Posts Tagged ‘Counter insurgency’

DIGEST OF INTERNATIONAL JURISPRUDENCE ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WHILE COUNTERING TERRORISM

June 16, 2012

The non-state armed groups (insurgents, extremists or terrorists, whatever you may call them) need to be dealt with and contained because they violate rights of the people to live peacefully, they try to impose their will on the people and the state unlawfully and violently trampling the constitutionalism and the rule of law that are sine qua non for civilised human existence. It is the mandate of the state to maintain the reign of law and constitution and the writ of the government established by law along with ensuring security and safety of the person and property of the citizens. But when the state through its security forces and law enforcement agencies commits more atrocious acts than the acts which it professes it is fighting the difference between the non-state terrorists and the state gets blurred.

Since independence in 1947 as in colonial times India has a number of laws containing provisions that are termed by the liberal jurists and human rights defenders as draconian and repressive unparalleled in the democratic world. Such laws are held responsible for regular violations of human rights with impunity resulting in defeat of the rule of law and continuity of lawlessness breeding more terrorism and violence. Despite this reality there is also a shrill voice for more stringent laws in the country.

Even before the terrorist attack in Mumbai on 26 November, 2008 the demand for “stronger and tougher anti-terror laws” kept getting shriller and hasher and was being projected as panacea. It started after the present parliament repealed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA), although some provisions of POTA incompatible with human rights laws were incorporated into the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) by way of amendment. The discourse of ‘tough’ laws is premised entirely on the misrepresentation of facts. It seems that the advocates of ‘tough’ laws want us to believe that there were no terrorist attacks in India when some of the “toughest” (read most draconian) laws in the civilised world were in force such as the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and its other local variants; the National Security Act, 1980 (NSA); the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act, 1987 (TADA); POTA; UAPA and other state enactments. But the reality is that some of the worst terror offences were perpetrated when these “stronger and tougher anti-terror laws” were in force such as hijack of an airIndia flight from Kathmandu to Kandhahar, Red Fort attack, parliament attack etc.

New law becomes necessary when existing provisions are proved ineffective or counter effective. There are still many draconian and colonial provisions in our general criminal law composed of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) the Evidence Act, 1972 and others. Records of implementation and effective implementation of laws in India is very dismal due to many factors including corruption and inadequacy in both quantity and quality of man-power in the Criminal Justice Administration System and the inefficacy of some of the provisions of law themselves. With registration of First Information Report the justice administration machinery gets into motion. There are hundreds of thousands of cases where police does not register FIR without being greased. It has become the rule in some part of the country. There are also numerous cases of custodial torture and death for not paying gratification by the detainee/arrestee or their relatives to the police. When the state of the things is this it is ridiculous to think that “stronger and tougher anti-terror laws” will free us from crimes and criminals, let alone the question of terrorism.

Terrorism is the worst form of crime. It is just a matter of common sense that the people who love to kill and get killed would not have any fear of law howsoever “tough” and “strong” that law may be. Soon after the terrorist attack in Mumbai, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) reminded that “it has been seen that in countering terrorism the state often succumbs to the design of the terrorists by failing to respect the human rights of the people. When this happens the terrorism triumphs because the state itself does the act of terror. More over, failure to respect human rights creates breeding ground of terrorism” in a statement issued to condemn the attack. Counter terror laws and practice violating human rights are used by the terrorists to justify their heinous acts and the state cites these terrorist acts to justify its acts of violations of human rights. In the process the ordinary human beings are just sandwiched between state and non state terror. These two forms of terrorism feed on each other and are same for general population.

Unfortunately the Indian State has succumbed to the terror design and gave them the triumph after the Mumbai attack. A bill has been passed amending the UAPA after the November attacks in Mumbai which violates international human rights treaties.

New amendments to anti-terror laws include: 1. Sweeping and overbroad definitions of “acts of terrorism” in violation of the principle of legality, 2. No clear and strict definition of what constitutes “membership” of a “terrorist gang or organization” also violate the principle, 3. Minimum period of detention of persons suspected to be involved in acts of terrorism extended to 30 days from 15 days and the maximum period of detention of such persons to 180 days from 90 days – already far beyond international standards, 4. Denial of bail to foreign nationals who may have entered the country in an unauthorised or illegal manner, except in very exceptional circumstances, also violates international human rights standard, 5. The requirement, in certain circumstances, of accused people to prove their innocence, is in violation of basic principle of universal criminal jurisprudence and natural justice.

Another new legislation has been passed constituting the National Investigating Agency which, inter alia, authorises special courts to close hearings to public without defining or limiting the grounds under which they may do so. This is also in violation of the due process principle.

While introducing the bill for amendment of the UAPA, the government took plea in the preamble of the bill that it is bound under several international instruments to combat terrorism specifically citing some select United Nations Security Council Resolutions such as1267 (1999), 1333 (2000), 1363 (2001), 1373 (2001), 1390 (2002), 1455 (2003), 1526 (2004), 1566 (2004), 1617 (2005), 1735 (2006) and 1822 (2008). But ignored the dictum of the resolution 1535 (2004) adopted by the Security Council at its 4936th meeting, on 26 March 2004 which reminded the “States that they must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, and should adopt such measures in accordance with international law, in particular international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law”. More over, there are many international instruments acceded or ratified by India which put the state under obligation to adhere to the human rights norms in all its activities including counter terrorism.

When POTA was repealed by the government most of the resolutions cited were in existence. Citation of these resolution and invoking international obligations are nothing but taking recourse to false plea. A look into the jurisprudence of the united nations and regional organizations on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism would show the hypocrisy of the Indian State so far its invocation of the international obligations is concerned.

In this background the digest on terror jurisprudence complied by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights of the United Nations is a necessary tool for the human rights defenders, lawyers, academics, law-enforcement officials. law-makers, policy makers etc. The digest can be downloaded from here.

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Illegal raid and Intimidation of human rights defender, Seram Herajit Singha by the army in Assam, India

January 21, 2012

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) received information regarding intimidation of human rights defender, Seram Herajit Singha and harassment of his family by Armed Forces personnel and Assam Police personnel. It is reported that a team of about 20 armed persons raided his house at mid-night on 5 January, 2012 looking for him. But he was not home at that time. There is concern about his and his family’s physical and psychological security.

 Seram Herajit Singha, aged about 27 years and son of S. Amuyaima Singh, is a permanent resident of village Serunkhal, Rongpur Pt-II in the district of Cachar,Assam. He is a well-known social activist working in the fields of wild life and environment and issues relating to Manipuri community living in BarakvalleyofAssam. Currently he works at the Committee on People and Environment (COPE) as Organising Secretary since its establishment in 2009. The COPE has been working for protection of environment and wild life mainly through awareness building among the people by seminar, public meeting etc. At present the activities of COPE is more focused on the campaign against the proposed dam on the river Barak at Tipaimukh for its apprehended devastating affect on the downstream area.

 According to the information, in the dead of night at about 1am on 5 January, 2012 about 20 person carrying guns and sticks raided the houseS Herajit. Some of them were in uniform and others wore civil dress. After they woke up Herajit’s father, mother and younger brother the soldiers told them that they were looking for Herajit. The family informed them that he was not home, as he had gone to Guwahati for works of his organization. The raiding party asked some questions about the activities of Herajit. On inquiry some of the soldiers informed only that they are from Armed Force but did not tell which regiment they belonged to. One of them was in police uniform and he identified himself as a constable of Assam Police posted at the Rongpur Police Outpost at Madhuramukh under Silchar Sadar Police Station.

 The family was shocked and fear-stricken at this mid-night raid. They thought that the soldiers came with malafide intention which might have been even physical termination of Herajit. Because there was no criminal complaint registered with the police against him and he is a responsible and peace loving law abiding citizen. Such a raid at mid night by the army is not warranted for the purpose of law enforcement at any event. Since then he and his family have been living in uncertainty and fear. It is not unreasonable to think this way in this part of the country since many cases have been documented where the worst happened in this way.

