Archive for the ‘Extra-judicial execution’ Category

Assam: Custodial death of Hasan Ali and death of Mohidul Islam in police firing

January 15, 2018

According to the newspaper reports, one Mohidul Islam, aged about 25 years, was killed due to police firing on 10 January 2017 in Darrang district of Assam. He was a part of people gathered to protest custodial death of one Hasan Ali (37).

Reports say, the police picked up Mr Hasan Ali from his house in Attakari No. 2 village in Doula locality under Darrang district on 9 January night on suspicion of possessing illegal weapons[1]. He was hale and hearty at the time. After a few hours in police lock up, he died. It is believed that he succumbed to torture inflicted on him by police to extract confession and information. After getting information of his death in police custody, people of the locality held a protest rally and then gathered in front of Daula Police Station at around 11 am on 10 January. The place is around 100 km away from Guwahati. According to reports, police tried to disperse the people by charging them with batons and tear gas. However, after a while they opened fire and killed Mr.Mohidul Islam and injured several others including one Mr Gulam Mustafa (60 years, and Ms Gul Rehana (14 years). The injured are admitted in the Guwahati Madical College and Hosipital.[2]  A passersby named Akbar Ali (25years), who was a specially-abled person, also sustained serious injuries and was admitted in Mongoldoi Civil Hospital. In chaos that ensued after opening fire on people, three police personal were also injured. [3]

Hasan Ali is survived by his wife and five children.  [4]

Photo of late Mohidul Haque shared on Facebook by one Mr Hussain Ahmed Madani

Photo of late Mohidul Islam shared on Facebook by one Mr Hussain Ahmed Madani

From the reports in the media it is apparent that police violated the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, held from 27 August to 7 September 1990 as well as other international human rights standards in use of force by police personnel and thus the state is responsible for the death of Mr. Mohidul Islam. In fact, in recent times using disproportionate force against protesting people has become a normalized in Assam. On 30 June 2017 one person named Md.Yakub Ali was killed police firing while participating in a protest rally against illegitimate inclusion of people as “D-Voters”. College students in Margheritha were beaten up with police sticks on September 19, 2017. Another similar use of disproportionate force was happened against peaceful protesters in Golaghat on December 19, 2017. In all these cases the victims are mostly people belonging to minority communities.

Deaths in such disproportionate use of force clearly amount to extra-judicial executions. This highhandedness of police is used to repress any legitimate protests against government policies and actions. This is systematic violations of not only right to freedom of speech and expression, right to freedom of assembly and right to freedom of association, but also the right to life.

As to the custodial torture and death, it is rampantly practiced in Assam as a normal course of investigating and combating crimes. This is despite the fact that a confession made to a police officer is not admissible as a evidence in court of law. India singed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment but yet to ratify. However, torture is prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other treatises to which India is a state party. Torture is also prohibited under the peremptory norms of international law.

Although India is yet to pass a specific legislation prohibiting torture absolutely, it is already prohibited by the Constitution, particularly Article 21.

Most importantly, de facto impunity provided by the state to accused law enforcement officials is most glaring. It defeats the rule of law.

In these both custodial death and the death, a magisterial inquiry under section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 should have been no such inquiry has been ordered. No FIR was registered against the perpetrators in both the incidents

BHRPC filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission praying, inter alia, for:

  1. A fair and impartial investigation by an independent body apart from the ordered police inquiry may be directed and ensured.
  2. The two-different investigation should be ordered, one in the custodial death of Mr. Hasan Ali and another in the killing of Mr. Moidul Islam.
  3. The ex-gratia amount of five lakh seems insufficient for the support of a family of six persons counting the expenses for the study of five of the deceased’s children. So, at least 10 lakh rupees must be paid to the next of kin of both the deceased as compensation.
  4. Compensation should also be paid to all other person who sustained injuries on that day.
  5. Long term measures should be taken to curb the torture and custodial death as well as disproportionate use of force resulting in death and injury of peaceful protesters.

For further details, please contact:

Taniya Laskar, Secretary General, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Silchar, Assam. Email: bhrpc.ne@gmail.com, Mobile:+919401616763


[1] 1killed, 8 hurt in Assam highway firing, The Telegraph, Jan 11,2018 retrieved on Jan 13,2018.

[2] Cops fire at mob protesting custody death in Assam, Times of India, Jan11,2018, retrieved on 13,2018.

[3] Ibid ,1.

[4]Govt. announces Rs. 5 lakhs for families of 2 men killed in Dhula. Indian Express, Jan 12th, 2018, retrieved on 13th Jan, 2018.

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Assam: 1.4 lakh ‘Doubtful Voters’- How authentic are the numbers; Is Violence a solution?

July 4, 2017

The Nationality of a section of the population in India is still doubted and as per the Election Commission of India, they have been branded as doubtful citizens and have been categorized as D-voters thereby barring them from casting their votes and having a say in the upcoming elections. In view of this, a 25-yr-old Yakub Ali lost his life in a police firing at Goalpara district in Assam. He was one among hundreds of protesters who were trying to block the National Highway 37 to protest against the alleged harassment of D-voters by the border police and foreigners tribunals.

By Shweta Raj Kanwar

The problem of illegal immigrants is one discussed by all but a solution to the influx is something no body has tried to initiate, and even if they did, no results were born from the same. As many as 100 foreigners’ tribunals, set up by the Supreme Court directive, are reviewing the list of D-voters, who were put in that list by the state government citing lack of proper citizenship credentials and they have been deprived of their right to vote. Many such voters, mostly Bengali speaking Muslims and Hindus of Bangladeshi origin, have been lodged in detention centres across the state.

As per the record stated by The Telegraph, a total of 231657 ‘D’ voters were marked in 1977 which increased to 3.5 lakh in the next revision. There are about 1.4 lakh of them now and each one of them must prove their Indian Citizenship before the foreigner’s tribunals. However, a point to be noted in this regard is- Are the Tribunal’s calculations credible?

There are cases that prove that the ECI was sluggish in interpreting the Nationality of certain people as is evident from a DNA report. A case in point is that of one Abu Taher Ahmed. A letter from the Foreigners’ Tribunal asking him to prove his Indian citizenship had been dispatched to the police station, and Abu was to present documents by August 8.

Abu, 33, who had joined the Assam police in 2008, said he was shocked. “I was born and brought up here. And, so were my father and grandfather,” he told DNA over the phone from South Salmara. He added that he presented his papers at the Foreigner’s Tribunal on June 8, and that he will need to be present on the next hearing on August 8.

Abu says that the names of his grandfather Shohidullah Sheikh and father Maziur Rahman were in the 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC). And the 1966 voters’ list had his grandfather’s name. “My father passed the 10th board exams in 1978, and there are school documents proving this. I also have land documents,” said Abu, who was born and grown up in South Salmara.

South Salmara superintendent of police Amrit Bhuyan says when Abu joined the force, there was a verification of his nationality. Abu, however, says there were four rounds of verification. Bhuyan says the case dates back to 2000, when prior to joining the police force in 2008, Abu lived in Guwahati doing odd jobs. In 2000, the voter’s registration put Abu in the D-voters’ (doubtful voters) list. And the summon from the Foreigners’ Tribunal is in connection to the case. “He has the papers, and he just has to show them. I’m sure after this hearing, he will not face much trouble,” said Bhuyan.

Aman Wadud, a lawyer fighting these cases says that most of these cases are marred by arbitrary and shoddy investigations. “The investigating authorities, like the Election Commission of India and the Assam Border police, randomly pick and frame Indian citizens as illegal immigrants and send their cases to the Foreigners Tribunal. More than 80% of these so-called “illegal immigrants” are held Indian by Foreigners Tribunal,” says Wadud.
It may be mentioned that the Tribunal’s mistake is not a lone one, and such cases have emerged from the 100-odd tribunals of the state. In the month of March too, 11 people referred to the Tribunal, were found to be descendants of Moulavi Amiruddin, the 1st Deputy Speaker of Assam Assembly who served between 1937 and 1946.
Coming back to the firing case that took place yesterday claiming one life, All Assam Minority Students Union General Secretary has said that t was a calculated plan of the Goalpara deputy commissioner and the SP to unleash violence on people from the minority community. However, the police verdict is different.
The protesters were trying to block National Highway 37 in protest against the alleged harassment of D (doubtful) voters by the border police and foreigners tribunals. “When the police and CRPF personnel prevented them from blocking the highway, the protesters started pelting stones at them and at passing vehicles. The security personnel had to resort to a lathicharge and fire a few rounds in the air to bring the situation under control,” Goalpara superintendent of police Amitava Sinha said.
Sinha said the protesters were led by advocate Nazrul Islam, who was arrested in February this year for assaulting a member of a foreigners tribunal in Goalpara. “After being recently released on bail, Islam had sought permission for a road blockade but was denied consent. Yet, he and his supporters went ahead with the blockade. We arrested a few of them while they were on their way to the protest venue but some managed to reach the venue and tried to block the highway,” he said.
And political parties have not failed to gain political leverage out of this issue wherein the blame game has begun all over again. The AIUDF demanded a judicial probe and financial compensation for the family of the deceased and for the injured. The party’s president, Badruddin Ajmal, said the situation in the state had turned complex with the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the state continuing to neglect issues like update of National Register of Citizens and a solution to the D-voter problem.
As reported by The Wire, videos of protesters arguing with personnel from Assam Police and the CRPF have been circulating on social media, which also showed police tearing off their banner and then resorting to lathi charge without much provocation. The police action dispersed the crowd. However, some local youth, angry at the police action, began to hurl stones at them after sometime.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhussainahmed.madani.98%2Fvideos%2F1949926405296968%2F&show_text=0&width=560

It may be mentioned that be it the Congress or the BJP at the Centre, the problem of illegal immigrants has never seen a solution. Paying them financial compensation, demanding a judicial probe, after their death in a protest etc. are only temporary ways to avert the situation but the real need of the hour is to frame policies that would render results to solve this problem. Protests, killings, mob violence, political blame-game, allegations will see no end. It is proper policies and solutions that matter the most!

