Archive for the ‘Violation Cases’ Category

Civil society representation demanding ration, healthcare and hazard pay for tea plantation workers

April 16, 2020

Relevant part of the memorandum demanding ration, healthcare and hazard pay for plantation workers 

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has infected close to 2 million people worldwide, with a sharp daily increase in numbers. To implement the recommended standard of social distancing, the Government of India (GoI) imposed a 21-day nation-wide lockdown beginning at the midnight of Wednesday, March 25th. Almost two-weeks after this lockdown, tea plantation workers in Assam’s Barak Valley have not been paid their wages, creating a grave crisis without income or access to food and other essential services. On April 3rd, GoI exempted tea plantations from the nation-wide lockdown, permitting 50% workers to work. The unplanned implementation of this policy decision will put Barak Valley’s 70,000 workers, across 104 tea plantations at risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus. 

Assam’s tea plantation workers are a semi-skilled to skilled labour force who are paid a dismally low daily wage of Rs. 145, which is even lower than the state’s minimum wage for unskilled workers. The living and working conditions on these plantations have always been abysmal, with disproportionately high rates of malnourishment and anaemia. The disparagingly poor health conditions on tea plantations, coupled with very poor accessibility to healthcare, makes Barak Valley’s tea plantation workers a highly vulnerable and at-risk group in the COVID-19 pandemic. Women, who form over 60% of the workforce on Assam’s tea plantations, will be disproportionately affected by the unplanned implementation of this exemption. In many cases, since they are the sole bread-winners of their families, the burden of going to work to earn a living is higher on women. Further, plantation workers in Barak Valley, especially women deserted by their husbands, do not possess ration cards, and therefore don’t receive any ration. The lack of secure land tenure among tea plantation workers also increases their vulnerability. 

During this pandemic and hunger crisis, it is critical that plantations and governments undertake coordinated efforts to secure the health and life of plantation workers by ensuring that every single worker has improved, adequate and quality access to basic necessities including food and health care. Therefore, we demand the following urgent steps be taken immediately to protect the lives of Barak Valley’s tea plantation workers: 

  1. Order immediate release of all past dues to workers, including continued payment of wages for the period of complete lock-down on tea plantations. 2. The order dated April 3, 2020 passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, granting exemption to tea plantations from the ongoing lockdown, should only be enforced after adequate precautionary measures are put in place. These measures must include: 
  2. Identify adequate amounts of quarantine facilities on every plantation, including, but not limited to using existing infrastructure like labour clubs and space on management residential plots, for this purpose. b. Immediately devise and implement a strategy to widely disseminate information about the COVID-19 pandemic, informing workers about the scale of the pandemic, the risks it poses, precautionary measures, and an emergency plan in case of the spread of the virus on the plantation in local languages. c. Provide water and antiseptic soap at regular intervals on plantations. d. Procure enough numbers of cloth masks and gloves to provide to workers for wearing while working on the plantations.
  3. Complete universalization of ration through the Public Distribution System for a period of at least 6 months. People without ration cards should be able to get subsidised food. Further, direct plantations to immediately supply ration to workers for the period of the lockdown.
  4. Ensure proper implementation of the PM Garib Kalyan Package announced by the Finance Minister, to help the poor fight coronavirus.
  5. Specifically, ensure implementation of the Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana. b. Ensure workers have accessibility and information on how to withdraw pension funds, announced under the Package. Comply with the advance payment of PF to workers.
  6. Ensure continued and adequate implementation of all other schemes and entitlements of the State and Central governments.
  7. Ensure and monitor that plantations strictly comply with existing laws, policies, schemes and entitlements, to ensure safe and healthy working and living conditions for tea plantation workers. This includes ration, and different kinds of direct benefit transfers to the poor like under maternity benefit schemes, following safety measures on plantations, and proper functioning of plantation hospitals.
  8. All Direct Benefit Transfers must be made as cash payment to workers, following proper social distancing norms, through the Anganwadi workers. The fractured banking systems and unavailability of ATMs on plantations would mean that workers are unable to use the DBT in a lockdown.
  9. Plantations must provide health insurance and additional wages as hazard pay for workers given the dangerous circumstances that they are being forced to work in.
  10. The government must ensure provision of dignified health care. All health facilities, including Plantation Hospitals, PHCs, CHCs and Medical Colleges are ready must be fully equipped to deal with COVID-19 cases, including procuring sufficient testing kits, medication, ventilators and other medical equipment and providing the necessary personnel protective equipment for healthcare workers, including community health workers like ASHA workers. All private hospitals should be directed to provide free treatment. There must be regular and continuous audit of all plantation hospitals by the health and labour departments and strict action against plantation management for any violation. 10. If needed, provide adequate relief packages to companies to safeguard workers from losing pay, health benefits and other necessary entitlements to mitigate the hardship during this period. 

