Posts Tagged ‘Assault’

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.

 

 

 

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Reporter assaulted in Assam for exposing corruption in government works

April 10, 2012


Introduction:

The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) is deeply concerned over an incident of assault of a reporter in Cachar district in Assam while he was returning home after collecting information and taking photographs of alleged irregularities in works under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA) in Borkhola development block area. The victim was severely beaten up that caused serious injuries including breaking of his teeth. The incident happened at a place a little away from a work site at Sonapur Gaon Panchayat (GP) on 28 February 2012.  The attackers were allegedly workers of a political party. Although the police registered a case against the attackers, instead of investigating the case, they registered another false case against the victim allegedly due to political interference. The victim is still traumatized and can not go out for work for fear of loss of limbs and life.

The case:

The BHRPC received a written communication from the victim Mr Sibir Ahmed Barbhuiyan on 7 April 2012 giving details of the incident and other relevant information. Mr Barbhuiyan is aged about 34, son of late Basarat Ali Barbhuiya and a resident of village Chandpur Part-III under the jurisdiction of Borkhola police station (PS) in Cachar. He is presently working as a local correspondent with the Dainik Jugasankha, a local daily news paper published from Baidyanath Sarani, Rongpur, Silchar-9. He also does a part time job as an insurance agent with the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC). It is also stated that Mr Barbhuiya also works as the president of a village level non-government organization named Borkhola Gram Bikash Parishad that aims to work for equitable and sustainable development of the villages in Borkhola block particularly by ensuring proper implementation of the government rural development schemes. It is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 vide No. RS/CA/243/G/32. However, the BHRPC could not thoroughly inquire into the works and activities of the NGO and its members.

According to the information provided by the victim, on 28 February he went out for works in the morning as usual. After the day’s work when he was returning home at about 9 pm some job card holders under the NREGA informed him that the GP president (elected head of the village level local government body) Ms Nazima Begum Laskar and its secretary Mr Shew Kumar Pandey caused deployment of Excavator and Tripper machines for soil excavation at the construction work of a village road from Dispur to Ashrab Shah Mukam in Sonapur GP and that the machines were at work at the time.

The work was sanctioned under the NREGA which is an Act of parliament ofIndiaenacted to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The use of machines in such works defeats the very purpose of the legislation. The operational guidelines for implementation of the law issued by the Ministry of Rural Development, the nodal ministry of the government ofIndiafor implementation of the Act, also categorically say that no contractors and machinery is allowed and a 60:40 wage and material ratio has to be maintained. Therefore, Mr Barbhuiya felt he was duty bound as a working journalist and social worker to capture the evidence of violations of law in camera. Accordingly he went to the work site immediately and shot some photographs.

 According to the information, after taking photographs when he reached Ashrab Shah Mukam a group of about 12 people led by one Liakat Ali Barbhuiya attacked him. Some of the attackers were identified by him as (1) Liakat Ali Barbhuiya, son of late Mujibur Rahman, (2) Abdul Mannan, (3) Jelu Mazumder, son of Gousul Mazumder, (4) Gousul Mazumder, (5) Anor Uddin, (6) Manjurul Haque, son of Nur Uddin, (7) Babul Ahmed, son of late Mujibur Rahman and other 4/5 unidentified persons. All of them are residents of village Sonapur under Borkhola police station and local workers of the congress party, the ruling political party inAssam. The victim stated that the attackers started beating him and continued to box and punch him till they broke one of his teeth and he fell unconscious. The victim alleged that the attackers then took away all his belongings including a camera (canon 14:4), a gold ring (4 Ana), two mobile handsets (Nokia 3110) with SIMs bearing numbers 9401311524 and 9854901235, one HMT wrist watch and Rs. 33,000.00 (thirty three thousand) cash of insurance premium that he collected that day and some important documents etc.

The victim further stated that when his senses returned he found himself confined in a nearby house belonging to one of the alleged attackers Gousul Mazumder and he sensed that they were preparing weapons to kill him. At this point in time the officer In-Charge (IC) of Bhangarpar police outpost Mr Robin Hazarika reached the spot who rushed after receiving information about the incident and rescued the victim but did not nab the attackers and recover the stolen stuffs and thus they fled away at his arrival. Mr Barbhuiya was then taken to a local hospital and later shifted to theSilcharMedicalCollegeand Hospital, Silchar (SMCH) where he was admitted in the surgery department and received treatment until he was released on 5 March.

The police officer told the victim that he needed to visit the police outpost in order that his complaint was registered while the victim was in severe need of urgent medical attention. Mr barbhuiya could not visit the outpost that night as he was at the Sonapur primary health centre (PHC). However, he managed to file a written complaint on 29 February at the Bhangarpar outpost. Still the police did not register the case promptly, let alone taking any actions. When the health condition of the victim deteriorated and he had to be rushed to the SMCH on 1 March and the police was repeatedly urged to take actions the Borkhola PS registered a case against the alleged attackers vide Borkhola PS Case No. 29/12 dated 1 March 2012 under sections 341, 326, 506, 379 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) for wrongful restraint, grievous hurt, criminal intimidation, theft and joint commission of the offences respectively. Sub-inspector of police Mr Robin Hazarika has been made the investigation officer (I/O) of the case.

Mr. Barbhuiya, however, alleged that even after registration of the case the I/O did not take any actions against the accused and investigation of the case did not proceed at all. No statements of the witnesses recorded. No stolen goods recovered. No arrest of the accused was made though they were roaming free. It is alleged that the police facilitated grant of pre-arrest bail of the accused persons from the Gauhati High Court by sending a biased and false report of the case to the court without investigations. After being repeatedly urged to take actions as per law, the officer told that he could not take any actions as he was asked by Dr Rumee Nath, the member of Assam legislative assembly (MLA) belonging to the ruling congress party and representing Borkhola constituency, not to take actions, the victim alleged in his written communication addressed to the BHRPC.

The victim further alleged that he believed that the attack on him was carried out at the behest of the MLA who wanted him to be killed because as a scribe he reported at different times stories containing allegations of corruption made by the people against her. He also mentioned that foundation stone of the particular NREGA work where he found violations of laws was laid by her and the local monitoring body is comprised of party workers loyal to her including the GP president and Liakat Ali Barbhuiya and some other attackers. However, when the BHRPC contacted Ms Nath for her side of the story she did not respond.

