Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of speech’

Stop the witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir and repeal the draconian UAPA

April 25, 2020

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) endorses and forwards statement issued by Campaign Against State Repression calling upon the authorities to stop witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir and repeal the draconian Unlaful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

April 24th 2020: Over the last two weeks, across New Delhi, numerous activists and students have been targeted and harassed by the Delhi Police. Operating under an open-ended FIR, the police are attempting to accuse these persons, many of whom are engaged in providing indispensable relief work to workers and people bereft of food and other supplies due to the ill-planned COVID-19 induced lockdown, of instigating and executing the violence that engulfed North East Delhi in late February 2020. Three activists, Meeran Haidar and Safoora Zargar of Jamia Millia Islamia and Umar Khalid, former student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, have now been charged under several sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC).

These charges must not be seen as isolation. Rather, they are continuation of the numerous methods by which the State has sought to crush the vibrant struggle for democratic rights that emerged from the opposition to the communally charged and anti-people Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registry of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). It must be noted here that by accusing these persons of orchestrating the violence in North East Delhi, the State is in fact perpetrating an absolute travesty of justice.

That the violence which wracked North East Delhi was orchestrated is indisputable. However, its real perpetrators and planners not only remain free but also bask under the protection of the police and the administration. BJP leaders like Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra and Ragini Tiwari who have been recorded making inflammatory and communally charged speeches, urging violence against Muslims and all those opposing the CAA, NRC and NPR have not even been questioned. The numerous RSS and Bajrang Dal karyakartas involved in mobilising and leading the Hindutva mob that ransacked North East Delhi remain unprosecuted. The innumerable police personnel who viciously attacked Muslim youth and actively aided the Hindutva mob, continue to patrol the streets with impunity, and now brutalise the hapless and starving residents of Delhi in search of food and other rations.

While all this happens in the Capital, the situation in Kashmir is equally dire if not worse. While the lockdown in India commenced on 22nd March 2020, Kashmir has been under lockdown since the abrogation of Article 370 on 5th August 2019, causing immeasurable physical and mental harm to the Kashmiri people. The lack of mobility, scarcity of resources, restrictions on information, disruptions to work and education that people across the country face today has been a fixture in the lives of Kashmiris for the last 9 months. Furthermore, the country wide dearth of medical facilities is even more pronounced in the Kashmir Valley where the doctor to patient ratio is drastically below the country-wide average. Journalists like Masrat Zahra, Mushtaq Ganaie and Gowhar Geelani who have attempted to document the difficulties faced by the Kashmiri people, particularly during the spread of the COVID-19 virus, have faced the ire of the State and are charged under sections of UAPA and IPC. Notably, Peerzada Ashiq, a journalist who exposed the diversion of COVID-19 kits from Kashmir to Jammu has been similarly charged. It is a grave reflection of our times that even the performance of journalistic duties is deemed a terrorist act.

Targeting and marginalising Muslims on the Indian mainland and militarily repressing Kashmiris are nothing new for the Indian State. However, at a time when the material conditions of the broad masses have deteriorated severely and the State has adopted a Brahmanical Hindutva Fascist character, these actions must be viewed as part of the larger narrative of establishing the Hindu Rashtra. Efforts to degrade Muslims to second-class citizen status, attempted via the CAA, NRC and NPR, have continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The labeling of the Nizamuddin Markaz as part of a “Corona Jihad”, the boycott of Muslim essential service providers and the denial of medical care to Muslims, including pregnant Muslim women, are all part and parcel of these efforts. Mainstream media has drilled this communal narrative into the public discourse feeding prejudice and bigotry with sensationalist headlines and dubious reporting.

Today, a large section of the Indian masses face the dual risk of infection and starvation due to the BJP led Central Government’s refusal to bear responsibility to provide food and other rations during the lockdown. At such a time, when an eruption of popular anger against this complete disregard for the material conditions of the masses is possible, BJP led Central and State Governments and their lackeys in the mainstream media have made every effort to divert this anger towards the Muslim community. This narrative is being portrayed throughout the country in relation to COVID-19 and additionally in Delhi with regard to the violence in North East Delhi. This is a narrative that all democratic and progressive forces must condemn and combat.

