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Editor : Nagaraj.M.R………vol.3…issue.11…………….26/05/2007
Editorial : WHERE IS RULE OF LAW IN INDIA ?
– AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
In India , now it has become a routine affair for rich & mighty , using police force & rowdy elements , to illegally detain , arrest & kill people who speak out against the illegal acts of powers that be. Fake encounter killings , lock-up deaths , illegal arrests of commoners are rampant , what the apex court is doing ? is there two set of laws – one for the rich & mighty and another for commoners. Just see how big wigs charged with TADA / MOCA charges are going scot free , how rich kids kill number of innocents by speed driving & how rich hunt wild animals and go scot free . Even in some cases the punishment given to rich crooks is not at all commensurate with their crimes , if the same crime has been done by commoner he would have been severely punished. God save my country.
JAI HIND. VANDE MATARAM.
Human rights defender detained amid harassment of adivasi indigenous rights activists
Amnesty International is concerned over the apparently arbitrary arrest and detention of Dr. Binayak Sen, a human rights defender at Raipur in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, and the police harassment of two other human rights defenders in the state.
Dr. Sen is the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, one of India’s foremost human rights organizations, and has been instrumental in working on access to health for adivasi communities in the state. On 14 May 2007, he was detained at the Tarbahar Police Station, Bilaspur district, when he was returning from Kolkotta to Raipur. On May 15, he was lodged in Raipur prison. Police officials later sealed his residence and searched his clinic. His organic farm in a nearby village was also searched.
Reports say Dr. Sen has been detained under provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2006 (CSPSA), and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967), which was amended in 2004 to include key aspects of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA), 2002. The POTA was repealed in 2004 following widespread criticism of abuse and human rights violations. The CSPSA and UAPA allow for arbitrary detention of persons suspected of belonging to an unlawful organization or participating in its activities or giving protection to any member of such an organization.
The PUCL has stated that, apart from Dr. Sen, two other PUCL members, Rashmi Dwivedi and Gautam Bandopadhyay, have been facing harassment and threats of arrest from the police. The three have been actively protecting the rights of adivasis (indigenous communities) in the face of escalating violence in Chattisgarh between armed Maoists and Salwa Judum, an armed anti-Maoist campaign widely regarded as sponsored by the state government. They have been instrumental in bringing to light unlawful killings of advisis , sexual assault of adivasi women and disappearances of adivasi youth. The latest instance was the unlawful killing of seven adivisis in Santoshpur village in Bastar-Dantewada area on 31 March. While the state police had earlier claimed that those killed were Maoists, the state government recently ordered an inquiry into the killings after which the bodies have been exhumed last week.
The PUCL has stated that police allege that Dr. Sen had passed letters from Narayan Sanyal, a detained leader of the banned CPI (Maoist) who he had met in the Raipur jail last month, to Piyush Guha an alleged member of CPI (Maoist) under detention since 1 May. Dr. Sen, at the time of his arrest, told the media that this charge had no basis since the prison authorities were present during for all the meeting with Narayan Sanyal.
Amnesty International urges the Government of Chhattisgarh to immediately release Dr. Sen unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence and take urgent steps to end the harassment of the other human rights defenders in the state.
Since 2005, Chhattisgarh, especially the Bastar-Dantewada area, has witnessed escalation of violence between the Maoists and the Salwa Judum. Civilians were routinely targeted on both sides, resulting in at least 300 deaths. The latest unlawful killings took place on 31
Also, 45,000 adivasis displaced from their homes have been forced to live in special camps putting them at increased risk of violence.