 When contacted, the district Superintendent of Police (SP) pleaded ignorance of such a raid but assured of an inquiry. The officers of the nearest army camp at Pailapool denied that any such raid was conducted by them. However, the police officers at the Rongpur Outpost said that they were asked by the army the day before to make available one or two constables for a raid in the night and accordingly they delegated a constable. They refused to say anything more abut the identity of the army personnel or the purpose of the raid. As still no visible steps have been taken by the SP, Herajit, his family and his organization lost faith in his assurance.

 BHRPC thinks that the raid was conducted to intimidate and harass Herajit and his family for his legitimate works relating to human rights of the people to clean environment and particularly his works in the campaign against the proposed dam at Tapaimukh in Manipur launched by the COPE.

 Human rights works including environmental rights by peaceful and democratic means is both duty and rights of every individual as spelt out in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (also known as The Declaration on human rights defenders. Particularly Article 12 of the Declaration imposes duty on the State to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or dejure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

 Under Article 20 f the Universal Declaration of Human Rights everyone is given the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association which includes forming and working in non-governmental organizations. The UDHR also provides in Article 12 that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

 The conduct of the soldiers also amounts to interference in due process rights laid down in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India is a state party including Article 17 that states that “1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.” and “2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” and Article 22 which provides that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

 Further more, the right to form association and unions is also guaranteed in Article (c) (1) 19 of the Constitution of India.

 Clause (d) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 defines human rights as “the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts inIndia.” The Act also mandates the National Human Rights Commission to inquire, suo motu or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of (i) violation of human rights or abetment thereof or (ii) negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant; under section (a) 12 and to encourage the efforts of non-governmental organisations and institutions working in the field of human rights under clause (i) of the same section.

 In the circumstances of the facts of the case and the human rights laws and norms it is imperative that the authorities inIndiashould:

 1. Initiate an immediate, impartial and exhaustive investigation into the reports of illegal raid and harassment of family of human rights defender and COPE member Herajit Shingh;

 2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological security and integrity of S. Herajit Shingh and his family and all members of COPE and their families;

 3. Guarantee that human rights defenders inAssamare able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including police harassment.

Killed, Buried and Vanished: Custodial death of Islamul Hoque Choudhury

April 20, 2011

He barely manages to walk. His physical structure is so weak and fragile that it may collapse at any moment. A cultivator having a small plot of land and part time wage labourer, he crossed 75 years of his life and so far succeeded to provide his family members the minimum requirements for keeping them alive. He is a successful fighter so far fight for livelihood is concerned as per the standard applicable in this part of the planet. But on the other front he is a soldier who lost many battles. He could not save his 23 year old son who was killed in a staged encounter on 20 May, 2000 at Panichowki under Sonai police station in the district of Cachar of the Indian state of Assam. Then he started another kind of fight, of which he has no training and knowledge, the fight for justice for his slain son. His body may be slander and fragile but his determination and belief in the justice system is rock hard. For more than 8 years he has been fighting single handed without any apparent result and is still optimistic.

It is this optimism which made him the other day to call on me and share his grief. He also shared with me all the documents and information he could gather regarding the encounter of his son. This account is on the basis of these documents and information.

The elderly man is known as Haji Sarif Uddin Choudhury and is a resident of village Dhanehori under Sonai police station in the district of Cachar, Assam. Islamul Hoque Choudhury was his son who used to help his father in cultivation and wanted to start his own business howsoever small may be.

On 19 June 2000 Islamul Hoque Choudhury was at Banskandi bazaar and the neighbourhood area searching for the motor cycle of his brother which was lost the day before. He went there after receiving information that the cycle had been seen in this area. After a day long search he could see two men riding the lost cycle came to the bazaar. When he asked them where they found this cycle the bikers started to punch him. They also raised hue and cry shouting alarm of pick-pocket. People in the marked gathered, caught Islamul and searched him but found nothing except 20 rupees.

In the meantime some police men from Banskandi police out post came in a jeep and arrested him at 8pm. Another person named Ripon Laskar arrested by police was in the jeep. Later, an ezahar was filed in the Bnaskandi police out post under Lakhipur police station signed by Foizur Rahman and Salim of Banskandi. Both these complainants claimed in the ezahar that Islamul Hoque and Ripon Laskar were trying to kidnap them from Silghat ferry, a nearby river ferry and that the two arrested persons had links with the Peoples United Liberation Force (PULF), an extremist organisation allegedly based in Manipur.

According to Haji Sarif Uddin Choudhury, during the interrogation both the arrested persons were subjected to severe torture and Ripon Laskar succumbed to the resulting injuries in the night itself on the spot. Higher police officers were informed of the incident and it was decided that an encounter must be staged to avoid public wrath. For the purpose a team was formed headed by Mr. Hareswar Brahma, the Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Lakhipur Sub-Division, Mr. Choudhury claims.

In the dead of night some police personnel from Banskandi out post, Officer In-charge (O/C) of Lakhipur police station and the said SDPO went to Dhanehori taking with them Islamul Hoque and the body of Ripon Laskar in a jeep. There they purportedly searched the house of one Sukkur Uddin but nothing objectionable could be recovered from his house. Thereafter they rushed to Panichowki, a village in the foot of the Bhuvan Hills about 50 kilo metres away from Silchar, the district head quarter. On the way to Panichowki they met another police team belonging to Sonai police station, which were patrolling during night hours. The Lakhipur police team took Sonai police party with them and proceeded to Panichowki rest house, a house maintained and used by Forest Department, where they reached at about 3pm on 20 June 2000.

Some villagers of Panichowki state that on 20 June 2000 in the early morning a few gun fires were heard and when they came out of their houses at the sound they saw a police party in and around of Panichowki rest house. One of them, namely Karunamoy Das, by profession a pan-collector, (pan is a leaf used with betel nuts found in the hilly jungles) states that at the time of firing he was very near to the place of occurrence. He noticed the incident and as per his statement when police were beating the arrested person he was begging to the police for his life by requesting them to hand over to Jail instead of beating and torturing. But the police did not give any heed and lastly they shot him dead.

The next day both the dead bodies were sent to Sonai police station and after conducting post mortem examination at Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH), Silchar the officer in the police station handed over the dead bodies to the relatives. The relatives of Islamul and his local people buried his body on 21 June 2000 observing religious rites.

The local media carried the police story for a few days with usual journalistic exaggerations that police arrested two high profile extremists belonging to PULF from Banskandi daily market at 8pm on 19 June 2000 and brought them to the police station for further interrogation. The I/C (In-Charge) of Banskandi out-post conveyed the information to the SDPO, Lakhipur who along with O/C, Lakhipur took part in the interrogation. On the basis of interrogation and with a view to unearthing further facts they along with arrested persons proceeded to Dhanehori and thereafter to Panichowki. At Dhanehori the police searched the house of one Sukkur Uddin on the basis of the information extracted from the arrested persons but they recovered nothing objectionable from his house. Thereafter they rushed to Panichowki for the same purpose along with another police team from Sonai police station. Both the police teams reached Panichowki rest house at about 3pm on 20 June 2000. The police party asked both the arrested persons to head them towards the hideouts of the PULF extremists. As they were passing through the premises of the Panichowki rest house all on a sudden firing from the nearby jungle began and both arrested persons who were leading them died due to cross firing. Police further add in their statements that had they not been trained up for self defence they would have been killed due to extremist’s firing. According to police the following two reasons were responsible for the death of two arrested persons:

1. They were leading the police party and naturally they were going in advance.

2. They lacked the training of self protection.

But the lone soldier of the cause of justice Haji Sarif Uddin Choudhury started his fight. He succeeded to compel the District Magistrate of Cachar to order a magisterial inquiry into the incident after 3 months on 19 September 2000. The report of the inquiry never saw the light of the day. Nevertheless, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) a human rights organisation working in Assam, managed to get access to an unauthenticated copy of the report of the inquiry. Although there are many questions remained unanswered in the report the Magistrate found that ‘firing took place behind the rest house where both the accused succumbed to the injuries’. He also finds “reason to believe that there was no firing from jungle or extremist side and firing which took place at Panichowki in the early morning of 20-6-2k was only from police side.” The report goes on: “During the whole operation of the nights of 19-6-2k and 20-6-2k the Sr. Police Officer, i. e., SDPO, Lakhipur was present along with other police personnel who could have guided his party to avert from such killing.”

