human rights

HUMAN RIGHTS APPEALS

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Editor: Nagaraj.M.R….vol.4 . issue.17……26/04/2008

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editorial : AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA – Investigate mass graves in Kashmir and Jammu

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to urge that the Government of India conduct urgent investigations into hundreds of unidentified graves discovered since 2006 in Jammu and Kashmir. These investigations must be independent, impartial and follow international standards.

The grave sites are believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses which occurred in the context of armed conflict persisting in the state since 1989. The graves of at least 940 persons have reportedly been found in 18 villages in Uri district alone.
Unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture are violations of both international human rights law and international humanitarian law, set out in treaties to which India is a state party and in customary international law. They also constitute international crimes.

I therefore urge you to:

•    ensure that prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all sites of mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir are immediately carried out by forensic experts in line with UN Model Protocol on the disinterment and analysis of skeletal remains; make available adequate resources; and seek and accept offers of assistance and cooperation from international experts, both in carrying out the work itself, and in training local personnel engaged in the work. As an immediate step, the grave sites must be secured in order to preserve the evidence;

•     ensure that all past and current allegations of enforced disappearances are promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated and that, where there is sufficient evidence, anyone suspected of responsibility for such crimes is prosecuted in proceedings which meet international fair trial standards;

•    ensure that all victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearance and torture are granted full reparations, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

Jai hind. Vande mataram.

Your’s sincerely,

Nagaraj.M.R.

AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER OF KERALA INDIA

Dear sir ,

INDIA: Please punish the police officers in Alappuzha district who tortured Binish

Details of victim: Mr. Binish, aged 19 years, son of Mr. Gopalakrishnan, Pdanilathu Chira house, Mayithara post, Cherthala South, Alappuzha district, Kerala state


Alleged perpetrators: Police officers stationed at Pattanakadu Police Station, Alappuzha district, Kerala (the officers could be identified by Binish)


Date and place of the incident: 28 & 29 February 2008 at Pattanakadu Police Station

I am writing to express my concern regarding the case of 19-year-old Binish who was allegedly tortured by the police officers stationed at Pattanakadu Police Station on 28th and 29th February 2008.

I am informed that Binish, a deaf person by birth was taken into custody by the police patrol party on 28th February while he was returning home after attending a local temple festival. I am also informed that the officers further tortured Binish to an extent that they caned him, assaulted and inflicted burn injuries upon him in an attempt to make Binish speak. I am also informed that the next day when the police officers came to know that they were mistaken, they took Binish to a hospital and later send him home in a three-wheeler.

I am concerned about the use of force by the police upon an innocent person merely because of suspicion and the manner in which the state government has approached this case. I am informed that even though the police officers responsible for the incident have been placed on suspension, the family of the victim is under pressure from the police officers to withdraw the complaint. I am aware that the victim is not provided any protection in this case, while at the same time some of the senior police officers have come out openly supporting their colleagues, even alleging that the entire case is false.

I am also informed that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has written to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture calling for an intervention in this case. I am also informed that the AHRC has been informed that the state government has instructed the local police to keep a watch upon the local human rights organisations who are also reporting cases of human rights abuses to international organisations like the UN in an attempt to intimidate these organisations and groups and to force them to keep silent.

I therefore urge you to immediately order an impartial investigation in this case. In case an investigation is already underway, to ensure that such investigation is carried out independently and that the findings of the investigation are made public. I also urge you to ensure that the victim in this case and his family members are not threatened by the police or any other persons associated with the police officers accused.

I further request you to ensure that the victim receives an interim compensation pending the investigation and that further to the investigation, if the officers are found guilty of the offense alleged against them, they are charged under Sections 331 and 348 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and brought to trial for the offense they have committed.

I firmly believe that you will take appropriate and speedy action in this regard.

Your’s sincerely,

NAGARAJ.M.R.

APPEALS TO HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER OF GUJARAT INDIA

Dear Sir ,

INDIA: Please punish the murderers who killed a Dalit in Gujarat

Name of the victim: Mr. Raman Dahya, aged 42 years, son of Mr. Dahya Bechar, a resident of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
Names of the alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Mafat Prabhat Rabari, the village head of Kasumbad village, a resident of Rabari community (forward caste) of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
2. Mr. Govind Ranchhod Rabari, a resident of Rabari community (forward caste) of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
3. Mr. Jitendra Mafat Rabari, a resident of Rabari community (forward caste) of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
4. Mr. Natu Mansing Rabari, a resident of Rabari community (forward caste) of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
5. Mr. Pravin Natu Chauhan, a resident of Bharvad community (Other Backward Classes; OBC) of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
6. Mr. Dinesh Chandu Chauhan, a resident of Bharvad community (OBC) of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
7. Mr. Natu Kalu Chauhan, a resident of Bharvad community (OBC) of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
8. Mr. Vikram Natu Chauhan, a resident of Bharvad community (OBC) of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
9. other unidentified four villagers of Kasumbad village, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat
Date of incident: 15 January 2006
Place of incident: Kasumbad village, under the jurisdiction of Anklav Police Station, Borsad Block, Anand district, Gujarat