–The writer can be contacted at shwetarajkanwar@gmail.com or shweta@thenortheasttoday.com 

Video Courtesy: Hussain Ahmed Madani‘s Facebook post

The piece was first published by The North East Today is available here https://thenortheasttoday.com/assam-1-4-lakh-doubtful-voters-how-authentic-are-the-numbers-is-violence-a-solution/

Supreme Court guidelines regarding deaths in encounters

November 7, 2016
india-supreme-court
Requirements to be followed in cases of encounter deaths issued by the Supreme Court

(1) Whenever the police is in receipt of any intelligence or tip-off regarding criminal movements or activities pertaining to the commission of grave criminal offence, it shall be reduced into writing in some form (preferably into case diary) or in some electronic form.  Such recording need not reveal details of the suspect or the location to which the party is headed.  If such intelligence or tip-off is received by a higher authority, the same may be noted in some form without revealing details of the suspect or the location.

(2) If pursuant to the tip-off or receipt of any intelligence, as above, encounter takes place and firearm is used by the police party and as a result of that, death occurs, an FIR to that effect shall be registered and the same shall be forwarded to the court under Section 157 of the Code without any delay.  While forwarding the report under Section 157 of the Code, the procedure prescribed under Section 158 of the Code shall be followed.

(3) An independent investigation into the incident/encounter shall be conducted by the CID or police team of another police station under the supervision of a senior officer (at least a level above the head of the police party engaged in the encounter). The team conducting inquiry/investigation shall, at a minimum, seek:  

(a) To identify the victim; colour photographs of the victim should be taken; 

(b) To recover and preserve evidentiary material, including blood-stained earth, hair, fibers and threads, etc., related to the death;

(c) To identify scene witnesses with complete names, addresses and telephone numbers and obtain their statements (including the statements of police personnel involved) concerning the death;

(d)  To determine the cause, manner, location (including preparation of rough sketch of topography of the scene and, if possible, photo/video of the scene and any physical evidence) and time of death as well as any pattern or practice that may have brought about the death;

(e) It must be ensured that intact fingerprints of deceased are sent for chemical analysis.  Any other fingerprints should be located, developed, lifted and sent for chemical analysis;

(f) Post-mortem must be conducted by two doctors in the District Hospital, one of them, as far as possible, should be In charge/Head of the District Hospital.  Post-mortem shall be videographed and preserved;

(g) Any evidence of weapons, such as guns, projectiles, bullets and cartridge cases, should be taken and preserved.  Wherever applicable, tests for gunshot residue and trace metal detection should be performed.

(h) The cause of death should be found out, whether it was natural death, accidental death, suicide or homicide.    

(4) A Magisterial inquiry under Section 176 of the Code must invariably be held in all cases of death which occur in the course of police firing and a report thereof must be sent to Judicial Magistrate having jurisdiction under Section 190 of the Code.

(5) The involvement of NHRC is not necessary unless there is serious doubt about independent and impartial investigation.  However, the information of the incident without any delay must be sent to NHRC or the State Human Rights Commission, as the case may be.          

(6) The injured criminal/victim should be provided medical aid and his/her statement recorded by the Magistrate or Medical Officer with certificate of fitness.

(7) It should be ensured that there is no delay in sending FIR, diary entries, panchnamas, sketch, etc., to the concerned Court.

(8) After full investigation into the incident, the report should be sent to the competent court under Section 173 of the Code. The trial, pursuant to the chargesheet submitted by the Investigating Officer, must be concluded expeditiously.

(9) In the event of death, the next of kin of the alleged criminal/victim must be informed at the earliest.    

(10) Six monthly statements of all cases where deaths have occurred in police firing must be sent to NHRC by DGPs. It must be ensured that the six monthly statements reach to NHRC by 15th day of January and July, respectively. The statements may be sent in the following format along with post mortem, inquest and, wherever available, the inquiry reports:

(i) Date and place of occurrence.

(ii)  Police Station, District.

(iii)  Circumstances leading to deaths:

                                (a)  Self defence in encounter.

(b) In the course of dispersal of unlawful assembly.

(c)  In the course of affecting arrest.

(iv)  Brief facts of the incident.

(v)  Criminal Case No.

(vi)  Investigating Agency.

(vii) Findings of the Magisterial Inquiry/Inquiry by  Senior Officers:

(a) disclosing, in particular, names and designation of police officials, if found responsible for the death; and

(b) whether use of force was justified and action taken was lawful.

 

(11) If on the conclusion of investigation the materials/evidence having come on record show that death had occurred by use of firearm amounting to offence under the IPC, disciplinary action against such officer must be promptly initiated and he be placed under suspension.

(12) As regards compensation to be granted to the dependants of the victim who suffered death in a police encounter, the scheme provided under Section 357-A of the Code must be applied.

(13) The police officer(s) concerned must surrender his/her weapons for forensic and ballistic analysis, including any other material, as required by the investigating team, subject to the rights under Article 20 of the Constitution.

(14) An intimation about the incident must also be sent to the police officer’s family and should the family need services of a lawyer / counselling, same must be offered.

(15) No out-of-turn promotion or instant gallantry rewards shall be bestowed on the concerned officers soon after the occurrence. It must be ensured at all costs that such rewards are given/recommended only when the gallantry of the concerned officers is established beyond doubt.

(16) If the family of the victim finds that the above procedure has not been followed or there exists a pattern of abuse or lack of independent investigation or impartiality by any of the functionaries as above mentioned, it may make a complaint to the Sessions Judge having territorial jurisdiction over the place of incident. Upon such complaint being made, the concerned Sessions Judge shall look into the merits of the complaint and address the grievances raised therein.

Issued in People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Another Vs State of Maharastra and Others (CRIMINAL  APPEAL NO.1255 OF 1999)

In the name of protecting one-horn rhinoceros, forest guards in Kaziranga national park in Assam are allegedly killing villagers

February 2, 2016

Report by Danish Raza as published in the Hindustan Times

Ajit Doley, a farmer in Bhokot Sapori village, one of more than 100 fringe hamlets around Assam’s Kaziranga National Park (KNP), was uncomfortable about his son Horen’s friendship with Saleem Ahmed, ranger of the park’s Eastern Agaratoli range.

On June 25, 2014, two days after Horen, an LIC agent and a student at a college in Bokakhat, went missing, his father went to Bokakhat police station to lodge a complaint. He knew that one of Horen’s friends had last seen him with Ahmed in Bokakhat town. At the station, the police showed Ajit pictures of Horen’s corpse. A tall, lean man with sharp features, Ajit gasps in anger and sorrow as he recounts the events. He believes Horen’s friendship with the ranger cost him his life.

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Assam, India – Jan 11, 2016: Raino at Bagori village Rang in Assam, India, and January 11, 2016. (Photo by Arun Sharma / Hindustan Times)

Assam’s Kazrianga National Park is famous for one- horn rhinoceros. In addition to being a tourist attraction, it is continuously on the radar of poachers who kill the rhinos for the horn which fetches $300,000 per kilogram in the international market. The horn is considered to be one of the most expensive contraband items in the world.

Records identify Horen (20) as a poacher killed by forest guards during an encounter in the Park. Ahmed was the complainant in the FIR lodged after the encounter. Horen’s body lay unidentified until his family claimed it. According to the family and their neighbours, the encounter was staged. “How come his dead body remained unidentified and we got no intimation regarding his death despite the fact that Ahmed knew him?” Ajit asks.

Horen’s killing follows the pattern of killings in the Park situated on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river at the foot of the Mikir-Karbi Anglong hills: no eyewitnesses; strange circumstances; no further investigation.

The KNP is home to the world’s largest population of the endangered one horned rhinoceros that is under intense attack from poachers. The poachers are capitalising on the surge in the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam and China, where it is a status symbol and is also used in medicine. Sadly, it seems that the pressure to show results in the fight against poachers is turning KNP into a human graveyard with forest guards and state police often killing villagers instead of the real poachers.

