Condemning his alleged torture, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has urged immediate release of lawyer and social activist Talib Hussain from police custody.
Hussain, a key witness in the recent Kathua gang rape and murder case, was arrested on 2nd August on an allegation of rape and brought to the police station.
Eyewitness accounts state that he was harassed and beaten in custody, said the CHRI, in a statement. The police made it difficult for his relatives and a lawyer to meet him. Relatives who saw him at the police station said his head was bandaged and bleeding, said the statement.
"Talib should be immediately removed from police custody and released on bail," said Devika Prasad, Coordinator of the Police Reforms Programme at CHRI, pointing out that torture in custody is illegal.
Police must be held accountable in such cases for they are the custodians of the health and security of persons in detention. "The Court's order to the J&K Police to respond to allegations of torture is an important step, considering the challenges in holding the police to account in cases of custodial violence," said Prasad.
On 8th August, the Supreme Court ordered the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Police to reply to allegations that he was tortured. The Court was hearing a writ petition filed in the Supreme Court by Hussain's cousin.
It is unacceptable that he was harmed and suffered a fractured skull in the course of investigation inside Samba police station and was sent back to the same police station after treatment.
The petition also declares that the present case and others filed against Hussain are false and aimed at harassing him, because he is a key witness in the Kathua gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old child.
He has been a steadfast support to the victim's family in their fight for justice. The Court's probe of this alleged persecution is awaited. The J&K Police personnel are implicated as accused in the gang rape-murder.
To provide a credible response to the Supreme Court, the J&K Police must hold an urgent and impartial inquiry, headed by a senior officer, to unearth who was involved in the events in Samba police station. The police personnel responsible for ordering or carrying out the alleged torture must be brought to book.
In what can be seen as an attempt to evade responsibility, the first response of the J&K Police was to book the social activist for attempted suicide.
In a statement published in the media, the J&K Director General of Police, SP Vaid, said that Hussain hit himself on the head "out of frustration" but only sustained scratches.