HRF Letter to NHRC Chairperson – Death of Pasala Chandraiah, Tribal young man due to police torture 29.06.2000

The Hon’ble Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
New Delhi                                            
Sub: Death due to police torture – Pasala Chandraiah, Tribal young man – additional information – Regarding

We have seen it reported in the Press that the NHRC has sought explanation / comments from the Government of Andhra Pradesh regarding the death of a tribal young man by name Pasala Chandraiah at the hands of the police. The NHRC, apparently, was reacting to a news report of Chandraiah’s death.

Being aware of the kind of misleading information that the Government of Andhra Pradesh is likely to give in reply to your query, we are presenting below the salient facts concerning his death, in the hope that the information will enable you to conduct an effective enquiry into the crime and strive to bring the guilty to book.

Pasala Chandraiah belonged to the Manne community, a Scheduled Tribe. He was native of Baddempalli village of Somanpalli panchayat, in Kotipalli mandal, Adilabad district. The village is located in a forested area where very few habitations have all-weather roads.   

It is also an area where the naxalites, more particularly the CPI(M-L)(Peoples War) are active. Given the utter neglect of the region, it is no surprise that the Peoples War should be able to find sympathisers and recruits among the tribals there. But as far as Pasala Chandraiah is concerned, even the police are not able to point out any evidence of his involvement with the naxalite group. However, even those tribals who do not have political links with the naxalites  are likely to have knowledge of their movements, and hence all tribals are good game for the police who are provided with incentives of cash and quick promotions by the State government to hunt for naxalites by all permissible and impermissible means.

On the intervening night of 9 and 10 June 2000, police raided Baddempalli and picked up Pasala Chandraiah. His wife Rukkamma is an eye witness. She was under the impression that her husband was not at home, as he had gone to Somanpalli in the morning and came back late in the night, after she had gone to bed. So, when the police woke her up at 2 a.m., she said her husband was not there. But a few minutes later she saw them dragging him out of the other room.

Kota Chandraiah of the same village and Athram Lachaiah of Brahmanapalli were also taken into custody the same night by the police. All three of them belong to the Manne tribe. A fourth person by name Nayani Sammaiah, also of the Manne tribe of Baddempalli, was also picked up, but he was let off after a while.

The three men were taken into the forest neighbouring the village and tortured severely to reveal the hide outs of the naxalites. Pasala Chandraiah was treated particularly severely. Cloth was stuffed into the mouth and their hands were tied behind the back. They were thrown stomach downwards on the ground, and beaten and trampled upon by policemen wearing heavy boots. Pasala Chandraiah was hung from the branches of a tree by his arms and a fire was lit under his dangling feet. Hard thorns were repeatedly stuck into his penis until he bled profusely. Once in a while he was put on the ground and directed to take the police to the hideout of the naxalites . The other two persons were also tortured, though not to the same extent as Pasala Chandraiah.

By day break, Pasala Chandraiah had almost collapsed. The police put him in a passing tractor and dumped him in the centre of a village by name Nakkapalli in Vemanpalli mandal, very close to Baddempalli. Villagers of Nakkalapalli recognised Pasala Chandraiah and asked the police as to what had happened to him. The police lightly replied that he was drunk on illicit arrack, which reply enraged the villagers. For Pasala Chandraiah was known to be a devotee of a Shiva cult of Penchikalapeta, and at the time of the incident he was on the annual `deeksha’ of the cult and was practising abstinence. Other fellow devotees of Nakkalapalli, Raji Reddy the gram sarpanch and Pangidi Lakshmi took issue with the police. More people gathered there and saw that Pasala Chasndraiah had a badly swollen groin and legs. Soon he was declared dead. The people of Nakkalapalli got angry and questioned the police as to what they had done to him. The police were about 25 in number, and the people recognised the Sub Inspectors of Chennur and Neelwai police stations among them. The police at first tried to bluff their way out of the village, but realised that the people were angry, and put up their hands and ran away. But the villagers managed to catch hold of one head constable of Neelwai police station by name Abdul Aziz. He was confined in a room and questioned by the people as to the incident. He confessed and told the people the entire story of the previous night. He specifically pinpointed to the Sub Inspector of Police, Chennur, as the one who had tortured the victim most, and added that the Sub Inspector of Police, Neelwai, had also tortured him. The people took down his statement in writing. The paper is now with the sarpanch of Nakkalapalli, Mr Raji Reddy.

Finally, it is reliably learnt that the post-mortem examination has revealed nine injuries on the body, which injuries were fatal.

These are the bare facts as we have elicited in the course of a fact finding exercise. The people of Baddempalli as well as Nakkalapalli are ready to speak the facts they know in any judicial forum. Kota Chandraiah and Athram Lachaiah are also ready and prepared to give evidence. The government has tried to wash its hands of the matter by merely suspending the Sub Inspector of Police, Chennur and paying Rs 1 lakh as compensation to Pasala Chandraiah’s widow. It is not taking any steps to prosecute the guilty policemen.

We therefore request you to take further steps in the matter on the basis of this representation.

                                                                          Yours truly
29 June 2000

Address for communication:
304, Kiran apartments
Red Hills, Hyderabad –4.     

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