The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Meghalaya government to pay Rs. 5 lakh to the kin of 17 year old, Sngewlem Kharsati who died “due to torture in police custody” in the state’s East Khasi Hills district.
The order has come in response to a complaint by the New Delhi based, Asian Centre for Human Rights. According to the FIR filed by the rights body on 11 May, 2009, the police allegedly picked up the teenager on May 9, 2009, for possessing a ‘dao’ (machete) in his bag.
Sngewlem, the complaint read, was beaten up on the road in full public view and then taken to the Mawryngkneng police outpost where officer in charge, Manbhalang Rymbai and others subjected him to torture. Later in the day, doctors at the civil hospital nearby declared him 'dead on arrival'.
The NHRC rejected the police and Meghalaya government's claim that Sngewlem had attacked a truck driver with the ‘dao’ while attempting a robbery and was consequently assaulted by the truck drivers who were stranded in traffic jam near his village, Puriang.
The apex rights body noted: “It is difficult to believe any person would dare commit robbery when there is a traffic jam and so many persons are around. The victim had already died when he was taken to the hospital. This would mean that the injuries were quite serious. The police paid no regard to the gravity of the injuries and instead of taking him directly to the hospital from the place of occurrence, took him to the police outpost.”
The NHRC then asked the Meghalaya government to pay Rs. 5 lakh as compensation to the teenager’s mother, Bliss Kharsati.