Custodial Death Of Babar Basha: Prosecute Ulavapadu Cops

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that criminal prosecution proceedings be immediately initiated against police personnel, including Ulavapadu sub-inspector Y. Venkata Ramanayya, responsible for the custodial death on October 6 of Sheik Babar Basha (28).

A two-member HRF fact-finding team on Friday visited Velupodu, Ulavapadu and Kandukur and spoke with medical personnel as well as family members and local people and elicited facts of the case.

The police version that Babar Basha was being taken from Nellore to Guntur as part of recovering a stolen car and he died of a heart-stroke in Ulavapadu on October 6 is a brazen falsehood. Babar, who was suspect in a car theft of September 4 was taken into custody by the police in Vijayawada on October 3 itself. He was brought to the Ulavapadu police station and subjected to brutal ‘interrogation’. When he was close to collapsing, the police rushed him to the nearby Community Health Centre but he died soon after at about 11.25 pm of October 6. The police are now trying to pass off what is a death due to brutal custodial torture as one of ‘death due to heart attack’.

HRF demands that the policemen responsible for his death as well as those who are involved in the cover up of this crime be prosecuted and brought to justice. They must be booked under relevant sections of the penal law and the investigation into the case must be handed over to an agency as independent as possible of the police. Police officers investigating alleged crimes of their colleagues cannot generate impartial investigation and meaningful outcomes. Also, a mere departmental enquiry and the mandatory probe by an executive magistrate is not a substitute for this lawful process.

Custodial violence and abuse of police power is a matter of serious concern. This is the sixth custodial death in AP since November last year. The law criminalises torture, but custodial violence by police personnel seems to enjoy unprecedented license in our State. Inflicting violence on suspects in custody has become a common practice of interrogation. A pervasive regime of impunity is the single most important factor for institutionalising widespread use of torture.

HRF also points out that the insertion of section 176 (1-A) through an amendment to the CrPC in 2005 mandates that all custodial deaths should be enquired into by a judicial magistrate or metropolitan magistrate rather than an executive magistrate. This has come into effect from June 23, 2006 and therefore a judicial magistrate should enquire into Babar Basha’s death rather than an executive magistrate as has usually been the case.

VS Krishna 
(HRF AP&TS Coordination Committee member)

G Rohith
(HRF Krishna district convener)


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