The Chhattisgarh state government claimed that it enacted the CSPSA to take action against the Maoists. Human rights organizations in India have criticised the CSPSA saying that it has several provisions similar to those in POTA. These include:
violation of the principle of certainty in criminal law (including vague definition of membership and support to terrorist organisations);
absence of pre-trial safeguards (including insufficient safeguards on arrest, the risk of torture, obstacles to confidential communications with counsel);
virtual impossibility of obtaining bail as there is no provision for remedy of appeal or review of detention;
AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER , UTTAR PRADESH , INDIA
Dear Madam ,
INDIA: Three persons from the scheduled caste forced to work as bonded labourers in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Name of victims:
1. Mr. Munnilal Mushar aged about 35 year, a resident of Nindanpur village, Badagaon police station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
2. Mr. Ashok Mushar aged about 28 year son of Lalchand Mushar , a resident of Nindanpur village Badagaon police station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
3. Mr. Vikrama Mushar aged about 34 year son of Sukkhu Mushar, a resident of Nindanpur village, Badagaon police station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Mr. Nandu Yadav, resident of Badagaon village, Badagaon police station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Date of Incident: 4 May 2007
Place of Incident: Nindanpur Village, Baragaon police station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
I am writing to voice my concern regarding the case of bonded labour reported from Nindanpur village in Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh. I am informed that the above named victims were forced to work as bonded labourers in the brick kiln of the Mr. Nandu Yadav.
According to the information I have received, on 4 May Mr. Nandu Yadav, the owner of brick kiln situated at the Asbaranpur village, accompanied by his armed men came to the Musahar basti of Nindanpur village and forcibly took the three men named above in his vehicle. It is alleged that they were forced to work as bonded labourers for Mr. Yadav till 20 May 2007, the day on which they were freed.
I am also informed that all these three victims had been forced to work as bonded laborers at Yadav’s brick kiln 4 years ago. I am informed that the victims were freed from Yadav’s custody, but no case was registered against Yadav at that time. It appears that Yadav has a considerable influence with the local police and that is the reason why he dared to retrun to the village after four years to reclaim his labourers. I am also informed that the local police have not registered a case against yadav even as of toady, though a complaint regarding the 4 May abduction was lodged at your office as well as the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi.
I urge you to take immediate steps to put an end to slave-like practices and bonded labour in all industrial establishments within your jurisdiction. I also urge you to inquire into this case and to take actions against Mr. Yadav and the erring police officers immediately. I also urge you to ensure proper protection to the victims and their families.
AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
Dear Sir ,
INDIA: An ailing man died in the custody of Border Security Force( BSF) due to lack of medical help
Name of victim: Ranjit Kumar Biswas Nawapara village, Haskhali police station, Nadia district, West Bengal, India
Alleged perpetrators: The officers of Border Security Force attached with Farazipara Border Out Post (B.O.P.) of 90 Battalion, Jalangi police station, Murshidabad district, West Bengal, India
Date of incident: On 1st and 2nd May 2007
I am writing to express my serious concern regarding the custodial death of Mr. Ranjit Kumar Biswas, who was a 70 year-old ailing man. It is alleged that Mr Ranjit was arrested with his son and his wife while he was being taken to hospital, and that despite repeated requests by his son and wife, officers of the Border Security Forces (BSF) did nothing to provide medical assistant to Mr. Ranjit; as a result of this, Mr. Ranjit died in police custody.
According to the information I have received, on May 1, Mr. Ranjit, who had been suffering from some serious ailments, was being taken to the hospital by his sons accompanied by his wife Mrs. Tripti Rani Biswas for medical treatment, when he was arrested by the B S F officers attached with the Farazipara Border Out Post (B.O.P.) of 90 Battalion, Jalangi, Murshidabad, India along with his relatives. They were taken to the Farazipara Border Out Post.
I am informed that the family members of Mr. Ranjit told the BSF officials about his critical health condition and requested them to provide immediate medical assistance to Mr. Ranjit but BSF officers did nothing. All of them had been put in the said BOP under custody of BSF.
I am informed that Mr. Nakul Mahato, the Block Development Officer of Jalangi conducted the inquest at the Sadhi Khan Dear Block Primary Medical Center and sent the body to Baharampur General Hospital for post mortem which was carried out by Dr. Swapan Mondal.
