Posts Tagged ‘Civil rights’

New born baby dies at hospital in Assam due to negligence of doctors

April 11, 2012


The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has learnt that a new born baby died at a hospital in Assam within about 50 hours of his birth on 1 April 2012 due to negligence of doctors. An expectant mother in labour was brought to the S K Roy Civil Hospital in Hailakandi at about 1pm on 30 March. No doctors saw the woman and with the help of nurses she had to give birth to a male child. It was a forced birth. The conditions of both the mother and child started to worsen soon thereafter. Still no doctors in the hospital saw them. They then went to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Silchar (SMCH) and the baby died there at about 6pm on 1 April. It was the first child of the couple.

After the BHRPC first learnt about the incident from local newspapers (see 5 April 2012 issue of the Dainik Nababarta Prasanga, a daily Bengali newspaper published from Karimganj, Assam) on 5 April, it contacted the family and verified the information given in the newspapers and collected other relevant information.

According to the information, the unfortunate parents are Mr Bijoy Dev and his wife Ms Tumpa Dev. They are residents of Ward No. 10,College Road, Hailakandi town in the district of Hailakandi. Mr Bijoy Dev is a small shopkeeper and provides the family from earnings of his pan shop (a small store where shopkeeper sells a mouth-freshener chewing item prepared by mixing different types of areca nuts, betel leaf, tobacco etc. according to order of the customer) that he runs  in front of his house. His wife 20-years-old Tumpa Dev conceived the baby for the first time. After conception the couple were seeing Dr Shubhendu Chakrabarti regularly at his private chamber. Although Dr Chakrabarti is a government doctor posted at the S K Roy Civil Hospital he has his private practices like almost all other government doctors inAssam.

Mr. Bijoy Dev stated that when Ms Tumpa Dev went into labour at the normal time on 30 March her husband and other relatives brought her to the S K Roy Civil Hospital at about 1pm. But there were no doctors on duty in the 100-bedded hospital. Dr Shubhendu Chakrabarti was in Guwahati, the capital city ofAssam. Therefore nurses tried to help her. After much agony and tribulation she delivered a baby at 4pm. It was a boy. However, his condition was critical. He could not breathe properly. The nurses started giving him oxygen. Meanwhile the father of the baby and other relatives were desperately looking for a doctor. They were informed by the hospital staff that at that time Dr D K Dev should have been in duty. They went to his residence. Mr Bijoy Dev’s older brother Mr Joydeep Dev and brother-in-law Mr Rajesh Dev urged Dr D K Dev to come to the hospital and do something to save the life of the new-born. Dr Dev told them that he was tired since he was at a health fair at Bilaipur, a remote village in the district for the whole day. He refused to help the baby in his fight for life. In the meantime, health condition of the mother also started getting worse.

The relatives then went to another doctor of the hospital Dr Abul Hussain at about 10pm. He was at home but refused to visit the hospital. He asked them to bring the patients at his house. The mother and baby then were brought to the place of Dr Hussain who after examining them wrote a prescription. Mr Bijoy Dev told the BHRPC that Dr Hussain told them that the condition of the baby and mother became so serious due to the forced delivery. According to him, it was a fit case of caesarean section. The doctor told that he was of the opinion that if the delivery would have been caused through caesarean there would not be any complexities since the baby appeared otherwise alright.

Mr Bijoy Dev stated that after they got the medicines prescribed by Dr Hussain from an outside drug store they brought the baby and his mother back to the hospital. One Dr L D Sinha came on duty next day morning. When the medicines prescribed by Dr Hussain failed to check the deterioration of the health condition of both the mother and her baby Dr Sinha referred the patients to the SMCH. At about 7.30 am on 31 March they were brought to the SMCH and were admitted in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology. Dr P Nath, an associate professor in the department examined them. Dr Nath also confirmed the findings of Dr Hussain that the forced delivery caused the complexities. According to Mr Bijoy Dev, the doctors and the staff at the SMCH tried their best to save the baby but he was declared dead at about 6pm. However, Mr Dev also informed the BHRPC that the hospital did not provide them with any medicines and he had to buy them from outside stores.

This appears to be a clear case of causing death by negligence within the meaning of section 304A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 if the opinions of Dr Nath and Dr Hussain are to be believed even if keeping in mind the rules laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Jacob Mathew Vs State of Punjab (2005) (Appeal (Crl.) 144-145 of 2004) for application of the section in cases of negligent and rash acts or omission of doctors.

Most importantly, it is a prima facie case of violations of fundamental right to life as laid down in Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In a catena of cases the Supreme Court held that the right to health care is a part of the right to life.

The negligent conduct of the doctors, particularly that of Dr D K Dev, that caused the death of the baby also amounts to violations of the rights enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 that reads: “(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” 

“(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”

The allegations also constitute violations of provisions of legally binding human rights instruments to which Indiais a state party. Such as the right to life provided under Article 6 of the International Covenant o Civil and Political Rights, 1966. Clause 1 of the Article lays down: “1. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

As a positive entitlement the right to health and health care is recgonised in  Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 which says: “The right to the highest attainable standard of health”. The General Comment 14 the Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that the right to health requires availabilityaccessibilityacceptability, and quality with regard to both health care and underlying preconditions of health. This case is a glaring instance of gross violation of this universally recognised provision.

Further, it is also a case of violations of relevant provisions of other United Nations convention such as Article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979 (CEDAW)[1] and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 (CRC)[2].

After documentation of the case BHRPC filed a complaint at the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Assam State Commission for Women (ASCW). Letters were also sent to the other authorities including the prime minister ofIndiaand the chief minister ofAssamurging them to take appropriate actions including:

 1. a prompt, objective and exhaustive investigation into the alleged negligence of Dr D K Dev and other doctors of the S K Roy Civil Hospital, Hailakandi;

 2. payment a prompt relief in terms of money to the parents of the baby pending the inquiry/investigation;

3. adequate reparation in terms of monetary compensation to the parents of the baby for loss of life of their son and for suffering physical and mental agony;

 4. prosecution of the alleged negligent doctors for fixing their criminal liability;

At a time when the government of Assam is busy advertising its ‘achievement’ in the health sector with much fanfare it will be interesting to follow the actions of the government that may be or may not be taken in response to these specific allegations.

11 April 2012

Guwahati,Assam

For any clarification or more information you may contact

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Mobile: +91 9401942234

Email:wali.laskar@gmail.com


[1] Article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979 (CEDAW) reads:

“Article 12

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.”

[2] Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 provides:

“1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.

2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.”

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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

Concerns over civil and political rights in Assam

October 4, 2011

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar[1]

 I am asked to make a brief presentation on issues relating to civil and political rights in terms of the requirement of ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CAT) and its Optional Protocol, ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and other challenges relating to civil and political rights. I will try to present my views on the issues very briefly as an activist working in Assam in the field of human rights.

Ratification of the Convention Against Torture and Its Optional Protocol

Though torture is absolutely prohibited now, throughout history, it has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, coercion and punishment. Deliberately painful methods of execution for severe crimes were taken for granted as part of justice until the development of Humanism in 17th century philosophy, and “cruel and unusual punishment” came to be denounced in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The Age of Enlightenment in the western world further developed the idea of universal human rights. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 marks the recognition at least nominally of a general ban of torture by all United Nations member states[2]. Now in the 21st century the prohibition of torture has been recognized as a peremptory norm of international law and a number of international, regional and domestic courts have held the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be customary international law. [3] Some other legally binding international treatises, to which India is a state party, prohibits torture which include Geneva Conventions[4], International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[5]

Though the constitution of India does not expressly prohibit torture, the constitutional jurisprudence prohibits torture absolutely. According to the Supreme Court, any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment fall within the ambit of Article 21[6] of the Constitution – whether be it during interrogation, investigation or otherwise. A person does not shed his fundamental right to life when he is arrested. Article 21 cannot be denied to arrested persons or prisoners in custody (D K Basu v State of West Bengal[7]).

Despite such constitutional and judicial denunciation of torture, it is routinely practiced by law enforcement officials and security forces in India. However, there is no accurate data on the use of torture in the country since the Government does not have an unambiguous and strong policy against torture. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) gathers figures on custodial deaths. Based on these figures, the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) estimated that between 2002 and 2008, over four people per day died while in police custody, with “hundreds” of those deaths being due to police use of torture.[8]

Over the days, with the war on terror, practice of torture is becoming more wide spread and there is no legal instrument and mechanism to combat it in India. The CAT and its Optional Protocol provide such mechanism at the international level. The convention was adopted on 10 December, 1984 and came into force on 26 June, 1987. It has 78 signatories and 149 States Parties.[9] India signed the CAT on 14 October 1997, but is yet to ratify it. Advocacy and lobbying from all quarters including NHRC has succeeded and India decided to ratify CAT. The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on April 26, 2010 and was passed by that house on May 6, 2010 without referring it to the Standing Committee. It was a misnomer to call it the Prevention Torture Bill. It appeared to have been designed to promote torture. The definition of torture (a) was inconsistent with the definition of torture in the Convention against Torture, (b) it required the intention of the accused to be proved, (c) did not include mental pain or suffering, and (d) did not include some acts which may constitute torture. The Bill diluted existing laws by imposing a time limit of six months and requiring prior government sanction for trying those accused of torture. Existing laws do not have such requirements. There was no independent authority to investigate complaints of torture, and no provision for granting compensation to torture victims has been made.[10]  When it was introduced in the Rajya Sabha fortunately the house referred it to the Select Committee and which came up with fairly sensible suggestions and submitted its report on 6 December, 2010.[11] It changed the definition of torture to make it consistent with the definition given in the CAT. The Committee suggested that the limitation period should be two years and not six months as it was in the bill. It suggested dilution of requirement of prior approval for prosecution. The Committee also talked of witness protection which is very sensible. Overall, it can be said that the suggestions of the Committee, if incorporated in the bill in toto, will make the law a pragmatic and preventive tool, though there are much to be desired. For example, 1. requirement of prior sanction for prosecution is a question mark on the wisdom of the judiciary. Courts can deal appropriately with malicious, vexatious or frivolous complaints; 2. persons other than victim and his/her relatives should also be authorized by law to file complaint on his/her behalf without authorization by him/her as provided in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993;[12] 3.  an independent mechanism both at national and state level should be established to torture cases and situations in detention places.

