Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of association’

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

January 21, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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 hails Supreme Court order granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen

April 17, 2011

The Supreme Court of India granted bail to Dr. Binayak Sen, an internationally recognised human rights defender on 15 April after a prolonged hearing. Dr. Sen was serving life sentence meted out to him on 24 December 2010 along with two others. Dr. Sen was charged with sedition under sections 124A read with section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He was also charged with working for outlawed Maoists under sections 8(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam (Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act), 2005 and section 39(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) on 31 January 2011 wrote to the Prime Minister of India and other authorities including the Chief Justice of India urging them to release him and repeal these repressive laws.

BHRPC hails the order of the Supreme Court of India granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen made on 15 April 2011 and reiterates (See earlier statement) its demands for a thorough and objective inquiry into the alleged conspiracy to falsely book Dr. Sen in order to intimidate other human rights defenders and to repress voice of dissent. BHRPC also urges the authorities in India to immediately release all other human rights defenders who are put behind bars unjustly.

BHRPC further welcomes the statement of Union Minister for Law and Justice that laws of sedition need to be revisited and urges the government to repeal/amend all repressive laws including the infamous Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958. BHRPC expresses its solidarity with Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur who has been fasting for more than a decade demanding repeal of the AFSPA.

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.

Release Dr. Binayak Sen, Protect HRDs and Repeal Repressive Laws

January 31, 2011

Press Statement

For immediate release

31 January, 2011, Silchar

Release Dr. Binayak Sen, Protect HRDs and Repeal Repressive Laws

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) on 31 January 2011 wrote to the Prime Minister of India and other authorities including the Chief Justice of India to express its shock and deep concern at the incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen, an internationally recognized physician, health worker and human rights defender. He has been convicted on 24 December 2010 along with two others and has been sentenced to imprisonment for life. Dr. Sen has been charged with sedition under sections 124A read with section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He has also been charged with working for outlawed Maoists under sections 8(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam (Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act), 2005 and section 39(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

Reports show that the trial was unfair and failed to meet the standard of criminal jurisprudence and human rights norms. It is seen that documents have been fabricated by the police and false witnesses introduced. The judgment suggests that the judge has ignored evidence provided by the defence and has relied on hearsay evidence of the prosecution. Guilt of Dr. Sen has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, which is a primary requirement for conviction.

BHRPC believes that Dr. Sen as been targeted maliciously for his peaceful and legitimate human rights works and criticism of the government policy that violates international human rights norms. His prosecution is malafide; in fact it is a persecution. He has been made an example of by the state as a warning to other human rights defenders not to expose human rights violations.

Dr. Sen, giving up great career opportunities, dedicated his life in providing health care to the poorest people in the remote villages in Chattishgarh without access to public medical care, where he founded a hospital and trained women to provide basic health care. He also served as an adviser to the state government’s public-health committee until May 2007, when he was arrested. As human rights defender holding the positions of national vice president and president of Chattishgarh Unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a leading civil liberties organization in India, Dr. Sen documented numerous cases of gross human rights violations by the security forces and Salwa Judum, a private militia held to be sponsored by the Chattishgarh government in the name of fight against Maoists, an armed opposition group which also does not respect the rights of people.  Dr. Sen often raised his voice against the massacres of people by both the sides and appealed for dialogue and peace.

Human rights defenders like Dr. Sen provide services that should be provided by the government. They play a great role in upholding and fulfilling the constitutional mandates and establishment of the rule of law by documenting incidents of unlawful actions and atrocities of state agencies, offering legal advice and intervention and constructive criticisms of the wrong policies. They provide legitimate outlet for the grievances of the people. They are not the enemies but the friends of the state and people.

This has been recognised by the United Nations as well as by the government of India. The UN adopted a Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998 that provides for the support and protection of human rights defenders in the context of their work. The Indian parliament passed the Protection of Human Rights Act in 1993 that recognises the role of HRDs and mandates the National Human Rights Commission to support non-governmental organisations in their human rights work. But in reality people like Dr. Binayak Sen are persecuted and prosecuted under the same laws that were used by the British colonial rulers against people like Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

BHRPC believes that using repressive laws of colonial era against HRDs and innocent people and enacting new such laws empowering the law enforcement agencies to trample upon universally recognised human rights of the citizens is not the solution to the problem of unrest and insurgency. The rule of law, fundamental constitutional rights and universally recognised human rights must be upheld.

Many Indian laws meant to deal with insurgency and terrorism fall well short of the constitutional and human rights standards even keeping in consideration the derogation provided therein. Some of them have been struck down by the SC (for example, some provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985), some of them have been modified and their imports narrowed down (for example, section 124A of the IPC) and in cases of some others the SC provided additional guidelines to save them from unconstitutionality (for example, the National Security Act, 1980, the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 some special laws enacted by state legislatures including the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955 etc.). The UN Human Rights Committee and other organs continue to recommend the Indian state to repeal or amend such laws in order to make them compatible with the international human rights standards. However, these laws are maliciously being used against HRDs increasingly in many states in India.

