Posts Tagged ‘Disturbed Area’

AFSPA extension in Assam: Why has the state turned against itself?

September 20, 2017

One can understand chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who has invoked such a provision of law with all its legal and political fall-outs in a situation of fast losing credibility at the political front. Is it intended to contain the snowballing democratic protests from the state’s intellectuals, peasants and educated unemployed youth, which are apparently queering the pitch for the BJP’s one and a half year stint in Assam?

afspa-517_sns

Photo from The Statesman

An avoidable move?

The chilling effect on freedom of expression and arbitrary acts of counter-insurgency in a zone of “low intensity conflict” can often become a permanent scar, if the Army is called into civil and political conflicts. Low intensity conflict not amounting to “war against the state”, in its broadest and maximal sense, might not be considered a national security threat, as any reading between the lines would beseech such a caution to the powers-that-be. Threats to the nation-state cannot be a consideration by the administration of a provincial state, as such threats would willy-nilly involve the entire security apparatus of the nation.

Precisely these are what afflict the government and bureaucracy in Assam to rule in favour of the extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, over the whole of Assam.

One can understand chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who has invoked such a provision of law with all its legal and political fall-outs in a situation of fast losing credibility at the political front. Is it intended to contain the snowballing democratic protests from the state’s intellectuals, peasants and educated unemployed youth, which are apparently queering the pitch for the BJP’s one and a half year stint in Assam?

The situation is further queered by the uncalled for controversy created by naming new colleges and schools after Deen Dayal Upadhaya, an ideological mentor of the ruling party. The total failure of the state administration in providing flood relief, arrest of peasant leader Akhil Gogoi on charges of sedition, rampant corruption involving ruling party allies and members are some of the perceived weakness of the state government.

Issues like the killing of innocent citizens by night vigilante groups in the Barak Valley on the apprehension that armed gangs would attack at night and take away documents that validate inclusion in the National Register of Citizenship is another failure. Rising insecurity among ordinary citizens, sharp religious polarisation and mob lynching compounded with flood, unemployment and growing resentment for policy failures of the regime, has created gross disorder and disturbed public life in Assam. Can the government fight these malaises of economic failure and trust deficit of the people by bringing in the AF (SP) Act?

Intelligence reports about possible protests against what is perceived as a biased NRC, to be published by December and increased chances of radicalisation along religious and ethnic lines constitute threats to national security. For the first time, a state government has imposed the Act, instead of the Centre, prompting many to question the move. By implication, the whole of Assam has been declared a “disturbed area”.

The timing of the Act further raised speculation whether it was intended to muzzle the voices of surrendered members of the United Liberation Front of Assam whose cadres were attacked in a shop in lower Assam’s Nowgong by accomplices of the shop owners. That resulted in massive condemnation of the increased spell of attacks on Assamese people by cliques supported by the ruling dispensation.

It looks like a diversionary tactic at one level — when the government fails, it creates conditions of insecurity and then uses coercive laws to suppress any dissent. At another level, it is more an anticipatory preventive measure. In both cases, a coercive law like the AF (SP) Act, as per the latest Supreme Court ruling by justices Madan B Lokur and Uday in the PIL filed by the Extra-judicial Victims’ Association of Manipur, cannot use excessive force with impunity.

Further, the constitutional principle of “reasonable restriction” applies to any the application of coercive laws like sedition and AF (SP) Act, as “life and liberty of people cannot be deprived without due process established by law”. In many such ways, AF(SP) Act violates fundamental rights of life and liberty, as the apex court pointed out in its latest landmark ruling that “living under the shadow of a gun that can be wielded with impunity is equally unsettling and demoralising” for citizens as well as for the Armed Forces.

One might recall the judicial inquiry report on torture and killing of Manorama Devi in Imphal by the Assam Rifles, which had pointed out that the security forces feel they can act with absolute impunity. The extension of the Act to the whole of Assam, already deeply polarised, would make vulnerable sections face a “demoralising effect” on their democratic engagement with the state. Indeed this also marks a lack of trust between the government and the citizen, which is avoidable and the newly elected government should have restrained itself from applying the controversial act.