Optional Protocol

Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (Optional Protocol) aims to create a global system of inspection of places of detention as a way of preventing torture and ill-treatment. A Sub-Committee of the Committee Against Torture, composed of 10 independent and impartial members working in their individual capacity, will be empowered to carry out missions to any State that ratifies the Optional Protocol. On the basis of its visits, the Sub-Committee will write a confidential report for the State Party, including practical recommendations. It will initiate a dialogue with the State Party on measures to improve the conditions of persons in custody with the aim of preventing torture.

The second important element of the Protocol is the requirement to put in place national preventive mechanisms. Article 3 of the Protocol requires ratifying States to “set up, designate or maintain at the domestic level one or several visiting bodies for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The emphasis of the Protocol is on prevention and being transparent to the world. Refusal to ratify it means refusal to be transparent which belies India’s claims to democracy and the primacy of the rule of law.

India should ratify both the CAT and its Optional Protocol and also extend invitation to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and provide facilities to interact freely with survivors of torture and human rights defenders from North East.

Ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance

Enforced Disappearance is abduction or kidnapping, carried out by State agents, or organized groups and individuals who act with State support or tolerance, in which the victim “disappears”. Authorities neither accept responsibility for the dead, nor account for the whereabouts of the victim. Legal recourse including petitions of habeas corpus, remain ineffective. Enforced Disappearance is a serious violation of fundamental human rights: the right to security and dignity of person; the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to humane conditions of detention; the right to a legal personality; as well as rights related to fair trial and family life. Ultimately, it can violate the right to life, as victims of enforced disappearance are often killed. Increasingly the international community considers Enforced Involuntary Disappearance as a specific human rights violation and a crime against humanity. This culminated in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. On February 6, 2007 the Convention was opened for signatures and signed by 57 States. The convention clearly states: – No one shall be subjected to Enforced Disappearance. – No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for Enforced Disappearance.[13]

India signed the International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in February 2007, but has failed to ratify the convention. The crime of Enforced Involuntary Disappearances is not codified as a distinct offence in Indian penal laws. Police either have to make an entry in the general diary as a missing case or register a case under provisions for kidnap or abduction.[14] These provision do not contemplate a situation which is contemplated in the Convention.

Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, the cases of enforced disappearances are routine in North East India, particularly in Manipur. The infamous secret killings in Assam during 1998–2001 also fall within the ambit of enforced disappearances. Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) also documented cases of enforced disappearances. BHRPC wrote to the Prime Minister of India on July 18, 2009 about the disappearance of Paresh Das (55) and Dilip Das (45) of Nandan Kanan Tea Garden area under Jirighat Police Station in Cachar district, Assam, on May 25, 2009 from Tamenlong in Manipur and the PMO in turn wrote to the Chief secretary of Assam requesting him to take appropriate actions.[15]

Lack of substantive and procedural laws as to with the problem is one of the factor that crippled the state in terms of effective prevention and placing deterrence. Ratification of the Convention along with incorporation of the provisions in domestic laws is the need of the hour.

Other Challenges Relating to Civil and Political Rights

There are so many other challenges in exercising and enjoying civil and political rights. One of them is the challenge of policing while respecting rights of the people adhering to the human rights norms.

Policing

The police, in a sense, is the most empowered group of human rights defenders.[16] But sadly enough, after 64 years of independence, the institution remains and functions more or less all over the country as it was designed by the British colonial rulers in the Police Act of 1861.

After decades of public pressure, lack of political will and continued poor policing, a police reform process is finally underway in India. On 22 September 2006, the Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment in Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others[17] instructing central and state governments to comply with a set of seven directives laying down practical mechanisms to kick-start reform.[18]

The directives were aimed to ensure functional autonomy of the police and their accountability to the law. For ensuring functional autonomy the Supreme Court directed 1. to establish a State Security Commission to i. ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police; lay down broad policy guidelines aimed at promoting efficient, effective, responsive and accountable policing, in accordance with the law; give directions for the performance of the preventive tasks and service oriented functions of the police; evaluate the performance of the state police and prepare a report on police performance to be placed before the state legislature.

2. The second directive was aimed at ensuring fair selection of Director General of Police (DGP) and guarantee of his tenure.[19]

3. Security of tenure is similarly important for other police officers on operational duties in the field. In order to help them withstand undue political interference, have time to properly understand the needs of their jurisdictions and do justice to their jobs, the Supreme Court provides for a minimum tenure of two years for the following categories of officers:           – Inspector General of Police (in charge of a Zone)

– Deputy Inspector General of Police (in charge of a Range)

– Superintendent of Police (in charge of a District)

– Station House Officer (in charge of a Police Station)[20]

4. To counter the prevailing practice of subjective appointments, transfers and promotions, the Supreme Court provides for the creation of a Police Establishment Board. In effect, the Board brings these crucial service related matters largely under police control. Notably, a trend in international best practice is that government has a role in appointing and managing senior police leadership, but service related matters of other ranks remain internal matters. Experience in India shows that this statutory demarcation is absolutely required in order to decrease corruption and undue patronage, given the prevailing illegitimate political interference in decisions regarding police appointments, transfers and promotions.[21]

5. the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to establish a National Security Commission for Central Police Organisations and Central Cara-Military Forces.

For ensuring accountability the Supreme Court directed the governments to set up:

6. Police Complaints Authority[22] and

7. To separate investigation and law and order function of police.[23]

The Government of Assam passed the Assam Police Act, 2007 purportedly to comply with the Supreme Court directives. But in reality it does not comply with the judgment fully. The Commonwealth Initiative for Human Rights (CHRI), a regional human rights organization which was also one of the interveners in the Prakash Shingh case, after an analysis of the Act says that the Act only partially complies with the directives:

  1. State Security Commission was established but the composition is not as per the Supreme Court directive.[24] The Act has also weakened the mandate of the commission and has made its recommendation non-binding.
  2. The second directive regarding selection process of the DGP and guarantee of his tenure not complied.
  3. Directive regarding guarantee of tenure of the police officers on the field are also not complied. Only one year of tenure is guaranteed to the Superintendent of Police in charge of a district and Officer-in-Charge of a police station with  vague grounds for premature removal.[25]
  4. Police Establishment Board was set up but the mandate was not adhered to.[26] DGP has also been given the power to transfer any officer up to the rank of Inspector “as deemed appropriate to meet any contingency”, contrary to the directive.
  5. The Central Government did not establish National Security Commission in utter contempt of the judgment.
  6. The Assam Police Act, 2007 establishes Police Accountability Commission to enquire into public complaints supported by sworn statement against the police personnel for serious misconduct and perform such other functions[27]. But the Chairperson and members of the Commission are appointed directly by the government.[28] This can, at best, be called partial compliance.
  7. Half hearted attempts can also be seen regarding separation of investigation from law and order function of the police. Special Crime Investigation Unit has been set up in urban police stations but there is no specific section on separation of between law and order and crime investigation.

This deliberate attempt to bypass the Supreme Court directives prompted the petitioner in the case former Assam director-general of police Prakash Singh to describe the Assam Police Act, 2007, as a fraud on the people of the state. He was speaking at a seminar  jointly organised by the commission and the Assam State Legal Services Authority at the Assam Administrative Staff College, Guwahati. According to him, the government had violated the letter and spirit of the apex court guidelines by passing the act without conforming to these guidelines.[29]

The Act needs drastic amendment to be brought in conformity with the Supreme Court guidelines and to be compatible with International Human Rights Standards. More importantly the role of the police needs to be redefined “taking into account the emerging challenges of policing and security of the State, the imperatives of good governance, and respect for human rights”.[30]

Implementation of the Laws

Another huge challenge to the civil and political rights is the no-adherence and non-implementation of laws and other instruments that are meant to protect such rights. The Supreme Court guidelines in DK Basu, and NHRPC guidelines regarding arrest, custodial deaths have the potential to drastically reduce the number of torture and disappearance cases if implemented properly. The DK Basu guidelines are only implemented in papers. In rural police stations the guidelines are not even hung in a language eligible to the public at a conspicuous place.

BHRPC has documented many cases of fake encounters and custodial deaths where no magisterial inquiry was conducted in contravention of the statutory mandate of section 176, of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973[31]. In other two cases where the executive magistrates conducted the inquiry the accused police personnel have been found guilty of murder. [32] The reports are dated 28 March 2007 and 9 April 2008 but till the date neither prosecution has been started nor has any compensation been provided to the kins of the deceased. Apart from legal immunity provided by security legislations such as the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958, the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955 there is a regime of de facto impunity guaranteed to the violators which responsible for the increase of the incidents of torture, custodial deaths and other extrajudicial killings.

Anomalies in the Legal Regime

Such gap between good laws on papers and their implementation on the ground may have been facilitated by the mindset that has been created among the law enforcement officials and security forces by the blanket power that has been given them to carry out their operations, once an area is declared disturbed under the AFSPA and ADAA. Even a non-commissioned officer in case AFSPA and a Havildar in case ADAA is granted the right to torture and to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion that it is necessary to do so in order to “maintain the public order” with full guarantee that he will never be required to answer in a court of law. If they are exempted from answering in a regular court of law, one may wonder, what the use of a magisterial inquiry is whether by judicial magistrate or executive magistrate.

Repeal Draconian Laws

Passing of the Prevention of Torture Bill, enactment of laws incorporating provisions of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance, carrying out the police reform as per the Supreme Court directives, ratification of CAT and its Optional Protocol and ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance envisage a sea change in the human rights regime in the country. As a logical corollary to these steps repeal of the AFSPA, ADAA, repeal or amendment to the National Security Act, 1980, the Assam Preventive Detention Act, 1980 and other such laws must be carried out to bring the entire human rights regime in India in conformity with the international human rights standards.