In 2014, the same year that Horen was killed, the Park witnessed more than 20 fatal shootings at the hands of forest department staff. Many of those who died were locals who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. “Forest staff often take the help of villagers in menial jobs. Others enter the park for forest wood. And still others are kidnapped by members of vigilante groups who are under constant pressure from the forest department to give them leads on poachers,” said Jayanto Kumar Goswami, a lawyer and an activist based in Assam’s Golaghat district.

BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS

In their zeal, is the forest department and state police conducting extra judicial killings of local villagers, who may or may not have a criminal background?

According to government records, 134 rhinos have been killed in KNP between 2005 and 2015 for the horn, worth US $ 300,000 per kilogram, touted as one of the most expensive contraband items on earth. Sixty- eight poachers were shown shot dead in encounters in the Park in the same time period. However, circumstances of many of these shootings analysed alongside related legal documents, interviews with forest officials, local reporters and testimonies of families indicate that not all of them were poachers.

Various reports have documented that the Park is under- staffed and has been facing a fund crunch. Almost 20 per cent of positions are vacant in the Park and seven per cent of the deployed staff strength is physically incapable of performing protection duties, according to a report prepared by Park director M K Yadava

Nowhere is the problem more conspicuous than in the admission of the Park authorities that in majority of extra judicial killings in Kaziranga, gang leaders are able to escape and locals become casualties. “They lead from the front. Poachers are based in Nagaland and Manipur need their help as they are well versed with routes. They work as fixers, guides and porters,” said Amrit Bhuyan, Second Commanding Officer with the Assam Forest Protection Force, part of the Anti- Rhino Poaching Task Force.

A P Rout, Additional Director General of Police, Assam, and in-charge of the Task Force said, “Poachers are not from here except local guys, helpers and may be in stray case, a local shooter. Mostly they are facilitators.”

It is just like a border situation. It is comparable to the army on the border. When my man is standing in the 4 degree Celsius right in the dark when you cannot see one metre..there is a rhino lurking, riger lurking..i don’t question. Conservation is pretty tough.

– MK Yadava, Director Kaziranga National Park

report submitted by KNP Director M K Yadava to Gauhati High Court in May 2014 noted that the lower rung teams only get assaulted within the park boundaries, leaving the main organisers of the crime free to regroup, have new recruits, provide training, get new arms and make another attempt at poaching.

Yet, locals many locals such as Doley, Rahul Kutum and Gaoburha Kealing regularly get killed.

Consider the facts confirmed to HT by the forest department and state police, which raise questions about the authenticity of encounters in KNP:

Park authorities and state police could not provide HT with a list of ‘veteran’ or ‘most wanted’ poachers killed in these encounters.

While one would assume that there would be casualties on both the sides, no forest department staff has died in these encounters, confirmed the office of KNP’s divisional forest officer.

Contrary to popular perception that poachers are armed with sophisticated weapons, only 38 rounds of AK series weapons were seized during encounters in last 10 years.

There are documented cases of families of deceased getting FIRs lodged against forest staffers, a July 2010 notification says that prior sanction of the state government is required to prosecute forest officers.

Records show that in majority of cases, post encounter procedure such as filing of charge sheets, reporting these incidents within 48 hours to the NHRC and holding magisterial inquiries within three months are not adhered to by the encountering parties, in contravention of law. Out of 74 rhino poaching cases registered between 2002 and 2012, charge-sheets were filed only in eight cases, noted a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

GREY AREAS

The situation in Kaziranga is rich in ironies. It is tempting to believe that if the forest department is serious about law enforcement, the prosecution of offenders facing charges under the Wildlife Act must result in conviction. But records show that encounter killings in Kaziranga outnumbered convictions seventy times in the last five years.

An Assam Forest Protection Force personnel, part of Anti Rhino Protection Task Force, camping in Jakhalabandha. Since the formation of the Task Force in mid- 2014, the forest department, Assam Forest Protection Force and state police have been jointly involved in anti- poaching operations.

Yadava’s report attribute abysmal conviction rate to lack of exchange of information amongst enforcement agencies with regards to wildlife criminals. “It has often been seen that a poacher or a linkman has been arrested but multiple cases pending against them are not known to the arresting agency. Therefore bail is obtained easily as “first timer” who then gets back to doing the same business,” noted the report. “They could not prosecute even a single person for entering the park in an unauthorized manner. At the same time, they killed so many people alleging they were people who entered at night time with the purpose of poaching. Two developments do not match,” said Jayanto Goswami.

Paucity of resources to run the Park and lack of funds to gather intelligence, when seen with incessant fatal shootings offer another contrast. Twenty seven poachers were shown shot dead in 2014, up from seven in 2005, despite the fact that the staff is ill equipped and lacks modern gadgets (officials narrated many instances to this reporter when their .303 rifles or that of their colleagues could not fire); 20 per cent of positions are vacant in the Park; and seven per cent of the deployed staff strength is physically incapable of performing protection duties.

THE JUSTIFICATION

So what exactly is happening in Kaziranga? The most likely scenario seems to be that the pressure on Park authorities has led them to be trigger-happy, killing trespassers and individuals found inside the park at night.

“If there is a failure on our part, we earn flak from international quarters. This is not Assam specific issue,” said ranger Saleem Ahmed, ranger, Ahmed admitted that there have been cases of informers misleading his staff because of personal rivalry. In such cases, at the most they would summon the person. “But it cannot lead to encounter because an innocent person never goes inside the Park,” he said.

Echoed A.P. Rout,“It is a reserved sanctuary. The fellow is not supposed to be there. Night time if somebody is coming, whether he is a wood cutter or poacher, how does someone know?” he said.

M K Yadava said given that almost 70 per cent of people in the fringe villages fall in Below Poverty Line category, there was a need to sensitise them not to help wildlife traders for easy money. “Conservation efforts cannot succeed unless these people are made stakeholders,” said Yadava.

At the same time, he appeared to be proud of the way his forest staff was working in hostile conditions. Yadava maintained that not a single innocent person has been killed during encounters. “They are constantly fighting two enemies viz poachers and wild animals. They are on duty when it is pitch dark and the temperature is freezing. I cannot question their actions. And mind you, poachers do not wear special dresses,” he said.

MURDER MOST FOUL?

“Oh, we know his son, why did they have to kill him,” cops at Jakhalabandha police station in Assam’s Nagaon district murmured as Kachu Kealing collected the dead body of his 25 year old son Gaonburha Kealing on the night of December 26, 2013. Villagers claimed that same evening, some farmers saw him on his way to the forest in search of his cattle. Earlier that day, Gaoubhura worked in the field with his father and cooked a meal. When he left home around 10 am and did not return, Kachochan reached the Sikuni Bagh forest camp- where suspected poachers are routinely detained- to be informed that he may check the dead body which arrived at the Jakhalabanda police station hours ago.

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Assam, India – Jan 06, 2016: Name: Father of Gaonbura Killing his residence at killing Village, Jakhlabandha in Assam, India, and January 6, 2016. (Photo by Arun Sharma / Hindustan Times)

Photos of Gaonbhura’s dead body, copies of which are with HT, show it riddled with three bullets and sickle wounds jabbed around the abdomen, waist and behind his back.

According to his family and neighbors, Gaonbhura was stunted and was least likely to be involved in any activity related to rhino horn trade.

Kachu Singh Kealing, father of Gaoburha Kealing, a native of Rangaloo Kealing village in Assam’s Nagaon district who got killed during an encounter inside Kaziranga National Park in December 2013. Although the killing created an uproar putting the forest department in a tight spot, it did not amount much.

Goubhura’s killing triggered a furious uproar in the area. Various tribal groups and students’ bodies including the All Assam Tribal Sangha, an umbrella body of different tribal organisations held a roadblock protesting the killing.

Ditumoni Gogoi, secretary, CPI (M-L) of Kaliabor sub division, one of the participants at the protest said, “Many such killings were happening in and around Nagaon at that point of time. In most of the cases, protests remain specific to the village of the deceased. But this one became a rallying point and people of nearby villages also took to streets in solidarity with the family.”

It is a reserved sanctuary. The fellow is not supposed to be there. Night time somebody coming…he is a wood cutter or poacher…how does someone know.

– AP Rout, Additional DGP (STF), Asssam

The Additional Deputy Commissioner of Kaliabor sub division in Nagaon ordered an inquiry and action against officials if found guilty. The Circle Officer provided the family with a sum of Rs 10,000 to perform Gaonbhura’s last rites. The Sub Divisional Officer wrote to the DFO requesting him to look into the possibility of giving job to one of the family members on compassionate grounds.

In response to a complaint filed to the Assam State Human Rights Commission (AHRC) by the family, a fact finding team led by the principle chief conservator of forests, Assam, declared that Gaonbhura was a poacher and was killed by forest guard on duty. But the family claims that the Commission’s fact finding team never consulted or involved them or anyone known to Gaonbhura in the entire enquiry depriving them of their right to a fair hearing.

Forest director told HT that as per his information, Gaonbhura was not innocent but his department was trying to help the family on compassionate grounds.