Finally, it must be noted that the branding and targeting activists to demoralise and crush the movements they belong to is a tactic that the State is deploying with increasing frequency and intensity. Be it in the arrest of eleven academics, activists, lawyers, journalists and poets in the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case or the incarceration of Akhil Gogoi, Chingiz Khan, Ishrat Jahan, Dr. Kafeel Khan, Khalid Saifi, Sharjeel Imam and now several more, it is evident that the State is becoming more and more intolerant of any dissent or opposition. At such times, it is imperative that democratic and progressive voices speak out, else risk being silenced forever.

Campaign Against State Repression urges democratic and progressive organisations and individuals to condemn these charges against activists, journalists and students, demand that the arrested be released and the witch-hunt be ceased.

1. Immediately stop the witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir under the draconian UAPA.
2. Immediate release of all arrested activists and political prisoners in fabricated cases particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Immediate action (with restrain in light of COVID-19) against all the perpetrators of violence in North-East Delhi under the garb of cracking down on Anti-CAA protests.
4. Repeal of all draconian laws including UAPA, NSA and PSA, among others.

Campaign Against State Repression
(Organising Team: AISA, AISF, APCR, BCM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, BSCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, IAPL, IMK, Karnataka Janashakti, KYS, Lokpaksh, LSI, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, Mehnatkash Mahila Sangathan, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, NCHRO, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad, Satyashodak Sangh, SFI, United Against Hate, WSS)

 অধ্যাপক তপোধীর ভট্টাচার্যের বিরুদ্ধে অপপ্রচার ও তাঁর হেনস্থার বিরুদ্ধে প্রতিবাদ

July 26, 2018

ড০ তপোধীর ভট্টাচার্যের নিবন্ধ “অসমে বাঙালির শরশয্যা” নিয়ে উদ্ভব হওয়া অগণতান্ত্রিক বিতর্কের অবসান হোক (গণতন্ত্রপ্রিয় সংগঠন এবং সাধারণ মানুষের যৌথ বিবৃতি)

বরাক উপত্যকার স্বনামধন্য সাহিত্যিক এবং চিন্তাবিদ তপোধীর ভট্টাচার্যের লেখা  “অসমে বাঙালির শরশয্যা” শীর্ষক একটি নিবন্ধ গত ৩/০৭/২০১৮ তারিখে পশ্চিমবঙ্গের দৈনিক পত্রিকা “আজকাল” এ প্রকাশিত হওয়ার পর থেকে তাঁকে ‘ষড়যন্ত্রকারী’ আখ্যা দিয়ে তাঁর বিরুদ্ধে   বিদ্বেষমূলক প্রচার চালানো হয়েছে। এবং বিগত ৮/৭/২০১৮ তারিখে দিসপুর থানায় তার বিরুদ্ধে একটি মামলাও রুজু করা হয়েছে। আমরা মনে   করি, ভারতীয় সংবিধান মতপ্রকাশের স্বাধীনতাকে মৌলিক অধিকার হিসেবে মর্যাদা দিয়ে এই অধিকারকে যথেষ্ট গুরুত্ব দিয়েছে। এবং সেখানে যে সব সীমাবদ্ধতার উল্লেখ আছে, তপোধীরবাবুর লেখাটি   সেগুলির মধ্যেও পড়ে না। তাছাড়া ড০ ভট্টাচার্য একজন অত্যন্ত নিরপেক্ষ এবং সংবেদনশীল ব্যাক্তি। তিনি আসাম বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের উপাচার্য থাকাকালীন সময় অনেকের  রক্তচক্ষু উপেক্ষা করে ২০১০ সালে ডিফু  ক্যাম্পাসে  “অসমিয়া বিভাগ” চালু করেন। তার দুটি বই “রঙ ও রেখার বিপ্লবে পাবলো পিকাসো” এবং “আসামের রূপকথা”  অসমিয়া ভাষায় অনুবাদিত হয়েছে। এরকম অবস্থায় তাঁকে আসামের  বিরুদ্ধে “ষড়যন্ত্রকারী” হিসেবে  চিহ্নিতকরণ মোটেই যুক্তিযুক্ত বলে মনে হচ্ছেনা।