The failure to take the above steps will aggravate the plight of tea plantation workers, including death of workers owing to COVID-19 and starvation. The failure to secure rights and basic necessities for workers is a grave violation and a possible economic slowdown does not justify putting their lives at the forefront of a global health pandemic. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Best,

Taniya Sultana Laskar
Barak Human Rights Protection Committee,
Kachari Masjid Complex, Silchar, Assam
[Phone No.- 7576874498; bhrpc.ne@gmail.com]

Nirmal Kanti Das 
Majori Sramik Union, Assam
[Phone No.- 9435238753; nirmaldasaseb@gmail.co]

Manas Das 
Forum for Social Harmony, Assam
Silchar, Assam. Phone No. – 9435522567

Mrinal Kanti Shome 
Asom Mojuri Sharamik Union
Lane No. 13, House No.18, 1st Link Road,
Cachar, Assam.
[Phone No. – 9854067226; mojurishramik@gmail.com]

(Click here for a copy of the representation)

Call for support for the poor and marginalised people during the CoViD 19 pandemic

April 7, 2020

Friends and colleague

As we all know that we are going through a tough time. The CoViD 19 pandemic necessitating lockdown has created a huge uncertainty in the life of millions of people mostly belonging to the marginalised and dispossessed class like the migrant labourers, the daily wage earners, famers etc.. Women, mostly the abandoned women, widows and poor pregnant women are going through the worst nightmares of their life. This is the right time when we should come forward hand in hand to show some solidarity and practice responsibility. Hence, this call for support.

BHRPC is a voluntary human rights group working in Barak Valley, the southern part of Assam. We mostly work against police atrocities, racial discrimination, women rights, protection of human rights defenders etc. The main objectives of BHRPC are (i) to promote and protect human rights and prevent their violations, (ii) to improve socio-economic situation for full realization of Social, Economic and Cultural Rights for all and (iii) to work for promotion and establishment of democracy, secularism and world peace as these are sine qua non for full realization of all human rights. Presently, BHRPC is working on citizenship right and NRC  through providing legal and paralegal aid to the marginalised people. But in the present scenario, since millions of people are at the risk of starvation we want to extend a more physical kind of help in the following way.

  • We are trying to help the families by supplying them a GROCERY KIT that can sustain their families for the upcoming 3 weeks, or even more than that.
  • Kit will contain sufficient quantities of Rice, oil, sugar, pulse, salt, onions, soaps etc.

Please donate and join the fight against Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic.

Yours sincerely

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

S/B Account Number;-33847437590

Branch Code-1991

IFSC Code-SBIN0001991

 

Contact Person-Taniya Sultana Laskar.

Contact Number-  7576874498

bhrpc.ne@gmail.com

bhrpcsilchar@protonmail.com

FACTS FINDING REPORT ON RAJNIKHAL EVICTION IN DHOLAI AREA OF CACHAR DISTRICT

June 28, 2019

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The temporary tin-shade where the affected families presently staying.(image captured by Neharul Ahmed Mazumder)

This is a report based on a fact-finding visit to Rajhnikhal village where 80 famalies are left shelterless due to sudden and  inhuman  eviction by the Forest Department conducted by BHRPC team consisting of Mrs. Swapna Bhattacharjee, Mr. Nirmal Kumar Das, Mr. Dipankar Chanda, Mr. Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, Mr. Rofie  Ahmed and Miss. Taniya Sultana Laskar.

It was just after the Eid-ul-fitoor was celebrated in the  valley a shocking video of an eviction drive carried out in a Rajnikhal village under Dholai Constituency of Cachar District went viral in the social media. The local news papers also published stories on that during the following days. After coming across the news news BHRPC formed a facts finding team and visited Rajnikhal on 18/06/19 afternoon.

