New Delhi: Between 2001 and 2016, as many as 180 persons died in Gujarat in police custody. However, no police personnel have been convicted for these custodial deaths.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Gujarat stands third in the list of states where custodial deaths have been reported between 2001 and 2016. While Maharashtra recorded 362 deaths during the period, it was followed by Andhra Pradesh with 242 deaths.
A total of 1,557 custodial deaths were recorded across the country during this period. Of the 704 cases registered against police personnel for these deaths nationwide, Andhra Pradesh topped the list of cases against cops at 188. As many as 43 cases have been registered against policemen in Maharashtra for custodial deaths.
Of the 294 nation-wide cases where charge sheets have been filed against policemen, there were only 28 charge sheets so far in Maharashtra, and 13 in Andhra Pradesh.
However, in Uttar Pradesh, 75 charge sheets have been filed against cops in such cases. The NCRB data shows that UP recorded 128 custodial deaths during the period and 122 cases have already been filed against policemen. Of these, 75 cops have been charge-sheeted. UP also tops the list of conviction rates with 17 convictions in the state out of 26 that took place across the country.
However, in Gujarat, against 180 cases of custodial deaths, only 26 cases were filed against cops. In the last 16 years, only ten charge sheets have been filed against policemen for their alleged involvement in these cases. No one has been convicted yet.
Meanwhile, this past November, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani conferred medals on 168 cops of the state for ‘distinguished and meritorious service’. Among the awardees was P.P. Pandey, former state DGP and an accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
Notably, last month the president gave his assent to a controversial anti-terror law, the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill, which makes custodial confessions legal and admissible as evidence. The Bill was passed by the state assembly in March 2015 and had been awaiting assent from the president to become law.
There are concerns that the new law will be used to coerce confessions. It can be noted that over a 16-year period between 2001 and 2016, Gujarat was one of the five states where more than 100 custodial deaths were recorded. Despite 180 custodial deaths being recorded in Gujarat during this period, not a single policeman has been convicted.