BHRPC understands and hopes that legal questions in the case of Dr. Sen will be addressed in the High Court and Supreme Court expeditiously. But there is no judicial avenues to undo the damage done particularly to the mental and physical health of Dr. Sen who is a 61 year old heart patient, his family and friends by putting him in this legal wrangle. Facing trial in India is itself a punishment and deterrent. Human rights works in India and country’s image in the world have been affected adversely by this trial. This unfair trial has also put the Indian judiciary and democracy on trial before the international community. Further damage must be stopped and it can be done by releasing Dr. Sen and providing him with adequate reparation and by bringing to book those who conspired to falsely implicate Dr. Sen, fabricated evidence, committed perjury and unduly influenced the judge.

BHRPC, therefore, urged the authorities to ensure that (1) Dr. Binayak Sen must be released immediately and his appeal must be disposed of as soon as possible;  (2) An independent inquiry must be instituted to find out those who conspired to falsely implicate Dr. Sen, fabricated evidence, committed perjury and unduly influenced the judge; (3) Dr. Sen and his family must be provided with adequate reparation; (4) Human rights defenders must be provided full protection and special professional privileges; (5) Repressive laws such as section 124A of the IPC, the Chattishgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958, the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955 etc. must be repealed or adequately amended and brought in conformity with the international human rights standards.


Neharul Ahmed Mazumder

Secretary General, BHRPC

Click here to download copy of the letter to Prime Minister

BHRPC hails Supreme Court order granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen

The Supreme Court of India granted bail to Dr. Binayak Sen, an internationally recognised human rights defender on 15 April after a prolonged hearing. Dr. Sen was serving life sentence meted out to him on 24 December 2010 along with two others. Dr. Sen was charged with sedition under sections 124A read with section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He was also charged with working for outlawed Maoists under sections 8(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam (Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act), 2005 and section 39(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) on 31 January 2011 wrote to the Prime Minister of India and other authorities including the Chief Justice of India urging them to release him and repeal these repressive laws.

BHRPC hails the order of the Supreme Court of India granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen made on 15 April 2011 and reiterates (See earlier statement) its demands for a thorough and objective inquiry into the alleged conspiracy to falsely book Dr. Sen in order to intimidate other human rights defenders and to repress voice of dissent. BHRPC also urges the authorities in India to immediately release all other human rights defenders who are put behind bars unjustly.

BHRPC further welcomes the statement of Union Minister for Law and Justice that laws of sedition need to be revisited and urges the government to repeal/amend all repressive laws including the infamous Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958. BHRPC expresses its solidarity with Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur who has been fasting for more than a decade demanding repeal of the AFSPA.

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.

Submission of BHRPC to the UN SR on the Situation of HRDs in Barak Valley

January 14, 2011

Downlaod

To

Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders,

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Palais Wilson

United Nations Office at Geneva

CH 1211 Geneva 10

Switzerland

Subject: Cases of Harassment and Intimidation to Human Rights Defenders working in Barak Valley of Assam, India

Dear Madam,

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) expresses its thankfulness for your visit to India and particularly for holding this regional consultation with Human Rights Defenders working in North East India under great risks in Guwahati today and welcomes you.

BHRPC is a small group of HRDs that endeavours to generate awareness of human rights among all stakeholders, monitors and documents cases of violations and offers legal interventions for remedies and justice on behalf of the victims. Its works mainly focus on the southern part of the state of Assam in India comprised of the districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi known as Barak valley.

The valley is inhabited by about four million people, roughly 75% of whom are Bengali speaking. The rest is comprised of Hindi, Manipuri, Bishnupria etc. Geographically the area is separated from the main land Assam by Meghalaya and North Cachar hills. It is a remote and isolated area. There is a sense of double marginalisation among the inhabitants. The valley is marginalised as a part of the North East and due to the isolation from the mainland Assam. The people are educationally, financially and politically very backward.  Corruption and nepotism are accepted as a way of life.

The area is relatively peaceful, though it situates in the conflict zone of North East India. But, politicians indirectly nurture small armed groups of anti social elements or maintain nexus with them. It is now not a secret that there is a strong nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and such armed groups. The rule of law is easily trampled upon by this nexus, and thus they run the area as they wish.

In this backdrop BHRPC is struggling for practical realisation of universally recognised human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and other international instruments to which India is a party and the rights enumerated in the Constitution of India by means of peaceful legal and democratic methods. In this endeavour the members of BHRPC and other HRDs working in the valley face risks of life, harassment, intimidation from both the state and non-state forces.

Cases:

1. Waliullah Ahmed Laskar, member of the legal team of BHRPC was detained by Assam police on 4 December 2008 with a view to intimidate him. In the evening at approximately 8:00 pm, he was in an internet cafe in Guwahati when a group of armed police officers from Dispur Police Station, led by the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), entered the café and approached him. The DSP demanded that Waliullah Ahmed Laskar show him what he was downloading, which he did. Waliullah Ahmed Laskar was then held in a police Jeep for 30 minutes while the DSP examined his computer. The DSP and police officers then searched Waliullah Ahmed Laskar´s room and confiscated all of his belongings pertaining to the BHRPC which included documents, his brief cases, laptop, USB flash drive and mobile phone.

