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Torture terrorists, say Indians

delhi Updated: Jun 24, 2008 23:29 IST
Abhishek Sharan

A staggering 59 per cent of Indians supported the use of torture and other physical means of intimidation by state enforcement authorities against terror suspects who might be holding information that could save innocent lives, or against law-breakers in general.

12 percent of the Indians also supported the use of violent tactics against law-breakers and accused in general.

These are the findings of a United Nations-supported global public opinion poll done between January to May this year across 19 nations, including the US and UK.

Only 28 percent of those who gave their opinions favour an unconditional ban on torture by the state. The survey was carried by the that is a collaborative project involving a worldwide network of research centers under the management of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.

PIPA had done a similar survey two years ago in 2006. The survey’s findings were released by the UN to mark the International Victims of Torture Day on Thursday and also the 60th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be subjected to torture.”

The percentage of Indians supporting torture tactics against terror suspects has grown by 27 percent since the last poll. Unlike the 59 percent this year, only 32 percent had said yes to torture against terrorists in 2006.

Interestingly, there has been an increase in the numbers of those who support a total ban on torture by the state since 2006, according to the findings of the two surveys.

Apart from India, respondents in only four other countries (including Nigeria, Turkey, Thailand and South Korea) have similarly supported the state’s usage of torture against terror suspects. 14 countries -- including the US, Spain, Great Britain, France, Mexico and China -- have largely rejected this option.

The greater tolerance to torture of the Indians, said counter-terror and legal experts, indicated the popular frustration at the ceaseless terror attacks in the country since 2006 and the failure of the enforcement agencies to thwart them.

A senior central intelligence officer pointed out that the increase in those supporting torture against terror suspects since 2006 could be because no less than “seven major terror attacks” battered in India, outside Kashmir.