It is also alleged that under political influence the police registered a false case against the victim based on a complaint filed by one Ms Champarun Nessa (aged about 45 years) of village Sonapur Part-I vide Borkhola P.S. Case No. 30/12 under sections 341, 354, 376 and 311 of IPC on 1 March 2012. The sections invoked provide punishment for wrongful restraint, assault or criminal force on woman to outrage her modesty and rape. Although the case involves serious offence of rape the self-proclaimed rape victim was not medically examined and her statement was also not recorded by a judicial magistrate. The BHRPC believes that this case against Mr Barbhuiya is absolutely false and malicious filed with malafide intention of abusing the legal process to subvert the object of law, to weaken the case against the alleged attackers of Mr Barbhuiya, to harass and intimidate him. It goes against reasons and common sense that a person who sustained injuries amounting to grievous hurt within the meaning of section 326 of the IPC would be able to commit offence like rape soon thereafter. In fact, it has become a practice for unscrupulous influential persons to procure some complainants and cause registration of serious offences against human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists.

In view of the position and intent of the people against him and the negligence of the police in their duties and their abetment in harassing and intimidating the victim, he is apprehensive of more attacks and seriously concerned for his life and limbs and police harassment as well as for those of his family members and members of the Borkhola Gram Bikash Parishad. He said he always feels that his life and liberty is at risk as the alleged perpetrators are at large and consequently he could freely move and work.

The rights:

The BHRPC thinks that the information reveals a prima facie case of violations of fundamental rights of the victim to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a), the right to practice profession of one’s choice guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (g) and the right to security and physical and psychological integrity under Article 21 of the constitution of India as read by the Supreme Court of India. The non-investigation of his case by the police also entails violations right to truth, justice and reparation.

It is also a prima facie case of violations of human right ‘to freedom of opinion and expression’ as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. The rights violated in this case are also guaranteed in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 to whichIndia is a state party. This covenant including this Article is a part of the Human Rights Protection Act, 1993 by virtue of section 2 (1) (d).

It is obvious that the attack was carried out, if not to kill him, to take away the sense of security under which comfort Mr Barbhuiya works legitimately and peacefully both as a journalist and president of the Borkhola Gram Bikash Parishad against corruption and irregularities in implementation of rural development scheme of the government for practical realization of the rights of the people, particularly their social and economic rights. These circumstances make the definition of human rights defender as understood in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (also known as the declaration on human rights defenders) applicable in the case.

Human rights works including socio-economic and cultural rights by peaceful and legitimate means are both duty and rights of every individual as spelt out in the declaration on human rights defenders. Particularly Article 12 of the declaration imposes duty on the State to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or dejure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present declaration.”

 The Protection of Human Rights Act also mandates the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to inquire, suo motu or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of (i) violation of human rights or abetment thereof or (ii) negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant under section (a) 12. It is also the mandate of the NHRC to encourage the efforts of non-governmental organisations and institutions working in the field of human rights under clause (i) of the same section, which includes protection of defenders.

The actions:

In view of the circumstances the BHRPC wrote to the authorities including the prime minister ofIndia, the chief minister ofAssam, the president of the All India Congress Committee and the chairperson of the Press Council of India and also filed a complaint at the NHRC urging them to cause the relevant authorities:

 1. to conduct a prompt, objective and exhaustive investigation into the alleged assault on Mr Sibir Ahmed Barbhuiya, failure of police to perform their legal duties in investigating the allegations and the role of MLA Dr Rumee Nath in the alleged violations of human rights;

 2. to take all necessary measures to protect the physical and psychological security and integrity of Mr Sibir Ahmed Barbhuiya and his family and all members of Borkhola Gram Bikash Parishad and their families;

3. to provide adequate reparation in terms of monetary compensation to Mr Sibir Ahmed Barbhuiya for loss of his equipments, documents and other valuables and for suffering physical and mental agony;

 4. to guarantee that human rights defenders in Assam are able to carry out their legitimate human rights works without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including assault by goons and police harassment;

5. to guarantee that citizens and particularly the journalists in Assam are able to exercise their right to freedom of thought and expression without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including assault by goons and police harassment.

10 April 2012

Guwahati,Assam

For any clarification or more information you may contact

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Mobile: +91 9401942234

Email:wali.laskar@gmail.com

Indian reserve battalion soldiers assault a physician in Assam

April 2, 2012

A convoy of soldiers belonging to 22 Indian Reserve Battalion stationed at Kadamtala camp in Jiribam of Manipur state assaulted a physician at Jirighat market in Cachar district of Assam state on 29 March 2012 causing injuries and mental trauma. The incident led a scuffle between the local people and the soldiers causing some more injuries and a lot of fear and anxiety. The local people later blocked the53 National Highway(NH) forcing the police officers in both the districts to come over to the spot and take control of the situation. No complaint has been registered by the police against the soldiers and the victim is very concerned about his and his family members’ safety and security.

According to the information, the physician Mr. Dulal Biswas (age about 43, son of late N L Biswas) is a resident of Jirighat town under the Jirighat police station (PS) in the district of Cachar. Jirighat is a small town falling in the border ofAssamwith Manipur state. A tributary of the river Barak called Jiri separates Manipur fromAssamhere. On the other bank of the river falls Jiribam town in the Imphal West district of Manipur. Mr. Biswas is a registered medical practitioner and has been practicing medicines for some years. He runs his own private dispensary at Jirighat. He is a very respectable person in the town.

On 29 March he went to the market as usual to buy household stuffs and some vegetables at about 8am in the morning. He was riding a motor bike. Things went wrong when he was crossing the road after two Bolero cars passed him. He had to stop in the middle of the road as the Bolero car ahead of him stopped suddenly. But another Bolero car collided with the bike powerfully from behind. Though Mr Biswas fell down with the bike he did not sustain much injury. After he got up he demanded from the driver of the colliding car an explanation as to why he was driving so rashly in the market place. After exchange of a few words the driver got down from the car brandishing a stick. Some other soldiers in uniform also came out with their guns in hands. One of them put the pointed gun on the chest of Mr. Biswas and others punched and kicked him incessantly for a while. At that time some other soldiers who were buying alcohols from a nearby shop started shouting and hurling verbal abuses at Mr. Biswas and other people. It is these soldiers who suddenly stopped their car ahead of Mr Biswas’ bike and partially responsible for the accident. When they rushed towards Mr. Biswas many other people in the market started running, some to other directions but many towards the spot. It caused a great commotion and confusion and helped Mr. Biwas to go away. Although such disturbances by the military and para-military personnel at public places is a part of life in this part of the country, a section of the public lost their cool and tried to gherao the soldiers. When soldiers threatened to open fire the people started pelting stones here and there missing targets. The stones touched none. On the other hand, it facilitated escape of the soldiers.