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar was subsequently taken to Dispur Police Station where he was questioned by a team from the Subsidiary Investigating Bureau and the Intelligence Bureau until approximately 2:00am on 5 December 2008. Waliullah Ahmed Laskar was subsequently kept in detention while the police informed him that “experts” from outside of Assam were checking the items which had been confiscated. At 9:00 pm of the 5 December 2008 his items were returned to him and he was released without charge.

Prior to his arrest and interrogation Waliullah Ahmed Laskar had been assigned by the BHRPC to prepare a draft Project Proposal on ” The Right to Freedom from Torture and Violence: Compatibility of Indian Law and Practice with International Human Rights Standards (focusing on the North East Indian situation)”. As a member of BHRPC, he also participates in the ongoing policy making deliberations of the organization. For these reasons Waliullah Ahmed Laskar had been using the internet as his primary source of information concerning violence, torture, terrorism, counter terrorism, policing, human rights etc. The Dispur police allegedly informed Waliullah Ahmed Laskar that the basis of his interrogation was his research of information on these topics by internet.

BHRPC informed Front Line– the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders based Dublin about the incident. Front Line accordingly issued an Urgent Appeal on 10 December, 2008 (Copy is attached herewith as Annexure-1).

BHRPC also submitted a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) on 26 December, 2008 along with an Affidavit by Waliullah Ahmed Laskar (Copy of the complaint and Affidavit is attached as Annexure-II A & B). The NHRC registered a case as Case No.158/3/24/08-09/OC and transmitted the complaint to the Director General of Police, Assam on 15 January, 2009 asking him to dispose of the case (Copy of the letter of NHRC is attached as Annexure-II).

The complaint was against the Assam Police and the NHRC transmitted it to the same Assam Police for disposal. Naturally they did not take any substantial actions. They submitted a report to the government and the NHRC absolving both Waliullah Ahmed Laskar and themselves without any proper enquiry trying to justify their actions on the ground of public welfare (Copy of the report is attached as Annexure-III). No further actions were taken by either the government or the NHRC despite several reminder from the BHRPC. The case is still pending.

2. Sadique Mohammed Laskar, member of BHRPC, Shahidul Hoque Laskar, Secretary of Kishan Bikash Samity (KBS), a voluntary community organisation based at Banskandi in Cachar district and its other members were implicated in a false case, their houses were raided and local people of Banskandi were harassed in June 2008.

Kishan Bikash Samity works to expose corrupt officials using the Right to Information Act, 2005. On 4 June 2008 members of the public and students demonstrated front of the office of the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Banskandi to protest against corrupt practices of the officials regarding implementation of the Government welfare schemes exposed by the KBS. Police registered a false case against the demonstrators under section 143, 447, 341, 353, 383, 379 and 487 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 vide Lakhipur Police Station Case No. 148/08 including 5 members of KBS and 30 other unidentified persons of the locality. Police started wholesale raiding and harassing of the local people. When Sadique Mohhamed Laskar on behalf BHRPC started documenting the rights violations of people during the raids, police threaten him and even raided his house, despite absence of his name in the First Information Report (FIR).

There was preparation to arrest Shahidul Hoque Laskar in order to prevent him to appear as a petitioner before the State Information Commission, Assam (SIC) in an appeal case against the BDO, Banskandi. Sahidul Haque Laskar applied for pre-arrest bail in the Gauhati High Court apprehending arrest though he was not named in the FIR. High Court granted him pre-arrest bail vide B A No. 2447 of 2008. The High Court accepted that the ground for apprehension of arrest is the date of hearing on 17 July 2008 before the SIC and mentioned in the bail order that bail should be granted so as he can appear before the SIC on that day (A copy of the bail order is attached herewith as Annexure-IV).

The false case is still pending with the police. No report was submitted to the court. No investigation was conducted to unearth the conspiracy to harass and intimidate the HRDs and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

3. 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 (A copy is attached as Annexure-V). 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.

4. BHRPC normally confines its focus on Barak valley but when grave cases of violations come to its view from beyond the valley it takes actions.

When information about assault and threat to Ms Hasina Kharbhih, leader of Impulse NGO Network received by BHRPC it wrote to the authorities. BHRPC also sent the information to the Fron Line, which issued an Urgent Appeal on 4 June 2009 (A copy is attached as Annexure-VI).

We request you to ensure that the authorities in India:

  1. Investigate impartially and thoroughly the complaints regarding:  (I) detention and intimidation of Waliullah Ahmed Laskar, (II) physical assault on Choudhury Charan Gorh and Shyama Prasad Kurmi,  (III) conspiracy to implicate in false charges and harassment of Shahidul Hoque Laskar and members of KBS and Sadique Mohammed Laskar of BHRPC and (IV)  assault and threat to Hasina Kharbih of Impulse NGO Network.
  2. Guarantee the protection of HRDs working Barak Valley.

Looking forward to your immediate action in this regard,

Yours sincerely,

14 January 2011

The Regional Consultation with HRDs

Guwahati

Sadique Mohammed Laskar

Joint Secretary

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee