India “is the land of Gandhi and Buddha: we believe in peace, non-violence and upholding human dignity”, India’s Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had stated in the United Nations in 2017. “As such, the concept of torture is completely alien to our culture and it has no place in the governance of the nation.”
Fine words, indeed. However, the 2015-2016 National Human Rights Commission annual report states: “Custodial violence and torture continue to be rampant in the country. It represents the worst form of excesses by public servants entrusted with the duty of law enforcement.”
Between September 2017 and June 2018, news reports noted 122 incidents of custodial torture, resulting in 30 deaths. There has been no consistent documentation of torture-related complaints. The National Crime Records Bureau does not document cases of custodial torture, Baljeet Kaur noted in the Economic and Political Weekly.
Torture, says the Association for the Prevention of Torture, is “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him information or a confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed”.
Let us enumerate some of the tortures taking place in the context of Indian government’s efforts to do away with so-called extremism in the country.
We can only take solace from the endearing song of our revered patriot, philosopher, poet Rabindranath Tagore. . .
Where The Mind Is Without Fear
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.