A Punjab Police assistant sub-inspector (ASI) was dismissed and an inspector shunted out after a video of eight youths ‘detained illegally’ with their feet forcefully inserted inside a ‘kaath’, purportedly shot inside Moga city-1 police station, went viral on social media.
Police sources said that ‘kaath’, a wooden plank with holes carved into it, is an illegal equipment mostly used for third degree torture.
“It is mostly used during interrogations in heinous cases but officially it is not allowed to use them. Earlier almost all police stations had it but with time the use of kaath was discontinued as it violates human rights. Once a person’s foot is inserted inside a kaath, it is not possible to move at all. Depending on the number of holes in the plank, 8-10 persons can be detained using one kaath,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity. “The procedure of putting feet inside the kaath is quite painful,” h e said, adding that the practice was often used to “break down the person mentally” as he “cannot move for hours.”
In a video that was shot on March 26 by a Moga-based social activist Mahinder Pal Loomba, eight youths can be seen sitting next to each other in a room inside Moga city-1 police station with one foot of each inserted inside the kaath.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Loomba said that he had shot the video when he went to police station to meet two youths who were from his village. “They were illegally detained by the police in the evening of March 25 when they had a small clash with an advocate over parking of a vehicle. Both were taken to the police station where their feet were inserted inside kaath. I told ASI that it was a human rights violation, but he refused to budge. The next day I went again with a spy camera and shot the video. Eight of those youths were kept tied to that wooden plank for more than 18 hours from the evening of March 25 till afternoon of March 26,” claimed Loomba, adding that at the time of detention, no FIR was registered against two youths from his village.
After the video went viral, Moga SSP Harmanbir Singh Gill issued dismissal orders of ASI Amarjit Singh and transferred Inspector Jaswant Singh (SHO Moga City-1 police station). “An enquiry headed by SP (headquarters) is ongoing,” said SSP. Asked if it was legal to keep kaath inside police stations, SSP said, “No, it is not official or legal to have any such equipment inside police station. Enquiry will find out how it was used inside to detain the youths,” he said.
Contacted, Inspector Jaswant Singh said that he would not like to make any comment on the issue as a departmental enquiry was ongoing.