I am also informed that that the Jalangi Police Station has registered a case against Mrs. Triptii Rani Biswas, Biswajit Biswas, Purnendu Biswas and the deceased Mr. Ranjit Biswash under section 14 of Foreigners Act.
I am informed that authorities have also violated the section 176 of Criminal Procedure Code which states that when any person dies in the custody, the concerned judicial magistrate is empowered to hold an enquiry into the cause of death. Until now, no such inquiry has been initiated in this respect.
In light of the above, I strongly urge that you immediately intervene in this matter of custodial death. I ask you to appoint an independent investigating authority to enquire into the whole incident which has caused the death of a man who was in custody.
I also demand that you inquire into the negligence committed by the BSF officers. If it is proven that the jail authorities have committed negligence and the Executive Magistrate has violated the procedure of law, legal action must be taken against the officers allegedly responsible. I also demand that you give adequate compensation to the victim’s family.
I look forward to hearing about your urgent intervention into this case.
A pattern of unlawful killings by the Gujarat police: Urgent need for effective investigations
Amnesty International today issued an urgent call for independent, impartial and thorough investigations into at least 31 unlawful killings, including those of so-called “terrorist” suspects reported to have been carried out by police officers in Gujarat (western India) since 2002.
The call follows an admission by the Gujarat state government that senior officers of the state police, who were part of an anti-terrorist squad, were directly involved in the killing of a 38-year-old man, Sohrabuddin Shaikh, and his wife, Kausar Bi, in 2005.
The admission came as a result of the intervention of India’s Supreme Court which ordered continued investigations into this case. While welcoming these efforts, Amnesty International remains concerned that the vast majority of other reported unlawful killings have yet to be effectively investigated by independent and impartial bodies.
In the case of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, the Gujarat state government disclosed to the Supreme Court that he was shot dead by Anti Terror Squad (ATS) officers, and that although he had been facing criminal charges including extortion, he had not been linked to terrorism. After his killing in 2005, the ATS branded him a terrorist member of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), an armed organisation in Kashmir, and accused him of conspiring to kill senior leaders of the former ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
The state government also admitted that the ATS officers shot dead his wife, Kausar Bi, possibly because she had witnessed her husband’s killing, and later burnt her body. There is concern she may also have been sexually assaulted. Another key witness in the case, Tulsiram Gangaram Prajapati, was also shot dead by ATS officers – who were already under investigation for the killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh. Six police officers have been arrested in connection with the case.
Human rights organisations and opposition parties have accused the Gujarat authorities of attempting to undermine the Sohrabuddin Shaikh investigation, after reports emerged claiming the perpetrators were under the orders of a criminal gang linked to the mining industry in neighbouring Rajasthan. The Supreme Court also sought an explanation from the Gujarat government as to why Geeta Johri, an investigator from the state crime branch police assigned to the case, had been relieved of this responsibility. Geeta Johri was subsequently reassigned to the investigation.
Unlawful killings since 2002
The unlawful killings in Gujarat since 2002 include both so-called “terrorist” suspects, and those accused of ordinary criminal offences (see Appendices A and B). The government of Gujarat has stated that 21 such killings took place in the state during 2003-2006. A petition filed by a journalist, B. G. Verghese, seeking independent inquiries into these killings, is pending at India’s Supreme Court.
Amnesty International is gravely concerned that the common features of the killings reveal a systematic pattern:
At least 16 of the 31 killings, including those of two women, were carried out by the present or former ATS officers.
Almost all of the victims were killed in the early hours of the day.
The majority of these killings took place at Ahmedabad.
Thirteen of those killed belonged to the minority Muslim community.
The ATS claimed that those it had shot dead were “terrorists”, conspiring to either kill the chief minister or state and national BJP leaders or intending to set off explosions in Gujarat; and at least six of them hailed from Pakistan.
During the same period, at least 15 other killings were carried out by the Gujarat police elsewhere in the state.