THE INCIDENT

Rajnikhal village is located in an interior area, almost 35 kilometers away along the NH 54 (old) NH no. 306 (new)  from Silchar Town under Narshingpur Block of Dholai Constituency in Cachar District. According to the District Census Handbook published by the Directorate of Census Operation, Assam, the Permanent Location Code Number of Rajnikhal village is  299636 in the Census of 2011.  The same census also informs that the said Rajhnikhal village has a population of 412 person containing in 83 households. According to that same survey it has 0 forest areas and 3.4 uncultivated land. All the inhabitants of that village belong to Muslim community and from Other Backward Class. They basically live upon the agriculture and related sources like fishing, farming, poultry and animal husbandry. But the villagers got a notice on 21/05/2019 to leave the village within 7 days issued by the Local Forest In-charge, Hawaitang range or steps will be taken against them. Seeing the notice there was a big hue and cry in the village. The inhabitants of the village like Lekoi Mia, Ynus Ali, etc started running pillar to post with the request to suspend the notice. They met every political representative of the area to save the roof above the heads of their children but no results.

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The house of Mr. Anam Uddin(41years) and Mrs. Saleha Begum(35years) seen in the picture with their 10 years old son Faruk Hussain . (Image captured by Neharul Ahmed Mazumder.)

On 06/06/ 2019 around 250 people from the forest department came armored with 11 elephants and almost 500  para-military force and forcibly demolished their houses including the village masque and school, perished their crops and vegetable gardens, cut almost all the fruit trees including thousands of battle nuts trees which resulted in almost full abrogation of their source of income. The demolition process started from 9 am and the forces left the village at around 3 p.m at the afternoon.  They left penniless and now leaving under a tinshade a little away from the village with their family including infants and children. One person namely Jitendra Koiri allowed them to stay temporarily in his piece of land. In this rainy season these people are in a really helpless and vulnerable situation.

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 Behind is the house constructed under Indira Awas Yojuna owned by late Mazammil Ali. Front house is a kachha house owned by Mr. Ala Uddin .His mother Razibun Nessa(62years) and his son Solman Uddin can be seen in the photo captured by Neharul Ahmed Mazumder.

Our team found that almost all the houses of the village were demolished including 11  Indira Awas and PM awas houses. “We are paying the Gaon Panchayet taxes regularly. We didn’t have to obtain any kind of NOC from the Forest to obtain the indira awas houses or any other government aid. Then, why this sudden eviction” asked Yunus Ali with tears in his eyes. Four pakka well which were constructed under the MNREGA scheme were also demolished that day. The Shongjogi Sikhsa Kendra established in the village by the government was also demolished which is in violation of the right to education of the children belonging to the village.  We have interviewed 9 pregnant women in the village who are exposed to serious health risk due to the eviction. In this crucial stage of their life they are leaving without a roof upon their head and eating kichdri  once in a day. The names of those women are:-

  • Najma Begum, W/o- Rashid Ahmed.
  • Sahanara Begum, W/o- Yasin Ali.
  • Abjana Begum, W/o- Ramij Uddin.
  • Rumi Begum W/o- Najrul Hussain.
  • Reksona Begum,W/o- Misba Uddin.
  • Anjona Begum, W/o- Ali Hussain Laskar.
  • Mumina Begum, W/o- Nur Uddin,
  • Afsana Begum,W/o- Gias Uddin.
  • Rustana Begum, W/o- Ajmal Uddin.

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An image of the preparation of meal for that day captured by Taniya Sultana Laskar.

There are almost 150 children who stopped going to the school since their school is demolished and now occupied by some of the sheterless families. The families also lost major portion of their source of income and now in risk of disease caused by starvation and malnutrition. There are 7 children including one especially able child namely Salman Ahmed S/o- Sultan Ahmed who have some chronic diseases like Astama, and who are exposed to a bigger health risk. The women in general are in risk of sanitation and menstruation related disease.

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Hafiza Begum is a 3 year old girl suffering from severe asthma sleeping in a floor prepared with bamboo.  

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A pillar bearing  signboard of a MNREGA work done in the village (image captured by Neharul Ahmed Mazumder)

FINDINGS:-

From the above findings, it is clear that:-

  1. The demolition was prima facie illegal as no adequate notice had been provided.The villagers alleged that the village is not at all a forest village or situated in forest land.  
  2. Undue excessive force was deployed to carry out the demolitions.
  3. The forced eviction which has rendered thousands homeless constitutes violation of the Supreme Court judgments which uphold that the right to shelter as a constituent of the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the constitution.
  4. The demolition has affected access to education of the children in the village and constitutes gross violation of fundamental right to education of the children.

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A girl namely Rushnu Begum affected with some unknown diseases. 