I am writing to express my concern regarding the murder of Mr. Raman Dahya, aged 42 years, who belongs to the Dalit community of Kasumbad village, Gujarat.

On 15 January 2006, the victim Raman was murdered by twelve villagers including the village head Mr. Mafat Prabhat Rabari, who are from the dominant caste in Kasumbad village. I am informed that the incident happened just about half a kilometer away from the local police station.

I am informed that this murder culminated from the caste based atrocity committed by twelve villagers. Since 2003, five complaints against the villagers from the dominant caste belonging to the Rabari community and the Bharvad community were lodged by the victim and his family.

The villagers from the dominant caste threatened to kill the victim’s family, destroyed the victim and his family’s farms and committed caste based atrocities against their children. I am surprised to hear that the previous village head and the current village head both played a main role for these caste based atrocities against the victim and his family.

I have learned that in 2004, the victim’s family approached the Anand District Superintendent of Police to take action. While the District Superintendent of Police assured the victim’s family that such atrocities would not happen again, the accused were never prosecuted for their crimes.

I am also informed that before the victim was murdered two constables attached to the Anklav Police Station were on duty for protection for the victim and his family. However, they neither watched the victim and his family during the night, nor followed the victim and his family going for work to the farm.

This neglect of police authority on protection for the victim and his family allowed the dominant caste members to commit the murder.

According to the field report from the Navsarjan, Dalits in Kasumbad village are forbidden from entering the village temple. While working in the fields of the dominant caste villagers, they are offered water at a distance so that the dominant caste persons do not get ‘polluted’. Their children are segregated in public school, during classes and the mid-day meals.  Dalits are often verbally and physically abused by the dominant caste neighbors, but rarely report such incidents of abuse to the police.

It is reported that despite the passage of more than a year since the FIR (FIR No. I 4/06) for this crime was registered, the police have yet to complete their investigation, resulting in the delay of the prosecution of the accused.

In the light of above, I urge you to thoroughly investigate into the case and to take immediate action against the accused for their punishment. Most of all, I call for ensuring that the victim’s family should be properly and safely protected.

The state government of Gujarat has an additional responsibility to ensure the safety of the rest of the other members of the Dalit community in the village. The state government must also pay an interim compensation to the victim’s family. Additionally, the government must also investigate the reasons for which the earlier complaints by the family members were not registered or investigated in the past. If such an enquiry reveals willful neglect on the part of the police officers, such officers must be punished.

Your’s sincerely,

NAGARAJ.M.R.

Dear Sir ,

INDIA: Punish the officers who tortured and killed Dalits in Jorawarnagar Police Station

Name of victims:
1. Mr. Dhanjibhai Ramjibhai Patadia, (deceased) aged 45 years, residing at Municipality Quarters, Ramdev Pir Diary, Block 23, Valmiki Vas, Ratanpur, Vadhvan, Surendranagar district, Gujarat
2. Vijay Dhanjibhai Patadia, aged 17 years, son of victim 1 above
Name of alleged perpetrators: Four unnamed policemen (identifiable by victim 2 above) stationed at Jorawarnagar Police Station, Surendranagar district, Gujarat
Date of incident: 21 March 2008
Place of incident: Police lock-up at Jorawarnagar Police Station

I am writing to voice my concern regarding the custodial death of Mr. Dhanjibhai Ramjibhai Patadia, a 45-year-old Dalit of the Valmiki community who died in police custody after being illegally arrested and detained and that of torture and abuse of his son Vijay, a minor, who was also taken into custody by the Jorawarnagar police along with his father on 21 March 2008.

I am informed that on 21 March 2008 four policemen from Jorawarnagar Police Station took Dhanjibhai and his son into custody, verbally abused them using caste references and physically assaulted them, first at the Valmiki Vas Police Outpost and later at Jorawarnagar Police Station. I have learned that two of the four policemen were visibly drunk while indulging in this act. I am informed that the police acted without any specific reason, but to pacify the victim’s neighbours with whom the victims had a boundary dispute.