THE POACHER WHO WAS NOT

On June 1, 2010, almost all local dailies in Assam carried on front pages the the news of Rahul Kutum’s killing and the resulting protests. “Hundreds of local people of Silveta area under Bokakhat subdivision of Golaghat district have rocked the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) today in protest against the killing of an innocent youth- Rahul Kutum, by the Kaziranga forest guards, making him a poacher fraudulently,” published The Sentinel.

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Assam, India – Jan 11, 2016: Name: Family Members of Rahul Kutum at his residence at Silbheta Village, Golaghat, in Assam, India, and January 11, 2016. (Photo by Arun Sharma / Hindustan Times)

Kutum, a minor, along with three others were shot dead in the Bogpur area of the national park on May 21, 2010. Pictures circulated to media (copies with HT) and Kutum’s post mortem report show his dead body carrying unnatural injury marks. “There were marks indicating that both his hands were tied with rope like material,” said Dhrubajyoti Saha, local reporter with Asomiya Pratidin, who covered the encounter. “It is difficult for me to vouch for anyone’s innocence. Involvement of villagers in wildlife trade cannot be ruled out, but killing people like this cannot be a solution,” he added.

Bhakto Bahadur Thapa, uncle of Rahul Kutum, a minor who was shot dead inside the Kaziranga National Park in May 2010, showing documents related to Kutum’s case. The case was widely reported in local media and many officials from the forest department were named in the FIR lodged by Kutum’s family.

Villagers of Silveta gave a memorandum to Golaghat Deputy Commissioner demanding a fair inquiry into the incident.

Kutum’s uncle Bhakto Bahadur Thapa told HT that an individual named Hariprasad Doley of Agoratoli area had helped the KNP officials to plan the killing. After a complaint was lodged by Kutum’s family, the Bokakhat police arrested Doley under section 302. The FIR also named then DFO and one forester Nazrul Islam. Doley got bail after spending three months in prison.

No action was taken against the forest officials. The incident was reported to AHRC but the case file was closed in February 2012.

The report is reproduced from the Hindustan Times where it carries more pictures and 3 valuable charts showing a comparison between the number of Rhinos and Poachers killed from 2005 to 2015,  Rhino population and Rhino poaching over the years.

Those responsible for mob-lynching of a rape accused in Nagaland must be brought to justice: AI

March 7, 2015

Members of a mob who lynched a man suspected of rape in Dimapur, Nagaland must be brought to justice urgently, Amnesty International India said today.

Syed Farid Khan had been arrested on suspicion of raping a woman in Dimapur on 24 February. He was arrested on 25 February and remanded in judicial custody in the Dimapur central jail. On 5 March, according to local police, a mob of thousands broke into the jail and dragged him out. He was then stripped naked, beaten, pelted with stones, and taken towards the centre of Dimapur town, seven kilometres away. Syed Farid Khan died from his injuries along the way. The mob then dragged his body to a clock tower and displayed it.

“This is a serious lapse in the criminal justice system,” said Shemeer Babu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India. “The Nagaland government must ensure that every person who was part of the mob is brought to justice. Failure to do so will send the message that anyone can commit outrageous abuses and attempt to justify them as an expression of public anger.”

Police officials told journalists that they did not at first use force against the crowd because they wanted to avoid casualties. The police eventually opened fire to disperse the crowd, leading to the death of one person. The state government has suspended three senior police officials, including the chief of the Dimapur central jail, and ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

“Nagaland authorities must uphold the rule of law. Violence against women needs to be tackled with swift and effective responses from the state, not with barbarism by self-appointed vigilantes,” said Shemeer Babu.

(According to other reliable sources, the name of victim-deceased is Sayed Sharif Uddin Khan: BHRPC)

Text of the Judicial Inquiry Report on torture and killing of Manorama Devi by the Assam Rifles

November 29, 2014

Thangjiam Manorama Devi was a Manipuri village girl who was brutally tortured and subjected to gruesome sexual violence before she was killed by a team of the para-military force Assam Rifles in 2004. The incident caused widespread outrage and anger and sparked public protest leading to a judicial inquiry into the matter. The report of the inquiry was never made public until this year when the Supreme Court of India asked for it in connection with hearing on a PIL seeking probe into custodial deaths in the north-east States. The report exposes the Assam Rifles efforts to cover up the incident by lodging false FIRs and trying to avoid inquiry by unjustifiably invoking the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958.

Thangjam Khuman Leima Devi, mother of Thangjam Manorama, at her residence in Imphal in 2004.

Thangjam Khuman Leima Devi, mother of Thangjam Manorama, at her residence in Imphal in 2004.

Here are a few highlights of the report as prepared by Krishnadas Rajagopal and published in The Hindu:

She was found dead with multiple gun shot injuries on her private parts and thighs at Ngariyan Yairipok Road, hardly two km away from a police station, states the report.

The judicial inquiry report on the murder of Thangjam Manorama, a Manipuri girl, in 2004, handed over to the Supreme Court recently after being kept under wraps for over a decade, reveals the “brutal and merciless torture” by a 17 Assam Rifles team.

The murder gave renewed impetus to calls for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

After a decade of remaining under wraps, the report by the Judicial Inquiry Commission graphically reveals the last hours of “brutal and merciless torture” Manipuri village girl, Thangjam Manorama, suffered at the hands of a team from the 17th Assam Rifles before she was shot dead.

The Manorama case led to widespread protests against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and spurred calls for a review of the law, especially by the Justice J.S. Verma Committee in 2013.

The report, submitted to the State government way back in December 2004, was never made public.

This week, the government handed it over to the Supreme Court. The court had demanded it as part of a hearing on a PIL seeking probe into custodial deaths in the north-east States.

“This is one of the most shocking custodial killing of a Manipuri village girl,” C. Upendra Singh, retired District and Sessions Judge, Manipur, who was Chairman of the Commission, wrote.

He describes how Manorama was picked up by “a strong-armed troops of 17th Assam Rifles” in the night between July 10-11, 2004 from her home in Imphal East District. She was found dead with multiple gun shot injuries on her private parts and thighs at Ngariyan Yairipok Road, hardly two km away from a police station.

The report details how the incidents of the night started with her younger brother, Thangjam Basu, watching the Hindi film Raju Chacha half past midnight, heard some noise outside. Within the next few minutes, the Assam Rifles party crashed into the house. The report said that Manorama, who was “clutching on to her mother Khumaleima”, was dragged out screaming “Ima Ima Khamu (mother, mother please stop them)”.

The report said she was tortured on her front porch, as the family watched. It said how Basu remembers hearing his sister’s “muffled and dimmed voice saying Ie Khangde (do not know)” to the troops’ questions. It said the men then took her away to “places”.

The report said that the two FIRs filed by the 17th Assam Rifles claimed she led them to recover Kenwood and Chinese grenades and an AK 47 rifle. It said she tried to escape and was shot in the legs. The FIRs claimed she had bled and died.

The Commission report blamed the police for leaving the investigation to the “discretion and mercy” of the Assam Rifles. It narrated how the Assam Rifles had invoked the AFSPA with the Enquiry Commission.

Mr. Singh said he countered that his enquiry was only a fact-finding exercise, and sanction under Section 6 of AFSPA would only come later when the personnel is found to have done wrong.

The Commission said not a single one of the 16 bullets fired at Manorama hit her legs. The report called the escape story a “naked lie.”

The report said most of the injuries would reveal that she was shot when “helpless”. It said some injuries suggest sexual assault too. The Commission had examined 37 witnesses.

Download full text of the report here.

Supreme Court sets out guidelines to make police accountable for fake encounters

September 23, 2014

From THE CITIZEN

Supreme Court of Inda

Supreme Court of Inda

NEW DELHI: In an environment where fake encounters are increasingly rapidly, as are deaths in police custody, the Supreme Court has sought to restore a level of accountability by issuing a set of directives aimed at ensuring proper investigation and punitive action as and where necessary. In doing so it has sought to take away the power of trial and execution from the forces with the gun and bring it back into the courts and concerned institutions.

The court has directed the police to keep a record—in writing or electronic—of intelligence inputs received about terrorists before going after them, And if the encounter leads to death, the police will now have to file a FIR immediately and ensure a proper, independent enquiry by a valid source that was not involved in the operations.

A bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha has also said that the weapons used in the encounter should be surrendered for ballistic tests. Investigation into these encounters will now have to be investigated by the state criminal investigation department or officers from another area of jurisdiction and not by anyone involved in the raid as has often happened in the past.

The court has said that police bravery awards for such encounters should not be rushed into, and that a policeman’s bravery has to be proven before honours can be conferred on him. Several ‘encounter specialists’ as human rights activists describe them have received gallantry awards for the same in the past along with handsome financial rewards.

The court has also made it mandatory for the information of an encounter to be sent to the National Human Rights Commission along with a status report on the investigation undertaken, every six months.

The court also said that police bravery awards for such encounters should not be rushed into, and that a policeman’s bravery has to be proven before honours can be conferred on him. Several ‘encounter specialists’ as human rights activists describe them have received gallantry awards for the same.