The Magistrate concludes: “I, therefore, find Sri Hareshwar Brahma, SDPO, Lakhipur to have committed guilt and excess during the operation.”

But no prosecution initiated against the SDPO and his team.

A complaint was also filed with the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and accordingly a case was registered vide. AHRC Case No. 3451 of 2001. The AHRC after about six years found that a prima facie case of human rights violations exists and observed that “it was not only a fake encounter but there was also gross negligence on the part of the police for not giving full protection to both the deceased persons” and awarded an interim compensation of rupees fifty thousand by its judgment and order dated 14-06-2006. But the judgment is mysteriously silent on the question of prosecution of the violators. Whereas under section 18 (a) (ii) the AHRC is empowered to recommend to the concerned government or authority to initiate proceedings for prosecution against the concerned person or persons where the inquiry discloses the commission of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights or abetment thereof by a public servant.

But the most mysterious is the strength of Haji Sarif Uddin Choudhury with which he declares “age or death can’t take me away before justice for my son is ensured by way of prosecution and due punishment to his murderers. Without prosecution of the accused a compensation of rupees fifty thousand is nothing but an insult to the soul of my son and the society.” Police kill people and a meager amount of money from the public fund is given. What type of justice is this?”, he asks.

“If you want to prevent the killing of your son by the police it must be ensured that the persons who already committed such offences must be brought to justice”, said Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, Secretary General of BHRPC. He also states that “a regime of de facto impunity is carefully maintained in North Eastern region including Assam for which it is almost impossible to get justice for the victims and prevent repetitions of such extra legal killings. We need to fight unitedly to break the regime.”

Para-military forces run amock in Silchar with impunity

March 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urgent Appeal Regarding an Incident Where Army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam

June 10, 2010

URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Get pdf version of the document

Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC/UA/22/210                    Dated: 08 June 2010

Dear Friends,

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) forwards this Urgent Appeal issued by Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding an incident where army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam with request to all to take suggested actions.

Yours Sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

15, Panjabari Road, Six Mile,

Guwahati-781037, Assam

INDIA: Army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMMEUrgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-080-20107 June 2010
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INDIA: Army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam

ISSUES: Violence against women; torture; militarisation; impunity
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the soldiers from a field regiment stationed in Manipur Block, Hailakandi district, Assam illegally raided houses in Mohanpur village and in the process tortured the inmates, molested women and girls and even took their pictures at gun point. It is reported that the soldiers were looking for Mr. Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya, the former elected president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat. During the raid that lasted for about half a day, the soldiers destroyed household properties at gun point and opened fire to threaten the villagers who gathered near the house. A pregnant woman who was kicked in her abdomen by the soldiers lost her child in a miscarriage within two days after the incident.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to the information we have received from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human right organisation based in Assam, the soldiers from 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur Block, Hailakandi, Assam state raided the house of Mrs. Hawatun Nesa, wife of Mr. Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya at about 3.30am on 23 May 2010 in Mohanpur village. Hawatun is the president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat, a position previously occupied by her husband Nurul.

There were about 17 soldiers who entered the house and all of them had their face covered by black cloth. The soldiers knocked at the front door of the house at about 3.30am when the family was sound asleep. Hawatun opened the door. Without warning, the soldiers marched into the house and asked Hawatun where her husband Nurul was. Hawatun replied that Nurul is not at home as he had gone to a relative’s house in a nearby village a day before. The soldiers refused to believe this and started searching the house.

They ordered everyone to get off from their bed. 82-year-old Mr. Mashur Ali Barbhuiya, Nurul’s father was unable to get from the bed since he requires help to get up. The soldiers dragged Mashur from the bed holding him by his throat. Then the soldiers started beating 65-year-old Mrs. Fulerun Nesa, Nurul’s mother accusing her that she is hiding Nurul. Then the officers started destroying household goods and furniture including chairs, tables, drawers, wardrobes and cooking utensils. The soldiers were not accompanied by women soldiers or women police officers from the local police station, which is a mandatory requirement under the law. The soldiers did not inform the family why they were looking for Nurul.

At about 7.30am the villagers gathered around the house to see what was going on in Nurul’s house. At the time some of the soldiers came out of the house and fired a few shots into the air asking the villagers to stay away. The soldiers did not allow Hawatun to feed her children and others inside the house till 2.30pm. When she requested the soldiers to allow her to feed the family, a soldier pointed his rifle at her and ordered that she must feed the soldiers rather than her family and forced her to make tea and cook snacks for the soldiers to eat. They refused her to feed her family members until the soldiers left.

In the meanwhile some soldiers went to the neighbouring house where Mr. Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya resides with his family. The soldiers searched this house also. Mrs. Rejwana Parvin Barbhuiya, aged 24 years, the eldest daughter of Moinul who was recently married was home at the time. The soldiers molested her and her two younger sisters, Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiya aged 14 years and Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya aged 17 years, by holding the girls by their arms and pulling them towards them with a gesture to have sex with them in front of their father.

The soldiers threatened that they have weapons and that they could do anything to them if they refused to come closer. They threatened that they could rape the girls in front of their father. One of the soldiers asked the girls and their elder sister to come along with them if they wanted to have sex away from their home and parents. Then the soldiers took turns to take the pictures of the girls and their elder sister with their mobile telephone camera.

Rejwana informed the BHRPC that she had to beg and plead with the soldiers not to rape herself or her sisters. Rejwana informs that her sisters and she are traumatized by the incident and they find it difficult to speak to their father who witnessed helplessly while his daughters were abused by the soldiers.

The soldiers during the raid in Hawatun’s house also engaged in pilferage. They took dress, cosmetics, utensils and gold ornaments belonging to the family when they left the house. The articles stolen from the house is approximately of Rs. 70,000 in value. Hawatun also accuses that the soldiers took Rs. 20,000 in cash that they found inside the house.

Before leaving, the soldiers forced Hawatun to sign documents that they had prepared and forced her to affix her official seal in the documents. The soldiers also took by force documents belonging to the Panchayat that Hawatun had kept at home. The soldiers took two mobile telephones from the house with its SIM cards with registered numbers 9854621923 and 9435582945 used by Nazim Uddin, Hawatun’s brother, and that of Hawatun. Hawatun’s brother’s telephone was returned on 25 May.

While the soldiers were still at Hawatun’s house some other soldiers were on the rampage in the village. At about 5am, they raided yet another house. This house belonged to Mr. Mujammil Ali Barbhuiya and is about 0.5kms away from Hawatun’s house. When the soldiers entered the house compound Ali was getting ready to go to his farm. The soldiers stopped him and demanded to know where Nurul is. When Ali informed the soldiers that he did not know where Nurul was they assaulted him with a bamboo stick and started hitting him with their rifle butt. Ali fell down and his cloths were torn. Ali’s wife Rushna Begum came running to rescue Ali from the soldiers. But she was also kicked around and beaten by the soldiers. The soldiers stopped assaulting Ali when they saw yet another villager Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65 years on the street.