I am informed that the victims belong to the Dalit community and are economically poor. I have further learned that the police locked up Dhanjibhai and his son separately at Jorawarnagar Police Station. Dhanjibhai was assaulted all through the night.

It is reported that the following day morning, Vijay found his father lying on the floor in his cell. It is reported that the police though took Dhanjibhai to the Surendranagar Civil Hospital, he was declared to be ‘brought dead’ by the doctor who examined him.

I am concerned to hear that in addition to assaulting and murdering Dhanjibhai in custody, the police abandoned his body outside the hospital and informed his son and wife about Dhanjibhai’s death. I am also informed that the police is now claiming that Dhanjibhai died from natural causes.

I am further informed that the police took two days to record a statement concerning this case and further to register a First Information Report (FIR). I am also informed that a post-mortem examination were to be conducted on the body at the Rajkot Civil Hospital, the findings of which is not yet made public. I am informed that the crimes registered under FIR number I 38/08 against four unnamed police officers are under Sections 302, 341, 323 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 read with Section 3 (2) (v) of the Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

I am concerned why the police failed to include a crime under Section 348 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 that prescribes punishment for a public servant for wrongful confinement of any person for the purpose of extorting from the detainee or the person interested in the detainee to make any confession or any information? I am also worried why the police omitted Section 3 (1) (x) of the Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 while registering the case. The identity of the police officers can be clearly made by the second victim in this case, since he has reportedly witnessed and also abused and assaulted by the police officers.

I am further informed that according to the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, the state is responsible for specific interventions in case a crime is reported to have committed against the member of a Scheduled Caste or Tribe. I am informed that under Rule 6 and Rule 12 of the above law, whenever a crime is brought to the notice of the authorities, an officer not below the rank of a District Magistrate or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate or any police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police must inspect the scene of occurrence of the crime. I am also aware that the investigation of the crime, under Rule 7 must be conducted by a police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police. According to Rule 12 (2) the Superintendent of Police must ensure that the FIR is registered concerning the crime at the relevant police station and immediate measures are taken to apprehend the accused and also investigate the crime.

I am also informed that the instructions issued by the National Human Rights Commission of India concerning custodial deaths mandates an autopsy carried out in the case of custodial death be video recorded. I wonder whether this has been followed in this case. In either case the autopsy report must be made available to the victims of the deceased without any further delay. I also urge you to provide adequate security to the second victim in this case and that the investigation in the case is concluded at the earliest. I further request you that the state government pays adequate compensation to the victim’s family pending investigation in this case.

Your’s sincerely,

NAGARAJ.M.R.

AN APPEAL To H.E. HONOURABLE President Of India and Prime Minister of India


Since June 2005, the Government of Chhattisgarh, with the support of the Home Ministry has been waging a counter-insurgency operation against the Naxalites in the guise of a ‘people’s movement’ called the Salwa Judum. Officially, the campaign is a ‘spontaneous’, ‘self-initiated’ ‘people’s movement for peace’, but in practice, it has government support, and has increased violence all around. At least 500 people have died on a conservative estimate, killed either by the Salwa Judum or the Naxalites. Democracy has completely broken down in Dantewada.

Salwa Judum is essentially a policy of strategic hamletting where existing villages are evacuated to prevent people helping the insurgents. The policy has been tried before in Vietnam, Guatemala, Nagaland, Mizoram and elsewhere, and has failed to suppress movements. Instead it has resulted in serious human rights violations.

Background

Dantewada (formerly part of Bastar district) is beset by long term problems. Scheduled Tribes or adivasis form the majority, and human development indicators i.e. literacy, primary health care, and basic infrastructure are pathetically low. People are extremely poor as the majority are engaged in cultivating extremely small and un-irrigated holdings. Nearly three fourths of the total land is either covered by forests or is ‘wasteland’. People are heavily dependent on the collection and sale of non timber forest produce like tendu patta for the making of beedis. The administration has been virtually absent after independence.

The region has very rich mineral resources and forests, and the Government of Chhattisgarh has major plans for industrialization here. Previous industrialization in the area has not benefited the indigenous people as has been the case in other tribal areas earlier. There are three steel plants in the offing, owned by Tata, Essar and NMDC, and two large dams, the Bodhghat Hydroelectric Project and the Polavaram dam, all of which will cause major displacement. Gram sabhas held in the villages whose land is to be acquired for these projects are reported to have been rigged, with the government intimidating people into giving their consent to land acquisition. There has been an effort to prevent people from coming together and expressing their displeasure with the way industrialization is happening.