Fearing retaliation from the IRB the people decided to seek permanent solution of such disturbances that has become a part of their lives through peaceful means. They blocked the NH 53 that connects Cachar district administrative headquarters Silchar with Imphal, the capital of Manipur. At this point, the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Jirighat PS Mr S C Kaman came out and tried to persuade the people to disperse. However, people demanded talk with the authorities from Manipur as the battalion was stationed in that state. Accordingly he informed administration of Jiribam sub-division. A team led by OC of Jiribam PS Mr L Khagen Singh, an officer of Manipur police commando Mr O K Yumnam and another officer of crime investigation department (CID) of Manipur police was sent from Jiribam. At the arrival of the Manipur delegation the blockade that lasted only half an hour from 9am to 9.30am was lifted to hold talk. As a result of the talk that was held at the office of the local village defence party (VDP) the officers who came from Manipur apologized to Mr Biwas and the public on behalf of the assaulting soldiers. They also promised that some money would be paid to Mr Biswas for repairing his bike and such incident would never be repeated again; but it was on the conditions that Mr Biswas or the people should not complain to any authorities and courts.

Mr Biswas’ bikes’ registration number was AS 11 F 2993 and one of the cars of soldiers borne the registration number MN 02 A 4695.

It is learnt that the soldiers belong to 22 IRB stationed at Kadamtala under Jiribam PS in Manipur. They were returning from Kumbhirgram airport in Silchar where they went escorting Mr Chartolien Amo, member of Manipur legislative assembly (MLA) from Churachandpur constituency.

The local people told the BHRPC that they did not believe the promises made in order to lift the blockade as it came with veiled threats that the victim should not seek redress. Mr. Biswas appeared mentally traumatised and talking incoherently. He was very concerned. The physical injuries that were caused to his body by punching and kicking were by no means negligible, though it appeared lesser than the wound he sustained at his heart by being humiliated at the marked place in front of so many people who revered him so much. He was very concerned that the soldiers may harm his family, particularly his two young children, aged about 7 years and 10 years and were studying at class II and V respectively. He kept repeating that his two kids had to go to school and that is why he did not want to talk with reporters and human rights defenders.

It is clear that the soldiers, prima facie, committed many offences including the crime of attempt to murder and crime against public peace and tranquillity and violations of the right to life with dignity and security of person as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and many international human rights instruments to which India is a state party.

The police officers also violated his right to seek truth, justice and reparation in case of violations of any rights recognised by either the Indian domestic laws including the constitution or the international human rights laws by not registering a first information report (FIR) and trying to hush it up. The right to truth, justice and reparation is also guaranteed under the constitution as well as many international instruments.

The BHRPC sent a complaint on 2 April to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other authorities including the prime minister of India, chief ministers of both Assam and Manipur, union ministers for home affairs and defence expressing concern over the safety and security of the victim, his family and particularly his school going kids and other witnesses and urged them to take appropriate actions to ensure their physical and psychological integrity and safety, a prompt and impartial inquiry/investigation and registration of first information report (FIR) leading to truth, adequate reparation to the victims and prosecution of the alleged perpetrators in accordance with the criminal law of the land and universally recognised rules of criminal jurisprudence and other appropriate measures to ensure that such incident does not recur in the future.

2 April 2012

Guwahti-6,Assam

For further information please contact:

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

wali.laskar@gmail.com

+91 94019 42234

Prisoner assaulted for protesting against corrupt practices inside Silchar central jail in Assam

December 25, 2011

Prisoner assaulted for protesting against corrupt practices inside Silchar central jail in Assam (India)

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) received information that an inmate in the Central Jail, Silchar (Assam) was badly beaten up on 30 December, 2010 allegedly for protesting against ill-treatment of prisoners and corrupt practices of jail officials. Mr. Bidyut Kumar Paul, who was admitted in the central jail on 30 January, 2006 to serve rigorous imprisonment for life, was beaten up, kicked and punched by some other inmates and jail officials that caused him serious injuries. He was given some medical treatment afterwards. However, no investigations of the incident conducted and no actions against the alleged perpetrators were taken. There were concerns that the incident might be repeated and some day Mr. Paul might be hurt seriously.

 According communications dated nil, 28-2- 2011 and 29-3-2011 claiming to be written and signed by Mr. Paul and addressed to the BHRPC, Mr. Paul, son of Bipad Ranjan Paul was a resident of village­ Srikona, in Cachar district inAssam(India). He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life by the Court of Sessions, Cachar, Silchar in Sessions case no. 71/2003 under section 302/34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) vide judgment and order dated 30-1-2006. He was also kept in the jail under judicial custody as an under trial prisoner in connection with another case bearing number 2c/2011. Under these circumstances he had been living in the central jail, Silchar since 30 January, 2006.

 According to the communication, he was assaulted because he raised voice against ill-treatment of inmates and corrupt practices of the officials inside jail. He also referred to a news story published in the 24 February, 2011 issue of the Dainik Nababarta Prasanga, a local daily news paper published in Bengali from Silchar (Assam). The story claimed that one Biru Laskar alias Rois Ali (aged 40, son of late Abdul Bari Laskar and a resident of village Tulargram Part-I, PS: Sonai,Cachar,Assam), a released prisoner served sentence in the central jail, Silchar informed the journalist that there was massive irregularities gong on in the jail. Mr. Laskar also stated that he had witnessed the assault on Mr. Paul in the said jail on 30 December, 2010.

 According to the information furnished both in the communication of Mr. Paul and statement of Mr. Laskar cited in the news story, the Jail Superintendent, the Assistant Jailor, the Ward Matron, the Police Guards and some prisoners formed an immoral nexus inside the jail. According to the statement made by Mr. Laskar, everything including narcotic drugs and alcohol was available in the jail and could be bought if one had sufficient money.

 It was also stated that the prisoners had to pay rupees 2000 (two thousand) per head per month as bribe to that nexus if s/he wanted to get proper accommodation and food. If anyone could not or did not pay the bribe, would be placed near the dirty lavatory and would get lowest quality of food. If anyone protested against this corrupt should face inhuman treatment and torture. The complain box was put just before the visit of the chief judicial magistrate, otherwise it was kept hidden. There was an unauthorized fixed rate for visit by relatives and outsiders at rupees 50.00 (fifty) per head. The food items, medicines etc. were sold outside depriving the prisoners. Manual box was also kept invisible. The canteen inside the jail had been converted to an unauthorized business stall of the Jail Superintendent, they claimed.

 Mr. Paul expressed fears in his communication to the BHRPC that he might be assaulted again and again and he might even be killed by the jail officials in connivance with some other inmates since he made himself inconvenient by raising his voice against the irregularities and corrupt practices.