From the legal angle, invoking the Act also implies a counter-insurgency measure against “enemy” of the state, as defined in 3(x) of the Army Act. When the peace processes are gaining momentum and dialogue need to be advanced with due diligence, a greater emphasis on an apparent counterinsurgency measure ends up creating an atmosphere of suspicion and animosity between the forces and nonstate actors. In a participatory democracy like ours, the AF (SP) Act runs the risk of creating larger rifts and increased intransigence among various sections of people. The recent incident of a pro-talks former insurgent threatening to rejoin insurgency paints a larger picture of an unresolved confrontation brewing within the apparent peaceful situation.

The pre-eminent logic that guides the re-imposition of the Act is the belief in the security paradigm that the Central and state government subscribe to. In case of Assam, the government has effectively been using one section of insurgents against another, thereby creating an ethnic divide over limited rights of autonomy. Could territorial control and construction of politically expedient social and cultural boundaries throttle organised dissent against a ruling dispensation? This also creates a condition for legitimising acts of violation of human rights by the security forces, which acts in tandem with political exigencies of wielding new social divisions as a necessary infrastructure of state power.

The recent nine-member unanimous Supreme Court judgment on the right to privacy made right to dissent a fundamental right under the right to life as enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court decision on 124A of the IPC, imposing sedition charges indiscriminately on dissenters laid down the criterion that unless the so-called “seditious act” leads to incitement of violence and public disorder, an FIR or arrest can’t be done. Failure on the part of the state agencies to take note of these finer principles of law, creates a condition of mass insecurity, as their democratic rights are curbed without much reason.

Noted American scholar Daniel H Deudney’s landmark work on the state security doctrine argued that security concerns should not reflect the ideological concerns of the state and that the government should not be “navigating through the rear-view mirror”. This would mean that the state does not take a view of the future based on some past instances as such a broad view of security engulfs the state into widening conflicts. The purpose of the Act is limited to fighting counterinsurgency and hence its use in the present context may not augur well for citizens.

The writer is an associate professor of philosophy at the North Eastern Hill University, Shillong Vice Chairperson of Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

The piece was first published in The Statesman on September 18, 2017 and it is re-published here for wider dissemination.

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AFSPA: A blotch on democracy in India

August 20, 2011

The Asian Human Rights Commission, REDRESS Trust UK, and Human Rights Alert, Manipur, India jointly authored and published a report on the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 titled: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in Manipur and other States of the Northeast of India: Sanctioning repression in violation of India’s human rights obligations on 18 August, 2011.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in Manipur and other States of the Northeast of India: Sanctioning repression in violation of India’s human rights obligations

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in Manipur and other States of the Northeast of India: Sanctioning repression in violation of India’s human rights obligations

In a statement jointly issued issued on 18 August, 2011 by AHRC, REDRESS and HRA it is claimed that a draconian legislation like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and the concept of democracy do not go together. While democracy nurture values of justice, equality and fraternity, laws like the AFSPA are synonymous with injustice, discrimination and hatred. A report that analyses the legislation’s complete incompatibility with India’s domestic and international human rights obligations is released today in India, Hong Kong and London. Human Rights Alert, a human rights organisation working in Manipur, India; REDRESS Trust, a human rights group based in London, UK; and the AHRC, a regional human rights body based in Hong Kong have jointly authored the report.

It is also stated that the report while analysing the Act draws extensively upon international and domestic human rights jurisprudence, that India is mandated to follow. The report exposes the visibly different standards even the Supreme Court of India has adopted while deciding the constitutionality and thus the compatibility of the law with India’s international and domestic human rights obligations. Despite repeated calls to repeal the law immediately by government-sponsored Committees that have studied the law, the Government of India is yet to take any steps in that direction. International human rights bodies like the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Racial Discrimination have expressed concern about the law and its implementation in India, suggesting that the law should be repealed.

The law has attracted, repeatedly, wide-ranging criticisms from jurists, human rights activists, and even politicians within India and abroad. Organisations like the AHRC and Human Rights Alert have documented more than two hundred cases, over the past eight years, where the state agencies operating under the statutory impunity provided by the Act has committed serious human rights violations in states like Manipur. Most of these cases has been reported by the AHRC through its Urgent Appeals Programme and brought to the attention of authorities in India and within the United Nations. Yet, so far not a single military or police officer has been prosecuted for the human rights abuses they have committed under the cover of impunity provided by this law.