Laskar was going to the mosque for his morning prayers. The soldiers grabbed Laskar by his dress and without asking anything started beating him. Some persons who happened to witness this tried to intervene and they were also beaten up by the soldiers. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, aged 35 years, Sharmina Begum, aged 12 years and a mentally challenged boy, Imran Hussain aged 14 years are among those who were beaten up. Mrs. Suretun Nesa, aged about 30 years was beaten up by the soldiers and kicked in her abdomen. Suretun Nesa was in her advanced stage of pregnancy and on 25 May she had a miscarriage at Silchar Medical College and Hospital due to the injuries suffered to her womb from the assault.

Another group of soldiers at about 6am went to yet another house belonging to Mr. Amit Das. The soldiers asked Das about Nurul for which Das replied that he did not know about Nurul’s whereabouts. Immediately the soldiers started beating him, whereby he sustained serious injuries on his leg. Das is currently under treatment at Community Health Centre, Mohanpur. It is reported that the soldiers refused to allow anyone to leave the village to seek medical help until they left.

It is suspected that the raid and assault was carried out for wrecking political vengeance against Nurul and his wife, who are popular among the villagers. Both husband and wife do not belong to any political parties and during their tenure as the president of the local panchayat they are trying to root out corruption in the distribution of funds in the government schemes. It is widely believed among the villagers that the some local politicians are behind instigating the soldiers to raid the village in an act of vengeance against Nurul and his wife since they have so far refused to join any political parties.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The BHRPC contacted Subedar Mr. Yadav at the 117/33 Field Regiment in Manipur Block on 4 June at about 12pm. The officer informed BHRPC that the operation was conducted based on the information provided from anonymous sources, but the identity of the suspect was mistaken and that they have apologised to Hawatun about the incident. Yet the officer insisted that he need to meet Nurul.

At about 1pm Captain Mr. Amit Gautom, COB Commander contacted BHRPC from the telephone number +91 9435742088. The Captain informed BHRPC that the raid was conducted by the 117/33 Field Regiment. When the Captain was questioned about the absence of any police officer during the raid he first replied that it is not required under law. When confronted about his misinterpretation of the law, quoting from the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights case as decided by the Supreme Court of India, the Captain claimed that the raiding party was accompanied by a police constable from Katlicherra Police Station. However, the BHRPC claims that Mohanpur is outside the jurisdiction of Katlicherra Police Station.

The Captain further claimed that they did not injure, torture or abuse anyone during the raid and that the soldiers did not destroy any property. He claimed that Hawatun has signed a document to prove this. Hawatun as well as her family members claim that the document was signed by Hawatun at gunpoint and that she was not informed about the content of the document. It has to be noted that this is a common practice employed by soldiers and police officers when they conduct illegal house raids in India. The AHRC has reported cases in the past where soldiers and police officers resorting to such practices.

The Captain further informed BHRPC that Hawatun and her husband need not be afraid if they are innocent. The Captain also claimed that the army will use force only when required. Yet the Captain insisted that Nurul and Hawatun must come to their camp and meet the Captain. He also threatened that there would be further raids in the village if the army receive any information and insisted that the raid on 23 May was not conducted on any mistaken identity.

The police so far have refused to register any case concerning the incident. Two complaints however are filed at Algapur Police Station, one by Hawatun and the other by Abdul Jalil. The police accepted Hawatun’s complaint but refused to register any formal case. As for Abdul’s complaint, the police asked him to go home and refused to register a case based on his complaint. The police told Abdul that he must be happy that he is alive after his encounter with the army and that he should not complain and if he insisted, the army would get him and finish him off in some other excuse.

It must be noted that the army has no right whatsoever to summon a civilian to their camp and has no legal mandate to engage in crime control or other operations in the area unless for supporting police operations. The local police must immediately record the statement of the injured and the witnesses to the incident. This is a clear case of abuse of authority by the army and such acts must not be allowed to recur. In addition, the soldiers conducting house raids without informing their ranks and names with their face cowered is a direct violation of law against which the unit’s immediate commanding officer must be punished.

The villagers also fear for the safety of Nurul and his wife Hawatun. They say that if the husband and wife try to pursue their case against the soldiers, they will come again and kill both of them and later claim that they were killed in an armed encounter, a phenomenon common in the region and there would be no inquiry into the case at all. But Nurul and Hawatun are confident that if there is enough pressure, there will be an investigation into the incident and the soldiers will be punished.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities mentioned below, in particular to the Defence Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Assam, expressing your concern in the case. The statements of the victims and witnesses must be recorded by a judicial magistrate and the Army has a legal as well as moral duty to inform the civilian authorities about the identities of the officers involved in the raid. 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: Illegal army raid in Mohanpur, Assam must be investigated

Name of injured victims:
1. Mrs. Suretun Nesa, aged about 30 years, wife of Mr. Altaf Hussain Barbhuiya
2. Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65 years
3. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, aged about 35 years
4. Ms. Sharmina Begum, aged about 12 years
5. Imran Hussain, aged about 14 years
6. Mr. Amit das, aged about 35 years, son of Umesh Das
7. Mr. Mashur Ali Barbhuiya, aged about 82 years
8. Mrs. Fulerun Nesa, aged about 65 years
9. Mrs. Hawatun Nesa, aged about 30 years
Name of the threatened victims:
1. Mr. Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya, aged about 42 years
2. Farhat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya, aged about 9 years, daughter of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya
3. Rahat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya, aged about 7 years, daughter of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya
4. Fuzail Ahmed Barbhuiya, aged about 6 years, son of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya
5. Mikail Ahmed Barbhuiya, aged about 3 years, son of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya
6. Mr. Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya
7. Mrs. Rejwana Parvim Barbhuiya, aged about 24 years, daughter of Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya
8. Ms. Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiya, aged about 14 years, daughter of Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya
9. Ms. Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya, aged about 17 years, daughter of Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya
All the above victims are the residents of Mohanpur village, Hailakandi district, Assam

Names of the perpetrators:
1. About 17 unidentified soldiers under the command of Captain Mr. Amit Gautom, stationed at 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur block, Hailakandi District, Assam
2. Captain Mr. Amit Gautom, of 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur block, Hailakandi District, Assam

Date of incident: 23 May, 2010
Place of incident: Mohanpur village, Hailakandi district, Assam

I am writing to voice my concern regarding the case of an illegal army raid held on 23 May 2010 in Mohanpur village, Hailakandi district Assam, in which several persons were seriously injured and several others threatened by the soldiers of 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur block, Hailakandi District under the command of Captain Mr. Amit Gautom.

I am informed that about 17 soldiers on 23 May 2010 at about 3.30am raided the house of Mrs. Hawatun Nesa, the president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat, a position previously occupied by her husband Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya. I am informed that the soldiers were looking for Nurul, Hawatun’s husband.

It is reported that the soldiers who entered the house had their face covered by a black cloth thereby concealing their identity, which is illegal in India. The soldiers knocked at the front door of the house at about 3.30am when the family was sound asleep and asked for Nurul when his wife Hawatun opened the door. I am informed that without being accompanied by any woman soldiers or police officers and without offering the women in the house to step outside the house, the soldiers marched into the house and asked Hawatun where her husband Nurul was. This again is a clear violation of Indian laws, in particular the several directives issued by the Indian Supreme Court concerning state agencies, including police and the military, conducting house raids and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

I am informed that Nurul was not at home at the time of the raid since he had gone to a relative’s house in a nearby village a day before. It is reported that the soldiers refused to believe the statement given by Hawatun that her husband is not at home and started searching the house.

It is reported that the soldiers then ordered everyone to get off from their bed. I am aware that 82-year-old Mr. Mashur Ali Barbhuiya, Nurul’s father was unable to get up from his bed since he required help and that the soldiers dragged Mashur from the bed holding him by his throat. The soldiers reportedly assaulted 65-year-old Mrs. Fulerun Nesa, Nurul’s mother accusing her that she is hiding her son. It is reported that the officers then destroyed household goods and furniture including chairs, tables, drawers, wardrobes and cooking utensils. Until today the soldiers have not informed why they are looking for Nurul.