(Image captured by Taniya Sultana Laskar)

RECOMMENDATIONS:-

  1. An inquiry procedure should be drawn against forest personnel who used undue force against the residents and suppressed their rightful expressions of dissent.
  2. The Forest Department should compensate the people for the economic losses incurred by them due to this illegal demolition of their property and reinstate them as soon as possible.
  3.  The authorities should carry out a survey of the residents in the village along with the participation of people and draw a plan for rehabilitating and housing.
  4.  Sincere attempts need to be made to reconcile the right to shelter of the people with environmental concerns.
  5. A minimum needs scheme should be prepared and allotment of land should be done for all landless people of the country.

 

Supreme Court remarks on illegal detention fly in face of India’s constitutional and international obligations: CHRI

May 5, 2019
Supreme Court of India. Photo The Hindu

Supreme Court of India. Image: The Hindu

New Delhi, May 1

The Supreme Court needs to reaffirm India’s constitutional and international obligations to rights on complex issues of nationality, detention and deportation and not be unmindful of its own commitment to these duties, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has urged.

The following is the text of the statement, issued today, and signed by a group of eminent citizens including former Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur, Wajahat Habibullah, CHRI’s Chair and former Chief Information Commissioner, Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, and a number of senior former officials and civil society leaders:

As concerned citizens, we look to the Supreme Court to reaffirm India’s constitutional and international obligations to rights on sensitive issues.  That is why we are disappointed by recent statements by the Chief Justice of India on a complex matter relating to illegal detention and deportation, without heeding India’s own constitutional and international obligations.

While advocating greater detention of suspected ‘foreigners’, the Chief Justice brushed aside the Assam Chief Secretary with a stinging admonition for proposing a methodology for the release of a handful of foreign prisoners who had been in detention beyond their term of sentence for illegal entry. This was especially of concern for the case concerned the wilful violation of the human rights of hundreds of detainees who were languishing in what the court itself accepts are “inhuman conditions”.

We regard these remarks as unfortunate.

Article 21 is very clear in its intent, ambit and process. It binds all duty-holders and citizens with the ringing affirmation that no person in India (and we emphasize that there no special privileges here for Indian citizens) can be deprived of her/his right to life and liberty without due process.

NRC

NRC Official Logo

There is no deportation agreement with Bangladesh. International law lays down that such deportations can take place only with the consent of the country of origin. Bangladesh has consistently refused to accept that its citizens migrate in large numbers to India. Indeed, Bangladesh regards such unilateral efforts as harmful to a bilateral relationship that is critical for the security and stability of both countries and especially of our eastern region.

We cannot place ourselves in a situation where we are seen as forcing people out at gunpoint; it would be ethically unjust, wrong in law and draw international condemnation.

We are acutely sensitive to concerns in Assam and other parts of the North-east and across the country about the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh, a long-standing issue that has defied official proclamations and pledges of “push back”, “deportation” and “detection”.

Whatever methods are used they must be undertaken within the rule of law frame, be just and fair and designed to minimise individual hardship and tragedy. We believe there is a need that this is a tragedy of growing intensity which is gathering momentum as a result of the current National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam.

Accounts from Assam indicate that often arbitrariness not rule of law is used to define those who have come post-1971 from Bangladesh (of whatever religious denomination) and those who are Indian nationals.

NRC-FORMS, SABRANG INDIA

People submitting NRC applications, Photo: Sabrang India

Lakhs are in limbo and now fear that they may become “stateless” because of a process that is mired in a mix of complexity, confusion, lack of precision and prejudice.

Many of those at risk are from the bottom of the economic pyramid, unable to sustain the complex adjudication process needed to establish their citizenship. Large numbers are already in detention camps.

Although the Supreme Court mandated deadline for a ‘final’ list is July 2019, we understand that not less than 38 lakh persons out of the 40 lakh (four million) who had found themselves off the NRC last year have filed applications for inclusion.  Such a huge number of requests cannot be processed in two months and we urge that this not be hurried as the consequences are too devastating to contemplate. The efforts need to be steady and methodical so that the charges of arbitrariness, prejudice and poor record keeping, which have plagued the NRC process, do not stick.

It must be pointed out here that India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which its representatives played a stellar part in developing the language that all of us are familiar with in regard to equality, non-discrimination and gender.  Our international commitments are clear as to the rights of people affected in such situations.

It would also be unacceptable if any Indian of any religious denomination is harmed by negligence, wilful prejudice, wrongful confinement and prosecution.

Failure to address this critical situation adequately and justly would be seen internationally as a gross violation of human rights and a blot on India’s traditional record.  What is also of concern to us are social fault lines that could be exacerbated by insensitive handling that could leave many people desperate, particularly youth, with the potential of radicalization.

