Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of assembly’

NAPM demands release of anti-dam protesters and scrapping of all big dams

December 27, 2011

‘NAPM condemns arrest and harassment of anti-dam protesters in Assam’

DECEMBER 27, 2011

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) forwards this statement issued on 26 December by the NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS on ‘arrest and harassment of anti-dam protesters in Assam’.

New Delhi, December 26: Tonight at 2:15 am Assam Police in collusion with other security forces swooped down on the protesters at Ranganadi who have been blockading the Highway since December 16 and thwarting state’s attempt to carry turbines and dam materials to project site of Lower Subansiri Dam. Nearly 200 people have been arrested and earlier also security forces have been harassing the ptotestors. In past too, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti fighting against the big dams on Brhamaputra have faced government’s ire and often been attacked and jailed. NAPM stands in solidarity with KMSS and other students groups of the region who have been consistently opposed to the Big dams in highly sensitive seismic zone. We condemn the sustained action and harassment of KMSS and their activists and targeting of Akhil Gogoi for constantly opposing the destructive development policies and corruption of the government machinery.

For past few weeks there been a serious agitation going on against theAssamgovernment and NHPC. Thousands and thousands of people daily wage earners, farmers, school teachers, students, and others from middle class have been gathering at the protest site at Lakhimpur town.

The dam on river Subansiri at Gerukamukh is for the 2010MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Project (LSHEP) under the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). The project is scheduled to be completed by 2015, but a series of questions need to be answered about the big dams, like impact on agriculture, fishes, ecology, earthquakes etc.

The Assamese farmers have joined this movement spontaneously because they have learned from their experiences. Small hydro-projects have already taught them a lesson. For past several years, they have no cultivation as sand siltation had damaged their fields, sudden floods caused by the water released by the hydro-projects have led them to nowhere.

Even though a report by an expert committee comprising scientists from IIT Guwahati and universities in Assam have advised the government against mega dams in a tectonically unstable region, NHPC and Assam Government is hell bent on implementing the project. Arunachal Pradesh has at least 140 hydroelectric projects, big and small, in various stages of construction, together they will endanger the life of residents of people not only in downstream but in upstream as well.

NAPM urges the State and Union government to seriously look at the dam building in country in light of the ongoing controversy over the Mullaperiyar Dam, ongoing agitations against the big dams inAssam, Vishungadh-Pipalkoti HEP in Uttarakhand, Polavaram in Andhra Pradesh, and various dams inNarmadaValley. Dams as a technological tool for development, irrigation, flood control have been exposed. It is high time serious thought was given towards decommissioning of the dams rather than building more big dams.

We demand fromAssamgovernment that the protesters be released immediately and big dams inBrhmaputraRiverValley, Subasniri rivers be all together scrapped. Ministry of Water Resources in this regard should take the lead and stop planning dams in different states of North East in a highly active seismic zone.

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Prafulla Samantara, Ramakrishna Raju, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Madhuresh Kumar

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

For and on behalf of BHRPC

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People fast for repeal of AFSPA at Silchar, Assam

November 6, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Statement, November 02, 2011

People fast for repeal of AFSPA at Silchar, Assam

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Silchar, 6 November 2011: Hundreds of people gathered in front of the district headquarters at Silchar, Assam on 5 November, 2011 and demonstrated peacefully while observing symbolic fast for the day from 9am to 5pm in solidarity with the nationwide Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA campaign and to mark 11th year of epic fast by Irom Sharmila Chanu in demand of repeal of the draconian law called the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958. The event was organized by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), Human Rights Organisation, Cachar, (HRO). Apart from the members of some other social organizations such as Kishan Bikash Samiti, Banskandi, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Assam Majuri Shramik Union, COPE and others many lawyers, journalists, teachers, artists and cultural activists also participated.

Many community leaders, social workers, journalists, teachers and lawyers addressed the gathering and explained what is AFPSA, how it is affected our lives and why it needs to be immediately repealed. Every one who talked expressed his/her profound respect to Sharmila, her determination and sacrifice and urged the people to rally behind her until the bad law goes. Some of the speakers narrated some cases of indiscriminate killing, barbaric torture, inhuman treatment of the civilians by the members of the armed forces ofIndiain Barak valley, other parts of North East India andJammu and Kashmir.