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Silchar, Assam


[1] This is a little modified version of the presentation made in the North East Consultation for  Universal Periodic Review of India at the UN Human Rights Council in 2012 held at NEDFi House Dispur, Guwahati on 23 September, 2011.
[2] Article 5 states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
[3]  The United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 8/8 on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
[4] The four Geneva Conventions provide protection for people who fall into enemy hands.
The third (GCIII) and fourth (GCIV) Geneva Conventions are the two most relevant for the treatment of the victims of conflicts. Both treaties state in Article 3, in similar wording, that in a non-international armed conflict, “Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms… shall in all circumstances be treated humanely.” The treaty also states that there must not be any “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” or “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment”.
GCIV covers most civilians in an international armed conflict, and says they are usually “Protected Persons” (see exemptions section immediately after this for those who are not). Under Article 32, protected persons have the right to protection from “murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments…but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by non-combatant or military agents”.
GCIII covers the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) in an international armed conflict. In particular, Article 17 says that “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.” POW status under GCIII has far fewer exemptions than “Protected Person” status under GCIV. Captured enemy combatants in an international armed conflict automatically have the protection of GCIII and are POWs under GCIII unless they are determined by a competent tribunal to not be a POW (GCIII Article 5).
[5] Article 7: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.”
[6] Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides that “[n]o person shall be deprived of his life and liberty except according to procedure established by law”. The right to life in Article 21 of the Constitution of India does not mean mere survival or existence. It encompasses the right to live with dignity. Torture is inflicted with the aim of degrading a person and involves the violation of dignity. It therefore falls within the ambit of Article 21.
Further safeguards are provided under other articles of the Constitution. Under Article 20(3), no person accused of any offence can be compelled to be a witness against himself. Article 22 (1) and (2) provide that a person who is arrested must be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest. The person also has the right to consult a lawyer of his choice. An arrested person must be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) also requires the production of accused before court within 24 hours. Section 54 of the CrPC gives the arrestee the right to be medically examined. No statement of a witness recorded by a police officer, according to Section 162 of the CrPC, can be used for any purpose other than contradicting such a statement. Thus admission of guilt before a police officer is not admissible in a court of law. Section 164 of the CrPC requires that the magistrate must ensure that a confession by the accused is voluntary. Sections 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) make it a penal offence to cause hurt to a person in order to extract a confession. (Human Rights Feature (Voice of the Asia Pacific Human Rights Network), Optional Protocol to CAT: India can’t see the consensus accessed at http://www.hrdc.net/sahrdc/hrfeatures/HRF59.htm on 22 September, 2011.
[7] AIR 1997 SC 610, 1997 CriLJ 743, 1996 (4) Crimes 233 (SC), (1997) 2 GLR 1631, JT 1997 (1) SC 1, RLW 1997 (1) SC 94, 1996 (9) SCALE 298, (1997) 1 SCC 416, [1996] Supp 10 SCR 284
[8] “Hundreds die of torture in India every year – report”. Reuters. 2008-06-25.
[9] United Nations Treaty Collection, accessed at http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-9&chapter=4&lang=en on 22 September, 2011.
[10] PRS Legislative Research, Legislative Brief: The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010
[11] The Report is summarized as: 1. The Bill seeks to provide punishment for torture committed by public servants or with their consent. It was introduced to enable India to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Committee added a number of amendments to the Bill.
2. The Bill defines “torture” as grievous hurt or danger to life, limb and health. It adds that an act is torture only if it is done intentionally and with the purpose of getting information or confession. The Committee recommended that the definition of torture should be suitably expanded so as to make it consistent with the UN Convention and include offences under the Indian Penal Code. Torture of women and children should be given special consideration and attempt to torture should also be made an offence. The definition of public servant should include any government companies or institutions.
3. The Bill states that a person shall be liable to a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine. The Committee suggested that a minimum punishment of three years be given to make the law more of a deterrent. Also, the torturer should be fined a minimum of Rs 1 lakh.
4. The Committee was of the opinion that the Bill should include guidelines for arriving at a fair compensation to the victim or to his dependents on his death.
5. The Committee stated that the limitation period for filing a complaint should be two years so that complainants have sufficient time to initiate proceedings. It added that there should be a specific provision in the Bill to ensure that complaints of disadvantaged victims are registered according to the law.
6. The Bill states that approval of the central or state government is required before courts can admit complaints against a public servant. While there is a need to protect honest officials, the Committee was of the view that this provision should not be used to shield guilty officials and deny justice to victims. Therefore, it suggested that if requested sanction is not given within three months, it would be deemed to have been granted. Trial for every offence under this law should be concluded within one year.
7. Since victims and witnesses face threats from accused persons, the Committee recommended that adequate provisions for the protection of victims and witnesses should be included in the Bill. A medical examination of the victim should be mandatory while he is lodged in jail. The report should be sent to the trial court.
8. The Committee observed that this law should be in addition to and not in derogation of any other law in force.
9. The Committee stated that the appropriate government would need to frame Rules for implementation of the Bill. Such a provision should be included in the Bill.
10. In view of the importance of the Bill, the Committee recommended that the period of notification be specified in the Bill itself. It suggested that the Bill should be notified within 120th day of its enactment.
[12] Section 12 reads  “Functions of the Commission: The Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely : (a) 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; “
[13] Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, accessed at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/disappearance-convention.htm on 22 September, 2011.
[14] The sections of the Indian Penal Code that deal with kidnap and abduction are :359. Kidnapping; 360. Kidnapping from India; 361. Kidnapping from lawful guardianship; 362. Abduction 363.     Punishment for kidnapping; 363A. Kidnapping or maiming a minor for purposes of begging; 364. Kidnapping or abducting in order to murder; 364A.  Kidnapping for ransom, etc.; 365. Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person; 366. Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.; 366A. Procreation of minor girl; 366B.       Importation of girl from foreign country; 367. Kidnapping or abducting in order to subject person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc.; 368.       Wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement, kidnapped or abducted person.
[15] Vide PMO Letter No. vide No. 13/3/2009-PMP3/75979 dated August 6, 2009
[16] The Preamble of the Assam Police Act, 2007 says that “it is expedient to redefine the role of the police taking into account the emerging challenges of policing and security of the State, the imperatives of good governance, and respect for human rights”
[17] Writ Petition (civil) 310 of 1996
[18] Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others: Analysis of the Supreme Court Directives on Police Reforms
[19] The Supreme court says, the Director General of Police of the State shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force. And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation. The DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the State Government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties.”
[20] The Supreme Court says, Police Officers on operational duties in the field like the Inspector General of Police incharge Zone, Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge Range, Superintendent of Police in-charge district and Station House Officer in-charge of a Police Station shall also have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years unless it is found necessary to remove them prematurely following disciplinary proceedings against them or their conviction in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption or if the incumbent is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his responsibilities. This would be subject to promotion and retirement of the officer.”
[21] CHRI:
[22] There shall be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Similarly, there should be another Police Complaints Authority at the State level to look into complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above. The district level Authority may be headed by a retired District Judge while the State level Authority may be headed by a retired Judge of the High Court/Supreme Court. The head of the State level Complaints Authority shall be chosen by the State Government out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice; the head of the district level Complaints Authority may also be chosen out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice or a Judge of the High Court nominated by him. These Authorities may be assisted by three to five members depending upon the volume of complaints in different States/districts, and they shall be selected by the State Government from a panel prepared by the State Human Rights Commission/Lok Ayukta/State Public Service Commission. The panel may include members from amongst retired civil servants, police officers or officers from any other department, or from the civil society. They would work whole time for the Authority and would have to be suitably remunerated for the services rendered by them.
The Authority may also need the services of regular staff to conduct field inquiries. For this purpose, they may utilize the services of retired investigators from the CID, Intelligence, Vigilance or any other organization. The State level Complaints Authority would take cognizance of only allegations of serious misconduct by the police personnel, which would include incidents involving death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody. The district level Complaints Authority would, apart from above cases, may also inquire into allegations of extortion, land/house grabbing or any incident involving serious abuse of authority. The recommendations of the Complaints Authority, both at the district and State levels, for any action, departmental or criminal, against a delinquent police officer shall be binding on the concerned authority.”
[23] The investigating police shall be separated from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. It must, however, be ensured that there is full coordination between the two wings. The separation, to start with, may be effected in towns/urban areas which have a population of ten lakhs or more, and gradually extended to smaller towns/urban areas also.”
[24] Section 35 lays down the composition :(1) The State Security Commission shall have as its members :-
(a) the Chief minister as the Chairperson;
(b) a retired high Court judge;
(c) the Chief Secretary;
(d) the Secretary in charge of the Home Department as its Member
Secretary;
(e) the Director General of Police of the State; and
(f) three non-political persons (hereinafter referred to as Independent Members”) of high integrity, expertise and competence in administration, law enforcement and security related matters nominated by the State Government. Out of these one shall be police officer superannuated in the rank not below Director general of Police, another a retired civil service officer not below the rank of Commissioner and Secretary to the State Government with experience in public administration, and the third member will be from the fields of public service, legal profession or social organization with at least fifteen years experience in the field.
Where as the Supreme Court approved Model Police Act in addition to the Chair and the Secretary, provides for the following composition:
(a) Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly
(b) Retired High Court Judge nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court
(c) Home Secretary3
(d) Five non-political persons of proven reputation for integrity and competence from the fields of academia, law, public administration, media or non-government organisations to be appointed on the recommendation of a Selection Panel composed of:
(i) A retired Chief Justice of a High Court to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court;
(ii) The Chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission; in the absence of a state Commission, a person nominated by the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission; and
(iii) The Chairperson of the State Public Service Commission.
[25] Sub-section 3 of section 12 provides: (3) Following officers on operational duties in the field shall have a term of minimum one year —
(i) Superintendent of Police in charge of District;
(ii) Officer in charge of Police Station :
Provided that such officer may be transferred from his post before the expiry of the minimum tenure of one year consequent upon,–
(a) promotion to a higher post; or
(b) conviction or charges having been framed, by a court of law in a criminal offence; or
(c) punishment of dismissal, removal, discharge or compulsory retirement from service or of reduction to a lower rank, or imposition of any other penalty other than censure awarded the relevant Acts and Rules; or
(d) suspension from service in accordance with the provisions of the Rules; or
(e) incapacitation by physical or mental illness or otherwise becoming unable to discharge his functions and duties; or
(f) the need to fill up a vacancy caused by promotion, transfer, or retirement; or
(g) on deputation with the consent of the officer concerned; or
(h) inefficiency or negligence or misdemeanor prima facie establishment after preliminary enquiry :
Provided that in the public interest the State Government may transfer the Superintendent of Police of the District as may be deemed appropriate to meet any contingency :
Provided further that in the public interest the Director General of Police of the State may transfer Officers in charge of Police Station of the rank of Inspector and District Superintendent of Police may transfer the Officer in charge of Police Station of the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police within the district as deemed appropriate to meet any contingency.
[26] See section 44 and 45 of the Assam Police Act, 2007
[27] See section 70
[28] See section 71
[29] The Telegraph, Monday, May 31, 2011: Ex-DGP dubs act ‘fraud’ – Govt faces flak over Assam Police Act, accessed at http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110530/jsp/northeast/story_14045156.jsp on 22 September 2011.
[30] Preamble to the Assam Police Act, 2007
[31] The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005 [NO. 25 OF 2005] incorporates sub-section (1-A) to the section 176 which reads
“(1-A) Where,—
(a) any person dies or disappears, or
(b) rape is alleged to have been committed on any woman,
while such person or woman is in the custody of the police or in any other custody authorised by the Magistrate or the court, under this Code in addition to the inquiry or investigation held by the police, an inquiry shall be held by the Judicial Magistrate or the Metropolitan Magistrate, as the case may be, within whose local jurisdiction the offence has been committed.”;

[32] See Magisterial Inquiry Report vide NO. MISC. CASE. 1/2007/28 Dated Silchar, the 9th April, 2008 and Memo No. KCL22/2007-08/242 dated Katigorah, 28 March 2007.