All of the killed faced criminal charges and four belonged to the Muslim community.
The police versions of these killings were similar in nature: police claimed that all of them died after police fired in self-defence in the course of a “confrontation” either at the time of arrest, or in custody.
Of the 16 killings, only one appears to have been fully investigated, resulting in the conviction of the police officer concerned in a court of law.
Gujarat: entrenching a climate of impunity
The recent upswing in such killings by the Gujarat police began after communal violence in March 2002 – in which 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, lost their lives – and an armed attack on Akshardham temple in September 2002, in which 37 Hindu devotees and three security personnel were killed.
During this period, the Gujarat government repeatedly claimed it was taking action to foil a series of conspiracies against the state. It had alleged that Islamic fundamentalist militants backed by Pakistani intelligence services had planned these conspiracies in retaliation for the mass killings of Muslims during the March 2002 communal riots.
In late 2003, however, Amnesty International extensively detailed human rights violations
– including illegal detentions in Ahmedabad and elsewhere – which were fostering a climate of impunity.
The climate of impunity strengthened over this period. Police and other security personnel believed to be responsible for widespread violations of human rights against the Muslim minority, especially the youth, in Ahmedabad and elsewhere in Gujarat, could operate without fear of investigation or prosecution.
Persistent failures to heed calls for investigations (see also Appendix A)
In 2006, the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat police to conduct an inquiry into the killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, following which six police officials including the former head of the ATS were arrested. Till then, demands for investigations into reported killings by the ATS were routinely ignored.
In one of the cases (that of Samir Khan Pathan killed in 2002), 12 persons were arrested following Samir Khan Pathan’s “confession” while he was in detention. After his killing, they were all released by courts. Subsequently, the state crime branch police had submitted a report questioning the ATS’ version of Samir Khan Pathan’s killing; the same was seconded by another wing of the Gujarat police, but no action was taken.
In two instances where those killed hailed from other states, those of Ishrat Jahan and Javed Shaikh (2004), police from these states launched their own investigations which went on to reveal that they had no criminal or terrorist record as alleged by the ATS. However, the Gujarat government chose to ignore these findings and failed to pursue its own investigations into the killings.
In the case of the two of the killings, those of Samir Khan Pathan (2002) and Ishrat Jagan (2004), India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sought reports from the Gujarat government as to whether the NHRC guidelines for investigating such incidents were being followed. The Gujarat government failed to order such investigations until the intervention by the Supreme Court. This is despite the fact the NHRC guidelines clearly stipulate: “In cases where the police officers belonging to the same police station are members of the encounter party, it is desirable that such cases are made over for investigation to some other independent investigating agency, such as the state crime branch police”.
The duty to protect the right to life and to conduct effective investigation into all unlawful killings
Following the Gujarat government’s recent disclosures in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh case, relatives of at least three of those killed by ATS officers, and branded as “terrorists” intend to petition the judiciary for independent inquiries into the killings.
The state of India (the Union government) and the government of Gujarat have an obligation to protect the right to life as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and in international human rights law.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Article 6(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which India is a party, states: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life”. Article 4 of the ICCPR states that this right cannot be waived “even in times of public emergency threatening the life of the nation”. Unlawful and extrajudicial killings clearly contravene the right to life.
Under Article 2(3) (a) and (b) of the ICCPR, State parties are obliged to ensure that remedies are available to the victims of human rights violations and that those remedies are effective.
The Indian government ratified the ICCPR in 1979. By ratifying an international treaty which enshrines the right to life, India is obliged not only to respect that right in principle, but also to ensure it is not violated in practice. The ICCPR imposes a clear duty on states to investigate alleged violations of the right to life “promptly, thoroughly and effectively through independent and impartial bodies”.
Such investigations are a critical factor in the prevention of further unlawful killings. Without adequate investigation of complaints of extrajudicial killings, there can be little hope of prosecuting and convicting the perpetrators.
