deceased was reportedly taken before death.

The Commission has also directed the DGP, Jharkhand to sensitize the officers concerned and submit an explanation as to why this matter was not reported to the Commission within the stipulated 24 hours of the occurrence of the custodial death in spite of specific directions given to all the state authorities.

According to the media report, carried today on the 26th November, 2019, the son of the victim Bechan Ganjhu has stated his father was arrested by the police from their residence and later, he was beaten up. As the news of physical torture of the victim spread, the son of the victim, along with village head, reached the police station but he was not allowed to meet his father. In the evening when they were returning back, a message was given to them that the victim was not feeling well and he had been sent to the Sadar hospital. The villagers reached the hospital but they were not allowed to see the victim. Next morning, the police personnel informed the family about the death of the victim.

As mentioned in the news report, the victim was perfectly alright when he was arrested by the police. The villagers have also stated that they witnessed the victim being beaten up by the “Cobra” team of the police, who allegedly whisked away the villagers from the spot. Reportedly, the police have claimed that after the arrest, the victim Bechan Ganjhuwhom was being taken to the police station when his condition deteriorated and he was taken to the primary health centre from where he was referred to the Sadar hospital and there he was declared dead by the doctors.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police of the area has, reportedly, also stated in a press release that they had arrested three persons associated with the Naxalites, who were planning a big damage to the security forces. Reportedly, a gas cylinder, drill machine and IED material has been recovered by the police from the arrested persons.