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Assam: NHRC seeks ATR in custodial death of a tribal

New Delhi, 29 August 2022: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought an action taken report (ATR) from the Superintendent of Police, Sibsagar district regarding the custodial death of a Naga tribal identified as E Henveih Phom (35 years) due to alleged torture by police at Gelekey police station in Sivasagar district of Assam on 21 August 2022. The ATR is to be submitted in four weeks as per the directions of the NHRC.

“On 25 August, Indigenous Lawyers Association of India (ILAI) filed a complaint and considering the seriousness of the case, the NHRC intervened into the matter (Case No. 301/3/15/2022-AD).”  – stated Mr Tejang Chakma, Programmes Coordinator of the ILAI.

The deceased E Henveih Phom was a resident of Anaki-C village under Mokokchung district of Nagaland. He was arrested along with a woman on 16 August 2022 by the Assam Police while they were travelling to Gelekey, Assam.

Following his arrest, E Henveih Phom was sent to judicial custody. However, he died under suspicious circumstances five days later.

The deceased’s family members alleged that the deceased was subjected to torture during police custody at Gelekey police station, which led to his death. The family also claimed that the deceased was physically fit and sound at the time of his arrest.

The ILAI urged the NHRC to direct the State Government of Assam to, among others, conduct a judicial inquiry into the custodial death under Section 176(1A) of the CrPC which provides for mandatory judicial inquiries in cases of death, rape and disappearance in custody; submit a detailed report including the post mortem report and CCTV footage of the police station; suspend all the accused police personnel of Gelekey police station under Sivasagar district including the SHO; take appropriate legal action including under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against them; and provide interim compensation of Rs 10 lakhs to the next of kin of the deceased.

Photo credited Nagaland Post

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