The court has intervened following a Public Interest Litigation filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties’ (PUCL) which had said that officers should not be promoted or rewarded for encounter killings until investigations were complete, and that independent enquiries under independent agencies should be instituted. The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the litigation except that it has made it clear that the National Human Rights Commission should not intervene unless it was absolutely necessary.

In ten years from 2002 till 2014 India reported 1788 encounter deaths although activists insist that the figures are fudged as the police and authorities do not admit to encounter killings in the first place, and hush up the matter more often than not. Even so the National Human Rights Commission taking cognisance of the official statistics found that the highest number of encounters had been reported from Uttar Pradesh, 743, followed by Assam, 273, Andhra Pradesh, 101 and Maharashtra 88. Despite the high profile encounter killings in Gujarat with several cases still in courts the statistics from this state are on the low side, registering just about 12 fake encounter deaths since 2002. The Ishrat Jahan encounter case is still facing trial in the courts. Delhi has a higher number, with 55 encounter deaths to its dubious credit with the Batla House encounter seen as a landmark in the capital’s history.

Human rights activists have been agitating constantly against encounter deaths and about the attitude of the police and state governments that look at these as “justified.” There is an unwritten policy justifying these with the tacit support of not just the police system, but also the politicians and the bureaucrats. Political pressure is seen as one of the causes behind fake encounters with state leaders and others having their own list of ‘criminals’ to be so eliminated by the police.

On the record all agree that fake encounters are “reprehensible” but little has been done at the level of the legislature and the executive to check this practice that has grown over the years. In insurgent prone areas like the Maoist belt, the north eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir these are accepted practice, and are seen as “instant justice” under which the army, police, paramilitary and of course the concerned governments have complete impunity.

This despite the fact that the judiciary sees this, as it has endorsed now, as legally impermissible. Chaman Lal and Savita Bhakhry, the two authors of a 2013 NHRC journal, said: “Fake encounters are considered an operational necessity, legally impermissible, but morally justified by most police personnel. Fake encounters are occurring with such sickening frequency that occasional reports of genuine encounters are viewed with suspicion.”

There is no place in the legal system for exceptions to the rule that everyone is honest until and unless proven guilty. Encounters allow the forces with the gun to become the dispensers of justice without a trial.

Read the full text of the order  here or here

Government must heed Manipur panel’s findings and end impunity for fake encounters

July 25, 2013

Government must heed Manipur panel’s findings and end impunity for fake encounters

24 July 2013

Amnesty International India
Bangalore at (080) 49388000
email: contact@amnesty.org.in

An independent panel set up by India’s Supreme Court to investigate six alleged extrajudicial executions in the northeastern state of Manipur has found damning evidence of impunity and abuse of special powers by security forces, resulting in widespread human rights violations.

The panel found that all seven deaths in the six cases they investigated were extrajudicial executions, and not deaths resulting from “encounters” where security forces claimed they had fired in self-defence against members of armed groups.

The panel also said that the continued operation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in Manipur has made “a mockery of the law,” and that security forces have been “transgressing the legal bounds for their counter-insurgency operations in the state of Manipur.”

The Supreme Court appointed the panel in January 2013 in response to a public interest litigation filed by a Manipur-based victims’ group and a local human rights organisation seeking investigation into 1,528 alleged extrajudicial executions committed in the state between 1979 and 2012.

The three-member panel,headed by retired Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde, was tasked to determine whether a sample of six cases raised by the petitioners were “fake encounters,” staged to cover up extrajudicial executions. The panel was also directed to analyze the functioning of the state police and security forces in Manipur.

The panel submitted its report to the Court on 4 April. The petitioners received a copy of the report on 15 July.

In its report, the panel said that none of the seven people killed in the cases it examined had any formal criminal charges against them. It stated that security forces appeared to have assumed that the seven individuals had to be eliminated and acted accordingly.

In one case, the panel noted that the victim suffered 16 bullet injuries shot at close range, indicating a clear disproportionate use of force. It said that the medical evidence in the case indicated that the security forces’ intentions were to kill the suspect, not disable and arrest. The panel said, “The incident in question is not an encounter, but an operation by the security forces wherein death of the victims was caused knowingly.”

In another case involving the killing of a 12 year-old boy, security personnel told the panel that they had fired in self-defence. The post-mortem report stated that the victim suffered four bullet injuries, all of which were potentially fat al, while none of the security forces were injured.

The panel concluded, “It is extremely difficult to believe that nearly 20 trained security personnel equipped with sophisticated weapons…could not have overpowered/disabled the victim.” It concluded that “the incident in which the deceased…was killed was not an encounter nor was he killed in exercise of the right of self-defence.”

The report also identified serious investigative lapses committed by investigators and persistent abuse of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). It called for all deaths resulting from encounters to be investigated by senior police officials, and for the Manipur Criminal Investigation Department to be “suitably strengthened” within six months to carry out such duties effectively. It also called for the cases to be monitored regularly by a committee chaired by the head of the state human rights commission, and tried by a special court.

Crucially, the panel pointed to the AFSPA as a key contributor to rights violations by security forces.

The report stated, “The continuous use of the AFSPA for decades in Manipur has evidently had little or no effect on the situation. On the other hand, the six cases, which have been shown to be not real encounters, are egregious examples of the AFSPA’s gross abuse.”

The panel echoed a statement made by the Jeevan Reddy Commission, another government committee formed to review the AFSPA in 2005, which said that the law had become “a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness.”

The panel’s report recorded how security forces in Manipur were disregarding procedural safeguards set out in Supreme Court rulings and Army directives to ensure that AFSPA powers were used with exceptional caution and with the minimum force necessary.

Moreover, the panel found no information to back the central government’s assertions to the Supreme Court that the use of AFSPA powers was being closely monitored. Rather, after repeated requests, they were told that there was no official record of basic information essential to such monitoring such as the number of civilians killed or injured by the police, army or other special forces in Manipur.

However, the panel stopped short of calling for the AFSPA’s repeal, and instead recommended that the law cease to operate in more parts of Manipur progressively.

Soldiers operating in areas where the AFSPA is in place cannot be prosecuted without the permission of the central government. Applications seeking permission to prosecute are almost always rejected, and sometimes remain pending for years. The panel recommended that the central government be given three months to respond to requests for prosecution, failing which it would be presumed to have granted permission to prosecute.

Amnesty International India welcomes the findings of the Supreme Court-appointed panel, but urges authorities to go beyond its recommendations and repeal the AFSPA in Manipur and elsewhere. The AFSPA has provided impunity for perpetrators of grave human rights violations for decades. Its continued operation in any form will allow human rights violations to continue.

In Manipur, impunity is endemic and authorities take little to no action to investigate and prosecute allegations of rights violations by security forces. A special investigation team comprising senior police officers from outside the state should be formed to conduct prompt and full investigations into all 1,528 cases of alleged extrajudicial executions brought before the Supreme Court by local groups.

Where sufficient admissible evidence is found, suspects – including those with command responsibility – should be prosecuted in fair and speedy trials meeting international standards in a civilian court, regardless of the time that has lapsed since the crime occurred. The families of the victims should receive adequate reparation, including compensation.

Amnesty International India urges both state and central authorities to heed the panel’s recommendations to bolster the Manipur police and Criminal Investigation Department in six months time in order to conduct thorough, impartial and effective investigations into all future cases of alleged extrajudicial executions in Manipur.

Authorities must apply procedures laid down by India’s National Human Rights Commission in cases of deaths caused in the course of police, army or other security personnel action, and follow the UN Principles and Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.

The Government of India must also act on the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and set up a credible commission of inquiry intoextrajudicial executions throughout India.

Background

Impunity in cases of extrajudicial killings is a matter of grave concern in Manipur and some other parts of India. In his comments after visiting India in 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christ of Heyns observed that “Impunity for extrajudicial executions is the central problem. This gives perpetrators a free rein, and leaves victims in a situation where they either are left helpless, or have to retaliate.”

The National Human Rights Commission has itself on occasion said “extrajudicial executions have become virtually a part of state policy.”

The AFSPA, which has been in force in parts of Northeastern India since 1958, and a virtually identical law (The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990) in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990, provide sweeping powers to soldiers, including the power to use lethal force against any person contravening laws or orders, and to prevent the assembly of five or more persons.

The law has provided impunity for perpetrators of grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, rape, torture and other ill-treatment, and excessive use of force.

The AFSPA falls far short of international standards, including provisions of treaties to which India is a state party, and is inconsistent with India’s international legal obligations to respect and protect the rights to life, liberty and security of person, to freedom from torture and other ill-treatment, and to an effective remedy.

Several UN bodies and experts, including the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, have stated that the AFSPA must be repealed.

A number of Indian bodies, including the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, the Jeevan Reddy Committee to review the AFSPA and the Prime Minister’s Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir, have also urged the repeal of the law. The Justice Verma Committee, set up to review laws against sexual assault, said in January 2013 that the AFSPA legitimized impunity for sexual violence.


* This Press Release was sent by Durga Nandini ( Amnesty International India) who can be contacted at Durga(dot)Nandini(at)amnesty(dot)org(dot)in
This PR was posted on July 24, 2013 .