 BHRPC is also very concerned about the safety and physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Paul and other inmates. BHRPC thinks the condition in the central jail Silchar is inhuman and in violations of the human rights of prisoners as enshrined in the Constitution of India and time and again upheld by the High Courts and the Supreme Court in India as well as universally recognized human rights standards in relation to the treatment of prisoners.

Urgent Appeal: An old man assaulted by the Central Reserve Police in Assam

April 8, 2011

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC Case No 64/2011/UA/25/211 Dated: 9 April 2011

Dear Friends,

Acting on the information provided by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued an Urgent Appeal concerning the case of torture of a 66-year-old person, his aged wife and son by a group of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers at the victim’s residence. No action was taken upon a complaint filed at the Silchar Sadar police station concerning the incident. It is reported that the Office-in-Charge (OC), instead of investigating the case is demanding that Fariz settle his complaint against the CRPF and rather withdraw it should he not dare facing yet another assault from the CRPF. Fariz filed another complaint at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which was also not acted upon. Please take the suggested actions.

Yours sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Urgent Appeal Desk

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur, Silchar-9, Assam, India

INDIA: An old man assaulted by the Central Reserve Police in Assam

April 8, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-074-2011

Send an appeal letter

8 April 2011

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INDIA: An old man assaulted by the Central Reserve Police in Assam

ISSUES: Torture; Impunity; Martial law; Rule of law

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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) concerning the case of torture of a 66-year-old person, his aged wife and son by a group of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers at the victim’s residence. It is reported that the CRPF tortured Mr. Fariz Uddin Barbhuiya, his wife and son on 27 July 2010 causing serious injuries to the old man. The CRPF assaulted Fariz since he had protested against the CRPF concerning a civil dispute. Fariz had to be hospitalised at the Silchar Medical College Hospital (SMCH) to recover from the injuries. No action was taken upon a complaint filed at the Silchar Sadar police station concerning the incident. It is reported that the Office-in-Charge (OC), instead of investigating the case is demanding that Fariz settle his complaint against the CRPF and rather withdraw it should he not dare facing yet another assault from the CRPF. Fariz filed another complaint at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which was also not acted upon. Fariz is a retired CRPF constable.

CASE NARRATIVE:

A team of about ten CRPF personnel entered the Fariz’s house and assaulted him along with his wife and son on 27 July 2010. Fariz was seriously injured in the incident and had to be hospitalised. The CRPF is a paramilitary force in India.

Fariz is a retired CRPF constable living in front of the 147 battalion of the CRPF camp. Fariz’s house is within the jurisdiction of Silchar Sadar Police Station in Cachar district of Assam state. Fariz supports his family with his pension and the earnings from a small shop where he sells betel nuts and operates a public call office (PCO). Fariz alleges that he was assaulted for protesting against the CRPF concerning a civil contract.

Fariz alleges that one Mr. Radheshyam Sahu, had obtained permission to cut and sell grass from the CRPF 147 battalion campus through a public auction. Thereafter, Sahu entered into a contract with Fariz on 22 April 2010 allowing Fariz to cut and sell grass for which he paid Sahu Rs. 7,500.00. Few days later, Fariz came to know that Sahu had allowed another person to cut and sell grass from the same campus. Aggrieved by the breach of contract, Fariz went to Sahu and demanded an explanation.

It is reported that Sahu ignored Fariz’s question and misbehaved to him. Fariz was disappointed and on 26 June complained to the commander of the battalion, Mr. T. K Hati, asking him to intervene. The commander reportedly informed Fariz that it was him who allowed the other person to cut and sell grass from the campus. Fariz then reminded the commander about the contract and requested the commander to return his money.

Fariz alleges that the officer shouted abuses at him when he demanded the officer to return the money. The officer then threatened Fariz and warned him that he will be taught a lesson for daring to demand the return of the money from a superior officer. Fariz went home disappointed. Fariz stated that following his argument with the commandant, a team of more than ten CRPF personnel accompanied by Mr. Sahu came to Fariz’s house at around 4.30pm on 27 July. Fariz claims that the team was led by the commander Mr. Hati and accompanied by CRPF constables Mr. Abani Nath, Mr. Shashi Bhushan, and Havildar Mr. Amir Uddin Laskar.

Fariz claims that the officers forcibly entered the house and started beating him without any warning. The officers assaulted Fariz with gun butts. The officers then kicked Fariz and punched him on his head and other parts of his body. Fariz’s wife, Aftarun Nessa Barbhuiya, and his son, Asif Akhtar Barbhuiya, tried to intervene and requested the officers to spare the old man. Fariz was lying on the ground soaked with blood. However, it is alleged that the CRPF then assaulted Aftarun Nessa and Asif Akhtar.

Fariz further alleges that the officers then damaged furniture, utensils and other valuable things in his house. Fariz claims that the officers then took the cash box of his shop that had approximately Rs. 2500.00 in it at the time. When the officers left, they warned Fariz against complaining to the authorities or to the police about the incident. The officers also threatened the family that they would be charged with false cases of keeping illegal firearms and ammunition if they sought help from the human rights organisations or informed the media. After the officers left the family called an ambulance and took Fariz to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH). Fariz was admitted at the SMCH and after a few days when his health improved discharged from the hospital.

It is reported that Fariz filed a complaint at the Silchar Sadar Police Station on 28 July 2010 concerning the incident and requesting the police to take appropriate actions against the CRPF officers. The police registered an FIR (First Information Report) based on the complaint as Silchar PS (police station) Case No. 1445/10 under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 448 (punishment for house-trespass), 325 (punishment for causing grievous hurt), 323 (punishment for causing hurt), 427 (mischief causing damage), 307 (attempt to murder) and 149 (punishment of being a member of unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). Sub-Inspector Mr. Jitu Mani Goswami was the investigating officer (IO) of the case.

Fariz, however, alleges that the IO was not investigating the case. Instead, the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the Silchar Sadar Police Station was demanding Fariz to come to an amicable settlement with the accused CRPF personnel and withdraw the complaint. Another complaint was then filed at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on 5 February 2011 with the help of local human rights group, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC). BHRPC informs that there have been no responses from the NHRC yet concerning the case.

BHRPC and Fariz allege that the assault and theft was a punishment for daring to complain to the CRPF commandant as well as demanding money back from the officer, which the officer viewed as challenging his authority, that too by a retired and old former constable. In places like Assam in India, the CRPF and other paramilitary units have absolute impunity wherever they are posted. The AHRC has reported more than 300 cases of torture, murder and rape committed by the CRPF and other paramilitary units in India over the past six years. Most of these cases find some action only when the AHRC makes the incident public. The AHRC has also noted that in many cases the victims refuse to speak about the incident due to fear of further assault or threat from these agencies. India also does not have any form of witness protection laws or mechanisms.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities listed below asking them to intervene in the case immediately.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture seeking an intervention in the case.