Urgent Appeal: Assam police harass and threaten a rape victim

February 10, 2011

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC Case No 60/2011/UA/23/210 Dated: 10 February 2011

Dear Friends,

Acting on the information provided by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued the following Urgent Appeal concerning the case of assault of a 24 year-old-girl and her mother by the police in Cachar district, Assam. Please take the suggested actions.

Yours sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Urgent Appeal Desk

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur, Silchar-9, Assam, India

INDIA: Assam police harass and threatened a rape victim

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-024-2011

To take actions please click here

8 February 2011
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INDIA: Assam police harass and threatened a rape victim

ISSUES: Violence against woman; rape; assault; police corruption
——————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), Assam concerning the case of rape of a 20 year-old-woman by her father-in-law. The victim was raped because she belongs to a poor family and was unable to provide the dowry during the time of her marriage. A complaint was then lodged to the local police station but to-date no action has been taken. Instead, the victim was threatened by the investigating officer to withdraw the complaint.

CASE NARRATIVE:

On December 2009, Mrs. Sonia (name changed) aged about twenty years was married to Mr. Pabitra Das. Sonia’s husband Pabitra does not have any proper source of income for their livelihood. He sells low quality ornaments in remote villages. Sonia’s father-in-law, Mr. Haricharan Das is a widower and works as a teacher in a government school.

Sonia belongs to a poor family and her father Mr. Dondodhar Das could not provide a sufficient dowry during the time of her marriage. Sonia alleged that after four/five months after her marriage, hers husband’s family demanded Rs. 50,000/= and a bicycle as dowry. When Sonia expressed her father’s inability to provide the demanded dowry, the entire husband family gradually started subjecting Sonia to mental and physical harassment. This was perpetrated mainly by Sonia’s father-in-law.

Sonia’s husband, and his unemployed younger brother Mr. Jayanta Das, used to leave home early in the morning everyday in search of work and return around 10pm. Sonia alleged that her father-in-law Haricharan beat her one day in his son’s absence and forced Sonia to have sex with him. This incident left Sonia traumatised. Sonia was at her wit’s end and could not tell anyone out of shame, disgust and fear. She has since been compelled to have sex with her father-in-law on several occasions.

The conditions became unbearable for Sonia that finally she told everything to her husband. Pabitra, instead of trusting his wife, hurled verbal abuse at her and accused Sonia of trying to malign his father and his relatives with the intension of breaking up the family. Sonia could no longer endure the agony and anguish and returned to her maternal home on July 2010. Sonia told her father and mother about the demand of dowry, ill-treatment and cruelty towards her but did not tell them of rape and molestation by her father-in-law.

Sonia’s father Dondodhar thought it was a normal wear and tear of conjugal life or at most a little ill-treatment for dowry. Dondodhar insisted that his daughter reconcile with her husband and their family so that She could start a new life, forgetting the past incidents. Dondodhar along with other village elders went to Haricharan’s house to discuss all matters other than the sexual harassment of his daughter Sonia. Sonia was then told by her father to stay with her husband and their family after the discussion.

It is reported that on September 2010 Haricharan with his whole family moved to Dhoomkar village from Salimabad. The place was new for Sonia and she did not know anyone. At this juncture, Haricharan once again started sexually assaulting his daughter-in-law. When Sonia could no longer bear to keep quiet and suffer in silence she told her husband on 29 November 2010. Pabitra became furious as he was already convinced of his father’s innocence and started beating Sonia. Sonia’s father-in-law and brother-in-law, Jayanta, joined him in assaulting Sonia.

Sonia alleged that the three men were trying to kill her and later that night at around 10 pm managed to escape the house. The father and sons tried to follow Sonia but could not trace her in the darkness. Mr. Somorendra Deb, resident of Dhoomkar and other passers-by including Ms. Ratna Das, President of Korkori Gaon Panchayat and Mr. Narat Lal Das, Vice-president of Korkori Gaon Panchayat found Sonia, gave her shelter, and informed the local police.

It is reported that on 30 November 2010 Sonia lodged a complaint to the Kalain police outpost but it was not registered in the police station. Therefore, Sonia filed two other complaints in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Silchar on 6 December 2010. The CJM clubbed both the complaints together and directed the Katigorah Police Station (PS) to register a First Information Report (FIR) and investigate the case.

Thereafter, an FIR was registered at Katigorah PS as Case no. 666/10 under Sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against Sonia’s husband Pabitra, brother-in-law Jayanta and Haricharan, father-in-law. Mr. Prabhat Saikia, a Sub-Inspector of Police and In-Charge of Kalain police outpost was made the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case.

However, the police did not take any actions to investigate the case based on the FIR. Instead, the IO met the victim, Sonia, and pressured her to withdraw the complaint and to settle the matter amicably. Sonia alleged that the IO threatened to render her family beggars and homeless if she continued to pursue the case in courts or any other legal forums.

On 30 December 2010, Sonia wrote a written complaint to the district Superintendent of Police (SP) about the misconduct of the IO and requested the SP to intervene in investigating her case. There has been no response or action from the SP as yet on Sonia’s complaint.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the authorities mentioned below expressing your concern in this case and urge them to ensure legal redress to the victim.

The AHRC is writing separate letter of concern to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, calling for an intervention in this case.

To take actions please click here

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: The rape of a 20-year-old woman must be investigated and prosecuted

Name of victim: Mrs. Sonia (name changed) aged about 20 years, resident of village Korkori Part-III, Kalain under Katigorah Police Station, Cachar district, Assam state
Names of alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Pabitra Das, Sonia’s husband
2. Mr. Haricharan Das, Sonia’s father-in-law
3. Mr. Jayanta Das, Sonia’s brother-in-law
All residents of Dhoomkar village under the jurisdiction of Katigorah Police Station, Cachar district
Date of incident: Between July – November 2010
Place of incident: Dhoomkar village, Kalain under Katigorah Police Station, Cachar district

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the rape case of Sonia (name changed), a 20 year old woman by her father-in-law. I am informed that Sonia was raped because she belongs to a poor family and her family could not provide the dowry during the time of her marriage. Sonia was married on December 2009 to Mr. Pabitra Das. Sonia alleged that after four to five months after her marriage her husband’s family demanded Rs.50,000 and a bicycle as dowry. When Sonia expressed her father’s inability to provide the demanded dowry, the entire husband family gradually started subjecting Sonia to mental and physical harassment. This was being perpetrated mainly by Sonia’s father-in-law.

I am informed that Sonia’s husband Pabitra sells low quality ornaments in remote villages to earn money. Pabitra and his younger brother Mr. Jayanta Das used to leave home early in the morning and return around 10pm everyday in search of a job. Sonia’s father-in-law Mr. Haricharan Das is a widower and works as a teacher in a government school. Sonia alleged that her father-in-law beat her one day on his son’s absence and force her in sexual submission. This incident left Sonia shattered at the core and traumatised. Since then Sonia was at her wit’s end and could not tell anyone out of shame, disgust and fear and was compelled to have sex with her father-in-law several times.

I am informed that the conditions became unbearable for Sonia that she told everything to her husband. Pabitra, instead of trusting his wife, he verbally abused her and accused Sonia of trying to malign his father and relatives with the intension of breaking up the family. Sonia could no longer endure the agony and anguish and returned to her maternal home on July 2010. Sonia told her father and mother about the demand of dowry, ill-treatment and cruelty towards her but did not tell them of rape and molestation by her father-in-law. Sonia’s father Dondodhar thought it was a normal wear and tear of conjugal life or at most a little ill-treatment for dowry.

I am informed that Dondodhar insisted on his daughter Sonia to reconcile with her husband and their family so that Sonia can start a new life forgetting the past incidents. Dondodhar along with other village elders went to Haricharan’s house and discuss all matters other than the sexual harassment of his daughter Sonia. Sonia was then told by her father to stay with her husband and their family after the discussion.

I am informed that on September 2010 Haricharan with his whole family has moved to Dhoomkar village from Salimabad. The place was new for Sonia and the neighbours were unacquainted. At this juncture, Haricharan once again started sexually assaulting his daughter-in-law Sonia. When Sonia could no longer bear to keep quiet and suffer, she told her husband on 29 November 2010. Pabitra, Sonia’s husband, got furious as he was already convinced by his father and started beating Sonia. Pabitra’s father Haricharan and his younger brother Jayanta joined him in assaulting Sonia.

Sonia alleged that she was trying to kill by father-sons trio during an assault. Sonia managed to escape her husband’s house the same night around 10pm. The father-sons trio followed Sonia but could not trace her in the darkness. Mr. Somorendra Deb, resident of Dhoomkar and other passers-by including Ms. Ratna Das, President of Korkori Gaon Panchayat and Mr. Narat Lal Das, Vice-president of Korkori Gaon Panchayat found Sonia, gave her shelter, and informed the local police.

I am informed that on 30 November 2010 Sonia lodged a complaint to the Kalain police outpost but it was not registered in the police station. Therefore, Sonia filed two other complaints in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Silchar on 6 December 2010. The CJM clubbed both the complaints together and directed the Katigorah Police Station (PS) to register a First Information Report (FIR) and investigate the case.