As concerned citizens, we appeal to the judicial system and the government to explore a solution that addresses the human dimension. The situation in Assam and inter alia other parts of the North-east represent unprecedented challenges and conditions that cannot be resolved by application of a routine legal framework which is designed to deal with individual cases.

Wajahat Habibullah, Chairperson, CHRI

Members:
Justice Madan Lokur

Justice AP Shah

Ms. Vineeta Rai (IAS, retd, former Revenue Secretary  to the Government of India)

Nitin Desai, former Under Secretary, United Nations)

Jacob Punnoose (IPS, retd)

Poonam Muttreja (Member, Executive Committee, CHRI)

Kamal Kumar (IPS, retd)

Ms. Maja Daruwala (Adviser, CHRI)

Jayanto N. Choudhury (IPS, retd)

Dr. BK Chandrashekar (ex MLC, Karnataka)

Sanjoy Hazarika (International Director)

——————————————————————————————————————The statement is a verbatim reproduction from CHRI website at http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/press-releases/supreme-court-remarks-on-illegal-detention-fly-in-face-of-indias-constitutional-and-international-obligations-chri

List of people who committed suicide due to reasons connected with NRC and D-Voters processes

April 6, 2019

This is going to be a draft list based on media report and social media posts verified by volunteers. This is by no means an exhaustive list.  Please feel free to inform if you have any other names.

List of people died during NRC and related processes.

UN questions ‘statelessness and disenfranchisement’ of ‘minority groups’ in Assam

September 26, 2018

Special Rapporteur’s report to UNGA highlights plight of Bengali Muslims

UN-Human-Rights-Feature-Image

The UN Special Rapporteur has once again raised the issue of possible statelessness of millions of people in Assam in wake of the exclusion of their names from the National Register of Citizens (NRC). This is part of a report titled Contemporary forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance that was presented before the UN General Assembly.

The 22 page report condemns “nationalist populism that advances exclusionary or repressive practices” and addresses “ascendant nationalist populist ideologies and strategies that pose a sobering threat to racial equality by fueling discrimination.”

Over 4 million people have been left out of the NRC final draft! Most of them belong to socio-economically backward communities and live in rural areas. Many of them are women and children!

On the subject of the exclusion of minorities from the NRC in Assam, the report says,

Nationalist populist parties in other places have implemented administrative and other rules leading to the exclusion of minority groups from official citizen registries on the basis of claims that they are irregular migrants, notwithstanding evidence showing that they are entitled to citizenship. This in turn has led to statelessness, disenfranchisement and increased vulnerability to discrimination, including the denial of basic rights and access to public services such as health and education.

In May 2018, the Special Rapporteur addressed a letter to the Government of India concerning the updating of the National Register of Citizens, a process governed by local authorities in the state of Assam. The letter drew attention to the heightened concerns of the Bengali Muslim minority, who have historically been portrayed as foreigners despite having lived in India for generations, even preceding the colonial era. Since 1997, the Election Commission of India has arbitrarily identified a large number of Bengali people as so – called “doubtful or disputed voters”, resulting in their further disenfranchisement and the loss of entitlements to social protection as Indian citizens.

While many have affirmed that the updating process is generally committed to retaining Indian citizens on the National Register of Citizens, concerned parties fear that local authorities in Assam, who are deemed to be particularly hostile towards Muslims and people of Bengali descent, may manipulate the verification system in an attempt to exclude many genuine Indian citizens from the updated Register.”

The entire report may be read here.

This is the second time the UN has taken cognizance of the humanitarian crisis in Assam. In May 2018, in a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, four UN Special Rapporteurs had said,

It is alleged that the Tribunals have been declaring large numbers of Bengali Muslims in Assam as foreigners, resulting in statelessness and risk of detention. Finally, it is alleged that the potential discriminatory effects of the updated NRC should be seen in light of the history of discrimination and violence faced by Muslims of Bengali origin due to their status as ethnic, religious and linguistic minority and their perceived foreignness. Although the Bengali origin Muslims in Assam descend from peasant workers brought from the former Bengal and East Bengal starting in the 19th century under colonial rule, they have long been portrayed as irregular migrants. As a result of this rhetoric, Bengali Muslims have historically been the target of various human rights violations, including forced displacement, arbitrary expulsions and killings.”

In light of this, it is clear that the NRC issue is under the UN scanner and that given the international scrutiny it will not be easy for divisive forces to function with impunity much longer.