To support this appeal click here

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Please investigate the case of assault by the CRPF of a 66-year-old man at his residence along with his wife and son

Name of victims:

1. Mr. Fariz Uddin Barbhuiya aged about 66 years residing within the jurisdiction of Silchar Sadar police station in Cachar district of Assam state

2. Ms. Aftarun Nessa Barbhuiya, wife of Fariz

3. Mr. Asif Akhtar Barbhuiya, son of Fariz

Names of alleged perpetrators:

1. Mr.Radheshyam Sahu, owner of the High Tech Communication shop

2. Mr. TK Hati, commander of the 147 battalion of CRPF camp stationed under the jurisdiction of Silchar Sadar police station in Cachar district of Assam state

3. Mr. Abani Nath, constable of the 147 battalion of CRPF camp stationed under the jurisdiction of Silchar Sadar police station in Cachar district of Assam state

4. Mr. Shashi Bhushan, constable of the 147 battalion of CRPF camp stationed under the jurisdiction of Silchar Sadar police station in Cachar district of Assam state

5. Mr. Amir Uddin Laskar, Havildar of the 147 battalion of CRPF camp stationed under the jurisdiction of Silchar Sadar police station in Cachar district of Assam state

Date of incident: 27 July 2010

Place of incident: Victim’s residence

I am writing to seek immediate actions in the case reported to me of assault by the Central Reserve Police (CRPF) of a 66-year-old man, his wife and son at his residence on 27 July 2010. I am concerned to know that the complaints filed by the victims at the local police station and at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have not been acted upon. On the contrary, the local police is demanding that the victim settle the case with the CRPF outside the police station and withdraw his complaint, or dare facing yet another assault from the CRPF.

I am informed that there were about ten CRPF officers who entered the Fariz’s house and assaulted him along with his wife and son. Fariz was seriously injured in the incident and had to be hospitalised. The CRPF is a paramilitary force in India.

Fariz is a retired CRPF constable living in front of the 147 battalion of the CRPF camp. Fariz’s house is within the jurisdiction of Silchar Sadar Police Station in Cachar district of Assam state. Fariz supports his family with his pension and the earnings from a small shop where he sells betel nuts and operates a public call office (PCO). Fariz alleges that he was assaulted for protesting against the CRPF concerning a civil contract.

Fariz alleges that one Mr. Radheshyam Sahu, had obtained permission to cut and sell grass from the CRPF 147 battalion campus through a public auction. Thereafter, Sahu entered into a contract with Fariz on 22 April 2010 allowing Fariz to cut and sell grass for which he paid Sahu Rs. 7,500.00. Few days later, Fariz came to know that Sahu had allowed another person to cut and sell grass from the same campus. Aggrieved by the breach of contract, Fariz went to Sahu and demanded an explanation.

It is reported that Sahu ignored Fariz’s question and misbehaved to him. Fariz was disappointed and on 26 June complained to the commander of the battalion, Mr. T. K Hati, asking him to intervene. The commander reportedly informed Fariz that it was him who allowed the other person to cut and sell grass from the campus. Fariz then reminded the commander about the contract and requested the commander to return his money.

Fariz alleges that the officer shouted abuses at him when he demanded the officer to return the money. The officer then threatened Fariz and warned him that he will be taught a lesson for daring to demand the return of the money from a superior officer. Fariz went home disappointed. Fariz stated that following his argument with the commandant, a team of more than ten CRPF personnel accompanied by Mr. Sahu came to Fariz’s house at around 4.30pm on 27 July. Fariz claims that the team was led by the commander Mr. Hati and accompanied by CRPF constables Mr. Abani Nath, Mr. Shashi Bhushan, and Havildar Mr. Amir Uddin Laskar.

Fariz claims that the officers forcibly entered the house and started beating him without any warning. The officers assaulted Fariz with gun butts. The officers then kicked Fariz and punched him on his head and other parts of his body. Fariz’s wife, Aftarun Nessa Barbhuiya, and his son, Asif Akhtar Barbhuiya, tried to intervene and requested the officers to spare the old man. Fariz was lying on the ground soaked with blood. However, it is alleged that the CRPF then assaulted Aftarun Nessa and Asif Akhtar.

Fariz further alleges that the officers then damaged furniture, utensils and other valuable things in his house. Fariz claims that the officers then took the cash box of his shop that had approximately Rs. 2500.00 in it at the time. When the officers left, they warned Fariz against complaining to the authorities or to the police about the incident. The officers also threatened the family that they would be charged with false cases of keeping illegal firearms and ammunition if they sought help from the human rights organisations or informed the media. After the officers left the family called an ambulance and took Fariz to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH). Fariz was admitted at the SMCH and after a few days when his health improved discharged from the hospital.

It is reported that Fariz filed a complaint at the Silchar Sadar Police Station on 28 July 2010 concerning the incident and requesting the police to take appropriate actions against the CRPF officers. The police registered an FIR (First Information Report) based on the complaint as Silchar PS (police station) Case No. 1445/10 under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 448 (punishment for house-trespass), 325 (punishment for causing grievous hurt), 323 (punishment for causing hurt), 427 (mischief causing damage), 307 (attempt to murder) and 149 (punishment of being a member of unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). Sub-Inspector Mr. Jitu Mani Goswami was the investigating officer (IO) of the case.

Fariz, however, alleges that the IO was not investigating the case. Instead, the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the Silchar Sadar Police Station was demanding Fariz to come to an amicable settlement with the accused CRPF personnel and withdraw the complaint. Another complaint was then filed at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on 5 February 2011 with the help of local human rights group, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC). BHRPC informs that there have been no responses from the NHRC yet concerning the case.

BHRPC and Fariz allege that the assault and theft was a punishment for daring to complain to the CRPF commandant as well as demanding money back from the officer, which the officer viewed as challenging his authority, that too by a retired and old former constable.

I am also informed that in places like Assam in India, the CRPF and other paramilitary units have absolute impunity wherever they are posted. I am informed that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has reported more than 300 cases of torture, murder and rape committed by the CRPF and other paramilitary units in India over the past six years. In most of these cases actions were initiated only when the AHRC made the incident public. I am also informed that the AHRC has noted that in many cases the victims refuse to speak about the incident due to fear of further assault or threat from these agencies as it has happened in this case.