The report also places emphasis upon the unique form of protest by Ms. Irom Chanu Sharmila, through her decade-long hunger strike, which has been largely ignored by the national media in India.

The report could be downloaded here.

For comments on the report you may contact:
1. Mr. Babloo Loitongbom
Human Rights Alert
Manipur, India
Tel: + 91 385 2448159

2. Mr. Serge Golubok
REDRESS
London, UK
Tel: + 44 20 7793 1777

3. Mr. Bijo Francis
AHRC
Hong Kong
Tel: + 852 2698 6339

HRW Report: Impunity in Manipur

January 30, 2011

Human Rights Watch Report:

“These Fellows Must Be Eliminated”

Relentless Violence and Impunity in Manipur

September 29, 2008

This 79-page report documents the failure of justice in the state, where for 50 years the army, empowered and protected by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), has committed numerous serious human rights violations. The report details the failure of justice in the killing and possible rape of alleged militant Thangjam Manorama Devi by the paramilitary Assam Rifles in 2004. Repeated attempts to identify and punish those responsible for her death have been stalled by the army, which has received protection under the immunity provisions of the AFSPA.

Download full report

Illegal Arrest, Torture of Civilians by Central Reserve Police Force Personnel

January 18, 2011

Illegal Arrest, Torture of Civilians by Central Reserve Police Force Personnel

On 19 March, 2008 at about 10.30 pm one Gypsy and two 407 truck-ful of CRPF personnel belonging to 147 battalion camping at Kashipur, Cachar along with Mr. S C Nath, an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police posted at Borkhola police station in Cachar, came at Behara Bazar under the jurisdiction of Katigorah police station, Cachar and picked up Mr. Ranjit Roy, Mr. Birbikram Deb and Mr. Raju Kar at gun point.

These three youth are ordinary residents of Behara Bazar and by occupation businessmen with small shops at the bazaar. As usual they were shutting the shutters of their shops after the day’s drudgery to go home when they were accosted by the said security forces. The CRPF personnel started to beat them with gun butt and bayonet inflicting intentionally severe pain causing sufferings and hurts on their persons apparently to intimidate them and rob them of their belongings. When at the scream of the victims people started to come out and gather around the scene the CRPF men took them aboard a vehicle and went away.

They went to an adjacent temple named Loknath Mandir at Nilcherra and woke up Mr. Sandipan Chakrabarti and Subir Guha, drivers of the temple, who were asleep there. Here also the CRPF jawans applied their gun butts and bayonets causing more serious injuries to both the said persons with intention to force them to board a vehicle at which Mr. Swapan Bhattacharya, the priest of the temple, protested. Abuses and intimidation were also hurled at him. But on the possibility of waking up nieghbourhood people by this hullabaloo the CRPF personnel left these two victims.

Now they went with the first mentioned three victims not to the Katigorah police station under which jurisdiction they were in action but to the Borkhola police station and tried to persuade Mr. Ajijur Rahman, the Officer in Charge of the police station, to register an FIR against the victims by producing six fresh bullets and claiming that these had been found with the victims. After interrogation Mr. Ajijur Rahman denied to admit the CRPF theory that the victims belonged to any non-state armed organizations as well as to frame them as such. But Mr. Ajijur Rahman himself detained the victims illegally for the whole night instead of making arrangement for their medical treatment. He acted in contravention of strictures of the law of the land and international human rights law, perhaps, as well-known practice of Assam Police suggests, for a few thousand rupees from the victims.

There was an eerie environment of fear and tension everywhere in Barak Valley when the news reached people the next morning. Despite this, some individuals and organizations including Barak Human Rights Protection Committee came into action and contacted senior police officers and the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar. The five victims were sent to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Silchar for treatment.

