Two suicide attempts in police custody within a month raise concerns

  • As issues pertaining to lack of proper surveillance surface, Nepal Police says that it will do the needful to ensure detainees’ safety
- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

May 11, 2019-

Two cases of suicide attempts by detainees under police custody in less than a month have raised questions about the lack of surveillance of the detainees in custody.

Last month, 15-year-old Kiran Karkidholi of Mechinagar was found dead in custody at the Area Police Office in Birtamod, Jhapa. Kiran was arrested on the charge of mobile theft. According to the police, Kiran hanged himself using his t-shirt inside the cell’s bathroom.

“The detainees are always under surveillance while they are in custody. However, it is difficult to keep an eye on them when they use the bathroom,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Mahendra Shrestha, spokesperson for Jhapa District Police, told the Post. “We can

neither install a CCTV there nor take a peek inside to see what a detainee is doing.”

Since rights activists have been protesting, claiming that the death of Karkidholi was due to physical assault, a number of probe committees have been formed to investigate the matter.

“The reason behind the death of the 15-year-old boy will soon be clear once the committees submit their reports,” said Shrestha.

While the probe committees are yet to submit their report in the Jhapa case, a similar incident occurred in Chitwan on Thursday afternoon.

Samir Ghising, 24, of Kalika Municipality, in Chitwan, too was found hanging in a washroom inside the prison cell of Ratnanagar Area Police Office.

Ghising survived his apparent suicide attempt. But he is said to be in a critical condition and is being treated at the College of Medical Sciences in Bharatpur.

Ghising was arrested with a friend on Wednesday under the accusations of stealing a laptop and a computer from Shree Rashtriya Adharbhut Bidhyalaya, a local school.

“Samir had removed the net at the ventilation of the washroom and hanged himself in the iron rod of the ventilation with the help of his shirt,” Superintendent of Police Sushil Singh Rathaur, chief of Chitwan District Police, told the Post.

“When Samir did not come out of the washroom for a long time and did not reply to his friend’s call, his friend looked inside from beneath the door. When the friend did not see Samir’s feet, he opened the door and found Samir hanging,” said Rathaur.

Following the incidents, Nepal Police says it now plans to install proper surveillance equipment inside jails.

A year ago, on April 13, Premlal Chaudhary, a head loader at the Tribhuvan International Airport for Nepal Airlines Corporation, had hanged himself using his trousers at the washroom of Metropolitan Police Circle, Singha Durbar. Premlal had been arrested for having connections with a 33kg gold smuggling racket.

Nepal Police says it has discussed deploying new plans to minimise such incidents.

“We are planning to install half-doors in the attached washrooms inside the prison. Through the half-doors, a police officer can keep an eye over the detainee and immediately respond if a detainee tries to commit suicide,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Bishwaraj Pokharel, spokesperson for Nepal Police, told the Post.

According to human rights activists, the prisons in Nepal lack physical and technical infrastructures and do not meet minimum international standards.

“It is the responsibility of the police to keep detainees safe, and if a detainee commits suicide while a particular police officer is on duty then it is his fault. It does not matter even if the incident occurred inside the washroom,” Mohna Ansari, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, told the Post. “The government and police should focus on improving the infrastructures of the prison. Nepal Police should also be able to remove the fear among the general public of physically torturing detainees,” said Ansari.

Ramesh Kumar Paudel contributed in reporting from Chitwan.

Published: 11-05-2019 12:11

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