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  তাছাড়া আসামের বর্তমান পরিস্থিতে এধরনের পদক্ষেপ উসকানি দেওয়ার কাজ করতে পারে। পূর্বেও আসামে ৭০ এবং ৮০র  দশকে বিশ্বাসঘাতক, ষড়যন্ত্রককারী,  বদন, ইত্যাদি নানা নামের তকমা জুড়ে দিয়ে বহুলোককে গুমখুন, মবলিঞ্চিং ও হত্যা করা হয়েছে। শ্রদ্ধেয় সাহিত্যিক চিন্তাবিদ হিরেণ গোঁহাইকেও ৮০’র দশকে অনুরূপ পরিস্থিতিরর সম্মুখীন হতে হয়েছিলো। সুতরাং এরূপ দায়িত্বজ্ঞানহীন অপপ্রচার এবং উদ্দেশ্যপ্রণোদিতভাবে রুজু করা মামলা সমগ্র আসামকে এক জাতিগত সহিংস পরিস্থিতিরদিকে ঠেলে দিতে পারে। তাছাড়া গত ২১ জুন ২০১৮ তারিখে রাষ্ট্রসংঘের  জাতিগত হিংসার বিরুদ্ধে নিযুক্ত স্পেশাল রেপোর্টিওর(Special Rapporteur)  এবং এর সাথে জড়িত  আরোও কয়েককটি বিষয়ের স্পেশাল রেপোর্টিওররা আসামে এইরকম একটি পরিস্থিতি সৃষ্টি হতে পারে বলে উদ্বেগ ব্যাক্ত করেছেন এবং এসমন্ধে ভারত সরকারের কাছে রিপোর্ট চেয়ে পাঠিয়েছেন। অধ্যাপক ভট্টাচার্যের নিবন্ধটিতে রাষ্ট্রসংঘের এই চিঠির পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে সৃষ্টি হওয়া কিছু প্রকৃত উদ্বেগের প্রতিফলন ঘটেছে। তাই নিবন্ধটি মোটেই ভিত্তিহীন নয় এবং কোনোধরনের ষড়যন্ত্রের অংশ হতে পারেনা।

 সুতরাং আমরা নিম্নসাক্ষরকারীরা মনে করি, ড০ ভট্টাচার্যের নিবন্ধটি সংবিধান স্বীকৃত বাকস্বাধীনতার বৈধ প্রয়োগ।তাসত্ত্বেও মামলা দায়ের করে আইনের অপপ্রোয়গের মাধ্যমে এই সর্বজনশ্রদ্বেয় ব্যাক্তিত্বকে হেনস্থা করার অপচেষ্টা করা হচ্ছে। অতএব আসাম সরকারের কাছে আমাদের আবেদন, ড০ ভট্টাচার্যের বিরুদ্ধে রুজু করা মামলাটি  অবিলম্বে তুলে নেওয়া হোক।