I therefore request you to intervene in this case to ensure the following:

1. That the police must immediately record the statement of the victims;

2. That the police investigate the case without any further delay;

3. That if required the witnesses provided protection by the police;

4. That the NHRC informs Fariz and/or BHRPC the status of the complaint they have filed at the NHRC without any further delay.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. K. Vijay Kumar, IPS
Director General
Central Reserve Police Force
Block No. 1, C.G.O. Complex
Lodhi Road
New Delhi – 110001
INDIA

2. DIG (ADM), NES (Ops) Sector NES
Operations Headquarters
Jorhat
Assam
INDIA

3. Mr. Tarun Gogoi
Chief Minister of Assam
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2262069

4. Director General of Police
Assam, Ulubari
Guwahati-7, Assam
INDIA

5. Chief Justice
Guwahati High Court
Government of Assam
INDIA
FAX +91 361 2604122 or +91 362 2735863 (Registrar General)
E-mail: hc-asm@nic.in, hicourtg@rediffmail.com

6. Chief Secretary
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2260900
Email: psccy_it@assam.nic.in

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

See the appeal at AHRC website: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-074-2011

Assault on human rights defenders in Hailakandi, Assam

April 3, 2011

Human Rights Defenders Mr Choudhury Charan Gorh and Mr Shyama Prasad Kurmi were subjected to physical assault on 30 June 2009 in Hailakandi, Assam. Mr Choudhury Charan Gorh is the secretary of NGO HELP, a grass-roots organisation which monitors corruption in the local self-government (the Panchayati Raj) and works for the practical realisation of rural development. Mr Shyama Prasad Kurmi is also a member of NGO HELP.

On 30 June 2009, NGO HELP convened a public meeting to discuss the scale of corruption in the implementation of rural development schemes by the local government in Assam, in conjunction with the Mazuri Shramik Union, a local labour organisation which raises awareness concerning the development schemes of the Union government of India and the State Government of Assam. At approximately 3.00 pm, a group of armed men, carrying daggers, sticks and swords, broke up the meeting and assaulted the attendees indiscriminately. Choudhury Charan Gorh and Shyama Prasad Kurmi sustained severe injuries and were admitted to hospital. The identity of the armed men who assaulted them is known to the human rights defenders; they are believed to be connected to the president of Aenakhal Gaon Panchayat, the village level unit of the institution of Pachayati Raj.

The organisers of the public meeting had previously informed the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of Hailakandi and Officer-in-Charge of Lala police station of the forthcoming meeting. They had also requested a police security presence for the meeting, fearing a potential disruption from those involved in corruption in local development schemes. No response to this security request was received. Following the attack, the organisers of the meeting filed a complaint with the Lala Police Station. As yet, no visible action has been taken by the police to investigate the case or bring the perpetrators to justice.

BHRPC informed Front Line regarding the incident with in turn issued an Urgent Appeal on 13 July 2009. BHRPC also wrote to the Prime Minsiter of India and Prime Ministers’s Office forwarded the complaint to the Chief Secretary of Assam for taking actions. But no actions were taken despite several reminders.

BHRPC wrote to the Uinted Nations Special Rapporteur on the situations of human rights defenders on 14 January 20011.

Urgent Appeal: Journalists assaulted in Assam University

March 31, 2011

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC Case No 63/2011/UA/24/210 Dated: 31 March 2011

Dear Friends,

Acting on the information provided by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued an Urgent Appeal concerning the incident of assault on journalists at the Assam University campus, Silchar allegedly for covering students’ protests and demonstrations. It is reported that the journalists sustained serious injuries and their cameras, laptops and other equipments were snatched away and destroyed.  Please take the suggested actions.

Yours sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Urgent Appeal Desk

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur, Silchar-9, Assam, India

INDIA: Journalists assaulted in Assam University

March 31, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-071-2011

Please click here to take action

31 March 2011

——————————————————
INDIA: Journalists assaulted in Assam University

ISSUES: Freedom of opinion and expression; Assault; Witness Protection

——————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) that a group of journalists were assaulted at the Assam University campus in Assam. It is alleged that the proctor of the university is behind the incident. The journalists claim that the security staff who attacked the journalists at the behest of the proctor, destroyed their laptops, camera and other equipments. The journalists were covering a protest and demonstration by the students claiming adequate sanitation, drinking water and other basic amenities within the university. One of the journalist who was injured had to be admitted at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) due to serious injuries he suffered in the incident. Four other journalists were treated at the primary health centre inside the university campus.

CASE NARRATIVE :

On 25 February 2011, the Proctor of the Assam University, Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury, Dean of Students Welfare, Mr. Ramendra Bhattacharjee, and the university Security Guardsa attacked a group of journalists inside the university campus at Silchar.

A group of agitating students reportedly rescued the injured journalists, namely Mr. Samin Sen Deka of News Time Assam, Mr. Anath Bandhu Nandi of DY 365, Mr. Paplu Das and Mr. Anupam Mandal of Frontier TV News and Mr. Bibhuti Majumdar of NE TV. Among the injured scribes, Mr. Samin was sent to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) due to the serious nature of his injury and four others were treated at the primary health centre inside the university campus.

It is reported that the hostel inmates of the university were striking and resorted to a blockade at the main gate of the university campus demanding immediate uninterrupted water supply at the hostel. Mr. Ratan Das, General Secretary of Assam University Students’ Council alleged that the drinking water crisis at the hostel was acute for a long time including the scarcity of toilets. And students had been demanding for a permanent solution for this. But the university authorities have reportedly paid no attention to the students’ demands.

The journalists were covering the student agitation that ensued. At about noon the proctor of the university and the Dean of Social Welfare arrived in the campus while the scribes were reporting news using their laptops. The proctor started hurling abuse at the journalists and demanded them to stop sending the footages. The journalists tried to talk to the proctor but the proctor reportedly lost his temper and started assaulting them. The security guards accompanying the proctor and the Dean joined in assaulting the journalists thereby damaging their laptops, camera and other communication equipments.

One of the injured journalist, Mr. Anath Bandhu Nandi, alleges that Mr. Choudhury first kicked at a laptop and then the guards jumped on them. At the behest of the proctor and the Dean, the security guards kicked, punched and assaulted the journalists with sticks. Thereafter, they snatched laptops, cameras and other equipments and damaged them.

It is reported that the journalists have filed a complaint at Silchar Sadar Police Station, which is registered as Silchar PS Case No. 285/11. The accused Mr. Choudhury refused to make any comment regarding the assault while contacted for his version. Mr. Choudhury said “I am not authorised to say anything, let the scribes say whatever they wanted to”.