It is reported that at about 7.30am the villagers gathered around the house to see what was going on in Nurul’s house. At the time some of the soldiers came out of the house and fired shots into the air asking the villagers to stay away. I am informed that the soldiers did not allow Hawatun to feed her children and others inside the home till 2.30pm whereas the soldiers forced Hawatun to make them tea and snacks. I am aware that the soldiers refused anyone in the house to have food until they left.

I am also informed that while some soldiers stayed at Hawatun’s house some soldiers went to the neighbouring house where Mr. Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya resides. I am informed that the soldiers searched this house and in the process molested Moinul’s daughters who were in the house at the time. Mrs. Rejwana Parvin Barbhuiya, aged 24 years, the eldest daughter of Moinul who was recently married was home at the time. The soldiers molested her and her two younger sisters, Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiya aged 14 years and Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya aged 17 years, by holding them by their arms and pulling them towards them with a gesture to have sex with them in front of their father.

I am informed that the soldiers threatened that they have weapons and that they could do anything with the girls and the woman if they refused. It is reported that the soldiers threatened that they could rape the girls and the woman in front of their father. One of the soldiers asked the girls and their elder sister, Rejwana, to come along with them if they wanted to have sex away from their home and parents. It is reported that the soldiers then took turns to take the pictures of the girls and their elder sister with their mobile telephone camera.

Rejwana has informed the BHRPC, a local human rights organisation that she had to beg and plead with the soldiers not to rape herself or her sisters. It is reported that Rejwana and her sisters are traumatized by the incident and they find it difficult to speak to their father who witnessed the incident helplessly while they were abused by the soldiers.

It is alleged that the soldiers during the raid in Hawatun’s house also engaged in pilferage. Hawatun claims that the soldiers took dress, cosmetics, utensils and gold ornaments belonging to the family when they left the house. The articles stolen from the house is approximately of Rs. 70,000 in value. Hawatun also accuses that the soldiers took Rs. 20,000 in cash that they found inside the house.

I am also informed that before leaving the soldiers forced Hawatun to sign documents that the soldiers had prepared and forced her to affix her official seal in the documents. It is reported that the soldiers also took by force documents belonging to the Panchayat that Hawatun had kept at home. Hawatun claims that the soldiers took two mobile telephones from the house with its SIM cards with registered numbers 9854621923 and 9435582945 used by Nazim Uddin, Hawatun’s brother, and that of Hawatun. Hawatun’s brother’s telephone was returned on 25 May.

I am also informed that while the soldiers were still at Hawatun’s house some other soldiers were on the rampage in the village. It is reported that at about 5am, they raided yet another house belonging to Mr. Mujammil Ali Barbhuiya. When the soldiers entered the house compound it is reported that Ali was getting ready to go to his farm. It is alleged that the soldiers stopped him and demanded to know where Nurul is. I am informed that when Ali told the soldiers that he did not know where Nurul was they assaulted him with a bamboo stick and started hitting him with their rifle butt.

Ali fell down and his cloths were torn. Ali’s wife Rushna Begum came running to rescue Ali from the soldiers. But she was also kicked around and beaten by the soldiers. The soldiers stopped assaulting Ali when they saw yet another villager Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65 years on the street.

I am informed that Laskar was going to the mosque for his morning prayers when the soldiers grabbed him by his dress and without asking anything started beating him. It is reported that persons who happened to witness this when tried to intervene they were also beaten up by the soldiers. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, aged 35 years, Sharmina Begum, aged 12 years and a mentally challenged boy Imran Hussain aged 14 years, are among those who were beaten up.
Mrs. Suretun Nesa, aged about 30 years and wife of Mr. Altaf Hussain Barbhuiya also was beaten up by the soldiers and kicked in her abdomen. Suretun Nesa was in her advanced stage of pregnancy and on 25 May she had a miscarriage at Silchar Medical College and Hospital due to the injuries suffered to her womb from the assault.

I am further informed that another group of soldiers at about 6am went to yet another house belonging to Mr. Amit Das. The soldiers asked Das about Nurul for which Das replied that he did not know about Nurul’s whereabouts. Immediately the soldiers started beating him, whereby he sustained serious injuries on his leg. I am informed that Das is currently under treatment at Community Health Centre, Mohanpur. It is reported that the soldiers refused to allow anyone to leave the village to seek medical help until they left.

Nothing is known as to why the soldiers conducted the raid and for what purpose are they looking for Nurul. I am informed that the raid was conducted by soldiers under the command of Captain Mr. Amit Gautom of 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur block, Hailakandi District. I am informed that the Captain has ordered Nurul and Hawatun to be present in his camp, an order he is legally unfit and have no powers to issue.

I am certain that the deployment of army detachment units in Assam is for the singular purpose of aiding operations by the local police and that the army has no legal mandate to engage in either crime control of carryout investigations or house raids without police assistance. I am also certain that the law in India mandates the army can enter houses only if they suspect that an enemy or a terrorist is harboured in the house. In all these circumstances they are expressly prohibited to cover their face or take similar measures to cover their identity. This very act forces me to suspect that the soldiers were operating illegally, for which they have to be punished. Captain Amit Gautom, being the immediate commanding officer of the unit engaged in the raid, must be immediately punished for his command responsibility, even if he was not directly present in the raid.

The army also has a moral as well as legal duty to divulge the identities of the soldiers involved in the raid to the civilian authorities, in particular the Algapur Police Station, where a complaint has been registered against the incident.

I am informed that the police so far have refused to register any formal case concerning the incident. Two complaints however are filed at Algapur Police Station, one by Hawatun and the other by Abdul Jalil. It is reported that the police accepted Hawatun’s complaint but refused to register any formal case based on his complaint. As for Abdul’s complaint, the police asked him to go home and refused to register a case. It is reported that the police told Abdul that he must be happy that he is alive after his encounter with the army and that he should not complain and if he insisted, the army would get him and finish him off on some other excuse.

I therefore request you to:
1. Make appropriate arrangements so that the statements of the victims and the witnesses in the case are recorded by a judicial magistrate;
2. The soldiers involved in the incident, in particular Captain Mr. Amit Gautom, and the soldiers involved in the raid are suspended from active duty and detained by the military police;
3. That the complaint filed by Hawatun at Algapur Police Station is converted into a formal case after registering a First Information Report and Crime; and the case be investigated by the police;
4. The soldiers involved in the raid handed over to the custody of the local police and produced before a Judicial Magistrate, charged with the offense as alleged in the complaint filed by Mrs. Hawatun;
5. The complaint filed by Mr. Abdul Jalil at Algapur Police Station be accepted to records and a similar procedure initiated as in the complaint filed by Mrs. Hawatun;
6. The Army Command conducts an impartial inquiry into the incident and actions initiated to prevent the soldiers from misusing their presence in the district among civilian population for acts that could be termed as ‘unbecoming of a soldier’.

I’m looking forward to your intervention in this case.

Yours sincerely,

—————-
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. A. K. Anthony
Defence Minister
Government of India
104 South Block
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23015403

2. Dr. P. Chidambaram
Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs
Griha Mantralaya Room
No. 104, North Block Central Secretariat
New Delhi 110001
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2301 5750, 2309 3750, 2309 2763

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)

Posted on 2010-06-07

AHRC URL: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2010/3473/

BHRPC URL:

BHRPC Fact-finding Report on Army Atrocity in Mohanpur, Hailakandi

May 27, 2010

Vandalism by Soldiers in Assam Causing Grievous Hurts and Miscarriage

Report in the Portable Document Format (pdf)

In another atrocious incident in Assam soldiers of the Indian army illegally raided several houses in a village, indiscriminately beaten up many people including bed-ridden aged persons, expectant mother causing miscarriage, children and disabled persons causing grievous injuries to them in the district of Hailakandi on 23 May, 2010. They molested young girls and attempted to rape them. They also reportedly robbed a family of all their cash and other valuables. There are strong fears among the villagers that the incident may be repeated and worse. Extrajudicial killings by state agents are common in this part of India, and impunity remains a severe problem.