Custodial death of Ajijur Rahman and the situation that led to his death

July 19, 2012

BHRPC report on efforts of effecting communal division, riots and custodial death in the aftermath of “conversion and second marriage” of Dr Rumee Nath

An aged person named Mr Ajijur Rahman was picked up from his residence at Kalain under the Katigorah police station in the district of Cachar (Assam) by a raiding police team led by Mr Y T Gyatsu, a probationary Indian Police Service (IPS) officer posted as Additional Superintendent of Police at the Cachar police headquarters at Silchar in the night between 6 and 7 July 2012 and was tortured to death in the lock-up of Kalain police patrol post.

The police team was conducting raids to arrest some persons who were accused or suspects of creating mischief and rioting on and after 4 July in Kalain area. The law and order situation of the area deteriorated due to a call of general strike by the Hindu Jagaran Mancha in protest against alleged police harassment of youths belonging to their community who were suspected of being parts of the mob that assaulted Dr. Rumee Nath and her ‘husband’ on 29 June at Karimganj for her ‘conversion and marriage’ with the Muslim boy. The Mancha was also reportedly protesting against the protests of the supporters of Dr. Nath.

The report:

After the incident the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) formed a fact finding team comprising of 1. Mr. Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, 2. Mr Sadique Mohammed Laskar, 3. Mr Raju Barbhuiya, 4. Mr Nirmal Kumar Das, 5. Mr Aftabur Rahman Laskar, 6. Ms S Sarmila Singha and 7. Mr Abdul Wakil Choudhury to find out the factors and the situation that led to the death of Ajijur Rahman. The team visited Kalain area on 14 July and met family members and relatives of the victim, victims of rioting and their family and relatives and respectable citizens of the area including president, secretary and members of Kalain Bazaar committee Mr Sukhendu Kar, Mr Karunamoy Dey, Mr Asit Baran Deb and others. The fact finding team also visited the Kalain police patrol post and talked with the officer-in-charge Sub-Inspector of police Mr Anowar Hussain Choudhury and some constables. This report is based on the information collected by the team.

The victim:

The victim Mr Ajijur Rahman was aged about 60 years and a permanent resident of village Boroitoli Part-I, Kalain under Katigorah police station and was respected as a senior local businessman. The place, where his house situates, borders with three villages of Boroitoli, Brahmangram and Lakhipur. He was the head of his family which comprised of his 5 sons Mr Fariz Uddin (aged 42), Mr Sarif Uddin (39), Mr Selim Uddin (30), Mr Nazim Uddin (26), and Mr Mahim Uddin (20), 4 daughters Ms Anowara Begum (32), Ms Monowara Begum (aged 24 and unmarried), Ms Reena Begum  (aged 18 and unmarried), Ms Runa Begum  (aged 15 and unmarried), his wife Ms Saleha Khatun (55) his mother aged about 80 years and the children of his sons. It is a big joint family of people of three generations living together. It appeared that the family belongs to the emergent lower middle class of Bengali Muslims in Barak valley (South Assam).

 

Place:

Kalain is situated at a distance of about 40 kilometres from Silchar towards west and is a growing semi-urban area serving as a local business centre for the entire West Cachar region. The population of Bengali speaking Hinuds and Muslims are almost equal in number. Hindus have been living mostly nearby the market. Beside these two religious communities, some other people belonging to Manipuri, Bishnupria and Hindi speaking communities are also living in the outskirts. According to the local residents, people of Kalian belonging to different communities have been living harmoniously and in peace and love with each other for times immemorial. However, there were small quarrels and even fighting at times between people belonging to different communities but they were of personal nature and the religions of the parties have had nothing to with them.

Incident:

A huge police team led by Mr Y T Gyatsu raided the house of Mr Ajijur Rahman at about 12.30 in the night intervening between 6 and 7 July. They first cordoned off the house from all sides and then knocked at the doors. The inmates of the house were fast asleep. At the sound of heavy knocks Mr Ajijur Rahman got up and opened the door. A big number of police personnel including a lady constable remained outside the house and four/five of them including Mr Gyatsu went into the house. They asked for Mr Nazim Uddin who was not home at that time. In fact, no other male members of the family were present in the house since they were in hiding. The able male members of all families of the area were hiding themselves in apprehension of indiscriminate arrest and harassment by police in the wake of the rioting. As an aged person Mr Rahman did not feel the need to hide himself.

The police team made all female members to go out of the house and they conducted a search for Mr Nazim Uddin in all rooms including kitchen and bathrooms in vain. They demanded of Mr Ajijur Rahman to tell them the whereabouts of his son or they would send him in jail in place of his son. When he pleaded ignorance of whereabouts of his son Mr Gyatsu hurled a torrent of verbal abuse and started assaulting him. He demanded that Mr Rahman would have to take his son to the police patrol post before 6am. Mr Rahman told that he would not be able to do so since he did not know where his son is and latter’s mobile phone was also off. At that Mr Gyatsu started boxing his ears and the back of his head while dragging him. Member of the raiding police team constable Mr Badrul Islam Barbhuiya, Ms Reena Begum, daughter of Mr Rahman and other eye witnesses told the BHRPC team that Mr Gyatsu did not let the old man to wear even a top under garment. The old man cried and pleaded with Mr Gyatsu not to take him to the police station as he was to go to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Haj pilgrimage. His wife and daughters also wept uncontrolably and urged the police officers to spare the old man at least for the sake of God since he did not know anything about incidents of 4 July. These beseeching of the helpless was not heeded.

Mr. Mahibur Rahman[1], a neighbour and cousin of Mr Ajijur Rahmn, told the BHRPC team that when he heard of the cries of wife and daughters of the latter he went there and saw that the police was taking him with them. He then sneaked to house of other neighbours Mr. Taj Uddin[2] and Mr. Shahid Uddin[3] and awakened them. They were to move silently since they were themselves very afraid of the police and a prohibitory order under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 was also in force. Three of them stood at the front side of a house[4] at a distance of about 20 metres from the patrol post to witness what was happening to the old man there. According to them, from that place everything was clearly visible since the doors and windows of the patrol post house were wide open and electric lights were on. They stated that they saw Mr Ajijur Rahman was seated on a red plastic chair. They inferred from the gestures of the police personnel and Mr Rahman that they were talking. Then two personnel coming from two sides kept his thighs in tight grip in a way that rendered Mr Rahman unable to move. And then another police personnel dressed like a higher officer and in his facial and physical features resembling to a tribal man came and placing his one grip at the chin and another on the head twisted the head of Mr Ajijur Rahman with tremendous force. It seemed that the body of Mr Rahman became motionless and loose and his head leaned at the side at which his head was left by the officer. This is also corroborated by Mr Taj Uddin and Mr Shahid Uddin.

According to the police personnel posted at the Kalain patrol post with whom the BHRPC team talked, there were two police officers there at the time who more or less look like tribals. One is Mr Y T Gaytsu and another is Mr L Saikia, the Deputy Superintendent of Police. It appears that the person who twisted the head of Mr Ajijur Rahman is either Mr Gyatsu or Mr Saikia.

According to the above mentioned eye witnesses, after the assault of the officer all people in the patrol post got agitated and a hullabaloo ensued. Two personnel lifted Mr Ajijur Rahman as if they were lifting a dead body and put him in a vehicle which then went away. It was at about 2am.

Mr. Mahibur Rahman further stated that a certain person named Mr AJijur Rahman Khan called him up on his cell phone and informed that a person of his name from Boroitoli was brought to the Kalain Community Health Centre and the physician in-charge of the hospital Dr Sumon Bhomik advised to take him to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital as he could not feel his pulse. Circumstances strongly indicate that Mr Ajijur Rahman  was brought dead and he died due to twisting of his head.

After that the family, relatives and neighbours of Mr Ajijur Rahman tried to find out what happened to him during the remainder of the night and in the morning some of them went to the SMCH and came to know about the death of Mr Rahman with help from local member of Assam Legislative Assembly Mr Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya. Autopsy of the body was conducted at the SMCH on 7 July and was handed over to the relatives of the deceased. After performing last rites Mr. Ajijur Rahman was laid to rest on the next day.

The local people were concerned that the post mortem report might not reflect the true causes of death and material facts might be suppressed since the autopsy in India is conducted in a very unscientific, legally improper and unreliable way. Usually someone engaged in manual scavenging cuts the body at the direction of a surgeon who stands at a safe distance and looks at the body from there. The surgeon does not touch the body or examine it otherwise. From that distance he makes a guess and writes down the cause of death based on the guess. In cases of custodial deaths the body remains under the custody and absolute control of the police since before the death until the autopsy report is prepared.

Observing such appalling conditions of autopsy procedure the National Human Rights Commission of India issued guidelines to the states as well as the central government calling for their immediate action to address the lack of transparency while dealing with deaths in custody. The Commission recommended video recording of the inquest as well as the post-mortem of the victim. The Commission has even recommended using a standardised ‘post-mortem examination report form’ by the forensic surgeons. These recommendations however have not been implemented in India in their letter and spirit. Sometimes the procedures may be recorded but the report is not prepared as per the recommended guidelines.