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(The story was first published in CJP and is available at https://cjp.org.in/un-questions-statelessness-and-disenfranchisement-of-minority-groups-in-assam/, this is only a reproduction.)

Urgent appeal: Include the excluded people in the citizens’ register (NRC) for Assam, India

August 6, 2018

On 30 July 2018 the Government of India published a draft register of citizens residing in the state of Assam. This draft register admittedly excluded more than four million people who submitted applications for inclusion of their names. These four million people are at the risk of being rendered stateless.

People waiting to check their names in first draft of NRC publish on 31st December 2017

People waiting to check their names in first draft of NRC publish on 31st December 2017 (Photo: thehindiu.com)

Please sign the petition here

The main reasons for exclusion of such a large number of people include:

  1. Having no acceptable documents of pre-1971 as is required for inclusion.
  2. Having no acceptable documents to establish relationship with an ancestor who has a pre-1971 document.
  3. Non-acceptance of otherwise valid documents like school certificates and certificates of birth given by hospitals etc.
  4. Failure to verify submitted documents by the authorities.
  5. Non-acceptance of oral evidence.
  6. Not having an opportunity to establish citizenship by birth under section 3 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 by producing birth certificate or other admissible evidence of birth in India within the period specified.
  7. Non-application of subsection 7 (a) of section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  8. Non-application of Proviso to section 2 of the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950.
  9. Little or no application of Sub-paragraph 3 of Paragraph 3 of the Schedule titled Special Provision as to Manner of Preparation of National Register of Indian Citizens in State of Assam framed under Rule 4A of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 in certain areas including South Assam and West Assam. And so on.

However, there is still a window of Claims, Objections and Corrections which will start and applications from the excluded applicants will be accepted from 30 August 2018 to 28 September 2018. The disposal period and procedure are yet to be notified.

Many of the people who are at risk of being rendered stateless can be saved and included in the register if the procedure of dealing with, and disposing of, the applications are formulated keeping in mind the humanitarian aspect of the process.

Please sign the petition here

In view of this it is suggested that the following points should be considered while framing Modalities in the Form of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP):

  1. Claims:

(1) At the minimum, six months’ time should be given for submitting applications for claims. Otherwise, a lot of people who have their origin in other states outside Assam or who work as migrant labourers in other states or abroad will be grossly prejudiced.

(2) An opportunity to establish citizenship by birth under section 3 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 by producing birth certificate or other admissible evidence of birth in India within the period specified should be given to the applicants.

(3) An opportunity should also be given to the applicants to establish citizenship before 7 December 1985 being the date on which Act 65 of 1985 that incorporated section 6A in the Citizenship Act, 1955 came into effect since as per subsection 7 of section 6A the provisions of section 6A is not applicable to them.

(4) The persons to whom Proviso to Section 2 of the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 applies should be included in the NRC on the basis of direct or circumstantial evidence.

(5) While considering Claims applications, Sub-paragraph 3 of Paragraph 3 of the Schedule titled Special Provision as to Manner of Preparation of National Register of Indian Citizens in State of Assam framed under Rule 4A of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 should be applied in appropriate cases. One of the reasons for exclusion of such a large number of people is little or non-application of this provision in districts of Barak valley and West Assam. There were people inhabiting in the area now under the 3 districts of the valley for centuries before it was annexed to the British domain by the East India Company and later joined with Assam.

(6) Those minor children whose parent/s is/are included in the final draft but who themselves are excluded from the list due to defects in link documents should be included on the basis of oral evidence or they should be given an opportunity to obtain other documents including birth certificate without hassles. Otherwise, it would be absurd to think that such children emigrated from Bangladesh leaving their parents behind.

(7) In case of married women certificate issued by Panchayat secretaries should be accepted as a link document. Such certificates have been allowed in case of married women after a lot of consideration by the Hon’ble Supreme Court because there is a possibility that no other documents will be available for them. Supporting oral evidence should also be admitted in such cases.

(8) Where the applicants fail to prove link with accepted legacy person by producing prescribed documents but insist on the relationship, they should be given an opportunity to prove the claimed linkage by DNA test conducted outside Assam at the state expense.

(9) No original application or claims application should be rejected on the ground that the documents submitted could not be verified. Their cases may be kept on hold until verification is done. Verification is the responsibility of the state.

(10) Any valid document establishing relationship with the legacy person of the applicant including PAN and ADHAAR cards should not be rejected on the ground that pan card is issued after 2015 and ADHAAR card is not being issued in the state of Assam officially.

