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Circle Inspector Veeraiah threatened to rape my mother in my presence: Lawrence Fernandes

Author: S. Srinivasan & Dilip Bobb
Publication: India Today.in
Date: August 14, 2014
URL:      https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/cover-story/story/19770531-circle-inspector-veeraiah-threatened-to-rape-my-mother-in-my-presence-lawrence-fernandes-823731-2014-08-14

By far the most in famous case of brutality and torture perpetuated by the police forces during the dark days of the Emergency was that of Lawrence Fernandes, younger brother of Communications Minister, George Fernandes. Lawrence still walks with a pronounced limp and uses a heavy walking stick to move around.

Previously unpublished photograph of Lawrence Fernandes taken in Bangalore Central prison

Torture, as most people imagine, is not a figment of a fiction-writer's imagination. For many people it is something that happens to others. But as recent events have shown it happens to real, living everyday people. At its most nauseating extreme it wrecks whole lives, maims bodies and destroys the spirit forever. When India Today began its investigations for this special cover story on torture numerous cases came to light. For limitations of space it was not possible to print them all. Only a few of the unspeakable horrors supported by evidence are published here. But the rest of the atrocities remain a chilling reminder of the painful and insidious degradations that men without any qualms of conscience can inflict on their fellow men.
By far the most in famous case of brutality and torture perpetuated by the police forces during the dark days of the Emergency was that of Lawrence Fernandes, younger brother of Communications Minister, George Fernandes. Lawrence still walks with a pronounced limp and uses a heavy walking stick to move around.

There are torture scars on his left leg and his ordeal in prison has left him highly-strung and emotional. During the course of his interview with India Today spread over a two-day-period at his rambling bungalow in 3, Leonard Lane in Bangalore, Lawrence broke down and wept frequently as he recalled the nightmare of his prison days.

Occasionally he would break into uncontrollable outbursts of rage as he spoke about his torturer's threats to rape his mother in his presence. "Those bastards." he shouted at one point, "They have the gall to call me a liar. I would like their mothers and sisters and wives to be dragged on the roads and raped by the people. Would they tolerate that? I would like to take a sword and slaughter these bastards who wanted to rape my mother in front of me. How can anyone expect justice from people like them?"

Though the Fernandes family is highly respected in Bangalore, Lawrence has no present source of income. He was a partner in a small printing press which his partner sold in fear after hearing of Lawrence's arrest. He is now planning to write a book on his prison ordeal and is planning to start a printing press in Bangalore with government aid.

In his interview with India Today, Lawrence revealed his intentions of publicizing some startling disclosures regarding his imprisonment, which he has chosen not to speak of earlier as they involve prominent officials in the slate and the Centre. He reluctantly agreed to name some of the people in his interview with India Today:

Lawrence Fernandes was arrested on May 1, 1976 at about 9 p.m. "I was not informed of any charges against me nor was I given a charge sheet. It was only afterwards that I came to know that I was an under-trial prisoner. I was arrested from my residence in Bangalore and taken straight to the COD room at Carlton House.

I was interrogated mainly on the whereabouts of my brother George. After I repeatedly told them that I had no knowledge of his whereabouts, they subjected me to the most inhuman torture imaginable. They stripped me naked and tied my hands. My feet were stretched straight out and a piece of towelling wrapped around them after which they tied my feet with rope as tight as they could.

The towelling was put so that there would be no external marks of injury on my body. Then they proceeded to lash the soles of my feet. Before this, they had slapped and beaten me with such force that two of my front teeth were knocked out. They beat me with lathis and the roots of a banyan tree which is rough and can cause the most terrible pain. The policemen who were beating me broke five lathis in the process, so you can imagine the force they were using.

"The man in charge of my torture was the present Inspector General of Police, Albert Manoraj. The man who actually tortured me was the Circle Inspector, H. Veeraiah. On the first day, the torture lasted till 3 a.m. by which time I was in a state of semi-consciousness and I didn't know or care about what they were doing to me.

Veeraiah went to the extent of threatening to bring my mother before me and rape her in my presence. He also threatened to assault my father, who is a heart patient and 75 years old. You could tell that they were enjoying themselves.

I was then thrown into a room next to Snehlata Reddy, and I could hear her screaming like someone who had gone mad. That same night I was removed to the Sheshadrapuram police lock-up. Throughout the next day, they kept on with the beatings and they kicked me on my swollen legs.

"I was kept in solitary confinement for the next 20 days in different lock-ups. The outside world did not know where I was or what had happened to me. During these 20 days I was subjected to further torture, most of which I was in no state to even remember.

I was given no food for three days nor was I allowed cigarettes. I remained in the same filthy clothes for all the time I was in police custody. In order to keep me alive, I was taken to different doctors and hospitals, each time under a different name, passing me off as a police officer.

"On May 9 I was taken by police car to Davangere, 300 kms away, and produced before a magistrate there though I had been arrested in Bangalore. I was again tortured and kept in the lock-up till May 11 after which I was brought back to Carlton House in Bangalore. I was continuously interrogated about my brother's whereabouts.

I was refused contact with my lawyers or my family. I was not allowed newspapers or magazines and kept in solitary confinement. On May 20, I was produced before the 2nd Metropolitan Magistrate's chambers during lunch hour, and then taken to Bangalore Central Prison where I was put in the cells meant for condemned criminals or criminals who were mentally unbalanced.

"On May 21, I was allowed my first visitor, my mother and my brother Richard. I was nearly half-dead by then and I still cannot remember the visit even now."

"The doctors tell me that there has been permanent damage to tissues in my left leg. It still gives me a lot of pain. Both my left hand and left leg were put in plaster at the Victoria Hospital (see photograph). The police have removed all the medical records so there is no actual evidence. My physical and mental capacity has been affected to a great extent. In the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, I was told that there is slight damage to my brain. It will take a very long time for me to come back to normal."
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