BHRPC received information that at about 3.30 am on 23 May, 2010 a group of 16/17 soldiers belonging to the artillery 11 field regiment from their base at Arunachal, Silchar knocked at the door of Mr Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya (better known to the local people as Samoi Panchayat), former president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat (GP, elected village level local government body, village counterpart of municipality) and husband of the present president, aged about 42, of village Mohanpur under the jurisdiction of Algapur police station in the district of Hailakandi in Assam. Mohanpur is a village situated at a distance of about 15 kilometres to the northward from Hailakandi town.

Having received information a team from BHRPC visited the village and talked with victims, their relatives, doctors treating them and other villagers and collected evidence from them. BHRPC also talked with police officers including the officer in charge of Algapur police station. The information received reveal that the soldiers were in uniform and their faces were covered with black clothes. They were not accompanied by a police officer or any other representative of the civil administration.

When the present GP president Mrs Hawatun Nesa, wife of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya, aged about 30 years, opened the door the soldiers entered the house and asked for Samoi Panchayat, her husband. She told them that he did not return home last night from the house of a relative in another village where he went the day before. They started searching for him in all the rooms and asked the inmates to get up from bed. They wrung the throat of 82 year old bed-ridden father of Samoi Panchayat Mr Mashur Ali Barbhuiya because he could not immediately drag his body from the bed, which normally he hardly can do without help. They also beat up 65 year old mother of Samoi Panchayat Mrs. Fulerun Nesa accusing her of hiding her son. The soldiers then started breaking and destroying household goods such as furniture including chairs, tables, beds, drawers, wardrobes etc. and utensils.

Mrs Hawatun Nesa Barbhuiya stated that when in the morning at approximately 7.30 am people from the locality tried to see what is going on the soldiers opened fired. They fired in the air three times at which the whole village got terrified. She was not allowed to feed her five children and ailing elders till the soldiers left her house at about 2.30 pm in the evening. When she tried they abused her and threatened her by pointing gun at her ear and they forced her to serve them tea and snakes several times.

Her daughters Farhat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya aged about 9, Rahat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya aged 7, and sons Fuzail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged about 6, Suhail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged about 5 and Mikail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged 3 were badly traumatised. BHRPC members observed that the children developed some syndrome of trauma such as they could not sleep well in the night due to several interruptions by nightmares, they even experience hallucinations that armed men are trying to kidnap them in waking hours, they shudder and break down into weeping even at indirect mentions of the incidents.

In the mean time, some of the soldiers went to the adjacent house belonging to Mr Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya and purportedly searched for Samoi Panchayat. Mrs Rejwana Parvin Barbhuiya aged about 24, the older daughter of Moinul Hoque who is married and came for a few days to her father’s house, stated that two soldiers seriously misbehaved with her younger sisters namely Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiay aged about 14, a student of class VIII, and Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya aged about 17 and studying in class XI. The soldiers repeatedly proposed them for sex and elopement in front of all family members and other soldiers. They grabbed their hands and engaged in scuffling with them. They also told the girls that they are soldiers with big guns and they can do anything with them. The soldiers threatened that if they would not comply they would be abducted and raped. They took the photos of the girls in their mobile sets. Rejwana told that she managed to protect the girls somehow from the worst. But they also got traumatised.

Mrs Hawatun Nesa also stated that the soldiers took away items of apparel, cosmetics, utensils and jewellery etc. bought to be given as wedding gift to Shahnaj at her marriage fixed to be solemnised on 26 May, 2010 worth approximately Rs. 70, 000.00 (seventy thousand) and Rs. 20, 000.00 (twenty thousand) cash. She also stated that the soldiers took signatures of Rejwana and herself in a paper written something on it which they did not allow her to read and they used her official stamp in the paper. They did it at gun point. The soldiers took away some official documents and papers belonging to the GP office. They also took away two mobile phones with SIMs with the numbers +919854621923 and +919435582945 used by Mr. Nazim Uddin, brother of Hawatun Nesa, and Hawatun Nesa respectively. However, the mobile used by her brother was returned to Hawatun Nesa on 25 May, 2010. She filed a complaint to the officer in charge (OC) of Algapur Police Station (PS) but police did not register a First Information Report (FIR).

Some other soldiers were also on rampage at the same time in other parts of the village. At about 5 am they raided the house of Mr. Mujammil Ali Barbhuiya, aged about 35, son of late Namor Ali Barbhuiya of Mohanpur part VI, half a kilometre away from the house of Samoi Panchayat. Mujammil Ali lives by farming his lands and at that time he was preparing to go to his farming field for work. Soldiers stopped him and asked whether he knows the whereabouts of Samoi Panchayat. But at his expression of ignorance they started beating him with the butts of gun and bamboo sticks. When he fell to the ground they kicked him incessantly. His clothes were torn into pieces. When his wife Mrs Rushna Begum Barbhuiya tried to rescue him they also beat her up.

They left severely injured Mujammil Ali when they saw another old man Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65, in the street, who was going to the nearby mosque to participate in the morning prayer. They grabbed him and without much ado started administering severe blows of gun butts and bamboo sticks on the fragile body of the old man. When people tried to intervene they were also beaten up. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, a woman aged 35, Sharmina Begum, a girl aged 12 and a mentally retarded boy Imran Hussain aged about 14 were also badly beaten up. An expectant mother of about 9 months of gestation Mrs. Suretun Nesa (aged about 30, wife of Altaf Hussain Barbhuiya) was not spared. The soldiers kicked her in the abdomen and as a result she suffered miscarriage on 25 May, 2010 at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Silchar.

Another group of soldiers at about 6 am went to a nearby house belonging to Amit Das (known also as Sona Das, aged about 35, son of late Umesh Das). They also asked him about Samoi Pachayat and when he told them that he did not know where he is, they started beating him. He sustained injuries on his legs and is under treatment in the Community Health Centre, Mohanpur. It is also reported that soldiers even tried to prevent the wounded and injured from going to hospital.

The villagers are as much terror struck as surprised by the incidents. They are at a loss to explain the incidents. As there is no complaint against Samoi Panchayat with the police or any other authorities. He is a peace loving public spirited person. According to the persons BHRPC team spoke with, Samoi Panchayat is a very respectable person in the village. People love and trust him. He was elected as the GP president for two consecutive terms and when in the last election the seat fell under the quota for women his wife got elected with a huge margin. Some villagers requesting anonymity told that they saw political conspiracy behind the incidents. Neither Samoi Panchayat nor his wife is a member of a political party. They are independent politicians. They also don’t divide funds for rural development schemes that are implemented by the Panchayat among politicians and officials as is the practice in many other GPs. These villagers think that some of the politicians, most probably, belonging to ruling congress party might want to teach Samoi Panchayat a lesson and for this purpose they are using the army.

There are fears among the villagers for the safety of Samoi Panchayat and two girl children Sabina and Shahnaj. BHRPC is also very concerned for their safety and physical and psychological integrity of all victims and other villagers.

It is obvious that the actions of the soldiers don’t come within the rules of any civilised society. They not only violated human rights of the villagers but also violated the law of the land and committed serious crimes of house trespass, robbery, grievous hurt, causing miscarriage, attempted rape, molestation, assault, criminal intimidation and so on with intent to terrorise the people for political purpose like members of a terrorist group.

Report prepared by

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

For BHRPC

On 26 May, 2010-05-26

At Guwahati, Assam

Brief Summery of The BHRPC Fact-finding Report on Kalam Uddin of Jirighat

May 25, 2010

Brief Summary of

The BHRPC Fact-finding Report

on Torture of Kalam Uddin of Jirighat and His Family by Army in Assam

BHRPC Ref. No. ……………. Date………………….