I am informed that thereafter an FIR was registered at Katigorah PS as Case no. 666/10 under Sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against Sonia’s husband Pabitra, brother-in-law Jayanta and Haricharan, father-in-law. Mr. Prabhat Saikia, a Sub-Inspector of Police and In-Charge of Kalain police outpost was made the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case.

However, the police did not take any action to investigate the case based on the FIR. Instead, the IO met the victim, Sonia, and pressured her to withdraw the complaint and to settle the matter amicably. Sonia alleged that the IO threatened to render her family beggars and homeless if she continued to pursue the case in courts or any other legal forums.

I am informed that again on 30 December 2010, Sonia wrote a written complaint to the district Superintendent of Police (SP) about the misconduct of the IO and to seek his intervention in investigating her case. There has been no response or action from the SP as yet on Sonia’s complaint.

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

1. The police must immediately record the statement of the victim;
2. Should there be any request from the victim for protection against further threat, the police must provide the same to the victim;
3. The statements of other witnesses in the incident are to be recorded by the police without any further delay;
4. The suspicious conduct of the police officer who is in charge of the investigation of the case must be investigated by a superior officer and if the inquiry finds that the officer is at fault, he must be punished;
5. A female officer must investigate the case

Yours sincerely,

—————-
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Justice S. Barman Roy
Chairperson
Assam Human Rights Commission
STATFED H.O. Building, GMC Road
Bhangagarh, Guwahati
Pin – 781005, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2529450, 2527076
Email: hrca@sancharnet.in

2. Mrs. Krishna Tirath
Minister of State
Ministry of Women and Child Development
Shastri Bhavan, Jeevandeep Building
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23074052, 23074053, 23074054

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

To take actions please click here

Posted on 2011-02-08

AHRC URL: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2011/3649/

URGENT APPEAL: Police assaulted mother and daughter during mid-night at home

February 1, 2011

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC Case No 59/2010/UA/23/210 Dated: 01 February 2011

Dear Friends,

Acting on the information provided by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued the following Urgent Appeal concerning the case of assault of a 24 year-old-girl and her mother by the police in Cachar district, Assam. Please take the suggested actions.

Yours sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Urgent Appeal Desk

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur, Silchar-9, Assam, India

Download the Urgent Appeal

INDIA: Assam police assaulted mother and daughter during mid-night at home

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-019-2011

Click here to support the appeal

1 February 2011
——————————————————
INDIA: Assam police assaulted mother and daughter during mid-night at home

ISSUES: Assault; Threats; Witness protection; Police inaction and negligence
——————————————————
Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), Assam concerning the case of assault of a 24 year-old-girl and her mother by the police in Cachar district, Assam. This incident occurred at midnight when the police were searching for a fugitive, Mr. Hussain Ahmed Laskar. Police then threatened the victims when a written complaint was filed with the local police station. Insofar, the local police have taken no actions on the victim’s complaint.

CASE NARRATIVE:

At midnight on 15 December 2010, a team of police officers knocked on the door of Ms. Hasina Begum Laskar’s house while they were sleeping. Hasina, aged about 24 years, lives with her 60-year-old mother, Mrs. Alfatun Nessa Laskar. Her father has passed away and the family lives at Barjatrapur Village under the jurisdiction of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam.

Hasina asked the persons to identify themselves and the reason for the visit. The officers told her that they were from the police and wanted to enquire about a fugitive name Mr. Hussain Ahmed Laskar. Hasina replied that she did not know the person. The police officers then demanded that Hasina open the door and when she refused they entered the house forcefully after breaking open the door.

It is reported that Sub-Inspector Mr. Ibrahim Khalilullah Kabir of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam state led the police officers. Ibrahim is also the Officer-in-Charge of Bhangarpar Police Out-Post of Borkhola Police Station. Hasina alleges that the police officer was accompanied by his fellow constables and not any woman police officer, as is required by the law.

Officer, Ibrahim, asked Hasina a few questions about the fugitive Hussain before suddenly grabbing Hasina’s hand. Hasina claims that the officer pulled her closer as if he had intentions to sexually harass her. Hasina resisted the officer’s advances and that resulted in a scuffle. Hasina then started screaming for help. Upon hearing Hasina, her mother woke up. When the mother came into the room where Hasina and the officer were struggling she tried to stand in between the officer and her daughter, in order to protect her daughter and free her from the officer. The officers infuriated by the resistance of the two women, started assaulting them. Hasina’s mother vomited at the time, after suffering injuries from the assault and undoubtedly from shock due to fear. Then she fainted and fell to the ground.

It is reported that Hasina’s neighbours started gathering near the house after hearing the cries of Hasina and her mother. The police left the house after seeing the people. Hasina’s neighbours dialed an emergency helpline number 108 (free medical services provided by the government) and explained the incidents briefly. An ambulance came and picked-up Hasina’s mother and took her to the Silchar Medical College Hospital. Hasina’s mother was later discharged from the hospital but is still under medication.

On 18 December 2010, Hasina lodged a written complaint with the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Borkhola Police Station, Cachar district, Assam. However, following this, Hasina alleged that an unknown person called her mobile and threatened that if she proceeded against the police officer, she would suffer grave consequences. Again on the following day, the day Hasina lodged a complaint to the SP, she received another called from unknown person at 11.03am on her mobile and the same threat was repeated. Hasina received both incoming call on her mobile from the same number +91 9859628761. To-date, the SP has taken no action on Hasina’s complaint.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the authorities mentioned below, in particular to the Home Minister of Assam, expressing your concern in the case. The statements of the victims and witnesses must be recorded without any delay. The AHRC is writing separate letter of concern to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women calling for an intervention in the case.

To support this appeal, please click here

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Assault of a 24 years old girl and her mother must be investigated

Name of victim: Ms. Hasina Begum Laskar, resident of Village Barjatrapur under the jurisdiction of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam state
Names of alleged perpetrators: Mr. Ibrahim Khalilullah Kabir, Sub-Inspector of Borkhola Police Station and his fellow constables
Date of incident: 15 December 2010
Place of incident: Barjatrapur Village, Cachar district, Assam state

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the assault of a 24-year-old girl and her mother. I am informed that on 15 December 2010, at midnight, a team of police officers knocked on the door of Ms. Hasina Begum Laskar’s house while they were sleeping. Hasina lives with her 60-year-old mother, Mrs. Alfatun Nessa Laskar. Her father has passed away and the family lives at Barjatrapur Village under the jurisdiction of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam.

I am informed that Hasina woke up hearing the knocking at the door asked the persons to identify and for why they are at their home. The officers told her that they were from the police and wanted to enquire about a fugitive name Mr. Hussain Ahmed Laskar. Hasina replied that she did not know the person. The police officers then demanded that Hasina open the door and when she refused they entered the house forcefully after breaking open the door.

It is reported that Sub-Inspector Mr. Ibrahim Khalilullah Kabir of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam state led the police officers. Ibrahim is also the Officer-in-Charge of Bhangarpar Police Out-Post of Borkhola Police Station. Hasina alleges that the police officer was accompanied by his fellow constables and not any woman police officer, as is required by the law.

I am informed that officer, Ibrahim, asked Hasina a few questions about the fugitive Hussain before suddenly grabbing Hasina’s hand. Hasina claims that the officer pulled her closer as if he had intentions to sexually harass her. Hasina resisted the officer’s advances and that resulted in a scuffle. Hasina then started screaming for help. Upon hearing Hasina, her mother woke up. When the mother came into the room where Hasina and the officer were struggling she tried to stand in between the officer and her daughter, in order to protect her daughter and free her from the officer. The officers infuriated by the resistance of the two women, started assaulting them. Hasina’s mother vomited at the time, after suffering injuries from the assault and undoubtedly from shock due to fear. Then she fainted and fell to the ground.

It is reported that Hasina’s neighbours started gathering near the house after hearing the cry from Hasina and her mother. The police left the house after seeing the people. Hasina’s neighbours dialed an emergency helpline number 108 (free medical services provided by the government) and explained the incidents briefly. An ambulance came and picked-up Hasina’s mother and took her to the Silchar Medical College Hospital. Hasina’s mother was later discharged from the hospital but is still under medication.

On 18 December 2010, Hasina lodged a written complaint with the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Borkhola Police Station, Cachar district, Assam. However, following this, Hasina alleged that an unknown person called her mobile and threatened that if she proceeded against the police officer, she would suffer grave consequences. Again on the following day, the day Hasina lodged a complaint to the SP, she received another called from unknown person at 11.03am on her mobile and the same threat was repeated. Hasina received both incoming call on her mobile from the same number +91 9859628761. To-date, the SP has taken no action on Hasina’s complaint.

I ask for your immediate intervention in order to ensure that an investigation is carried out into this incident.

Yours sincerely,

—————-
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Justice S. Barman Roy
Chairperson
Assam Human Rights Commission
STATFED H.O. Building, GMC Road
Bhangagarh, Guwahati
Pin – 781005, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2529450, 2527076
Email: hrca@sancharnet.in

2. Mr. P.K. Bhuyan, APS
District Superintendent of Police
Borkhola Police Station
Cachar district, Assam
INDIA

3. Mrs. Krishna Tirath
Minister of State
Ministry of Women and Child Development
Shastri Bhavan, Jeevandeep Building
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23074052, 23074053, 23074054

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

Click here to take actions

Posted on 2011-02-01

See the appeal at its original location

Urgent Appeal: Woman forced to quit job and denied justice after sexual harassment in Assam

January 25, 2011

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC Case No 58/2010/UA/23/210 Dated: 25 January 2010

Dear Friends,

Acting on the information provided by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued the following Urgent Appeal. Please take the suggested actions.

Yours

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Urgent Appeal Desk

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur, Silchar-9, Assam, India

Click here to send an appeal to the authorities

 

INDIA: Woman forced to quit job and denied justice after sexual harassment

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-011-2011

25 January 2011
——————————————————
INDIA: Woman forced to quit job and denied justice after sexual harassment

ISSUES: Violence against women; Sexual harassment; Police corruption
——————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) concerning the case of Ms. Lara (name changed) a victim of sexual harassment from Assam state. It is reported that the victim had to resign from her job since her superior colleagues tried to sexually molest her. On the day of her resignation, the suspected officers tried to rape the victim at their office. The police, despite having registered a case against the suspects are now demanding the victim to forgive the suspects and settle the case.