(11) Minor mismatches and discrepancies in names, addresses, ages and other details in the documents relied by the applicants should be ignored and the probative value of the documents should not be considered affected.

(12) Order rejecting original application or claims application should record reasons for such rejection in detail dealing with each ground separately.

  1. Objections:

(1) No objection application should be accepted unless the person objecting knows the person objected to personally and sets forth reasonable grounds for such objection in the application.

(2) The notice of hearing in case of an objection should clearly state the grounds of objections to enable the concerned person to prepare her rebuttal. Such notice should be served with all seriousness giving at least six months’ time personally by the local NRC Seva Kendra (NSK) officials. Unless there is an endorsement of the notice receiver, the service should not be treated as complete.

(3) Without giving an opportunity of cross-examination of objector no objection should be accepted.

  1. Corrections:

(1) Officials who know the language of the applicant well shall be entrusted with the task of correcting names and other details.

(2) There should be a separate system of transliteration in Bengali and other languages to avoid spelling errors in names and other details published in those languages.

Please sign the petition here

BHRPC condemns attack on Swami Agnivesh

July 20, 2018

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) is shocked and hurt by the reports of attempt of lynching on renowned human rights defender Swami Agnivesh allegedly by the Bharatya Janta Yuba Morcha at Pakur district of Jharkhand on last 17th July 2018.

BHRPC believes that the attack was done for silencing his strong voice towards justice and democracy. Swamiji, has been working for the downtrodden people peacefully for a decade.  His contribution towards emancipation of bonded labor is appreciated by the whole world.

Swami Agnivesh in a discussion of problems of tea labourers at Silchar, Assam

Swami Agnivesh in a discussion of problems of tea labourers at Silchar, Assam

BHRPC recalls that at its invitation Swamiji visited the starvation afflicted tea garden, namely Bhuvan valley tea estate in Cachar, Assam in 2014 where about 35 people died due to malnutrition and lack of basic health care. His visit and works on the issue helped the people to fight the situation and survive the crisis.

BHRPC cendemns this dastardly attack on the octogenarian human rights defender in the strongest terms and demands that the authorities should guarantee his security and well being and bring the attackers to justice at the earliest.

Assam: Abuse, threats, intimidation and false case against human rights defender, scholar and writer Prof. Tapodhir Bhattacharjee

July 9, 2018

Assam human rights defender and renowned literary theorist and litterateur of South Asia Mr. Tapodhir Bhattacharjee has been abused, threatened and booked for an article written by him exposing the discriminatory and arbitrary procedure of updating of National Register of Citizens (NRC).

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Prof. Tapodhir Bhattacharya

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Following the publication of an article in by Professor Tapodhir Bhattacharjee, on Tuesday 3rd July, 2018 in the “Aajkaal“, a leading Bengali daily news-paper published from Kolkata, West Bengal, titled “Assam e Bangalir Shoroshojja” meaning “Bengalis on a bed of thorns in Assam” pointing out the racist and anti-people aspects of ongoing updation process of National Register of Citizens in Assam, at first, a section of electronic as well as print media based in Guwahati including the Pratadin Times, News 18 Assam etc. and “Edinor Sangbad”, “Axomiya Pratidin” among the print media branded him as a conspirator against the Assamese community. Then on 8 July a complaint was filed for registering a false criminal case against him in Dispur Police Station purportedly under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Mr Tapodhir Bhattacharjee is a renowned and award winning literary theorist and critic and exponent of the contemporary theory and comparative aesthetics. Along with it, he is an essayist, poet, story-writer and the editor of a widely circulated little magazine “Dwiralaap”. He is a dedicated Human Rights Defender and at present works as the President of the Citizens Rights Protection Co-ordination Committee(CRPCC). This organization has been working against arbitrary deprivation of citizenship rights of the citizens and against continuous enforced statelessness of people of Assam for a long time. He is also an honorary member of Barak Upottoka Bongo Shahitto O Sanskriti Sammelan (Barak Valley Bengali Literary and Cultural Association), a prestigious body of litterateurs and intellectuals of South Assam. He is also the former Vice-Chancellor of the Assam University, Silchar and Tagore Professor of Delhi University. His father late Mr. Tarapada Bhattacharya was a freedom fighter and a member of the Assam Legislative Assembly from Katigorah Constituency, Cachar. Both of his parents were teachers. His wife Mrs. Swapna Bhattacharya is also a renowned and award-winning story-writer. Defaming and intimidating a person of such a stature and popularity is designed to stop him from his constant work mainly through writing and raising awareness for protection of basic human rights of linguistic and ethnic minorities of Assam as well as other human rights defenders working on the issue of arbitrary deprivation of citizenship rights of people in Assam.

