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India's shocking toll of custodial deaths

Church lawyer wants urgent action to stop the torture of marginalized people in judicial or police custody

India's shocking toll of custodial deaths

Delhi police and paramilitary forces on duty at a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act on Dec. 17, 2019. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

India records an average of nearly five custodial deaths each day and most victims are from the Muslim, Dalit and tribal communities.

A report published by the National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) released on June 26 said 1,731 persons died in custody in India during 2019. Of those, 1,606 died in judicial custody and 125 died in police custody.

The number was worse in 2018 with 1,966 deaths, but NCAT said the figures do not reflect the extent and incidents of custodial deaths and torture in the country.

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“The report is alarming and civil society and the government must urgently address it at a war footing pace or the poor and downtrodden will continue to suffer,” Father Nicholas Barla, secretary of the Indian bishops' Commission for Tribal Affairs, told UCA News.

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