It is also reported that the university authorities subsequently prevented the distribution and reading of the Dainik Samayik Prasanga , a local daily, inside the university campus. Students and journalists claim that the conduct of the university authorities is, to say the least, authoritarian and undemocratic.

The students’ protest was reportedly peaceful and the demonstration for adequate sanitation, drinking water and other basic amenities not only reasonable, but the demand very urgent. The state government must take all necessary steps to guarantee the freedom of opinion and expression of the students and the journalists and also ensure their personal safety. The police must immediately record the statements of the victims and other witnesses in the incident without further delay, a legal requirement that they have not undertaken so far. Should there be any request from the victims for protection against further threat, the police must provide the same.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The information reveals a prima facie case of offences of ‘voluntarily causing grievous hurt’, ‘theft of equipments’ and ‘criminal intimidation’. This constitutes offenses under Sections 351, 378, 425, 503, 506 read with Sections 34 and 35 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities listed below asking them to intervene in the case immediately.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression seeking an intervention in the case.

To support this appeal, please click here

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: The assault upon journalists by the Assam University staff must be investigated

Name of victim(s):

1. Mr. Samin Sen Deka, aged about 40 years, Silchar News Burea of News Time Assam residing at the Jail Road near Normal School, Silchar, Assam

2. Mr. Bibhuti Mazumdar of NE TV, Silchar Correspondent residing at Khatal Road, Silchar, Assam

3. Mr. Anath Bandhu Nandi, cameraman of Dy 365 resident of Radamadau Road, Silchar, Assam

4. Mr. Paplu Das, Silchar News Burea of Frontier TV News, a resident of Nikunja Bhavan, opposite Durgasankar Patsala, Ambicapatty, Silchar, Assam

5. Mr. Anupam Mandal, Cameraman of Frontier TV News, a resident of Nataji Sarani, Batartal, Meherpur, Silchar, Assam

Names of alleged perpetrators:

1. Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury, Proctor, Assam University, Silchar, Dargakona, Cachar, Assam

2. Mr. Ramendra Bhattacharjee, Dean, Students’ Welfare, Assam University, Silchar, Dargakona, Cachar, Assam

3. Security guards of Assam University, Silchar, Dargakona, Cachar, Assam

Date of incident: 25 February 2011

Place of incident: Assam University Campus, Silchar, Assam state

I am writing to voice my concern regarding the assault upon journalists on 25 February 2011 in Assam state. This incident occurred at the Assam University campus in Silchar. It is reported that the Proctor of the university, Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury, Dean of Students’ Welfare, Mr. Ramendra Bhattacharjee, and the university security guards are responsible for the incident.

I am informed that the students were staging peaceful protest and demonstration demanding adequate sanitary facilities, regular supply of drinking water and other basic amenities at the university premises. Mr. Ratan Das, General Secretary of the Assam University Students’ Council alleged that the drinking water crisis in the hostel is acute since a long time including the scarcity of toilets. And students had been demanding immediate uninterrupted water supply at the hostel for several months now.

The journalists were reporting news concerning the protest at the time they were attached. I am informed that at about half past noon the proctor of the University and the Dean of Social Welfare arrived at the campus while the scribes were reporting the news concerning the protest using their laptops and other communication equipments from the campus.

I am informed that the proctor started shouting abuse at the journalists and demanded them to stop reporting about the protest. The journalists reportedly tried to talk to the proctor but the proctor lost his temper and started assaulting them. The security guards accompanying the proctor and dean also joined the proctor in the assault. It is reported that they destroyed laptops, cameras and other communication equipments of the journalists.

I am informed that a group of agitating students rescued the injured journalists, namely Mr. Samin Sen Deka of News Time Assam, Mr. Anath Bandhu Nandi of DY 365, Mr. Paplu Das and Mr. Anupam Mandal of Frontier TV News

and Mr. Bibhuti Majumdar of NE TV. Amongst the injured scribes, Mr. Samin was sent to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) due to the serious nature of his injury and four others were treated at the primary health centre inside the university campus.

One of the injured journalists, Mr. Anath Bandhu Nandi, alleged that Mr. Choudhury first kicked at a laptop and then the guards jumped on them. At the behest of the proctor and the Dean, the security guards kicked, punched and beat the journalists with sticks. Thereafter, they snatched laptops and cameras and other equipments from the journalists and destroyed them.

It is reported that the journalists have filed a complaint at Silchar Sadar Police Station, which is registered as Silchar PS Case No. 285/11. I am informed that the accused Mr. Choudhury refused to make any comment regarding the assault of the media-persons while contacted for his version.

It is also reported that the university authorities did not allow the distribution and reading of the Dainik Samayik Prasanga, a local daily, inside the university campus since the incident. It seems that the university authorities are behaving as if they are law unto themselves. The students’ protest was reportedly peaceful and the demonstration for adequate sanitation, drinking water and other basic amenities are not only reasonable, but the demand very urgent. The state government must take all necessary steps to guarantee the freedom of opinion and expression of the students and the journalists and also ensure their personal safety. The police must immediately record the statements of the victims and other witnesses in the incident without further delay, a legal requirement that they have not undertaken so far. Should there be any request from the victims for protection against further threat, the police must provide the same.

I am informed that the incident amounts to crimes of various natures like ‘voluntarily causing grievous hurt’, ‘theft of equipments’ and ‘criminal intimidation’. This constitutes offenses under Sections 351, 378, 425, 503, 506 read with Sections 34 and 35 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

I therefore request you to intervene in this case to ensure the following:

1. The police must immediately record the statement of the victims;

2. The state government takes all necessary steps to guarantee the freedom of opinion and expression within the state and guarantee the personal safety of the journalists involved in the incident;

3. That the police investigate the case without any further delay;

4. The statements of other witnesses to the incident recorded by the police without any further delay.

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO :

1. Mr. Tarun Gogoi
Chief Minister of Assam
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2262069

2. Ms. Ambika Soni
Minister of Information and Broadcasting
Room No 560, A Wing Shastri Bhawan
Dr Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi-110001
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2379 5053
Email: mib.inb@gmail.com

3. Director General of Police
Assam, Ulubari
Guwahati-7, Assam
INDIA

4. Chief Secretary
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2260900
Email: psccy_it@assam.nic.in

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia )

Send an appeal letter now

See the Ungent Appeal at the AHRC website:

http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-071-2011

BHRPC condemns assault on journalists

March 16, 2011

BHRPC condemns assault on journalists

Special Correspondent 

SILCHAR, March 5: Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has taken umbrage at the assault on journalists in the campus of Assam University on February 25 allegedly by security guards in which the involvement of the proctor Manabendra Dutta Choudhury and Dean In-charge of Students’ Welfare Ramendu Bhattacharjee has been brought into focus. The scribes as reported were assaulted while covering the agitation of resident students protesting against scarcity of drinking water.