After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed governments both at centre in 2014 and in Assam state in 2016, one hundred more Foreigners Tribunals were set up and a large number of people including the indigenous people of Assam were served notices by these Tribunals and in many cases notices are not properly served and decisions are taken ex -parte declaring the person referred to in the case as a foreign national under a procedure that puts burden of proof on the suspect. After such decision, people are kept in detention centres indefinitely. Moreover, since the updation of National Register Citizens for Assam is going on in the state under a questionable procedure, a sense of helplessness and desperation have developed among the vulnerable groups of people to such an extent that at least ten people, including a man from indigenous Boro community and rest from people of Bengali origin, have committed suicide. More recently through a letter dated 11 June 2018 addressed to the Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on minority issues, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary from of racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Special Rapporteur on promotion and protection of right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief have expressed their concerns and asked for a report from the Government of India on the issue of discrimination faced by people of Bengali origin. In such a scenario the term “bed of thorns”, which is a metaphor taken from the Indian epic Mahabharata, appears to have been used in the post-editorial essay to denote this extremely stressful and uncertain situation prevailing in Assam as an outcome of discriminatory, arbitrary and irrational procedure adopted by the NRC authorities.

The complaint filed in Dispur Police Station is has invoked section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section 153A provides punishment for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony and is non-bailable. The opinion piece penned by Mr. Bhattacharya does not by any stretch of imagination falls under any penal provisions of law, let alone section 153A, IPC. He critiqued the state policies and actions that are resulting in arbitrary deprivation of citizenship of a large number of citizens of India including people of indigenous communities through a procedure already questioned by the United Nations Special Rapporteurs. There is not a single word in his entire essay that is calculated to promote enmity between communities. Rather the write-up seeks to promote harmony between communities through promotion and protection of equal rights of people of all communities living in Assam. The speech in the article is well within the protection of Article 19 of the Constitution of India as well as Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966. And it does not fall under any of the eight items enumerated under Article 19(2).

His works as the president of CRPCC and member of other civil society organizations as well as in his individual capacity fall within the meaning of human rights works as contemplated under the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as such he is also protected under the declaration as a human rights defender.

In this background it appears that the defamation, threats and the false complaint against Mr Tapodhir Bhattacharya is an effort to create an environment of fear among the human rights defenders and progressive community workers. It is to be mentioned that earlier also in the 1970s and 80s, hundreds of community workers were killed in Assam after branding them as “Badan” meaning “conspirator and traitors”.

Therefore, Mr Tapodhir Bhattacharajee is at risk of getting physically assaulted and even killed by the extremists. He is also likely to be harassed by the police in connection with the complaint against him. There are also concerns about safety and physical and mental well being of his family and friends and other human rights defenders working in Assam, particularly on the issue of arbitrary deprivation of citizenship.

 

Please sign the petition HERE

 (For more information,  Taniya Laskar may be contacted at bhrpc.ne@gmail.com.)

CJP Urgent Appeal: Stop Move to Make Assamese Muslims Homeless & Stateless Sign our Petition NOW!

April 26, 2018

(BHRPC forwards this Citizens for Justice and Peace petition to protect bonafide Indian citizens from enforced statelessness)

A humanitarian crisis is underway in Assam as you read this. The National Register for Citizens (NRC), a record of ‘legitimate’ Indian citizens living in Assam, is being updated for the first time since 1951. The ostensible objective is to weed out ‘Illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’. However, the numbers tell a chilling story… one of a conspiracy of ‘othering’ and exclusion.

NRC Appeal

Representational image by CJP

3.29 crore people from 68.27 lakh families in Assam have submitted over 6.5 crore documents with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to prove their Indian citizenship. But the NRC recently published a list of only 1.9 crores as legal citizens.

A huge number of 1.39 crore Assamese, almost all Muslim, are under threat of having their legitimate citizenship revoked. CJP believes this is discriminatory. Join us and raise your voice against this injustice. Sign our Petition NOW!

  • We demand an immediate halt to this anti-constitutional and potentially polarizing move.
  • We demand an end to this attempt to brand all Muslims as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
  • We demand that corrupt local officials are NOT empowered with coercive powers to unilaterally decide fates of entire families.
  • We demand a stop to dividing Assam for narrow political gains.

Raise your voice against this now. Sign our petition.

The appeal was published on CJP website and reproduced here for wider dissemination.