  স্বাক্ষরকারীঃ

১।  বরাক হিউমন রাইটস প্রোটেকশন কমিটি, শিলচর এর পক্ষে তানিয়া সুলতানা লস্কর।

২। নাগরিকত্ব সমন্বয় কমিটির পক্ষে- কিশোর কুমার ভট্টাচার্য।

৩। ফোরাম ফর সিভিল রাইটস এর পক্ষে শিশির দে।

৪। কোরাস, শিলচর এর পক্ষে বিশ্বজিত দাস।

৫। পিপলস সায়েন্স সোসাইটি, এর পক্ষে কৃশাণু ভট্টাচার্য।

৬। বরাক উপত্যকা বঙ্গ সাহিত্য সম্মেলনের পক্ষে সঞ্জিব দেব লস্কর।

৭। মাইনোরিটিজ ডেমোক্রেটিক ইয়ুথ ফেডারেশন নগাঁও এর পক্ষে আসাদুল হক চৌধুরী।

৮। নারী মুক্তি সংস্থা এর পক্ষে সিগ্ধা নাথ।

৯। আসাম নাগরিক মঞ্চ এর পক্ষে বিজয় চক্রবর্তী।

১০। গণসুর এর পক্ষে সুব্রত রায়।

১১। মুক্তমন, শিলচর এর পক্ষে দেবরাজ দাশগুপ্ত।

১২। বৈচিত্র লিটিল ম্যাগাজিন এর পক্ষে আনওয়ারুল হক বড়ভূইয়া।

নাগরিকদের মধ্যে যারা সাইন করেছেন।

  ১। কমলাক্ষ দে পুরকায়স্থ, বিধায়ক, নর্থ-করিমগঞ্জ, আসাম। ২। সৌমিত্র দস্তিদার, তথ্যচিত্র নির্মাতা,  পশ্চিমবঙ্গ।  ৩। প্রতিভা সরকার, গল্পকার, সমাজকর্মী, পশ্চিমভঙ্গ। ৪। প্রসেনজিত বিশ্বাস, দর্শন বিভাগ, নেহু, শিলং। ৫। সুকল্পা ভট্টাচার্য, ইংরাজি বিভাগ, নেহু, শিলং। ৬। ড০ সুরঞ্জনা চৌধুরী, ইংরাজি বিভাগ, নেহু, শিলং।  ৭। ড০ পল্লবী চৌধুরী, বিজ্ঞানি, ইন্সটিটিউট অফ সিস্মোলজিকেল রিসার্চ,গান্ধীনগর। ৮। ময়ূরী পুরকায়স্থ, টেক ইন্ডিয়া, পুনে। ৯। সম্রাট সেনগুপ্ত, ইংরাজি বিভাগ, সম্মিলনী। ১০। ডঃ অমিয় দে, রেড লাবান কলেজ, শিলং। ১১। ড০ নবনিতা সেনগুপ্ত, ইঙ্গরাজি বিভাগ, সরশুনা কলেজ, কলকাতা।   ১২। গৌরব সেন, মানবাধিকার কর্মী, কলকাতা। ১৩। দেবস্মিতা কর, ইঙ্গরাজি বিভাগ, বাগবাজার মহিলা কলেজ, কলকাতা।  ১৪। শ্রেয়ণ রায়, সম্পাদক, নিবির। ১৫। অরুণ বিশ্বাস, পরিবেশবিদ। ১৬। ভাস্কর গুপ্ত, অবসরপ্রাপ্ত চেয়ারপার্সন, ১৭। কল্যাণ রুদ্র, চেয়ারম্যান, পশ্চিমবঙ্গ পরিবেশ প্রদূষ্পণ নিয়ন্ত্রক বিভাগ।  ৮। রুপশ্রী কাহালি, শিল্পী। ১৯।  সৌভিক কর্মকার, রিসার্চ ফিলো, যাদবপুর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়।  ২০। রম্যানি চক্রবর্তী, রিসার্চ ফিলো, আইআইটি, গৌহাটি।২১।  নিলাঞ্জনা সিনহা, টিইটো, মুম্বাই। ২২। অশোকেন্দু সেনগুপ্ত, পশ্চিমবঙ্গ। ২৩। দেবদাস বেনার্জী, সমাজকর্মী। ২৪। উজ্বল ভৌমিক, পান্ডু, গৌহাটি। ২৫। রামজ্যোতি ভট্টাচার্য, রিবই, শিলং। ২৬। ডি পি ভট্টাচার্য, সাংবাদিক, গুজরাট। ২৭। অপূর্ব মুক্তকামী, সমাজকর্মী, পশ্চিমবঙ্গ।২৮। সুরজিত রে, নতুন দিল্লী। ২৯। দিপংকর বসু। ৩০। সুপ্রীয় পাল, শিলং।      ৩১। চন্দ্রোদয় দে, ৩২। তমোজিত সাহা, কবি-প্রাবন্ধিক, শিলচর। ৩৩। জয়শ্রী ভূশন, সমাজকর্মী,  শিলচর।  ৩৪। জয়নাল আবেদিন লস্কর, দারুস সালাম মাজমাউল বাহরাইন, শিলডুবি।   ৩৫। অশোকতরু চক্রবর্তী,  রিসার্চ স্কলার,  আই আই টি, খড়গপুর।৩ ৬। মানস দাস, সমাজকর্মী, শিলচর।   ৩৭। সুশান্ত কর, অধ্যাপক,  তিনসুকিয়া কলেজ, তিনসুকিয়া।   ৩৮। চক্রপাণি দেব বর্মণ, কলকাতা, পশ্চিমবঙ্গ।        ৩৯। সাবানা মজুমদার, গৃহকর্ত্রী,  শিলচর।  ৪০। পার্থ রঞ্জন চক্রবর্তী, সাধারণ সম্পাদক ও সভাপতি কাছাড জেলা কংগ্রেস কমিটি প্রচার বিভাগ।  ৪১। কমল চক্রবর্তী,  সমাজকর্মী,  শিলচর। ৪২। ড০ শম্পা মণ্ডল,  লেকচারার,  সম্মিলনী কলেজ, কলকাতা।   ৪৩। আদিমা মজুমদার, গল্পকার,  শিলচর। ৪৪। ত্বাহা আমিন মজুমদার, হাইলাকান্দী, আসাম। ৪৫। দেবকান্ত দাস, করিমগঞ্জ, আসাম।  ৪৬। দেবরাজ দাসগুপ্ত, শিলচর।  ৪৭। শাখাওয়াত মজুমদার, ক্লাব মুক্তসেনা, শিলচর। ৪৮। সঞ্জীব লস্কর, সোনাই,  আসাম। ৪৯। অরিন্দম চক্রবর্তী, শিল্পী   শিলচর। ৫০। আহমদ হোসাইন লস্কর, ছাত্র, হাইলাকান্দি আসাম।  ৫১। আনছারুল্লাহ তালুকদার, ছাত্র, শিলচর। ৫২। আয়শা মল্লীক, ছাত্রী, কলকাতা। ৫৩। শামীম আরা বড়ভূইয়া, শিক্ষিকা,  উধারবন্ধ, আসাম।  ৫৪। ড০ চার্বাক, অধ্যাপক, আসাম ইউনিভার্সিটি।  ৫৫। আলমআরা বড়ভূইয়া লিনা, বদরপুর, করিমগঞ্জ।  ৫৬। ওয়াহিদুজ্জামান মজুমদার, ছাত্র,হাইলাকান্দি, আসাম।  ৫৭। অধিরত দে, শ্রীরামপুর, পশ্চিমবঙ্গ।  ৫৯। জমিল আহিমেদ লস্কর, শিলচর। ৬০। সোণর আলি, রাতাবাড়ী, করিমগঞ্জ। ৬১। প্রিয়াঙ্কা রায়, শিল্পী, উধারবন্ধ, আসাম।৬২। হিল্লোল ভট্টাচার্য,  সমাজকর্মী, শিলচর।৬৩। প্রদীপ নাথ, শিলচর।  ৬৪। সারওয়ার জাহান লস্কর, ছাত্র, আসাম ইউনিভার্সিটি।৬৫। অলিউল্লাহ লস্কর, আইনজীবী, গৌহাটি হাইকোর্ট।  ৬৬। দেবাশিস চক্রবর্তী,অধ্যাপক, কাছাড় কলেজ, শিলচর।৬৭। পারভেজ খসরু লস্কর, লালা, হাইলাকান্দী।৬৮।সাবর্ণী পুরকায়স্থ,  করিমগঞ্জ, আসাম।৬৯। সুজিত দে, এরালিগুল, করিমগঞ্জ।৭০। এ এম শরীফ উদ্দিন লস্কর, গুমড়া, কাছাড়,৭১।ফারুক আহমেদ লস্কর, বাশকান্দী, শিলচর। ৭২। পিযূস কান্তি দাস, সেভ, শিলচর।৭৩। মকব্বীর আলী লস্কর, বাঁশকান্দী, শিলচর।৭৪। আনিন্দীতা কর, ছাত্রী, শিলচর।৭৫।হিয়া দাস,নাট্যশিল্পী,  শিলচর। ৭৬। শ্বাসত্ব পুরকায়স্থ, করিমগঞ্জ। ৭৭। সৌমদীপ রয় চৌধুরী, শিলং। ৭৮। সঞ্জিব দাস, শিলচর।  ৭৯। অরিত্র বাবাই ধর, শিলচর।৮০। জয় রয়, উধারবন্ধ। ৮১। প্রীয়াংকা মৌলি গুহ, আলিপুর দুয়ার। ৮২। নাসমিন চৌধুরী, সোনাই, অসম। ৮৩। ফয়েজ আহমেদ , হাইলাকান্দি। ৮৪। পিয়া দাস, শিলচর। ৮৫। মাশুক আহমেদ মজুমদার, বড়খোলা। ৮৬। আনন্দ রয়, শিলচর।  ৮৭। সামসুল হক বড়ভূইয়া, হাইলাকান্দি।        ৮৮। যুথিকা দাস, কবি, শিলচর।  ৮৯। গোপাল চৌধুরী, কবি।৯০। জাহানারা মজুমদার, কবি, শিলচর।      ৯১। শহিদুল হক, সমাজকর্মী, করিমগঞ্জ।  ৯২। সুবীর ভট্টাচার্য, সাঙ্গস্কৃতিক কর্মী, শিলচর। ৯৩। বিজিত কুমার সিনহা, শিলচর। ৯৪। আব্দুল হালিম লস্কর, উধারবন্ধ।৯৫।  সাদীক মোহাম্মদ লস্কর, বাঁশকান্দী।  ৯৬। মিঠু বিশ্বাস, রিসার্চ ফিলো, আসাম বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়।  ৯৭। জগদীশ চৌধুরী, এন এস এভিনিউ, শিলচর।   ৯৮। মস্তাক লস্কর, লালা, হাইলাকান্দি। ৯৯। বিজয় কুমার ভট্টাচার্য, কবি-সাংবাদিক। ১০০। টিংকু খান্না, কলকাতা।