CASE DETAILS:

It is reported that on 2 December 2010 at about 2.30pm, Lara’s two senior colleagues, Mr. Sandip Sarkar and Mr. Rajeeb Nath, assaulted, molested and attempted to rape Lara at the office of her company. Lara worked as an office assistant and a computer operator at Rose Valley Chain Marketing System Ltd., at Bhaga Branch in Assam state. The incident happened at the regional office of the company, where she was asked to report by her seniors. The company where Lara was employed is a subsidiary of Rose Valley Group with Registered Head Office at RGM-25/3010, Raghunathpur, VIP Road, Kolkata – 700059, West Bengal.

Sarkar is the Assistant Regional Manager at the regional office at Silchar, Assam state. Sarkar called Lara on 18 November 2009 at about 9pm on her mobile telephone and demanded sexual favours from Lara. Lara refused and requested Sarkar not to use such language with her in the future. Due to this, Lara alleges that Sarkar deliberately transferred her from Aizawl branch, Mizoram state to an office in Bhaga which is nearer to the regional office (about 45 Kilometres from Silchar).

Lara alleges that Sarkar then repeatedly called Lara and continued using unsolicited and sexually implicit language in the conversations, despite Lara’s request to stop it. Lara claims that Sarkar also tried requesting Lara’s colleague, Ms. Dolly (name changed), to convince Lara to pay heed to Sarkar’s unsolicited demands. Both Lara and Dolly being subordinate staff were helpless and worse, it was impossible for them to avoid Sarkar’s calls.

On one occasion Sarkar asked Lara and Dolly to come at Silchar Branch at 4pm. Lara and Dolly informed Sarkar that the last bus from Silchar to Bhaga stops at 4pm. Sarkar then offered Lara and Dolly to stay at a hotel at Silchar. However, they refused to travel to Silchar on that occasion.

Both Lara and Dolly complained to the Senior Marketing Officer Mr. Mrinal Kanti Dutta about the harassment to which Sarkar subjected them to. Dutta enquired into the matter. Instead of taking action against Sarkar, Dutta and the vigilance officer of the company requested Lara and Dolly to forgive Sarkar for the sake of the company’s name and goodwill.

Lara alleges that due to the complaint, Sarkar withheld her salary increment by misusing his senior position in the company. It is alleged that soon another senior colleague, Mr. Rajeeb Nath, became Sarkar’s accomplice in his misadventures against Lara. Nath contacted Lara and informed her that her pending salary increment would be released only if Lara agreed to Sarkar’s unsolicited requests for sexual gratification. Nath also informed Lara that she would be posted to her hometown Aizawl branch should she comply. Lara once again refused to the demands. Sarkar and Nath continued harassing Lara regularly over the mobile telephone continuously then on.

The situation gradually became so unbearable to Lara that she decided to resign. Lara submitted her resignation letter on 2 November 2010 to Mr. Jyoti Prasad Mohan, the Regional Manager, requesting the company to relieve her from the job on 30 November 2010. The same day, Lara went to the regional office at Silchar for the final settlement of her salary and other dues including the amount due to her from the Employees’ Provident Fund. Lara reached the regional office at Silchar by noon and found the Regional Manager not at the office.

Sarkar was in-charge of the regional office in the absence of the Regional Manager. It is alleged that Sarkar intentionally kept Lara waiting outside his cabin until 2.30pm. When Lara entered the cabin and took a seat, Sarkar called Nath over his extension to visit him. Nath came to the room immediately. Thereafter, both Sarkar and Nath asked Lara to stay in a hotel and have sex with them. They also told Lara that all her problems would be resolved if she obliged.

Lara sternly rejected the proposal and stood up from the chair. Suddenly, both Sarkar and Nath jumped over Lara and assaulted her physically. Both tried to overpower Lara and rape her then and there. Lara gathered strength and started shouting for help. Other colleagues in the office assembled near the room after hearing Lara shouting for help. However, Sarkar and Nath managed to escape from the office. Lara alleges that Sarkar was vigorously trying to remove her shirt. While they escaped, Sarkar snatched Lara’s gold chain that she was wearing. In the attempt to snatch the chain, Sarkar tore off Lara’s shirt. Lara alleges that the chain is worth Rs. 15,000.00.

Immediately after the incident, Lara filed a complaint at the Vairangte Police Station in Kolasib district, Mizoram state. The officer-in-charge (OC) forwarded the complaint to the Silchar Sadar Police Station on 3 December 2010. It was reported that on 4 December 2010 the OC of Silchar Sadar Police Station registered a case, number 2254 under Sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman) and 427 (mischief causing damage) read with Section 34 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against Sarkar and Nath.

It is also reported that Mr. Puia, Sub-Inspector of police is the Investigating Officer (IO) in the case. Lara alleges that the IO did not show any interest in investigating the case. Instead, the IO made several calls to Lara from various telephones asking her whether she wanted to rejoin the company or would join any other work. The IO expressed his readiness to help Lara in either way. According to Lara, the IO made his last call from the mobile number +91-94352 95037 at 6.27pm on 18 January 2011.

Lara suspects that the police is under the influence of Sarkar and Nath, for which they are using their position in the company. Lara alleges that the case would never be investigated and even today the police have failed to properly record her statement or to question other witnesses to the incident. Lara also fears that she will receive no further protection from her assailants, should they try to hurt her further or threaten her.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please send letters to the authorities named below expressing your concern in this case and urge them to ensure legal redress to the victim.

The AHRC is also sending a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, calling for an intervention in this case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: The molestation and attempted to rape of a working woman must be investigated

Name of victim: Ms. Lara (name changed), former employee of Rose Valley Chain Marketing System Ltd., Bhaga Branch in Assam state
Name of alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Sandip Sarkar, Assistant Regional Manager, Rose Valley Chain Marketing System Ltd., Silchar, Assam state
2. Mr. Rajeeb Nath, Officer, Rose Valley Chain Marketing System Ltd., Silchar, Assam state
Date of incident: 02 December 2010
Place of incident: Regional office of Rose Valley Chain Marketing System Ltd. at Silchar, Assam

I am writing to express my concern about the case of sexual molestation and attempted rape reported to me, wherein it is alleged that the investigating officer is not showing any interest to investigate the case properly. I am informed that the accused in the case sexually molested and assaulted the victim in the case, Lara, on 2 November 2010 at the regional office of the company where she once worked.

The victim in the case, Lara, worked as an office assistant and a computer operator at Rose Valley Chain Marketing System Ltd. at Bhaga Branch of Assam state. The company is a subsidiary of Rose Valley Group of Companies with Registered Head Office at RGM-25/3010, Raghunathpur, VIP Road, Kolkata – 700059, West Bengal.

I am informed that the main suspect in the case is Mr. Sandip Sarkar, an Assistant Regional Manager of the company stationed at the regional office in Silchar, Assam state. I am informed that Lara is accusing Sarkar that he had made several unsuccessful attempts to lure Lara into an illegal sexual relationship with him. For this, it is alleged that Sarkar misused his position at the office as an officer superior to Lara. I am informed that Sarkar transferred Lara to an office closer to the regional office where Sarkar is working. Lara also alleged that Sarkar had an accomplice in the crime, which is Mr. Rajeeb Nath, who is also a senior staff member of the same company. Lara alleges that on 18 November 2009 at about 9pm Sarkar contacted Lara over her mobile telephone and demanded sexual favours. I am informed that Lara refused outright and requested Sarkar not to use such language with her in the future.

I am informed that Lara’s transfer from Aizawl branch, Mizoram state to Bhaga was a deleberate action by Sarkar. I am informed that Sarkar then repeatedly called Lara over her telephone and demanded her to sleep with Sarkar. It is alleged that Sarkar even asked another female colleague, Ms. Dolly (name changed), to convince Lara that she should pay heed to Sarkar’s demands for sexual favours. I am informed that later Sarkar started receiving help from Nath to contact Lara and threaten her that should she continue to refuse Sarkar’s request she would have a tough time at the job.

I am informed that both Lara and Dolly complained to the Senior Marketing Officer, Mr. Mrinal Kanti Dutta, about the harassment against which there was an inquiry. However, the officer refused to act against Sarkar and Nath. Instead, the officer after the inquiry requested Lara and Dolly to forgive Sarkar for the sake of the company’s name and goodwill.

I am informed that Sarkar thereafter refused to pay salary increments to Lara. Dejected and abused, Lara resigned from the job on 2 November 2010. On the same day, Lara went to the regional office at Silchar for the final settlement of her salary and other dues including the Employees Provident Fund. It is reported that it is when Lara was summoned to Sarkar’s room on that day that Sarkar and Nath tried to rape Lara inside the office room. I am informed that other staffs members present in the office are witnesses to the event, at least to the extent that they had gathered around the room in which Lara was molested when they heard her cries for help. It is also reported that Sarkar, while he fled from the room snatched Lara’s chain worth Rs. 15,000.00.

I am informed that the complaint filed by Lara immediately after the incident at the Vairangte Police Station in Kolasib district, Mizoram was forwarded to Silchar Sadar Police Station on 3 December 2010. It was reported that on 4 December 2010 the OC of Silchar Sadar Police Station registered a case number 2254 under Sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman) and 427 (mischief causing damage) read with section 34 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against Sarkar and Nath.

However, instead of investigating the case, the OC is trying to persuade Lara to settle the matter. I am informed that Lara is now certain that her case would not be investigated and that Sarkar and Nath are using their influence and money to prevent the police from taking any action in the case. It is also reported that Lara is afraid that Sarkar or Nath will hurt Lara and that the police will provide no protection to her should something like that happen.

I am also informed that in a case decided by the Supreme Court of India, there are strict laws to be complied by the employers as well as the government to ensure safety of women from sexual harassment in places of work. Quite obviously Lara’s case is a direct contradiction of the Supreme Court’s directives in the Vishaka case.