Amnesty International calls on the government of Gujarat and the Union government to:
set up prompt, thorough and impartial judicial inquiries urgently into all the reported unlawful killings by Gujarat police since 2002;
to make the terms of reference of such inquiries available publicly;
and ensure that the inquiries comply fully with the requirements of Principle 18 of the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.
Under India’s Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Union or state government needs to sanction the arrest or criminal prosecution of public servants, including police officers and members of the civil or armed forces. This law has not been amended to ensure that public officers who violate human rights are no longer protected from prosecution, despite repeated calls to do so from human rights organisations.
Amnesty International calls for
Assurances from the government of Gujarat that state sanction/permission will be given for the prosecution of public servants responsible for unlawful killings
All those responsible for such killings to be afforded due process and brought to justice in trials which comply with international standards of fairness
Those convicted not to be given the death penalty as this punishment contravenes the right to life and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The family and dependents of all the victims to be adequately compensated in accordance with Principle 20 of the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.
Amnesty International is concerned that the NHRC and the Gujarat Human Rights Commission have been unable to ensure that that all the complaints and reports of unlawful killings in Gujarat are adequately investigated. The NHRC has also been unable to ensure that the guidelines issued by it are fully respected by the authorities in Gujarat.
The NHRC must review urgently its current policy and practice of monitoring unlawful killings, to ensure its guidelines on investigations are followed by the authorities.
CHATTISGARH GOVERNMENT HAS VIOLATED EVERY SINGLE LEGAL NORM AND GUIDELINES PROVIDED BY NHRC IN THE MATTER OF EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS- ALLEGES PUCL
The People’s Union for Civil Liberites – Chhattisgarh (PUCL) has demanded Enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in all Extra-judicial killings in Chhattisgarh since 2005. The issue has acquired serious proportions in the wake of the fake encounter case at Santoshpur in Bijapur, where not less than 12 innocent citizens were killed by the State Police. Attempts to cover up such violations by the Chhattisgarh Police of human rights and legal processes enshrined in the Constitution of India now need to be thoroughly investigated by the CBI and the Judicial Enquiry Committee, as the Chhattisgarh Government has lost the moral and legal right to do so. Such an investigation must also include killings and other crimes committed by the Salwa-Judum with the active connivance of the State Police.
In a press statement issued today, Adv Rajendra K Sail, President of Chhattisgarh PCL has categorically demanded arrests of those police officials whose complicity in the Santoshpur Fake Encounters have been established.
The Chhattisgarh PUCL has also expressed concern that the guidelines issued by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the cases of extra-judicial killings have not been followed by the Chhattisgarh Government, in spite of repeated reminders by the Chairperson of the NHRC.
The Chhattisgarh PUCL will an Intervention Application in the WRIT PETITION (CRI) NO. 14 OF 2007 ( Smt. Leda Versus UNION OF INDIA & ORS) pending before the Chhattisgarh High Court. It may be recalled that Smt. Leda, wife of a member of the Community Party of India (Maoist) name Ramesh Nagashia has alleged that her husband has been killed by the police in a fake encounter in front of her eyes and she was also raped. The Chhattisgarh High Court has issued notice to several police officials and the Central and State Governments in this matter.
Adv Rajendra K Sail, President of Chhattisgarh PUCL has categorically stated that Chhattisgarh Government has been committing crimes against humanity in the name of “curbing naxalism” for the past two years. The Chhattisgarh PUCL has, time and again, brought this gross violation of human rights through various fact finding studies. That is why, the PUCL State Convention held on 14th & 15th April, 2007 at Ambikapur had deliberated on the Theme: “FAKE ENCOUNTER, FAKE SURRENDERS AND FAKE CASES”. Chhattisgarh PUCL has always maintained that “extra-judicial killings” serve as the barometer for the state of human rights in any region or country. Going by such a barometer, the state of Human Rights is deteriorating day-by-day in Chhattisgarh with the increase in Encounter and Custodial deaths.
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