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The State of Torture in Telangana

Telangana is once again in the news on unabated extrajudicial executions in the State. On 6 December 2019, the four accused in the horrific gang-rape and murder of a veterinary doctor at Chatanpally in Hyderabad were shot dead by the police in an alleged encounter. The accused were in judicial custody and were taken to Chatanpally, where they had allegedly burnt the body of the victim on the night of 27 November 2019, to reconstruct the crime scene. The police alleged that the accused attacked the police party escorting them, snatched their weapons and opened fire and all four were killed in retaliatory fire.

According to the NHRC, 15 cases of death in police custody and 1 case of custodial rape were registered from Telangana since it gained statehood in 2014.

On 14 October 2019, Telangana High Court expressed concern over the way Telangana Police were conducting investigation and directed the State’s Director General of Police (DGP) to sensitise officers not just to rely on confession extracted through third-degree torture and instead rely on evidence. The court comprising a bench of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by two women seeking production of their husbands in court. The Bench noted, “This is why several criminal cases are ending up in acquittals.” The case pertains to Syed Sohail (19 years) and his brother Syed Mohammed (24 years) who were picked up by police in September 2019. They were produced before court on 23 September 2019 after filing of the petition. Police said they were arrested in connection with a series of thefts. The Court observing torture marks on their backs reprimanded the police and said “If you torture a person, he will admit to any crime just to escape from the unbearable pain of the torment. That cannot be a piece of evidence”. The court also held that the police did not follow procedure in respect of identifying the stolen property.

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