 

Assam human rights defender Mr Sishir Dey abused, threatened and booked for comment over Rajasthan murder

December 13, 2017

After practising lawyer and human rights defender Mr Sishir Dey of Karimganj district in Assam (India) posted a short satirical comment on facebook on 8 December 2017 denouncing terrorism in the name of Hindu religion and violent ideas of Hindu political groups, he received abusive and intimidating comments and outright threats with physical assaults and murder. The comment was made in the context of video of a gruesome murder of a migrant labourer in Rajasthan state on 6 December 2017 that was circulating on internet where the perpetrator was seen boasting about the murder and claiming that he did it as a warning against inter-religious relationship. A complaint was also filed at the Karimganj Sadar police station against Mr Dey. Mr Dey is at risk of physical and mental harm from the supporters of concerned political groups as well as of harassment by the police.

Sishir Dey

Sishir Dey

Mr Sishir Day is a lawyer practising at the Karimganj district courts. He is a voluntary member of Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (Registered vide no. RS/CA/ 243/B/61 of 2002-03), a voluntary human rights organisation mainly documenting and making legal intervention in cases of violations in Assam. He is responsible for reporting violations of human rights in the district. He is also honorary secretary of the district committee of Assam Mojuri Sramik Union (Registered Vide No. 2287 under the Trade Union Act) a lobour rights defending organisation. He is an active member of Forum for Social Harmony, a platform  fromed collectively by different social activists and human rights defender groups  of south Assam to combat the religious violence and protect peaceful co-existence of communities in the area.