ASI S C Nath stated on 20 March, 2008 at the Office of the Superintendent of Police in the presence of media and social and human rights activists that CRPF personnel themselves had kept the bullets in the pockets of the victims forcibly. Senior CRPF officer S S Bohar made himself present at the SP office a little later and apologized to the people for the incident of the day before. He admitted that CRPF acted wrong information and also promised that there would be an inquiry into the matter. SP, Cachar also promised to take necessary actions in this regard.

On the other hand, Mr. Biswajit Sinha, the OC of Katigorah police station denied to register the complaints filed by the Mr. Ranjit Roy and his two companion victims and by the authority of Nilcherra Loknath Mandir as FIRs. Mr. Ranjit Roy and others alleged in their complaints that Mr Tapan Deb, Mr. Sujit Deb of village Dinanathpur and Mr. Sanjay Mahato of village Chayaranbasti were behind the whole incident. Local people alleged that these three persons are known as CRPF informer as well as members of an AOG having a camp in the area. Mr. Kanailal Bhattacharya, joint secretary of Desh Bondhu Club, was called on his cell number 94353 72029 from +9194356 66043 at 6. 57 pm on 21 March, 2008 and threatened with death apparently for his co-operation with BHRPC fact-finding team. The caller was Tapan Deb and the number from which the call was made is usually used by local chief of the AOG, Mr. Bhattacharya alleged. He also claimed that Mr. Tapan Deb, Mr. Sujit Deb and Mr. Sanjay Mahato have been using the AOG camp as their hideout. Local people also alleged that Mr. Haidar Hussain Laskar, an ASI at Behara Outpost works as an informer of the AOG more than as a police officer on the ground that if he was given any information regarding the trafficking of arms and ammunitions and other illegal activities of the AOG he cautions them instead of taking any actions against them.

In the complaint Mr. Ranjit Roy, Mr. Birbikram Deb and Mr. Raju Kar also alleged that the CRPF personnel took away rupees 2,275.00 (two thousand two hundred and seventy five) only, rupees 6,000.00 (six thousand) only and a wrist watch and rupees 2,320.00 (two thousand three hundred and twenty) only from them respectively at gun point.

Fake encounter killing of Jamir Uddin by CRPF personnel

January 18, 2011

Fake Encounter Killing of Jamir Uddin by CRPF Personnel

In a home invasion 5 (five) Central Reserve Police Force personnel belonging to Gharmura Camp of E-147 company at about 10 am on 22 Oct, 2007 shot dead one Jamir Uddin Laskar, about 35 years of age, of village Bainchera (also known as Bhaichera) under the Katlichera Police Station in Hailakandi, Assam.

At the time of the incident the deceased was collecting grass to graze his cattle from a paddy field near his house where five CRPF men accompanied by one Rizwan Uddin, who is known to be a CRPF informer, accosted him. His wife Anowara Begum, sister Sazna Begum and neighbour Moizun Nesa came to the place of occurrence after getting information. They saw and heard Rezwan Uddin was asking the men in uniform to shot Jamir Uddin pointing his fingers towards the latter who was dumbfounded at the sight. At that moment Sazna and Anowara started to cry and beseech the men with arms to spare the life of Jamir Uddin at which they were beaten, kicked, abused and humiliated.

At the instance of Rezwan Uddin the CRPF fired a shot targeting Jamir Uddin which was missed, the second shot also missed but the third bullet hit on the back of the target, who had already started to run away, and piercing his chest exited.

The critically injured victim was sent to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Silchar where he was declared dead at 6-30 P.M that day.

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.

Brief Summery of The BHRPC Fact-finding Report of Extra-Judicial Killing of Iskandar Ali of Bidruhipar, Cachar

June 5, 2010

Brief Summery of

The BHRPC Fact-finding Report

of Extra-Judicial Killing of Iskandar Ali of Bidruhipar, Cachar

Reference No.: BHRPC Case No. 58/2010/FR/2010-11 Dated 5 June 2010

Get the pdf version

Assam: Security Personnel Kill an Innocent Person by Firing Indiscriminately at a Market Place in Barak Valley

Personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), a para-military force of the government of India deployed heavily in North Eastern states to provide aid to the state governments in maintaining public order, killed an innocent person on 23 May 2010 by firing without warning and indiscriminately at Panchaboti (known also as Jamalpar), a small market place within the area of Dholai Police Station (PS) in the district of Cachar, Assam, while trying to arrest two other persons reportedly acting on a tip-off. No investigation into the killing is ordered. Police, instead, registered a case against the deceased person incorporating his name in the First Information Report (FIR) filed against the two arrestees. There are fears that post mortem report can also be tempered. Impunity for such frequent extra-judicial killings is taken for granted in this part of India.