Sharing the concerns of the local people the BHRPC instantaneously on 7 July wrote a letter to the District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police and Superintendent of the SMCH enclosing the NHRC guidelines and urging them to conduct the autopsy as per the guidelines.

The DM also ordered an inquiry into the incident of death to be conducted an executive magistrate. People are of the opinion that it is nothing but an attempt to cover up the case and save the guilty officers and personnel. Executive magistrates are not independent judicial authorities. They are servants of the government and exercise quasi-judicial powers. They usually do not record evidence before the other parties and give parties opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses of the other party in violations of universally recognised rules of judicial procedure. There are reasons, therefore, to believe that their inquiry may not be objective and impartial.

The Parliament of India keeping in view of the lacunae in law regarding inquiry into the deaths in police custody incorporated a subsection (1A) in section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 by section 18 (ii) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act, 2005 providing for an inquiry by a judicial magistrate in addition to the inquiry or investigation held by the police. Although the BHRPC reminded the DM of this mandatory provision it was ignored.

The widow of late Ajijur Rahman filed a complaint at the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Cachar on 7 July 2012 under section 302, 506 and 34 of the IPC against Mr Y T Gyatsu and other police personnel. The complaint was sent to the Katigorah Police Station for registration and investigation. It was registered and assigned a case number vide Katigorah PS Case No. 291/12. The Officer-in-Charge of the police station entrusted a Sub-Inspector of police with the task of investigation. There are reasons to suspect the objectivity and impartiality of the investigation officer because he is working under the very persons who have been named as accused in the case.

Background:

As mentioned above, the police team that picked up Mr Ajijur Rahman was conducting raids to arrest some persons who were accused or suspects of creating mischief and rioting on and after 4 July in Kalain area. The law and order situation of the area deteriorated due to a call of general strike by the Hindu Jagaran Mancha in protest against alleged police harassment of youths belonging to their community who were suspected of being parts of the mob that assaulted and brutally beaten up Dr. Rumee Nath and her ‘husband’ on 29 June at Karimganj for her ‘conversion and marriage’ with the Muslim boy. The Mancha was also reportedly protesting against the protests of the supporters of Dr. Nath.

After the call of “bandh” (strike) on 4 July was given by the Mancha some groups in different areas of Barak valley issued a counter call to the people not to observe the bandh because, according to them, frequent strikes are harmful for the business and economy. These groups are thought to be the supporters of Dr Nath. In the morning of 4 July activists of the Mancha went to different parts of the valley to enforce the strike. One of such groups came to Kalain bazaar where they faced resistance from others who wanted the market to function normally.

The bazaar committee, a committee of shop keepers having shops at Kalain, intervened and a tripartite meeting was held among the opposers and supporters of bandh and the committee. The committee offered a compromise proposal after talk with both the parties that the shops could remain closed till 12 noon and then the shops could be opened. Though there were indications of acceptance by both the parties but it could not be finalised as some people of both the parties were adamant in their stands. The members of the committee went to their homes giving up hope of any settlement.

According to the information gathered by the BHRPC, after break down of talks when supporters of the bandh were trying to enforce it forcibly the police raised a barricade and kept most of them outside the barricade. However, they were trying to break the barricade unsuccessfully. With times the situation became very tense. At about 11.30am a mob of Muslim youths came with bamboo sticks and attacked anyone belonging to Hindu communities including shop-keepers and members of the bazaar committee. To face the attack many youths of Hindu communities also came out with sticks. A fight between the communities ensued. Stones were pelted from both sides. Some cycles and motor cycles were burnt down. About 18 people were wounded. They were 1. Mr Sunil Mandal, 2. Mr Sushil Deb, 3. Mr Sumon Deb, 4. Mr Pronit Deb, 5. Mr Sukhendu Kar, 6. Mr Jamal Uddin, 7. Mr Deepak Podder, 8. Mr Titu Baishnob, 9. Mr Buddha Deb Roy, 10. Mr Manna Deb, 11. Mr Sumit Shulkabaidhya, 12. Mr Badrul Islam Barbhuiya, 13. Mr Ranjit Deb, 14. Mr Khalil Uddin, 15, Mr Moin Uddin, 16. Mr Kamrul Haque, 17. Mr Debabrata Paul, 18. Mr Monsur Uddin and others. First six persons sustained serious injuries. Three reporters who went there to cover the situation were also caught in the fight between two communities and received injuries.

According to the local people, had the administration handled it efficiently the situation could be brought under control and the fighting and resulting injuries could have been averted. Executive magistrate Ms Khaleda Sultana Ahmed, DSP (probationary) Mr Iftikar Ali and in-charge of Kalain police patrol post Mr Anowar Hussain Choudhury were present. They failed to handle the mob frenzy. People felt they could take measures including lathi charge and tear gas fire. These measures could disperse the mob. Due to the inability of the authorities to take decisions the fighting intensified.

Towards the evening Additional District Magistrate Mr Borenya Das went to Kalain with a force of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and ordered the police to charge the mob with sticks and fire of tear gas. The mob then got dispersed. The district administration then issued a prohibitory order under section 144 of the CrPC. The situation slowly came under control.

The police registered cases against many named and unnamed suspects who were accused of involvement in fighting on 4 July and started conducting raids of the houses of the people living there to arrest the suspects. It was one of such raids during which Mr Ajijur Rahman was picked up by the police and tortured him to death.

Controversy over ‘conversion and marriage’:

Apart from the mob hysteria that drove the mobs of both communities at that moment, this communal clash resulted from efforts of communalisation of ‘conversion and second marriage’ of Dr. Rumee Nath, encouragement and provocation of youths by a minister of Assam government to take law in their hands and beat up anyone who enters into inter-religious marriage.

Dr. Nath is a Member of Legislative Assembly of Assam (MLA) elected from Borkhola constituency in Cachar district holding ticket from the Congress party. She was earlier also elected from the same constituency as a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from which she later defected. She has been married with Mr. Rakesh Singh of Lucknow of Uttar Pradesh and from him she has a girl child who is about 2 years old. It was reported that their matrimonial relation has not been going well for some months.

In the month of April she reportedly got ‘converted into Islamic religion’ and ‘married’ one Jakir Hussain (also known as Jakey) of Badarpur under Karimganj district apparently as per Islamic rules. However, it is reported that the ‘conversion and marriage’ took place in the same sitting. Many Muslim clerics maintained that the marriage was invalid for it was solemnised before observing iddat period of three months and therefore her first marriage was subsisting. Validity of her conversion was also under question mark as it was tainted with motives that were not entirely pious. Most intellectuals of the valley also did not take her ‘conversion and second marriage’ pleasantly. According to them, her actions were immature, improper and not befitting of a public figure.

Her first husband filed a case against her and her ‘second husband’ under section 494, 497, 498 and others of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 accusing her of bigamy, (accusing her second husband of) adultery, enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman. She also filed case against her first husband alleging domestic violence.

The BHRPC maintained that right to get converted into any religion is a part of the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the constitution of India. Per se inter-religious and inter-caste marriages are also recognised by the Special Marriage Act, 1955 and such marriage should be encouraged as they can promote harmonious communal co-existence and secularism. However, in case of Dr. Nath the things are a little different. She was a married woman with a two years old child. Bigamy or living with another person as man and wife during the subsistence of earlier marriage prima facie amount to offence against the institution of marriage. Abandoning a 2 year old child is cruelty on the child and violation of child rights. These grievances against her could be legitimately vented through legal means and judicial process and which was what her first husband resorted to.

However, some groups including the Hindu Jagaran Mancha exerted themselves to blow it out of all proportion. They conjured up spectre of ‘love jihad’ and started campaign against inter-religious and inter-caste marriages, friendship between girls and boys belonging to different communities and even resorted to vigilantism by raiding parks, restaurants and other public places in search of inter-religious couples and friends and beating them up. Ostensibly this group received encouragement from political leaders who were interested in diving people in religious lines and diverting the attention of the people from the real issues of starvation deaths, corruption, miserable conditions of rural and urban roads and the national highways, human rights violations by police and armed forces etc.

A very influential politician of the ruling congress party in Assam Mr Gautom Roy, Minister for Public Health and Engineering (PHE), at a public function organised to mark 3 years of Assam government issued a call to the public to beat up any boy who marries a girl from a different community and to hand over the girl to her guardians. Provoked and encouraged by this call a mob of more than one hundred youths attacked Dr Nath and her ‘second husband’ at about 10pm on 29 June 2012 at Hotel Nakshatra in Karimganj where she was staying for the night after visiting her constituency. Both of them were brutally assaulted, and according to her, attempts were also made to rape her. After hours a police team rescued them in serious conditions. They were rushed to Guwahati for treatment.