Sadique Mohammed Laskar, joint secretary, BHRPC, opened the talk by welcoming the hunger strikers. He informed the gathering that this movemenr has become a worldwide phenomenon now and we are a part tat larger agitation against state repression and corporate loots. Womens rights activists and poet Snigdha Nath recited a Bengali version of the poem titled Imprisoned in Democracy by Musab Iqbal. Reputed lawyer and activist Mr. Imad Uddin Bulbul talked at length about the violence in North East, its reasons and particularly it impact on the day to day lives of common people. He also condemned violence by non-state actors. BHRPC secretary general Neharul Ahmed Mazumder discussed how the AFSPA takes away fundamental rights to life, liberty and human dignity enshrined in the constitution. Waliullah Ahmed Laskar, a prominent human rights defender in North East India, talked about politics of the AFSPA and other draconian laws and said such laws and policies are based on racism and fascism. He also brought our the lack of legality in the law by showing procedural and substantial deficiencies in the AFSPA. M Shantikumar Shingh said that it is hopeful that the people of Barak valley joined the movement, it does not matter that they did it after 11 years. Thirthankar Chanda laws are actually used to repress the voices of activists who protest against corruption, exploitation and corporate loot of natural resources jeopardizing environment and livelihood of the masses. President of Cachar Human Rights Organisation Mr. Irabat Shingh showed how AFSPA is misused and abused by narrating many cases of human rights violations.

Others who addressed the gathering include reporter Dilip Shingh, convener of All Barak Students Association Baharul Islam Barbhuiya, publicity secretary of Assa Meira Paibi Organisation Meiragnloi Devi, secretary of the Silchar Press Club Mr. Shankar Dey, Monir Uddin Laskar, Herajit Shingh, Reba Nath, Bikash Das Purakayastha, Arup Baishya, Dipankar Chanda, Pijush Das, Dayanand Shingh, Lili Devi and others. Everybody urged they central government to repeal the AFSPA and other draconian laws and seek the political solutions for the political problems. They also unanimously wanted to make the movement stronger and more widespread. After the fast was broken BHRPC submitted a memorandum addressed to the prime minister of Indiaurging him repeal the AFSPA.

For more information contact:

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Mobile: 09401942234

Email: wali.laskar@gmail.com

Rongpur Part IV, Silchar-9

Assam, India.

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

BHRPC to observe fasting and demonstration for repeal of AFSPA

November 2, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Statement, October 02, 2011

 

BHRPC to observe fasting and demonstration for repeal of AFSPA

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a voluntary organization for human rights working in Assam, in co-operation with Cachar Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) is organizing a one day symbolic fast and demonstration from 9am to 5pm on 5 November, 2011 in front of the district head quarters at Silchar (Assam, India) in demand of repeal of the draconian law called the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in solidarity with the nationwide campaign of Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA to mark the 11th year of epic fast of iconic human rights defender and poet-journalist Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur.

The AFSPA is a piece of colonial legislation which gives the armed forces of India unfettered power: (i) to use lethal force even to the causing of death on civilians on mere suspicion that they may cause breach of any law or order, (ii) to search any dwelling places by breaking them on mere suspicion without warrant and (ii) to arrest people without warrant and to keep them in custody for unspecified time and the Act also bars the judiciary to question any acts of the armed forces operating under the Act in areas declared disturbed under the Act. The Act is in force in parts of North East includingAssam for more than five decades and a version of the Act inJammu and Kashmir for more than two decades. The Act violates the spirit and values of the Constitution of India, universally accepted human rights standards and democratic norms. Government appointed committees including the one chaired by Justice Jeevan Reddy also found the Act undesirable and unambiguously recommended for its repeal.

Actions taken under the Act caused hundreds of extra-judicial killings, rapes, torture, enforced disappearances putting the people living in the AFSPA affected area under terror, affecting normal governance and defeating democracy. Civil society groups across North East and from the other parts of the country advocating and agitating for repeal of the Act. The most emblematic protest has been carrying out by Irom Sharmila who has been on hunger strike since 5 November, 2000 in demand of the repeal of the Act. She is continuously arrested and re-arrested on charges attempt to commit suicide and forcibly fed through a nasal tube by the prison wardens.

