Custodial death of a tribal due to alleged torture by forest officials in Karnataka

On October 12, 2022, a tribal man identified as Kariyappa alias Kariya (49) reportedly died due to alleged torture by the forest officials in their illegal custody in H D Kote taluk in Mysuru district of Karnataka. The deceased (Kariyappa) was a resident of Hosahalli hamlet under N Beguru Gram Panchayat limits in H D Kote taluk. On 10 October, he was reportedly arrested by the forest officials on charges of hunting and possessing deer meat. The forest officials claimed that on 12 October, he was rushed to K R Hospital after he complained of uneasiness, and was declared dead. But the deceased’s family members and residents of the hamlet alleged that Kariyappa was tortured to death by the forest staff. Family members claimed that there were injury marks on his body.

The Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre (IRAC) has moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the incident. In its complaint communication, the IRAC has contended that “This is a serious case of human rights violation. Firstly, Kariyappa was arrested on 10 October but he was not produced before the nearest police station within 24 hours. In fact, he was kept in illegal detention in an anti-poaching camp and tortured for two days. Second, custodial death of suspects in custody of forest department or police is a serious form of human rights violations”.

IRAC has sought the immediate intervention of the NHRC and demanded that the state government of Karnataka order a judicial inquiry into the custodial death as per Section 176(1)(A) Cr.P.C. and submit a report within four weeks; arrest the accused forest officials and prosecute them for murder, and direction to the state government of Karnataka to provide compensation of at least Rs 20 Lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.

Image: The relatives of tribal Kariya staging a flash protest at K R Hospital in Mysuru (Mysooru News)