Student leader of Jawahralal Nehru University Kanhaiya Kumar faced "psychological pressure" during his interrogation, the National Human Rights Commission has ruled. A team from NHRC visited Tihar Prison to assess Kumar's situation, concluding that his safety is a "serious cause of concern".
Kumar was arrested from his university in New Delhi on charges of sedition on 12 February, sparking nationwide protests against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Thousands have expressed concern over the BJP's crackdown on freedom of speech, with the hashtag #IndiaAgainstBJP being the top trend in India on 18 February.
A statement from the NHRC said: "Kanhaiya Kumar did not complain of any physical assault by the police while in custody. However, he was subjected to psychological pressure during interrogation."
The NHRC team have also found that a statement issued by police as an appeal on behalf of Kumar was not written by the accused voluntarily. Instead, the "content, construction and framework" of the statement was dictated by the police. The statement was released by the Commissioner of Delhi Police to the press on the grounds that it was a statement from Kumar.
Kumar's safety and the safety of his family members has also been cited by the NHRC as a "serious concern". The group found that Kumar was abused and physically assaulted by people in Patalia House Court premises during his hearing and have said that the assault appeared to be "organised and pre-planned". They have also said that the Delhi Police were present during the assault and that they did not do anything to prevent the attack. They have ruled the incident as a "major security lapse" on part of the police. NHRC called the Patiala House incident a "serious dereliction of duty on the part of the police".
"According to Kumar was arrested without any valid reason and without disclosing to him even grounds of arrest," NHRC stated. "He had not committed any offences as now alleged. However, this aspect is under investigation by the police."