Report in Portabel Document Format (pdf)

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has received information that on 13 April, 2010 about 20 armed men belonging to 11 Field Regiment camping at Labok in the jurisdiction of Lakhipur Police Station (PS) in the district of Cachar in Assam (India) abducted Kalam Uddin Choudhury alias Kala, a daily wage labourer aged about 22 years, son of Dolu Mia Choudhury of village Makhon Nagar under the Jirighat Police Station in the same district. They tortured and kept him in incommunicado detention for about 24 hours. During the raid at the dead of night, the armed forces allegedly beaten up and humiliated all the inmates of the house, vandalised household goods and forcibly taken away 2 mobile phone handsets and other valuables with them. When on 14 April, 2010 the villagers, with the help of Yasin Ali, Officer in Charge (OC) of Jirighat Police station, found him out in the said Labok camp, the army lodged a First Information Report vide Jirighat P. S. Case No. 12 of 2010 under section 120B and 384 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) accusing Kala of hatching criminal conspiracy and extortion.

BHRPC members visited Makhon Nagar and talked with the family members of the victim, villagers and other persons related to the incident. From the information thus gathered it becomes clear that Dolu Mia Choudhury is a respectable person in his village, although the family is very poor. He held the post of Secretary for many years in the Village Defence Party (VDP), a village level committee which is formed by, and functions under the supervision of, the local police station. His son Kala works as a daily wage labourer having some skills in masonry. In November, 2008 Niam Uddinof village Hatirhar, Lakhipur Police Station (Cachar), who constructs small buildings in Imphal, Manipur under contract, hired Kala and took him to Imphal where the later worked for about four months as was employed by his hirer. But all of a sudden Niam Uddin disappeared one day without paying Kala anything and for many days Kala could not trace him. Kala returned home in January, 2010

After returning home Kala tried working at nearby places. On 9 April, 2010 Kala suddenly saw Niam Uddin at Jiribam, a town in Manipur bordering Assam adjacent to Jirighat, and demanded his money, which according to him was Rs. 26, 000. 00 (twenty six thousand). An altercation ensued between them. According to Dolu Mia Choudhury, Niam Uddin told his son that if he would keep demanding money he would be taught a very bitter lesson which he would not be able to forget in his life.

And then….. Dolu Mia Choudhury stated that at midnight on 13 April when all were sleeping he heard someone heavily knocking at his door. The knockers were claiming to be police and demanding the door to be opened immediately, which he obeyed. They told him that they were from army and they needed to search his house. When he enquired about search warrant and asked why they came alone without being accompanied by police officers from local police station, or the president of Gaon Panchayat (elected village level local government body, village counterpart of municipality), or the secretary of the VDP, they told him to keep quiet and started beating and kicking him. They tied him with a pillar in the veranda tying his hands at his back. They also entered a handkerchief into his mouth. At the sound of scuffle and his muzzled shriek others sleeping in his house woken up and tried to rescue him. Everybody including his aged and sick wife, daughters, sons and daughters-in-law ended up being beaten, kicked and tied. And then the brave soldiers of Indian army entered the house and vandalised everything they could find. They took two mobile handsets and some other valuables.

At the hue and cry people living nearby got awaken and started to rush to the spot. But there were army personnel at various points in the village road who stopped the people and sent them back forcibly by beating and abusing them. Present VDP Secretary Abdul Hoque Choudhury and some other members of the VDP such as Ajir Uddin, Nasir Uddin, Minhaj Uddin stated that they took their identity cards and badges provided by the police and ran towards the origin of the clamour and they also were stopped, their cards and badges were snatched away and they were also subjected to heavy beatings. But in other ways that were unknown to the army they could manage to reach the spot and they witnessed the subsequent events.

The witnesses stated that when they reach the spot they saw the army personnel asking Dolu Mia to produce ‘the gun’ according to them which he illegally possessed. Dolu Mia told them that he did not have any gun at which he received another round of beatings and kicking. The army personnel again searched the house, but in vain. Then one of the personnel called someone by the name of Monir Uddin and asked him to indentify the person who they wanted to pick up. Monir Uddin showed Kala and told them he is the person. They took him away with them without telling his family members and gathered villagers any reasons for such actions. The army also took signatures of Dolu Mia in three blank papers.

A group of villagers led by the VDP Secretary Abdul Hoque Choudhury went to Jirighat police station and woke up the Officer in Charge Yasin Ali. They narrated the whole story before him. The OC made a few phone calls and then told them that he could do nothing in the night. He asked them to come the next day early morning. The police officer with a few constables along with the villagers started searching for the boy. They searched each and every army camp within the jurisdiction of Jirighat police station. But the boy was found nowhere. The OC told them that without gathering information it is no use to continue search in this way.

On 14 April the boy was indeed found in the Labok Army camp, which is under the jurisdiction of Lakhipur police station. His condition was very bad. He was losing and gaining his consciousness. The Jirighat police took him into custody and then sent him to Jirighat New Primary Health Centre. He was examined by Dr. D Das, medical officer there.

A few hours later N. K. Subeder, N. Shri Varman from 11 Field Regiment came to the police station and produced a letter bearing letter head of People’s United Liberation Front (PULF) allegedly written by Kala demanding money from someone. Kala vehemently denied it. He stated the police that the army made him to sign the paper at gun point. Other people present there from his village including Abdul Hoque Choudhury told the police that they knew Kala well and he is a very peaceful boy, who never even mildly assaulted any person. They told that they believed army is trying to frame him. Nevertheless, the police registered a case against Kala under section 120B and 384 of IPC as Jirighat P. S. Case No. 12 of 2010. He was produced before the Magistrate on 15 April and sent to the judicial custody.

BHRPC also tried to gather information about the person whom the raiding army personnel asked to identify the intended person. It came out that Monir Uddin of Ujan Tarapur under Lakhipur police station is a person known as “army informer” and has a reputation of framing people in exchange of a few thousand bucks. According to the local people, if any body has any enmity or grudge against anybody they can teach the intended person a lesson paying Monir Uddin a few thousand rupees. In turn Monir Uddin gives a feast to his friends in the army or maybe some money also and they will take the intended actions, claimed the local people.

Monir Uddin has also some serious criminal cases against him. In many of these cases he was accused of robbery, kidnap, murder, rape etc. A few days back he was arrested by Silchar police station but sometimes later he was also released mysteriously.

BHRPC thinks that there are reasons to believe that Niam Uddin (of Hatirhar) contracted Monir Uddin for a few thousand to teach Kala the lesson he promised when the later demanded his money. Monir Uddin activated his friends in the army and they done their job.

The army for a feast or a few thousand Indian currencies acted like organized criminals flouting the Indian laws regarding search, seizure and arrest. They indulged in severe torture, incommunicado detention and other forms of gross violation of human rights guaranteed in the constitution of India and enshrined in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights of 1966 to which India is a party

Neharul Ahmed Mazumder

Secretary General


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Soldiers Beat a Family and Illegally Arrest and Torture a Young Man after Accepting Bribes in Assam

May 6, 2010

 

URGENT APPEAL PROGRAMME

BHRPC UA No. 14/2010

Soldiers Beat a Family and Illegally Arrest and Torture a Young Man after Accepting Bribes in Assam (Click Here)

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) forwards this Urgent Appeal issued by Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding an incident where soldiers beat a family and illegally arrest a young man after accepting bribes in the Indian state of Assam urging all viewers to take suggested actions. (See the Urgent Appeal)

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar (Wali)

For and on behalf of BHRPC

Guwahati, Assam

Email: wali.laskar@gmail, bhrpc.net@gmail.com

Mobile: +919401134314

Date: 05-05-10

Place: Guwahati

(See the Urgent Appeal)

Statement of BHRPC Regarding False Charge, Illegal Detention and Torture of a Boy in Cachar, Assam by Army

April 23, 2010

Statement of BHRPC Regarding False Charge, Illegal Detention and Torture of a Boy in Cachar, Assam by Army

PDF Version of the Statement

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) expresses deep concern over the situation of a boy who was picked up by army personnel from his home, subjected to severe torture and then army framed him in false charges. He has not yet been released.

