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AI on the custodial death of Pudiyami Mada

AI Index: ASA 20/003/2012
18 January 2012

India: Authorities should investigate the custodial death of Adivasi youth
in Chhattisgarh

The Indian authorities should order a prompt, impartial and independent
investigation into the custodial torture and death of an Adivasi youth,
Podiam Mara (Pudiyami Mada), detained on suspicion of being a Maoist in Dantewada district
of Chhattisgarh state, Amnesty International said today.

Amnesty International pointed out that the authorities had failed to order
an independent investigation into the death of another Adivasi, Madkam
Jogarao, in September 2011 after he had been detained by the Central
Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the police in the same district.

The two deaths indicate that the security forces in Dantewada district
have not abandoned the path of impunity even after the disbandment of
Salwa Judum and other civil militias engaged in anti-Maoist operations as
per the Supreme Court order in July 2011, Amnesty International said.

Residents of Podiyam Mara’s native village, Kondre, informed Amnesty
International that he was detained by the CRPF during an anti-Maoist
operation on 9 January near Sukma town when he had gone to collect cash
for sale of forest produce.

Local sources alleged that the CRPF detained Mara for four days when he
was given electric shocks to his genitals, petrol poured on them and set
on fire. On 13 January, he was handed over to the Sukma police who sent
him for a medical examination and later produced him at a local court.
While the initial medical report said that he had swelling in his
genitals, he was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days without being
asked about the exact date of his detention and the injuries sustained by
him during his detention, they added.

Sukma police failed to send Mara to the Dantewada jail as per the court
order and detained him at the police station overnight when he died, the
local sources told Amnesty International.

Indian law requires that arrested persons be produced before a court
within 24 hours of the arrest. In an apparent attempt to circumvent this
requirement, the CRPF now claims that Mara was apprehended only on 12
January and a rifle recovered from him. The police claimed that he hanged
himself in the police station, but four policemen have now been suspended.

Amnesty International calls upon the Indian authorities to ensure a
prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into the
reports of Mara’s illegal detention and torture resulting in his death.
These deaths have occurred even as the Indian parliament is engaged in
enacting a new law to combat torture in line with India’s obligations
under the United Nations’ Convention against Torture, which it wants to

Those suspected of involvement in these violations, including persons
bearing command responsibility, should immediately be suspended from
positions where they may repeat such offences, and brought to justice; the
authorities should also award full reparations to Mara’s family, Amnesty
International said.

Over the last five years, Chhattisgarh has witnessed an escalation of
violence between the banned Maoists who claim to be fighting on behalf of
the Adivasis and India’s paramilitary forces. At least 600 people have
been killed and some 30,000 Adivasis continue to be displaced from their
homes in the state.