BHRPC urges the people of the region to participate in the symbolic fast and demonstration of 5 November, 2011 in solidarity with Irom Sharmila and Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA campaign in demand of repeal of the Act and investigation of human rights violation allegations.

For more information contact:

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

M: 09401942234,

Email: wali.laskar@gmail.com

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Rongpur Part IV, Silchar-9,

Assam, India

BHRPC condemns attack on anti-AFSPA campaigners

October 20, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BHRPC Statement, October 20, 2011

 

BHRPC condemns attack on anti-AFSPA campaigners

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) is shocked at the reports of attack on the campaigners against the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and strongly condemns the incident and the anti-democratic fascist mindset displayed by the attackers on the peaceful protestors.

It is reported that when a large number of students mainly from the North East Indian states joined the Save Sharmila Solidarity Group at the north campus of Delhi University as a part of the Srinagar-to-Imphal Yatra demanding repeal of the AFSPA miscreants created nuisance at the rally pelting stones and tomatoes. Several students sustained injuries due to stone pelting.

It is also alleged that in spite of information provided, theDelhipolice arrived late in the scene and did not make any arrest of the alleged attackers but instead denied permission to hold the peaceful rally any further.

It is to be mentioned that the 4,500 km longSrinagar-to-ImphalYatra is being carried out to make common people aware of the draconian, anti-democratic and anti-human rights provisions of AFSPA applicable in the North Eastern states andJammu and Kashmir. The rally is being joined by several social activists of national fame such as Medha Patkar, Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey, National Alliance of People’s Movement leader Faisal Khan, Irom Sharmila’s brother Irom Singhajit and Parveena Ahangar of the Association of Disappeared Persons.

BHRPC believes that the attack is a blatant violation of, and an assault on, the basic fundamental rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly committed with tacit support of the police. The incident displays the discriminatory attitude, anti-democratic and fascist mindset of the authorities and a section of the people towards the North Eastern people. The AFSPA is the legislative embodiment of that attitude and mindset. Both the attitude and mindset, and the statute is dangerous for democracy, rule of law and human rights inIndia. They do not have a legitimate place in a democraticIndia.

BHRPC urges the authorities to take appropriate actions under the law against the alleged attackers and make arrangements for the protection of the human rights defenders campaigning against the AFSPA.

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Guwahati,Assam

20 October 2011

BHRPC denounces crackdown on anti corruption protest

June 7, 2011

Press Statement

For immediate release

07 June, 2011, Silchar

 

BHRPC to fast to denounce crackdown on anti corruption protest

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) strongly denounces the unnecessary use of brutal police force that led to injuries to about 70 protestors against corruption at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi in the early hours of 5 June, 2011, and demands a prompt and impartial investigation into the incident. However, BHRPC does not share, like many other human rights organizations, the political, social and economic vision of Swami Ramdev and considers many of his demands and rhetoric as highly objectionable and ill-advised, but feels that everybody should stand for all others’ right to peaceful protest, freedom from torture and ill-treatment and right to life.

 BHRPC also condemns the prohibitory orders by the Delhi police under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) under the jurisdiction of New Delhi district with a view to disrupt the announced peaceful protest and fast by Anna Hazare and activists of the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement on 8 June, 2011 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.

 In solidarity with IAC, members of BHRPC along with other 20 organisations will fast on 8 June, 2011 in Silchar (Assam) in solidarity with the nationwide movement against corruption led by Anna Hazare and other movements against violations of human rights, repression and injustices. BHRPC urges the people of Assam, particularly the residents of Barak valley, to join the country in protest against repression of people’s voices by force and in demand of an effective anti-corruption institution under the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill.

 BHRPC considers that the use of force must be in accordance with the strict necessity to uphold peace and human rights. The right to life and freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and right to freedom of the thought and expression which includes right to dissent and right to protest are enshrined in the constitution of India as well as provided in international human rights law and standards, including in treaties binding on India, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by the country in 1979. These cannot be violated by the government as has been done in this case.

 BHRPC has been witnessing with concern the increasing tendency of excessive use of force and highhandedness of the governments in dealing with peaceful protest against injustices and anti-people government policies throughout the country including opening fire on the protest against nuclear power project at Jaitapur, Maharastra killing one; deployment of heavy police force against the villagers opposing forcible land acquisition for the POSCO project in Jagatsinghpur, Orissa; illegal arrest of Akhil Gogoi, secretary general of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti in Guwahati, Assam on 10 April, 2011 while addressing a press conference.

