Custodial deaths in India: Jayaraj and Bennicks aren't the only victims! See the shocking revelation

When the custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu came to light, it triggered massive outrages and protests across the nation as the custodial torture faced by the father and son had spotlighted the police brutality in India. While the incident captured the darkest side of what could be faced by the inmates inside the prison, the recent report from the Central government has revealed that Jayaraj and Bennicks aren't the only victims of custodial deaths in the country during last year. 

In the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament, Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram had asked the Central government to put out the report regarding the number of persons who died in police and judicial custody in each month of 2019-20 for every state. The Congress MP representing the Sivaganga constituency has also asked the government about the number of deaths in police encounters as well as instances of sexual assault in police custody across the country during the same period. 

Responding to his questions, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kishan Reddy has put out what might be the shocking revelation. According to the minister, based on the data available with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), about 113 persons have died in police custody across the country between April 1, 2019, and March 30, 2020. Of these 113 police custodial deaths, BJP ruling Madhya Pradesh had reported the highest number of the custodial deaths in police custody. 

Madhya Pradesh has reported 14 deaths followed by Tamil Nadu and Gujarat with 12 deaths each. While the custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks had sparked the protests, the report from the Central government has revealed that there were 12 such deaths in the state under the police custody. While the country has recorded 113 deaths under police custody, a total of 1,584 persons have died in judicial custody across India during the same period - April 1, 2019, to March 30, 2020. 

Of these 1,584 deaths, BJP ruling Uttar Pradesh had topped the list with the highest number of deaths in judicial custody. Uttar Pradesh had recorded 400 deaths followed by Madhya Pradesh with 143 deaths, West Bengal with 115, Bihar with 105, Punjab with 93, and Maharashtra with 91. The state of Tamil Nadu has recorded 57 deaths in judicial custody during the same period. Kishan Reddy said that the reasons behind the deaths are ill-health and police brutality, and others. However, the minister hasn't put out the specific reasons for these deaths. 

In his response about the encounter killings, the Union Minister said that during 2019-2020, the country had seen 112 encounter killings and of these 112 killings, Congress ruling Chhattisgarh had the highest number of killings with the total of 39 followed by Uttar Pradesh, which reported 26 deaths. During the same period, Tamil Nadu has reported three encounter killings and the country has recorded one instance of sexual assault in police custody in the same period and the incident was reported in Rajasthan. 

While speaking about the action taken against the responsible police personnel who were behind the crimes, Kishan Reddy claimed that the ball is on the court of the state governments as the police and public order comes under the jurisdiction of the state governments as per the constitution. The minister said that the responsibility of taking action, registering case, probing the matter, and convicting the responsible police personnel for the crime is vested with the respective state governments. 

The minister has also revealed that the NHRC hasn't recommended the Center to take any action against the police personnel. However, the Human Rights Body has suggested the center to provide compensation of Rs 4.4 crore for the families of the victims who died in both police and judicial custody and Rs 88 lakh for the families of the victims who died in the police encounters. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs had shockingly revealed that almost five persons died daily in custody in India during 2019-20. The data from the home ministry has brought to light that the prisons in India are inundated with many inmates. There are a total of 1,350 prisons across the country and these prisons have the capacity of lodging 4,03,739 prisoners. However, as per the data, these prisons are currently lodging 4,78,600 inmates. The prisons in the BJP ruling Uttar Pradesh have more prisoners than its capacity. Uttar Pradesh has 72 prisons in which 1,01,297 inmates have been locked up while the capacity is 60,340.