NEW DELHI: As many as 100 people died in custody in the year 2017, recording a jump in such deaths in comparison to the previous year when 92 people died in such circumstances, according to data compiled by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Of the total deaths, 58 people died in jail while 42 died when they were in police custody.
Highest number of custodial deaths was reported Andhra Pradesh where 27 people lost their lives. This was followed by the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra where 15 custodial deaths each were reported.
For the 100 custodial deaths not one person had been convicted according to the recently released Crime in India Report of NCRB. A total of 33 policemen were arrested and 27 policemen were chargesheeted for these 100 deaths. Notably, Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a speech delivered earlier this month, on the 26th foundation day of the NHRC, had said that government has zero-tolerance on custodial deaths, extra-judicial deaths, and police atrocities.
Shah had also called for a need to redefine "human rights" in the "Indian context". A total of 56 cases of human rights violations were registered against police personnel in 2017, 48 policemen were chargesheeted and only three policemen were eventually convicted for their crimes. Most of these cases were of torture. Six cases of encounter killing were also listed in the data provided by NCRB.
According to the reasons of deaths cited by NCRB, most deaths were reported due to 'suicide'. Suicide was followed by deaths due to illnesses/deaths in hospitals during treatment. Injuries sustained during interrogation by police were listed in only 5% of the cases.
NCRB data for 2017 also shows that as many as 2005 cases were registered against police personnel for various offences and 1000 policemen were chargesheeted for various crimes in the same year. Highest number of cases against cops was registered in Maharashtra (456), followed by Gujarat (191) and Rajasathan (169). Overall, the year saw 128 convictions of police officers. The data provided also listed 1163 as the number of escapees from police custody in 2017. Most of them - 319 - escaped from the lockups in Madhya Pradesh. It was the same state which came to limelight for the 2016 alleged fake encounter killings of a few inmates of Bhopal central jail. Over 150 policemen were arrested in the case and 53 held guilty.