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Urgently investigate into Dum Dum Central Jail custodial death: Letter to NHRC

Counterview Desk 

In a letter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson regarding custodial death of Dalit youth Supriya Santra, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI), has said that, despite her death in June 2023, proper investigation has been conducted into the circumstances leading to her death.
Insisting that those responsible for any wrongdoing must be held accountable, Roy said, NHRC intervention "is crucial in upholding justice, protecting human rights, and ensuring that such incidents do not go unnoticed or unaddressed."

Text:

I am writing to bring to your attention a grave matter of human rights violation concerning the custodial death of Supriya Santra, a 30-year-old youth from Boro Kanthalia, Mohanpur, North 24 Paraganas, West Bengal; the incident occurred on June 4, 2023, at 4:30 pm, when Santra died under the custody of Dum Dum Central Jail.
Supriya Santra, belonging to the Scheduled Caste community, was arrested on May 26, 2023, in connection with Barasat Police Station Case No - 365/2023. His arrest and subsequent death raise serious concerns, especially given the circumstances surrounding her demise.
According to criminal procedure, each arrest by police should be followed by issuing Memo of Arrest which was not done in public view. Arrested person’s family was not informed about the arrest; which is mandatory procedure.
Supriya’s father and uncle went to Mohanpur police station to lodge a complaint about the disappearance of Supriya on 27.5.23 at 8am, the on duty police persons did not receive the written complaint nor did they inform about the arrest of Supriya.
Uncle of deceased Supriya, Sushil Ch. Santra met Supriya at Dumdum Central Jail on 29.6.23. There was no complaint from the deceased. He was completely fit and alert both physically and mentally.
On 5.6.23 police of Mohanpur PS informed the deceased family that Supriya died due to illness at Dumdum Central Jail on 4.6.23. Victim family was never informed about the illness of the deceased by police or jail authorities.
The family of the deceased asserts that Supriya Santra's death is a case of custodial death, and they have brought to our attention a critical violation of legal procedures. Despite the sensitive nature of this case, an inquest, under section 176 (A) of Cr.P.C. was not conducted by a judicial magistrate, which is a clear infringement of established legal protocols and a violation of fundamental human rights.
He died on 4th June 2023 at R.G.Kar Medical College and Hospital, but a post mortem examination was conducted on 6th June 2023. Why so late? Who is responsible for such an inhuman act? Is it not dereliction of duty of government employees?
Family of the deceased, particularly his widow, is distressed and seeks justice for the untimely demise of Supriya Santra
The family members of the deceased saw the body of Supriya at R.G.Kar Hospital on 6.6.23, it was decomposed, rotten; a bad smell coming out from the corpse.
The inquest over the dead body of the victim was conducted by one Supriyo Bhattacharyya, posted as Assistant Commissioner of Police, North and North Suburban Division of Kolkata Police, but interestingly he declared himself as “Special Executive Magistrate” and signed and stamped! Said police cum magistrate also declared that he is performing his duty under section 174 Cr.P.C., though knowing fully well that this is a case of death in custody. The lawmakers have decided Death in Custody case will be enquired by the judicial magistrate only (S.176-A).
In the Inquest Report and in the Post Mortem Examination Report – there are mention of “Blackish patches” in palms, back, hands and face. Are not those unusual marks to be enquired? Simple knowledge will hint that the deceased was inhumanly tortured, assaulted; thus signs of haematoma were in the body.
The family of the deceased, particularly his widow and other family members, is distressed and seeks justice for the untimely demise of Supriya Santra. It is imperative that a thorough investigation be conducted into the circumstances leading to her death, and those responsible for any wrongdoing must be held accountable.
Therefore, we kindly request the National Human Rights Commission to initiate an immediate and impartial inquiry into the custodial death of Supriya Santra. Additionally, we urge the Commission to ensure that a proper inquiry is conducted by a judicial magistrate to ascertain the facts surrounding this tragic incident.
We believe that your intervention is crucial in upholding justice, protecting human rights, and ensuring that such incidents do not go unnoticed or unaddressed. We trust that the National Human Rights Commission will take prompt action to investigate this matter thoroughly and provide justice to the aggrieved family.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to a swift resolution.

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