In a statement issued here, Neharul Ahmed Majumdar, secretary general of the BHRPC, described the incident quite ‘unfortunate’ and violation of human right ‘to freedom of expression’ as guaranteed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to him, the conduct of the university authority in respect of grievances of students and their peaceful protest and the assault on scribes is ‘authoritarian, undemocratic and arbitrary’.

In the meantime, BHRPC, he revealed, has written a letter to the Prime Minister of India with copies to the President, Home Minister, Human Resource Development Minister, Chief Minister of Assam and Vice-Chancellor of Assam University for thorough investigation into the assault on the scribes and initiate action, if found true, against the persons involved in it.

Para-military forces run amock in Silchar with impunity

March 15, 2011

Assam Rifles personnel belonging to the 5th battalion camping at Jiribam, Manipur came to Silchar in Assam, a town known as the heart of Barak Valley, on 2 August, 2009, bought ‘pan’ from a panwala, pushed a pistol into the mouth of panawala who had shown the audacity of demanding money for his pan and then created a mayhem establishing the reign of terror for the whole night.

According to the reports, some ‘jawans’ in plain clothes belonging to the 5th battalion of Assam Rifles visited the College Road area in Silchar around 4pm on 2 August and kept loitering there for a few hours. They bought ‘pans’ from a ‘panshop’ owned by one Trinath Dhar of the same locality and started to go away without making payment for the ‘pans’. They got angry when the ‘panwala’ demanded money for his ‘pans’ and started to hurl abuses and threats at him. At further entreaties for the payment the ‘jawans’ beat him, tried to strangle him and one of the ‘jawans’ put his service pistol into the mouth of the ‘panwala’. When people gathered the ‘jawans’ went away but warned him that he would be dealt with appropriately later.

Around 10.30 pm that night 5 ‘jawans’ led by a major named R Gupta came back in a jeepsy car without number plate. They were in plain clothes. Most of the shops were closed at that time. They looked for Trinath Dhar, but his shop was also closed and he hid himself somewhere nearby. The ‘jawans’ entered a nearby saloon named ‘Ajoy Hair Cutting’, which was still open, and started to break things and to beat people inside the shop. The reports alleged that the ‘jawans’ hurled Sumon Sheel, a worker in the saloon, through the window into a drain several feet down. He sustained severe injuries.

According to the reports, at the hue and cry people of the locality started to gather at the spot and the ‘jawans’ kept beating indiscriminately whoever they could catch including women and rickshaw pullers creating a mayhem. They also allegedly opened fire. Ten persons including Ajoy Sheel, the owner of the saloon, Sumon Sheel, a worker in the saloon, Trinath Dhar, the panwala who came out from his hiding when people gathered and Rapon Bhattacharya of Subhash Nagar were injured.

At that time the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Headquarter, Cachar and the Officer-in-Charge of Silchar police station came to the spot with a large police force and brought the situation under control. The police took the ‘jawans’ including the major and the injured to the police station. The injured were sent to the hospital for treatment. But no First Information Report (FIR) was registered.

The Assam Rifles major told the media persons that they were in an ambush there and the local people attacked them even after the ‘jawans’ revealed their identity. He claimed that Assam Rifles personnel were acting in self defence. But there is no answer to the question why Assam Rifles did not inform the local police about their operation in a thick residential area which they are bound to do.

Members of the BHRPC visited the area next day (3 August) in order to find out the facts about the incident. They encountered with an eerie silence. Witnesses refused to talk. Victims were trying to avoid the team members. Fear and terror were visible in the eyes and faces of the people of the locality. After much persuasion and guarantee of protection of identity some victims and witnesses spoke out. Their accounts corroborated each and every facts stated above.

They added that they were asked not to speak with the media and human rights groups except that the matter was ‘settled amicably’ and that they had no grievances against the Assam Rifles personnel or Assam Police members. But the grievances were so acute and deep that one of them went on to say that ‘talks of human rights have meanings only in independent democratic countries’ and out of frustration he declared that ‘India is neither independent nor democratic in actual sense of the terms’. ‘If you try to fight for your rights legally they will kill you ‘legally’’, he claimed. He went on, ‘if you file a complaint with the police the investigation will be biased and at the end of the day the accused will not be prosecuted or if prosecuted will be acquitted for lack of evidence.’ According to him, this is the best expectable situation. At the worst you will be encountered, he claimed. According to him, it is a practice of the security forces to make terrorist of a person who dares to point his fingers against them by planting arms and ammunitions at his residence and then they will kill him in a staged encounter. ‘No human rights group will be able to save him’, he declared.

The statement said, BHRPC could not persuade the terrified victims to lodge a complaint with the police regarding the incident. It reveals their lack of trust in Indian justice delivery system, which is very dangerous.

One of leading local daily news paper carried the story of ‘mutual settlement’ on 4 August. The report informed that the matter was settled in a tripartite meeting among victims, Assam Rifles personnel and officials of Assam Police held at Silchar police station on 3 August. The news paper planted a new version of the incident completely contradicting what it told the day before. More over, it did not make any reference to the earlier story by way of refutation or corrigendum or whatever may be. The paper owes an explanation to its readers and the public. All other papers kept mum on the matter.

It shows a conspiracy of silence. BHRPC thinks that there are ample grounds to conclude prima facie that the Assam Rifles, Assam Police, local media and some other local elements are in collusion with each other to protection the accused ‘jawans’ from legal consequences. In effect, rights of the victims of crimes to justice, remedies and reparation are being denied.

BHRPC concludes that the incident and the subsequent efforts to hush it up amount to vaiolations of fundamental rights laid down in Artiles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India. Article 21 guarantees right to life and personal liberty, which includes, inter alia, right to live with human dignity, right to physical and psychological integrity and right to justice, remedies and adequate reparation in case of violations of any fundamental rights. Article 14 guarantees equality before and law and equal protection of law. The officials of the Assam Police violated this right of victims by not registering an FIR and by not initiating prosecution against the accused personnel.

The actions of the Assam Rifles personnel and officials of Assam police also violated international human rights obligation of the State of India in respect of the right to life, security of persons and property, right to physical and psychological integrity and right to justice, remedies and adequate reparation in case of violations as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and other instruments.

BHRPC files complaint at NHRC in the matter of assault on reporters at Assam University, Silchar

March 11, 2011
BHRPC files complaint at NHRC in the matter of assault on reporters at Assam University, Silchar

BHRPC files complaint at NHRC in the matter of assault on reporters at Assam University, Silchar