 BHRPC believes that the struggle against corruption can not be separated from the struggle for a democratic India that respects human rights and the rule of law. It is simultaneously a struggle against privatisation, against neo-liberal policies, against draconian laws like AFSPA and the sedition law, against state crackdowns on dissenting voices and against corporate dictation of government policies. It is simultaneously a struggle to defend the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the country.

Neharul Ahmed Mazumder

Secretary General

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Assault on human rights defenders in Hailakandi, Assam

April 3, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

Urgent Appeal: Journalists assaulted in Assam University

March 31, 2011

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

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

Dear Friends,

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

Yours sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Urgent Appeal Desk

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur, Silchar-9, Assam, India

INDIA: Journalists assaulted in Assam University

March 31, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-071-2011

Please click here to take action

31 March 2011

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

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

——————————————————

Dear friends,

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

CASE NARRATIVE :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

SUGGESTED ACTION:

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

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

To support this appeal, please click here

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

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

Name of victim(s):

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

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

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

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

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

Names of alleged perpetrators:

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

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

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

Date of incident: 25 February 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO :

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia )

Send an appeal letter now

See the Ungent Appeal at the AHRC website:

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

BHRPC condemns assault on journalists

March 16, 2011

BHRPC condemns assault on journalists

Special Correspondent 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statement regarding assault on reporters at Assam University, Silchar

March 4, 2011

Press statement

For immediate release

3 March 2011

Download the statement, See the news published by Dainik Samayik Prasanga and The Sentinel


BHRPC files case at NHRC concerning assault on reporters at Assam University

Silchar, 3 March: Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) filed a case at the National Human Rights Commission on 3 March in the matter of assault on reporters at Assam University campus on 25 February 2011 by the security guards of the university. The attack was allegedly led by the proctor of the university Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury and Dean in charge of students’ welfare Mr. Reamendu Bhattacharjee. The reporters were grievously injured and their laptops and camera were snatched away. The scribes were assaulted reportedly for covering students’ agitation.

According to information received by the BHRPC, Hostel boarders of the university were observing hunger strike and resorted to blockade at the main gate of the campus demanding immediate uninterrupted water supply. Ratan Das, general secretary of Assam University Students’ Council told that drinking water crisis in the hostel was acute for a long time. Even there was scarcity of toilets. Students had been demanding for permanent solution, but the authority turned a deaf ear to it, he alleged.

BHRPC further received information that the university authority did not allow the entry and reading of the Dainik Samayik Prasanga, a local daily newspaper inside the campus.

BHRPC thinks this is an undemocratic and authoritarian attempt at stopping outside information from coming to the hostel boarders of the university coupled with the attempt of stopping flow of information from the university as evident from the assault on the reporters. It seems that the authority of the university are flouting law of the land and behaving as law unto themselves.

BHRPC finds the incidents establish a prima facie case of violations of fundamental rights of the reporters to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a) of the constitution of India and the right to practice profession of one’s choice guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (g) of the constitution.

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

BHRPC thinks that the conduct of the university authority vis-a-vis the grievances of the students and their peaceful protest is, to say the least, authoritarian and undemocratic. The students were staging peaceful protest and demonstration for adequate sanitary facility, adequate supply of drinking water and other such basic amenities.  These amenities are part of right to live with human dignity under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

BHRPC also wrote a letter to the prime minister of India urging him to initiate a prompt, thorough and objective investigation into the allegations of assault on reporters as well as grievances of the students of the university, to prosecute the  alleged perpetrators, expeditiously if found guilty by an objective investigation, to provide adequate compensation to the victims, to provide adequate security to the victims and witnesses of this incident, to ensure exercise of right to freedom of speech and expression by the people and particularly by the journalists in an environment free from fear and backlash in Assam and to take effective measures for addressing students’ grievances immediately and effectively. Copies of the letter were sent to the President, Home Minister, Human Resource Development Minister, Chief Minister of Assam and Vice Chancellor of Assam University.

If no substantial action is taken within a reasonable time BHRPC may seek intervention of the United Nations’ ‘Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression’. BHRPC may also consider legal options within domestic jurisdiction.