After receiving information the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human rights organisation based in Assam, formed a team for finding facts about the incidents. The team visited Bidruhipar, the village where the deceased lived which falls under Sonai PS in Cachar (Assam), spoken with his wife, children, brothers, other relatives and fellow villagers. The team also visited Panchaboti, where the incident occurred and other related areas. They spoke to some eye witnesses and local police officers. The account given here is based on the facts gathered in this way by the BHRPC.

Panchaboti is like a small market place where there are 19/20 shops of various kinds and people from the adjacent villages come for buying or selling household things and for other related purposes. A gathering of 40/50 persons are normally found there. The deceased Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya (aged about 42, son of late Abdul Matlib Barbhuiya) lived at a nearby village Bidruhipar (about 4 km away to the north eastern direction from Panchaboti separated by the river Sonai) under the Sonai PS. He was a small businessman primarily dealing with betel nuts. He would buy row betel nuts from markets and small village firms and sell them after processing. He was the sole earning member of a family of 6 comprising of his wife Monijun Nesa (aged about 38), son Rajib Hussain Barbhuiya (aged about 13) and daughters Jasmin Begum Barbhuiya (aged about 11), Yasmin Begum Barbhuiya (aged about 7) and Najmin Begum Barbhuiya (aged about 4). According to the villagers and the police officials, he was a peace loving person never involved in any crime or immoral acts and he had nothing against him in the police record.

At about 11 pm on the fateful day of 23 May he left his house telling his wife that he was going to the Panchaboti area to collect betel nuts which he would keep at the house of a friend for he intended to visit his sister Champarun Nesa at Krishnapur, Amraghat, though he expressed doubts that he would get time for the visit. He asked his wife not to worry if he did not return that day.

The persons who were present at the time of shooting by the CRPF at Panchaboti state that they heard and saw a group of 11/12 CRPF personnel from A147 Battalion led by Mr Muatoshi Dubichu, Deputy Inspector of Police and in-charge of Shachinpur Camp (Shachinpur comes under Dholai PS), who came there sometime ago, suddenly started firing indiscriminately at about 4.30 pm and people ran helter-skelter in panic. Most of them entered nearby shops and houses and closed the doors. Some of them saw Iskandar running over a small field towards the river Sonai, a tributary of the river Barak. He jumped into the river while CRPF were shooting at him. There was absolutely no provocation of any kind for the CRPF to open fire. The witnesses say that CRPF did not warn the people by any means before starting firing. It was not known at that time what happened to Iskandar. But the CRPF arrested Moniruddin Barbhuiya (aged about 32, son of Abdul Majid Barbhuiya of village Bidruhipar, PS Sonai, Cachar, Assam) and Abdul Khalik (aged about 25, son of Siraj Uddin of village Sundari Part-II, PS Sonai, Cachar, Assam) for whose arrest they came.

The CRPF claimed that they were on a routine patrolling at that time and they observed suspicious behaviour on the part of Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and Iskandar. They challenged them and when the suspects started running away they opened fire and shot 7 rounds at them. As a result they succeeded in arresting two persons while another (meaning the deceased Iskandar) ran away. They did not know what happened to the later. But they found a country made 9 mm pistol and four pieces of bullets with Moniruddin. According to the CRPF, they are ordinary criminals and did not belong to any organisation. The CRPF handed over the two arrestees to the Palonghat police out post under Dholai PS at about 9 pm that day. Dholai police registered a case against Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and another (meaning Iskandar but without naming) (vide Dholai PS Case No. 99/2010 dated 23 May 2010) under section 47 of the Arms Act, 1959. On 24 May the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Dholai PS produced the accused before a magistrate praying for police custody for them which was granted for 7 days. Then they were sent to the judicial custody and at the time of writing this report they are still in jail.

According to the police sources, Moniruddin stated that he is a labourer and worked in Mizoram for a few months. One day in Mizoram when he went to a river to bath there he found a pistol lying there. He picked it up and was trying to sell it. Iskandar is nothing to do with them.

When in the night on 23 May Iskandar did not return home his wife Monijun was not worried and she thought that he had gone to his sister’s house at Krishnapur as she was told. The next day (24 May) Badrul Mia, a neighbour, asked Monijun if she was aware of an incident of firing at Panchaboti the day before where her husband went and whether he returned home or not. She became worried and contacted her sister-in-law at Krishnapur over the phone who told that Moniruddin did not visit her. Then she contacted each and every relatives of her husband but everybody expressed ignorance about the whereabouts of Iskandar. She along with her sister-in-law Sitarun Nesa went to the Sonai PS on 25 May and informed the police in writing that her husband was missing since the day before. It was entered in the General diary of the PS vide GD Entry 601 dated 25 May 2010.

At about 1 pm on 26 May some people of village Sundari Part-II (situated at a distance of about 2 km from Panchaboti) saw a dead body adrift in the river Sonai and informed Kachudaram police out post under Sonai PS. Police, first from the out post and then from the PS, came at about 3 pm and send the body to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Silchar for autopsy. At about 11 pm on 27 May the police handed over the body to Monijun. His relatives and fellow villagers performed the last rites at about 2.30 pm.

The persons who performed the pre-funeral ritual bathing of the body state that they saw two holes caused by bullets on the body; one on the waist and the other on the left side of the neck. Report of the autopsy has not been yet provided to the family. Monijun and other villagers fear that perhaps they want to change the report and that is why they are not giving it to her. The BHRPC is trying to access the report.

The local people did not believe the CRPF story. They say that it is possible that Moniruddin and Abdul Khalik were trying to sell the pistol. Probably they fixed the place and time for transaction with the purported buyer to complete the sale at Panchaboti on 23 May. According to them, it is not a case of routine patrol as the CRPF claim but it is probable that the CRPF somehow came to know of the transaction and accordingly they came to nab them red handed. But lack of professionalism and respect for the rights of the general citizens provoked them to open fire when they saw the suspects and it claimed an innocent life in the form of Iskandar. They emphatically say that Iskandar had nothing whatsoever to do with Moniruddin and his activities. He is the victim of carelessness of the security forces for the lives of innocent people. The story which is being told by the CRPF accusing Iskandar of being a partner or accomplice or involved with any other way with Moniruddin or his pistol is a typical attempt of covering up their guilt of killing him and it is gross injustice to the unfortunate soul of the deceased and his wife and children to stigmatise them in this way.

Mr. Kutub Ahmed Mazumder, a member of Assam Legislative Assembly representing the Sonai Constituency also told the BHRPC that he knew Iskandar personally and he is a very good person. He visited the widow on 30 May.

Hundreds of people of the neighbouring villages gathered on 28 May at Hatikhal, a convenient meeting place for the people living at neighbouring villages, and held a condolence meeting which was presided over by Nazrul Islam Ahmed, vice president of Sonai Anchalik Panchayat (Anchalik Panchayat is the middle layer of the three layer local government system consisting of Gaon Panchayat, Anchalik Panchayat and Zila Parishad) where resolutions passed; 1.Condemning the killing of Iskandar terming it as an intentional murder of a law-abiding and peace loving citizen by power fuddled unscrupulous security forces, 2. Condoling the family for their loss, and 3. Demanding compensation and prosecution of the responsible CRPF personnel.

Monijun filed a complaint before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Cachar on 29 May praying for directing the police for proper investigation of the murder under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The complaint was forwarded to the Sonai PS and was registered as an FIR vide Sonai PS Case No. 126/10 dated 4 May 2010.

The BHRPC also wrote to the authorities including the president, prime minister of India and the chairpersons of the National Human Rights Commission.

Report prepared by

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

For BHRPC

On 5 June 2010

At Guwahati, Assam

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

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