The BJP government on Tuesday informed the parliament that 348 people lost their lives under police custody in the last three years from 2017-19 in different parts of the country.
During the monsoon session in Lok Sabha, Karthi P Chidambaram, MP from Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu asked questions regarding violence against civilians by police. In response, the Union Minister of State for Home, Nityanand Rai shared the data. He further added that 1,189 others were found to be tortured under police custody.
The data provided by the minister is based on the information received from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) according to which 136 people died in police custody in 2018, 112 in 2019, and 100 in 2020.
Furthermore, 542 people were tortured in police custody in 2018, 411 in 2019, and 236 in 2020.
Chidambaram in a written questionnaire had also asked to know whether the government has taken note of the various reports of police violence against civilians in enforcing COVID lockdown to which Rai said that the Union government has no separate data about it.
Throughout the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, reports and visuals of police brutality particularly against the working class and marginalised caste communities in the name of law and order and maintenance of COVID19 guidelines have surfaced.
Policemen have been seen beating migrant workers, daily wage workers, street vendors, destroying their vegetable carts, and even imposing heavy fines during the national lockdown and state lockdowns.
‘As per seventh schedule to the Constitution of India, ‘police’ and ‘public order’ are state subjects and the responsibilities of maintaining law and order, including investigation, registration/prosecution of crimes, conviction of accused, protection of life and property etc. rest primarily with the respective state governments,’ Rai added.
Despite India’s anti-colonial struggle and the establishment of an ‘independent’ nation-state in 1947, the repressive arm of the State; the police system, continues to function on the British colonial model.
The BJP minister also informed Lok Sabha that 230 people were killed in various parts of the country for political reasons between 2017 and 2019.
Rai said those who were killed for political reasons include 49 in Jharkhand, 27 in West Bengal, and 26 in Bihar. While 99 people were killed in the country for political reasons in 2017; 59 were killed in 2018; and 72 in 2019, Rai said in response to the question asked by the Congress MP.
Among the political murders between 2017 and 2019, a total of 24 such cases were reported in Karnataka and 15 each in Kerala and Maharashtra, he said.