Staff Reporter

‘Jury wants perpetrators and their superiors accountable for their misdeeds’

BHUBANESWAR: People’s Tribunal on Torture, a civil society initiative to bring torture related issues to the fore, said majority of victims were from marginalized groups while police were often found to have sided with rich and powerful.

“The police were far too often employed as a tool of the powerful and rich, which channelized their own biases to exploit the same of the Orissa Police Service,” the jury of the tribunal said in its final report said here on Saturday.

The jury members included Justice P.K. Mishra, the former judge of Orissa High Court, Sankar Sen, who was heading investigation wing of the National Human Rights Commission, A.B. Tripathy, the former rapporteur of NHRC, Professor Asha Hans, the former director of Department of Women Studies, Utkal University, Seva Mohapatra, the former director of Health Services and Pratibha Ray, a renowned novelist.

They said the injury on tortured victim’s psyche remained raw, even in instances when the torture occurred years ago.

“Moreover, such scars on the victim’s dignity were separate and apart from the any physical injuries, which were sustained,” the jury said.

Abusing women

It expressed concern over repeated use of abusive and filthy language towards women and the female police officers too displayed the same disregard to victims and survivor of torture.

People’s Tribunal, which was part of the National Project on Preventing Torture in India (NPPTI), heard about 29 cases at a meeting in August. These cases were picked up from five districts of Orissa. The final report was released here on Saturday. Namrata Chadha, the State Director of NPPTI, said the jury wanted strengthening of internal mechanism within the police service, which would make not only perpetrators of police torture but their superiors accountable for their misdeeds. The jury requested the Orissa judiciary to consider as a contempt of court and pursuer to the furthest extent possible any cases in which the police had disregarded a court order to investigate a complaint of torture. The members also demanded that NHRC should enforce speedy responses from State authorities to victims or survivors’ legitimate complaints of torture by police personnel and ensure that their families were duly and swiftly compensated.