The Naxalites have been active here since the early eighties. Their struggles for higher wages for non-timber forest produce, specifically tendu patta and land redistribution have gained them wide popularity among the poor tribal majority. They claim to have set up a parallel administration. However it has angered sections of the traditional elite that they have displaced. Their anti-administration stand has created conflicts in the community.

The government has not been able to address the Naxal problem adequately. And now through Salwa Judum it is using the civilian population to do the work of the armed forces and the administration. Thousands of local villagers have been appointed as Special Police Officers (SPOs) and given .303 rifles. Some of these SPOs are minors. They serve as human shields for the armed forces in the conflict.

The Salwa Judum ‘peace activists’ and SPOs accompanied by the security forces, go in procession to villages, and ‘persuade’ them to join the Salwa Judum. They burn and loot the houses and fields of those who resist. Villages and even families have been divided. Many people have died in the violence during the attacks. There is no record /FIRs for people killed, rapes and arson by the Salwa Judum. A number of independent groups have confirmed that such incidents are taking place.

Some villages give in and move to camp only to avoid being attacked, and are then forced to participate in attacks on other villages. Captured sangham members (active Naxal supporters) are forced to work as informers.

In the last year, Salwa Judum has displaced more than 50,000 people, many of whom are living in camps. Some are in the jungles and some have fled to neighbouring states. There are reports of plans to establish around 600 new villages and to convert some of the camps into long term strategic settlements, attached to police stations, with a permanent base of informers. However this information is not in the public domain.

The lumpen elements among Salwa Judum members are alleged to extort money from passing vehicles, harass shopkeepers etc. In a state of fear there cannot be any control on an untrained armed group which has no working guideline or policy to adhere to.

People are afraid to leave the camps. Anyone who is not in camp is deemed by the Salwa Judum and administration to be a Naxal supporter. The environment is one of fear and getting people to express their wish in such a situation is difficult. All entry into camps is monitored and permission of the armed forces and local police department is required for visiting and talking to people living there- even for journalists and voluntary agencies.
The rolls of the people in the camps are not available for public scrutiny. In the camps, people are surviving on food for work programs. There is no transparency about the large relief budget that has been officially sanctioned.

There are informal, off the record, acknowledgements of uncontrolled violence of the Judum members, which is seen as inevitable when the common people are given arms. But in the absence of any answerability to the outside world, no account of what happens is officially available. Publicly the administration continues to insist that Salwa Judum is a very good and peaceful movement.

Some 27,000 police and paramilitary personnel have been deputed to the state, including two India Reserve Battalions drawn from Nagaland and Mizoram. The Naga battalion has already earned a reputation for being ruthless which is especially sad given that the Naga people have themselves suffered from strategic hamletting and counterinsurgency measures like the burning of villages. The Naga Hoho has apologized for their behaviour.

Village markets (haats), schools, anganwadis and health services in the villages have been disrupted. Security forces are using schools as bases, which violates international conventions.

The Naxals have retaliated by killing individual villagers and SPOs who have been actively associated with the Salwa Judum, blasted a truck carrying Salwa Judum processionists (Darbhaguda February 2006), attacked Errabor camp and destroyed schools which are being used by the paramilitary as a base.

All this follows a pattern that is common to counterinsurgency campaigns across the world:

1.burning of villages
2.forced relocation, first into transitional camps and then model villages or strategic hamlets, in which the traditional way of agriculture and community relations are completely destroyed
3.Creation and arming of civil patrols, which are claimed to be autonomous bodies of villagers, but are completely run by the army or security forces.
4.Hunt for survivors and guerrillas who are in flight in the forest.

In Guatemala, where such armed conflict has taken place between the government and guerillas, a Commission for Historical Clarification found that the army was responsible for 93% of the human rights violations and the guerrillas for 3%. Across the world, such events are now being dealt with through commissions of truth and reconciliation which involve acknowledgement of past mistakes and reparations to the victims.

We request the Government of India to:

1.Set up an official Truth, Reconciliation and Justice Commission:
a.)to identify all instances of death, rape and arson
b.)give compensation to the victims, and punish those who are guilty
c.)have a referendum in camps to see how many wish to go home, and enable them to go home.

2.Fix responsibility for the breakdown of law and order on the Government of Chhattisgarh and leaders of the Salwa Judum, and the people responsible for human rights violations in the armed forces.

3.Create a National Policy for Internally Displaced Persons, which will make it difficult for the government to create situations where internal displacement takes place.

4.Stop using minors as SPOs, take back guns from SPOs, and absorb the suitable ones into the regular police force.

5.Repeal the Special Security Act in the state that attempts to control and direct expression on the part of journalists.

Your’s sincerely,

Nagaraj.m.r.

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