BHRPC has received information that on 13 April, 2010 about 20 armed men belonging to 11 Field Regiment camping at Labok in the jurisdiction of Lakhipur Police Station (PS) in the district of Cachar in Assam (India) abducted a boy, kept him in incommunicado detention for about 24 hours subjecting him to severe torture and then filed false case against him.

The victim is a daily wage labourer named Kalam Uddin Choudhury alias Kala, aged about 22 years, son of Dolu Mia Choudhury of village Makhon Nagar under the Jirighat Police Station in the same district. During the raid at the dead of night, the armed forces allegedly beaten up and humiliated all the inmates of the house, vandalised household goods and forcibly taken away 2 mobile phone handsets and other valuables with them. When on 14 April, 2010 the villagers, with the help of Yasin Ali, Officer in Charge (OC) of Jirighat Police station, found him out in the said Labok camp, the army lodged a First Information Report vide Jirighat P. S. Case No. 12 of 2010 under section 120B and 384 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) accusing Kala of hatching criminal conspiracy and extortion.

BHRPC members visited Makhon Nagar and talked with the family members of the victim, villagers and other persons related to the incident. From the information thus gathered it becomes clear that Dolu Mia Choudhury is a respectable person in his village, although the family is very poor. He held the post of Secretary for many years in the Village Defence Party (VDP), a village level committee which is formed by, and functions under the supervision of, the local police station. His son Kala works as a daily wage labourer having some skills in masonry. In November, 2008 Niam Uddin of village Hatirhar, Lakhipur Police Station (Cachar), who constructs small buildings in Imphal, Manipur under contract, hired Kala and took him to Imphal where the later worked for about four months as was employed by his hirer. But all of a sudden Niam Uddin disappeared one day without paying Kala anything and for many days Kala could not trace him. Kala returned home in January, 2010

After returning home Kala tried working at nearby places. On 9 April, 2010 Kala suddenly saw Niam Uddin at Jiribam, a town in Manipur bordering Assam adjacent to Jirighat, and demanded his money, which according to him was Rs. 26, 000. 00 (twenty six thousand). An altercation ensued between them. According to Dolu Mia Choudhury, Niam Uddin told his son that if he would keep demanding money he would be taught a very bitter lesson which he would not be able to forget in his life.

And then….. Dolu Mia Choudhury stated that at midnight on 13 April when all were sleeping he heard someone heavily knocking at his door. The knockers were claiming to be police and demanding the door to be opened immediately, which he obeyed. They told him that they were from army and they needed to search his house. When he enquired about search warrant and asked why they came alone without being accompanied by police officers from local police station, or the president of Gaon Panchayat (elected village level local government body, village counterpart of municipality), or the secretary of the VDP, they told him to keep quiet and started beating and kicking him. They tied him with a pillar in the veranda tying his hands at his back. They also entered a handkerchief into his mouth. At the sound of scuffle and his muzzled shriek others sleeping in his house woken up and tried to rescue him. Everybody including his aged and sick wife, daughters, sons and daughters-in-law ended up being beaten, kicked and tied. And then the brave soldiers of Indian army entered the house and vandalised everything they could find. They took two mobile handsets and some other valuables.

At the hue and cry people living nearby got awaken and started to rush to the spot. But there were army personnel at various points in the village road who stopped the people and sent them back forcibly by beating and abusing them. Present VDP Secretary Abdul Hoque Choudhury and some other members of the VDP such as Ajir Uddin, Nasir Uddin, Minhaj Uddin stated that they took their identity cards and badges provided by the police and ran towards the origin of the clamour and they also were stopped, their cards and badges were snatched away and they were also subjected to heavy beatings. But in other ways that were unknown to the army they could manage to reach the spot and they witnessed the subsequent events.

The witnesses stated that when they reach the spot they saw the army personnel asking Dolu Mia to produce ‘the gun’ according to them which he illegally possessed. Dolu Mia told them that he did not have any gun at which he received another round of beatings and kicking. The army personnel again searched the house, but in vain. Then one of the personnel called someone by the name of Monir Uddin and asked him to indentify the person who they wanted to pick up. Monir Uddin showed Kala and told them he is the person. They took him away with them without telling his family members and gathered villagers any reasons for such actions. The army also took signatures of Dolu Mia in three blank papers.

A group of villagers led by the VDP Secretary Abdul Hoque Choudhury went to Jirighat police station and woke up the Officer in Charge Yasin Ali. They narrated the whole story before him. The OC made a few phone calls and then told them that he could do nothing in the night. He told them that without gathering information it is no use to engage in search in this way. He asked them to come the next day early morning.

The police officer with a few constables along with the villagers started searching for the boy the next day. They searched each and every army camp within the jurisdiction of Jirighat police station. But the boy was found nowhere. The search team then entered the jurisdiction of Lakhipur police station. In the evening the boy was indeed found there in the Labok Army camp. His condition was very bad. He was losing and gaining his consciousness. The Jirighat police took him into custody and then sent him to Jirighat New Primary Health Centre. He was examined by Dr. D Das, medical officer there.

A few hours later N. K. Subeder, N. Shri Varman from 11 Field Regiment came to the police station and produced a letter bearing letter head of People’s United Liberation Front (PULF) allegedly written by Kala demanding money from someone. Kala vehemently denied it. He stated the police that the army made him to sign the paper at gun point. He also described various forms of torture including drowning his head in a drum full of water for several minutes to which he was subjected. Other people present there from his village including Abdul Hoque Choudhury told the police that they knew Kala well and he is a very peaceful boy, who never even mildly assaulted any person. They told that they believed army is trying to frame him. They requested the police to register a case against the accused army under appropriate sections of law. Nevertheless, the police registered a case against Kala under section 120B and 384 of IPC as Jirighat P. S. Case No. 12 of 2010. He was produced before the Magistrate on 15 April and sent to the judicial custody.

BHRPC also tried to gather information about the person whom the raiding army personnel asked to identify the intended person. It came out that Monir Uddin of Ujan Tarapur under Lakhipur police station is a person known as “army informer” and has a reputation of framing people in exchange of a few thousand bucks. According to the local people, if any body has any enmity or grudge against anybody they can teach the intended person a lesson paying Monir Uddin a few thousand rupees. In turn Monir Uddin gives a feast to his friends in the army or maybe some money also and they will take the intended actions, claimed the local people.

Monir Uddin has also some serious criminal cases against him. In many of these cases he was accused of robbery, kidnap, murder, rape etc. A few days back he was arrested by Silchar police station but sometimes later he was also released mysteriously.

BHRPC thinks that there are reasons to believe that Niam Uddin (of Hatirhar) contracted Monir Uddin for a few thousand to teach Kala the lesson he promised when the later demanded his money.  Monir Uddin activated his friends in the army and they done their job.

The army for a feast or a few thousand Indian currencies acted like organized criminals flouting the Indian laws regarding search, seizure and arrest. They indulged in severe torture, incommunicado detention and other forms of gross violation of human rights guaranteed in the constitution of India and enshrined in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights of 1966 to which India is a party.

BHRPC demands to the authorities to immediately:

  1. Release the innocent boy named Kamal Uddin Choudhury alias Kala;
  2. Register a First Information Report against the concerned army personnel for abduction, robbery, grievous hurt, torture, trespass, assault and battery, molestation etc;
  3. Conduct prompt, objective and thorough investigation of the incident leading to prosecution of the alleged offenders;
  4. Ensure a speedy, open and impartial trial; and
  5. Take actions to rehabilitate the victim and his family financially, socially and psychologically with the payment of adequate reparation and other measures.
(Neharul Ahmed Mazumder)Secretary General