Judicial probe into ‘custodial’ death demanded

Biplab Kr Dey

TURA, May 27 – Garo Students Union (GSU), FKJGP, and Achik Youth Welfare Organisation (AYWO) have demanded a judicial probe into the alleged custodial death of one Balsan Marak. The NGOs in a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma and Home Minister Roshan Warjri, also demanded the setting up of a psychological counseling cell in the police station.

The NGOs demanded suspension and termination of all those involved in the torture which led to the death of 20 year-old Balsan Marak. They also demanded departmental action and contempt of court proceedings against those who failed to follow directives on human rights.

To ensure cases like these did not happen regularly, the NGOs demanded for the installation of CCTVs in police stations so that it acted as a deterrent.

The NGOs contested that the custodial death of Balsan Marak is not an isolated incident and that there have been many such cases of extra-judicial killings and murder in police custody.

The memorandum pointed out that Balsan Marak and Pohit Marak (a driver) were not at all involved in the NGO torture case. They pointed out that Balsan and Pohit were only accompanying Jaynie Sangma’s son, a minor.

The memo also stated that the family of the victim only came to know of his arrest when they went to file a missing report in the police station the next day.

Balsan and two others were arrested on May 13 based on an FIR filed by one of the victims. Five men were arrested in connection with the case, apart from the five “activists” arrested on May 9 for illegal confinement, torture, kidnapping and criminal intimidation of 12 women.

The memo asks why the police did not inform about Balsan’s arrest to his family within 8-12 hours, as per the directives of the Supreme Court.

Pointing out the SC directive that every 48 hours an arrested person should be examined by trained medical doctor, the activists questioned as to why the jail authority failed to conduct medical examination of Balsan, when he had complications. Balsan was taken to the hospital only on May 17 and then again on May 19 in a very serious condition, though he was arrested on May 13.

Pointing to the bruise marks, injuries on chest and neck, the letter stated that it was a clear case of torture. The NGOs threatened to launch an agitation if the demand for a judicial probe was not heard.