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

1. The police must immediately record the statement of the victim;
2. Should there be any request from the victim for protection against further threat, the police must provide the same to the victim;
3. The statements of other witnesses in the incident are to be recorded by the police without any further delay;
4. The suspicious conduct of the police officer who is in charge of the investigation of the case must be investigated by a superior officer and if the inquiry finds that the officer is at fault, he must be punished;
5. A female officer must investigate the case

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

3. Mr. G M Srivastava
Director General of Police
Assam, Ulubari
Guwahati-7, Assam
INDIA

4. Mr. PU Lalthanhawla
Chief Minister of Mizoram
A/14, Zarkawt, Aizawl, Mizoram
INDIA
Fax: +91 389 2322245

5. Mr. R. Lalzirliana
Home Minister of Mizoram
Armed Veng “N”, Aizawl
Mizoram
INDIA

6. Mrs. Krishna Tirath
Minister of State
Ministry of Women and Child Development
Shastri Bhavan, Jeevandeep Building
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 24654849, 24654667, 24616466

Thank you.

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

Send an appeal

Posted on 2011-01-25

A working woman harassed, molested and forced to quit her job and then denied justice

January 18, 2011


Download the complete report

A working woman was harassed sexually in work place by her senior colleagues in Assam, India. The victim, a computer operator of a private company, was subjected to a prolonged harassment, molestation and attempted rape. No actions were taken on her complaint by the higher officials of the company. The accused used their positions to make sure that she submitted herself to them and never complained against them. The situation became unbearable and she was compelled to quit the job. The company, however, did not pay her dues. A criminal case was registered by the police but no visible actions were taken. There is strong apprehension that justice would be denied and she would be subjected to further harassment by police.

Identification of the alleged victim(s):

Name: Ms. Esther Vanlalruati

Address: Village: Hospital Veng,

Police Station: Darlawn

District: Aizwal

Sate: Mizoram, India

Identification of the alleged perpetrators of the violation;

Name: 1. Mr. Sandip Sarkar

Assistant Regional Manager

2. Mr. Rajeeb Nath

Address: Regional Office

Rose Valley Chain Marketing System Limited

Shyama Prasad Road,

Shillongpatti, Silchar

Assam, India

A Subsidiary of Rose Valley Group of Companies with Registered  and Head Office at RGM-25/3010, Raghunathpur, VIP Road, Kolkata – 700059, West Bengal, India

Name: 3. Mr. Puiya

Designation: Sub Inspector of Police

Address: Silchar Sadar Police Station

Cachar, Assam, India

Date and place of incident:

Date: From 18 November 2009 at 09:00 pm still continuing

Place: Aizwal in Mizoram, Bhaga and Silchar in Assam, India

A detailed description of the circumstances of the incident in which the alleged violation occurred:

According to information received by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), Ms. Esther Vanlalruati of village Hospital Veng under police station Darlawn in the district of Aizwal in Mizoram state, had been working as office assistant and computer operator in a company named Rose Valley Chain Marketing System Ltd, a subsidiary of Rose Valley Group of Companies with Registered and Head Office at RGM-25/3010, Raghunathpur, VIP Road, Kolkata – 700059, West Bengal, since December 2007. At first she was working at Aizwal Branch (which situates in Mizoram state of North East India). At that time, the Assistant Regional Manager Mr. Sandip Sarkar from regional office at Shyama Prasad Road, Shillongpatti, Silchar in Assam used to call Ms. Vanlalruati over the telephone often and would use sexually coloured language. In the like manner, he called her on 18 November 2009 at 09:00 pm and this time he directly demanded her sexual favours. But she refused outright and requested him never to use such language with her in future.

Mr. Sandip Sarkar, however, procured transfer of Ms. Vanlalruati to Bhaga Branch which is nearer to the regional office at Silchar (about 45 kms). Mr. Sarkar increased the frequency of his call to her and continued using unsolicited and sexually coloured languages including direct demand for sexual favours. Moreover, he started calling her friend and colleague Ms. Hellen Lalramnuami and would request her to influence Ms Vanlalruati into sexual submission to him.  It was impossible for them to avoid his call because he was their boss.

Another day Mr. Sarkar asked them to come at Silchar Branch at 4 pm with intention to make them stay for the night. When they told him that they would not be able to return because plying of buses from Silchar to Bhaga would stop after around 4pm, he offered them to stay at a hotel at Silchar. However, they refused.

Both Ms. Vanlalruati and Ms Lalramnuami complained to the Senior Marketing Member Mr. Mrinal Kanti Dutta about the harassment to which they were subjected by Mr. Sarkar. Mr. Dutta enquired into the matter. Instead of taking actions against the accused, Mr. Dutta and vigilance officer of the company requested the victims to forgive Mr. Sarkar for the sake of the company’s name and fame.

In order to teach a lesson to the victims and pressure them into submission, Mr. Sarkar kept Ms. Vanlalruati’s increment of salary pending by misusing his position. Then another official Mr. Rajeeb Nath also became an accomplice of Mr. Sarkar. Mr. Nath contacted Ms. Vanlalruati and told her that all her increment would be released and she would also be posted at her home town Aizwal provided that she submitted herself to the demand of Mr. Sarkar. But she refused. Since then both Mr. Sarkar and Mr. Nath continued harassing the ladies regularly over the telephone.

The situation gradually became unbearable to Ms. Vanlalruati and she decided to quit the job. She submitted her resignation letter on 02 November, 2010 to Mr. Jyoti Prasad Mohan, the regional manager to be effective from on 30 November, 2010. On 2 December, 2010 she went to the regional office at Silchar for final settlement of her salary and other dues including Employees Provident Fund, Human Resource Assistance etc.

When she reached the regional office at Silchar at around 12 noon, she found the Regional Manager out of station. The main accused Mr. Sandip Sarkar was in charge of the office. Mr. Sarkar intentionally kept her waiting outside his cabin until 2:30 pm. When she entered the cabin and took her seat, he called Mr. Rajeeb Nath over the phone and the latter immediately entered the cabin. Both of them then asked her to stay in a hotel and have sex with them. If she obliged all her problems would be resolved, they told her. Ms. Vanlalruati sternly rejected this proposal and got up from the chair. Suddenly both of them jumped on her and assaulted her physically. They tried to overpower her and rape her then and there. She gathered strength and started shouting. Other office bearers assembled at the noise. Nevertheless, both the accused somehow managed to escape. Ms. Vanlalruati claimed that Mr. Sandip Sarkar was pulling her shirt and while he escaped he took her gold chain worth Rupees 15000/- (fifteen thousand) along with the upper part of her shirt.

Ms. Esther Vanlalruati filed a complaint at Vairengte Police Station (PS) in Kolasib district, Mizoram. The officer in charge (OC) forwarded it to the Silchar Sadar Police Station on 3 December, 2010 and the OC of this PS registered it as Case No. 2254 under sections 342, 354, 427 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 dated 4 December 2010 against Mr. Sandip Sarkar and Mr. Rajib Nath. Sub Inspector of police Mr. Puia was made the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case. The victim claimed that the IO did not show any interest in investigating the case after only recording the statement of the victim. According to her, he also started annoying them. He made several calls to her from various mobile numbers, but did not want to talk about the case or investigation. He continued to ask her whether she wanted to rejoin the company or she would join any other work. He expressed his readiness to help her in either way. He last made a call from mobile number +919435295037 to Ms. Vanlalruati’s mobile number +9197774782396 at 6.27pm on 18 January 2011. This overzealousness of the officer made the victim suspicious of his motive, who is only interested in getting justice.

Extra-Judicial Killing of Hashmat Ali by Assam Police in His House

January 18, 2011

Extra-Judicial Killing of Hashmat Ali by Assam Police in His House

A daily wage labourer named Hashmat Ali, son of Imam Uddin of Vill. Burunga Part-1 under the Katigorha Police Station in the district of Cachar, Assam was killed by police personnel of Kalain Outpost in the intervening night between 40 April & 1st May’2007. It was not a case of mere shootout but it was a pre-planned action of home invasion. In-charge of Kalain outpost Sub Inspector Sewa Sinha led the invading police team which at about 11-30 pm attacked the house of the deceased and ferociously made their way into the rooms breaking the doors. They started breaking utensils and furniture and abusing, beating and humiliating the inmates of the house including women and children. Being terrified the deceased desperately jumped through the window and ran towards the paddy field. When he was about 200 metres away constable Tapan Hazarika opened fire and shot three rounds. Neighbours of the deceased testified that they heard three times the sound of firing. The deceased died on the spot. Police, without informing the family members, brought him to the Silchar Medical College & Hospital, Silchar. The doctors of SMCH declared him dead. The widow of the deceased was informed in the next day that her husband was getting treatment at SMCH. When she reached the Hospital the performance of autopsy of the body of her husband was complete.

Ikbal Hussain: Fresh victim of extrajudicial execution in Assam

January 10, 2011

Ikbal Hussain: Fresh victim of extrajudicial execution in Assam

The latest civilian victim of extrajudicial execution in the northeast state of Assam is Ikbal Hussain Laskar – who was tortured to death by army men on October 9, 2010. The state had counted more than 150 extrajudicial civilian deaths in 2009.

According to information received by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), an Assam based human rights organization of Assam, soldiers of Indian Army illegally raided a family at midnight and took Ikbal forcefully after torturing him severely and then torture continued resulting in his death. Ikbal Hussain Laskar, 42, belonged to the village of Chiparsangan, Part – III, under Algapur Police Station of Hailakandi district, Assam. He was tortured to death on 9 October, 2010 allegedly by the Army personnel belonging to 117/36 Artillery Field Regiment/ DTY COB, Manipur, Hailakandi, Assam.

According to Home Ministry’s annual report in 2009, 368 people, including 152 civilians, were killed in 424 incidents in Assam. Civilian death is the slow intensity war in north east India has wide prevalence. Extrajudicial execution is arbitrary deprivation of life by denying right to life and right to a fair trial. It is a kind of capital punishment by the state authorities without the Court’s verdict after a fair trial. Such executions are witnesses in north east India especially Assam and Manipur for decades under the umbrella Act called the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. Instances of extra judicial executions in the state of Assam and Mnaipur are going on without much visible remedy.

