The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed its concern over the death of 19-year-old Bijaya Ram Chamar, of Garuda Municipality-8, Rautahat, at Birgunj-based National Medical College, while he was in police custody.

The Dalit teenager was being treated at the hospital for renal disease and died on 26 August (Wednesday night).

Chamar had been arrested and detained at Garuda-based Area Police Office on the charge of killing 20-year-old Niranjan Ram of the same municipality, on August 15.

Issuing a press statement, NHRC said the death of a person in police custody was a saddening incident and informed that Birgunj-based NHRC office in Province had launched an investigation into the case on the suspicion that Chamar was tortured while in police custody.

“We have also written to the Department of Forensic Medicine at TU Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj and Rautahat District Police Office, directing them to provide NHRC investigating officers the copies of medical examination report and post-mortem report of Chamar at the earliest,” read the statement.

Stating that the incident was a case of caste-based discrimination, NHRC also recalled the recent death of Shambhu Sada in Dhanusha district while in police custody, death of Raju Sada in Janakpurdham-based Provincial Hospital, murder of Tribhuvan Ram in Saptari and murder of Roshan Ram in Siraha.

“NHRC’s monitoring show that murder, violence and caste-based discrimination against Dalit communities continue unabated across the country.”

NHRC has repeatedly urged all the three tiers of the government to effectively implement the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights articulated in the constitution for protection and promotion of human rights of the Dalit communities.

According to the rights body, caste-based discrimination is against the right to equality as guaranteed by the constitution, Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (Crime and Punishment) Act, and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965 to which Nepal is a party.

While overall torture rates in detention centres across the country have risen sharply, Tarai communities, primarily Madhesis and Tharus, are facing the brunt of punishment, as per a report by Advocacy Forum, a human rights organisation.

The report showed 30.4 percent of such detainees from the plains reported abuse which was 8.2 percent higher than the average. Similarly, while 1.7 percent of Brahmins complained of the abuse, 30.5 percent of Dalits alleged the same.