There have been three recent cases of custodial death and torture in Punjab reported in the Punjab media.
On February 20, Harjeet Singh of Niko Sarai village died under police custody after enduring severe torture. Harjeet Singh and his brother, Nirmal Singh, had been taken into illegal custody by police on February 11 and tortured; Nirmal Singh is in serious condition. After Harjeet Singh’s death, police officers cremated his body at night without informing his family.
Instead of handing over the body to his family panicked police officials cremated the body of the deceased. Police officials also took signatures on certain papers from the illiterate father of the deceased to cover up their tracks.
A case has been registered against the accused police officers, who have been moved out of the police district.
In another case of custodial torture, a man under trial was branded by his jailers. Using hot metal, jail officers branded the word “choora,” or “lower caste,” on the back of Narinder Singh. Narinder Singh said that he had been performing religious prayer in his cell on February 20 when the jail officers told him to remove his clothes and then brutally beat him with sticks.
“The Assistant Superintendent of the jail was in an inebriated condition when he beat him up and inscribed “choora” on his back with the hot metal. Thereafter he was paraded naked in his cell,” he alleged.
Narinder Singh has filed a complaint against the jail officers and has been transferred to Patiala jail.
Finally, three women have claimed that they were tortured by police officers. Amarjit Kaur, Virpal Kaur, and Rani of Johar village in Malout stated that they were illegally detained for several days during the week of December 25, 2005. During their illegal detention, police officers removed their clothes and electrically shocked them. The SSP stated that an inquiry will be conducted into the incident.