According to the field study conducted by BHRPC the sequence leading to the death of Ikbal indicates extrajudicial execution. The incident narrated by BHRPC is that on 9 October, 2010 at around 3:30 am when Ikbal was sleeping in his residence with his family members including his wife and 3 daughters. Suddenly he woke up hearing the sounds of someone calling him and knocking at the gate of his house. The caller identified as police officer and said that he wanted to ask something to Ikbal. Ikbal came out and opened the gate of his verandah. Instead of asking any questions, the visitor identifying as police caught him by the hand and dragged him toward the north side of the building where 5 other soldiers in uniforms started beating and kicking him without any rhyme and reason. Ikbal was stunned with these sudden unexpected developments and it took some time for him to realize the situation. He started crying and screaming in despair. Family members too became shocked at the developments and urged the soldiers in uniform to stop beating Ikbal. Then the family members realized that their house is cordoned off by about fifteen soldiers. Neighbors started rushing to the spot but were denied entry by gun men who were posted at the entrance.

The soldiers tortured Ikbal severely and then forced him to wash his face and change dress. Then they forcefully boarded him in a vehicle that they brought and continued to beat him.

Ikbal’s wife Parul Begum Laskar, aged about 38, daughters Adiba Ikbal Laskar (also known as Salmi) (19), Tahmima Ikbal Laskar aka Sammi (14) and Ajuba Ikbal Laskar aka Simi (9) informed members of BHRPC that when they were beseeching the army to stop the infliction of brutalities on Ikbal they were shown guns and asked to keep silence. The family also informed BHRPC that the army forced them to put their signature on a piece of paper where something was written but were not allowed to read the contents. They were also warned not to approach the police or file any complaint, otherwise they will have to face dire consequences, the raiding army told them. The army personnel took away two mobile sets, of which one was having a SIM card with phone No. +919707142785, one torch light and one mobile charger. The army gave them two mobile numbers 09508548935 and 094013210458 for contact.

The incident of Ikbal’s illegal detention was witnessed by several family members including Labib Ahmed Laskar (38), brother of Ikbal. He informed the BHRPC that when he rushed toward his brother’s house from his adjacent house at midnight hearing hue and cry, he was stopped at gun point by the army. He saw his brother was being beaten by the army from a distance of 15 feet. He saw his brother was severely injured; as a result, he was rendered unable even to walk toward the army vehicle. The Army came with two vehicles (TATA Sumo).

When army took away Ikbal, the villagers tried to contact the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Algapur Police Station Mr. Baktar Uddin over the phone. The OC informed them that he was ignorant about the operation. Then the family members approached the former Minister of Assam Mr. Shahidul Alom Choudhury. Mr. Choudhury then called the army of Manipur camp at around 7am. The army personnel told him that they had arrested Ikbal on wrong information and that he would be released soon. He then again called the army at around 12 noon on that day i.e, 9 October and got the same reply.

Several individuals tried to help the family. Mr. Anwar Uddin Barlaskar, a retired district judge, Mr. Labib and Mr. Sabib met the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Hailakandi at around 8:30am on behalf of the victim family and the villagers. The SP informed about the operation assuring follow up. The SP also told them a meeting of Army officers, district police and district administration was held the previous day where it was made sure that there would be no operation without any prior information to the police They then met the District Magistrate of Hailakandi at his residence. He also expressed his ignorance about the operation and he committed that he would find out the victim. At around 1pm some army personnel came to the victim’s house and asked for any earlier medical records of the victim related to heart or abdomen. But there were no such records. At that time they informed that the victim is at Silchar Medical College and Hosptial, Silchar and his health was deteriorating. The victim’s family then went to the SMCH and found him dead at 3pm.

With the death of an innocent civilian like Ikbal, local people started protesting it and thousands of people gathered at Chiparsangan area and blocked the road. The SP Mr. Hemanta Bhattacharya and the DM Mr. Tapan Chandra Goswami came at Chiparsangan and assured of a judicial enquiry including the post mortem examination would be conducted at day time and it would also be video recorded. At these promises the public lifted the blockade. The next day, 10th October, at about 5:30 pm, after the post mortem was held, the dead body was handed over to the family.

The BHRPC members also met Mr. Abdul Basit Choudhury, OC, Algapur PS (reinstated) at the house of the victim and collected information about the case. The OC informed that a case was filed by the victim’s wife Parul Laskar which was registered as Algapur PS case no.243/10 dated 09/10/10 under sections 302, 365 and 310 of the Indian Penal Code, 1861 and another case was also filed by Lieutenant Naveen Kumar which was registered as Algapur PS case no. 244/10 dated 09/10/10 under sections 489b and 489c, IPC. The OC was made the investigating officer of the case that was registered regarding the incident. He told that a home guard named Abdul Shukkur Barbhuiya from Kathlichera PS accompanied the army and he is the main witness of the incident. The OC also told that the army took the victim to the army camp, then to a primary hospital and then to the S. K. Roy Civil Hospital of Hailakandi and ultimately to the SMC Hospital where he was declared dead. The latter described that the accused Ikbal was found to keep some fake currencies and that the complainant had taken him to the said hospitals and there was nothing mentioned about the death.

Mrs. Parul Laskar (38), wife of Ikbal is a social activist and she is the counselor of the family counseling centre run by Assam Enviro-Legal Protection Society. Lt. Ikbal Hussain Laskar was one of the 7 brothers, very loving and adorable by the family members who share a joint family. Ikbal and Labib have recently constructed a new house as joint family property but his untimely brutal murder deprived him from enjoying his family life in the newly constructed house.

Car driver Fakhrul Islam ‘beaten to death by Assam police’ for speeding

January 10, 2011

Car driver Fakhrul Islam ‘beaten to death by Assam police’ for speeding

Acting on the information provided by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has condemned the ‘killing of car driver Fakhrul Islam by Assam police for speeding’, and written to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment seeking an intervention in the case.

The AHRC states, the local police in Hailakandi district, Assam state, has beaten to death the driver of a car because he refused to stop his vehicle when ordered by the police. It is reported that the police officers, led by the District Superintendent of Police, Mr. Maheshchand Sharma, chased the victim, Mr. Fakhrul Islam Mazumder, in their vehicle for a while before apprehending him. When Fakhrul stopped his vehicle, the police pulled him out, assaulted him with rifle butts until he was unable to move and threw him into a nearby lake. It is not known whether Fakhrul died of drowning or from the assault. The entire incident happened in full public view.

Case Narrative

According to the report of the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee sent to the AHRC, the incident happened on 13 September at about 8 pm on National Highway 154 near Bakrihaor.

The deceased, Fakhrul, aged about 26 years, son of Muzammil Ai Mazumder of Ward number 11, Hailakandi Town, Assam was coming from Silchar to Hailakandi driving a car with vehicle identification number AS-11C-9494 along National Highway 154. When he reached Bakrihaor, he was signalled to stop his car to give way for a convoy of police vehicles in which Mr. Maheshchand Sharma, the District Superintendent of Police was travelling.

The police vehicles were coming from the opposite direction in which the victim was travelling. It is common in India for the police to stop vehicles on the street for the police to travel at high speeds without traffic blocks, even if it is not an emergency. Drivers usually comply fearing abuse, assault and fabricated traffic offences charged upon them. However, Fakhrul refused to stop his car and drove past the police vehicle convoy, an act that apparently infuriated the police officers.

It is reported that the police officers chased Fakhrul’s car for a short distance and soon intercepted his vehicle. According to eyewitnesses, Mr. Akram Uddin Laskar, Mr. Selim Uddin, and Mr. Bahar Uddin and many other people from the locality, the police then forced Fakhrul to come out of the car. When he came out of the vehicle, the police started beating Fakhrul severely with rifle butts. Five to six police officers took turns to assault Fakhrul. When they stopped for a minute, Fakhrul gathering strength, tried to run away.

The officers chased Fakhrul on foot for a short distance and stopped him again and continued assaulting him. This time however, they did not stop until they threw Fakhrul into the Bakrihaor Lake, which is by the roadside. The officers then left the scene. The incident caused traffic jam for a while. No one dared to intervene in the police action however, as they were afraid of the police.

Fakhrul’s body did not surface till 1 pm the next day. A large crowd gathered around the lake till the body was brought out from the water. Those gathered include Mr. Rahul Roy, Member of Assam State Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Algapur constituency, Mr. Selim Uddin, MLA and Mr. Shahidul Alom Choudhury, a former minister of the Assam state government.

The crowd soon started shouting slogans against the police and temporarily prevented the police from taking the body for autopsy. Fearing violence, the political leaders present at the scene guaranteed that they would ensure stern actions taken against the police officers responsible for the crime. They also guaranteed that the entire autopsy would be video recorded.

On 15 September, the Progressive Students’ and Youth Front and the District Drivers’ Association called for a general strike in protest of the murder. In response, the district administration ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident and ordered the Superintendent of Police to be on leave and stay away from office temporarily. In follow-up, a complaint was lodged at the Hailakandi Police Station against the police officer, with an expectation that a criminal case will be registered and an investigation undertaken.

However upon enquiry, it is learned that the police is trying to influence the investigation to absolve from their responsibility in committing the crime. It is also feared that the witnesses will be threatened by the police, and under intimidation, they would not depose in the inquiry.

Additional Information

The minority Muslim community dominates Hailakandi district, where the incident took place. The public protest that followed after the recovery of the victim’s body demanded an investigation and stern actions against the police officers involved in the incident. Registering a case and conducting an investigation is a primary requisite under the Indian law in every case of unnatural death.

However, fundamentalist Hindu political parties like the Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) with support from the Baratiya Janatha Party (BJP) and its militant wing the Rashtirya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have brought in an unnecessary religious twist into the incident by coming out in support for their ‘Hindu brother’, none other than the perpetrator police officer, Mr. Maheshchand Sharma, offering him the support of the three political parties. According to them, the public anger is nothing more than an unnecessary rant against a Hindu police officer by the Muslims. This has divided the community along religious fault lines.

The HJM is accused of having masterminded the Malegaon bomb blasts of September 2006. 37 persons were killed and an estimated 148 persons injured in that incident.

The fact that a driver was murdered in open by the police officers and that the case must be investigated and the perpetrators punished no more appear to the issue that dominates the debate in Assam concerning the crime. The discussions on the question of murder by uniformed officers have fallen prey to the political trick played by the HJM, BJP and the RSS, where the question of murder is sidelined, and instead, the questions of religious affinities have sprang up. This is the very purpose of the public support orchestrated in favour of the accused police officer by these political parties.

By stirring up religious sentiments, for and against the officer, it is believed that the investigation of the case will be delayed or never completed. Already the District Magistrate has issued a prohibitory order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, disallowing the public from gathering for any reason without the prior permission of the authorities and the police.