The BHRPC could not confirm any direct links of the minister with the attack on Dr Nath and the mob that attacked her. But it is obvious that his call to beat up such couples definitely encouraged the mob. The comment of the minister is not only against the established constitutional canons of the land and principles of human rights but also a provocation to breach the public order and a call towards further lawlessness and jungle raj. Any person including a minister may disagree with any law and in such cases he should propose repeal or amendment of the law if he is sincere in his opinions. A minister who is part of the party that rules at the central and state governments should have proposed amendment of Article 14, 21 and 25 of the constitution and the Special Marriage Act, 1955 if he sincerely thought that conversion and inter-religious marriages are undesirable. By provoking youths he betrayed his motives.

The attack on Dr Nath is a manifestation of desperate reactions of patriarchy and its interests against the empowerment of women and empowered women. These are attacks on expression of moral agency in women. She was abused and attacked only because she was a woman.

Conclusion:

It is found that Mr Ajijur Rahman was the latest victim of inhumanity and brutality of the police which they sometimes without any rhymes and reasons unleash on the very people for whose protection they are being paid. His son Mr Nazim Uddin might be an accused or suspect and his arrest might also be necessary in the situation. But it is absolutely illegal to take his father into custody to be used as bait for the son. Moreover, the torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to which he was subjected and which allegedly caused his death are not only illegal but also inhuman and barbarous.

It is also found that groups of people who have vested interest in communal divisions among the people created controversy around ‘conversion and second marriage’ of Dr Rumee Nath and engaged in a communal campaign. It polarised some people in religious lines and created tensions in Barak valley.

Provocative and ant-constitutional statement of Minister Gautom Roy encouraged the mob of the male dominated society to attack Dr Nath, a woman who represents more than 1 million people in the law-making body of the state and her ‘second husband’.

The alleged police harassment of youths and inefficient investigation of the attack case and efforts of forcible enforcement of strikes led to the fighting between the communities at Kalain; communal mass hysteria of some Muslims youths of Kalain and inefficient handling of the situation by the  authorities present there led to the fighting between the communities resulting in injuries of many innocent people; insensitivity to human rights of the people and reliance on illegal means and torture during investigation by the police resulted in the death of Mr Ajijur Rahman.

Recommendations:

The BHRPC recommends to the authorities including the Central government of India and government of Assam to take following actions:

To the Government of Assam:

  1. To conduct a prompt and objective judicial inquiry into the death of Ajijur Rahman and the circumstances that led to his death;
  1. To cause the investigation of the case of custodial death of Mr Ajijur Rahman to be conducted by a team led by an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police of the Crime Investigation Department of Assam police;
  1. To pay an ex-gratia of an adequate amount to the next of kin of Mr Ajijur Rahman;
  1. To hand over the investigation of mob attack on Dr Rumee Nath to the Central Bureau of Investigation of Delhi Police as name of a minister of Assam government is involved in the incident;
  1. To amend the Assam Police Act, 2007 to bring it in conformity with the directions of the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh and others Vs. Union of India and others case;
  1. To separate investigation wing and maintenance of law and order wing of Assam police completely;
  1. To train the officers and other personnel of Assam police in following human rights laws while tackling riots and dealing with mobs; and
  1. To take any other actions needed for protection of human rights of the people.

To the Central Government of India:

  1. To ensure a prompt and impartial inquiry by a judicial authority into the death of Ajijur Rahman, communal fighting and mob attack on Dr. Rumee Nath;
  1. To ensure that the investigation of the case of custodial death of Mr Ajijur Rahman is conducted by a team led by an officer of rank of Superintendent of Police of the Crime Investigation Department of Assam police;
  1. To ensure  payment of ex-gratia of an adequate amount to the next of kin of Mr Ajijur Rahman;
  1. To ensure the investigation of mob attack on Dr Rumee Nath to the Central Bureau of Investigation of Delhi Police as name of a minister of Assam government is involved in the incident;
  1. To repeal the colonial Police Act of 1861 and enact a police act as per directions of the Supreme Court of India issued in Prakash Singh and others Vs. Union of India and others case;
  1. To enact the Communal Violence Bill after further consultation with the civil society;
  1. To enact the Prevention of Torture Bill after further consultation with civil society;
  1. To enact a law providing for adequate reparation and rehabilitation of the victims of human rights violations by the state agencies and their families after consultation with the civil society; and
  1. To take any other appropriate actions required for protection of human rights of the people.

For any clarification and more information please contact:

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Director, Legal Affairs

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Cell: +919401942234

Email: wali.laskar@gmail.com


[1] Mr. Mahibur Rahman, aged about 50, son of Haji Haroos Ali, resident of Lakhipur Part-I, Kalain, Katigorah, Cachar.

[2] Mr. Taj Uddin, aged about 44, son of late Abdul Barik of Boroitoli Part-I

[3] Mr Shahid Uddin,  aged about 25, son of late Abdul Wahab Barbhiuya of Brahmangram.

[4] The house belongs to one Mr Mainul Haque. They did not awake him lest the police know about any movements.

 

 

 

NHRC seeks report on extra-judicial killings in Manipur

June 6, 2012

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notices to the secretary, ministry of home affairs of the government of India, district magistrate and district superintendent of police of Ukhrul district of North East Indian state Manipur asking for a report on the alleged torture and the extrajudicial killing of three indigenous Meitei people in a staged encounter by the personnel belonging to 23rd Assam Rifles (AR) under the command of Major Hanuman near Maphou Dam, Nongdam village of Ukhrul.

After registering a case on a complaint filed by the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee based on the information received from Manipur based human rights organization Centre for Organisation Research & Education (CORE), the NHRC issued the notice.

The information provided by the CORE reveals that on 8 May 2012, Major Hanuman (then Captain) of 23rd Assam Rifles, a aramilitary force of the central government of India, approached and requested Mr Laishram Shyamkishore, 70 years old village elder of Tunukhong Awang Leikai, Imphal East District, Manipur, to persuade his son, Mr Laishram Nobin (alias Khuman) and his son’s friends to surrender themselves and live in peace. Shyamkishore considered the possibility and secretly made arrangements for his son to surrender himself before the state authorities. It was reported that, at the instruction and arrangement of Maj. Hanuman, Shyamkishore accompanied his son to the meeting place where Nobin was supposed to surrender himself. This meeting did not materialise.

On 9 May 2012 at 7.30am, Shyamkishore, his son and two friends met Maj. Hanuman at Hidalok, which was approximately half a kilometer away from the bus stop at Loupheng village near Maphou Dam under Litan Police Station. They were wearing track suits (civilian clothing). Shyamkishore witnessed the three men hand over an M-16 rifle, one Lethode gun, 50 live rounds of ammunition and three Lethode bombs as a symbol of formal surrender to the 23rd AR. Maj. Hanuman expressed happiness at their peaceful surrender and asked Shyamkishore to return home in peace and Shyamkishore returned home that same morning.

On 10 May 2012, local dailies reported that three underground suspects had been shot to death in an encounter with 23rd AR personnel. The conflict was stated to have lasted an hour and to have been near Chadong Tangkhul village under Litan Police Station around 11am. The 23rd AR personnel were reported to have found the three dead bodies in the aftermath of the encounter. The force also recovered an M-16 with a grenade launcher, magazine and 55 live rounds, one 9mm carbine, magazine with three live rounds, one Lethode gun with three rounds and one fire case, one carry bag and one ammunition pouch. The 23rd AR also issued a statement claiming the deceased had been active in and around Maphou Dam, engaging in extortion and deliberately interfering with the construction of the Dam. The three bodies were handed over to the Litan Police Station.

According to the information, Shyamkishore became suspicious and anxious when he received news of the “encounter”. He immediately went to the Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) Imphal morgue and was shocked to discover the bodies of his son and the two other men he had convinced to surrender to the 23rd AR the previous day. He was further surprised to find that the bodies were not in the dress the three men had been in just the previous morning. Instead of the track suits (civilian clothing), the three men were fitted out in camouflage fatigues. An examination of the bodies further revealed evidence of severe torture. Mr Irengbam Roshan’s body had been badly mutilated; his genitals had been crudely removed. One of Mr Ningthoujam Ingocha’s eyeballs had also been gouged out.

Manipur

North east Indian state of Manipur

The CORE further stated that “Shyamkishore believed he was doing the right thing for the sake of the community, for justice and peace and for his son’s future when he reasoned with the three men to turn themselves in. He probably prevailed on them to do so out of their trust in and respect for Shyamkishore. The three men were ready to submit themselves to the law, to surrender also their weapons and to be held in custody; this also required respect for and immense faith in the judicial system. What was so particularly perverse was that Shyamkishore was instead unknowingly made complicit in his own son’s torture and murder, and the murder of his son’s friends. This utter betrayal by the very people who should be moral exemplars to civil society should trouble and grieve the Central Government over and beyond the dubious methods employed by the AR personnel, because the motivation, means and ends of law enforcement have been polluted by impunity and fear of such.”

After registering the complaint as case No. 66/14/13/2012-PF, the NHRC considered the matter on 24 May 2012 and passed an order saying “Transmit the complaint to Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India and DM and SP, Ukhrul district, Imphal calling for an action taken report within two weeks.”

 

6 June 2012

Guwahati, Assam