On 6 December 2017 a video was uploaded on internet by one Shambhulal Regar or Shambhu Bhawani, an inhabitant of Rajsamand district in Rajasthan state. In that video it was seen that he was killing a man by hacking him with a hammer like weapon in cold-blood. He then burnt that man pouring some kind of liquid that looked like petrol over the body of that half-dead man. He said that he murdered that person because that person had committed “Love Jihad”, a term used by the Hindhu religious extremists to denote inter-religious marriage or relationship as a form of Islamic terrorism. Later on, the murdered man was identified as Mr. Afrajul Haque (aged 48), a migrant labourer from Maldah in West-Bengal state. That video went viral and created mixed reactions among people. The progressive, humanitarian and human rights defender groups condemned this brutal act and denounced those political and religious groups that support and encourage violence in the name of religion, religious identity and religious sentiments. However, some other people also tried to rationalise and justify this kind of violence and killings on social media platforms and applauded Mr Regar by putting his picture as their profile picture. In that context, Mr Sishir Dey posted a public ‘status’ on his Facebook wall on 8 December 2017 stating in Bengali that “রামভক্ত বাদরের দল ও তাদের পাশবিক সঙ্ঘী ভাবাদর্শ তথা হিন্দু সন্ত্রাশবাদ নিপাত যাক।” which translates as “Down with the Ram devotee apes, their Sanghi brutal ideas and Hindu-terrorism”. After he made the post, abusive and threatening comments started to pour in the comment section of his post. Abuses and threats were also posted by some people in their own facebook pages. They accused him of hurting their religious sentiments and threatened him with assaults and murders. On 10 December a complaint was also filed against him in the  Karimganj Police Station by Mr. Debdulal Das and Mr. Pankaj Das, both identified themselves as the President and Vice-President of Bharatiya Janata Party Yuba Morcha, North Karimhanj Block Mondal, the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP is the political party which is now running governments both at Assam state and Union of India. However, till the time of writing this report it could not be confirmed if the complaint was registered by the police.

After the BJP formed governments both at union in 2014 and in Assam state in 2016, India has been witnessing a rise of religious fundamentalism and politically motivated violence. Before, the perpetrators of violence committed in the name of religions and violations of human rights by state agencies did not enjoy the kind of political support and impunity as they are getting now. Many Muslim youth were killed in the name of cow protection, and protection of women from alleged “love-jihad” and other excuses.  South Assam, also known as Barak valley, is a relatively peaceful area in the state. But now it is evident that to gain political advantage a group of people are trying to flare up communal violence in the valley. Recently a relatively new Kolkata (in West Bengal state) based outfit known as Hindhu Samhati called a conference on 2 December, 2017 at Silchar, the main town in Barak valley, where some of their leaders delivered communally provocative speeches and tried to polarise people in the name of religion. One of their guest speakers Mr. Debatanu Bashu openly asked his followers to go for mass killing of the Muslim people in the valley*. In this connection a first information report (FIR) was registered by police but no further actions were taken. In this background it appears that the abuse, threats and complaint against Mr Dey were an effort to create an environment of fear among the human rights defenders and progressive community workers.

Mr Dey is at risk of getting physically assaulted and even killed by the extremists who issued threats. He is also likely to be harassed by the police in connection with the complaint against him, though it does not attract any penal provisions. There are also concerns about safety and physical and mental wellbeing of his family and friends and other human rights defenders working in Assam.

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* News report can be seen at https://youtu.be/pUTRegymhKs

 

Urgent appeal regarding abuse and threats received by human rights defender Bondita Acharya

April 21, 2017

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee forwards this Urgent Appeal issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission regarding gross abuse and serious threats received by human rights defender Bondita Acharya:

INDIA: Assamese Human Rights Defender Bondita Acharya violently threatened on social media.

 

April 19, 2017

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-023-2017

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19 April 2017
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INDIA: Assamese Human Rights Defender Bondita Acharya violently threatened on social media.
ISSUES: Cyber Abuse, Cow Slaughter, Freedom of Speech and Expression
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing about the death threats, rape threats and other abusive messages received by renowned Human Rights Defender, Bondita Acharya, in Assam. She shared her thoughts on a social platform in Jorhat, condemning the arrest of three people for the possession of beef.

CASE NARRATIVE:

On April 4th, three people were arrested by the police in Johrat, Assam. A complaint was made by the local BJP leader Mridupawan Bora. He accused them of offending religious sentiments, because they were in possession of 500 grams of beef meant for consumption. Since one was a minor, the other two were arrested and charged under Section 295 (a) of the IPC and the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 (hereinafter the Act).

According to MASUM, our partner organisation, Bondita Acharya posted her comments on the incident on a social media website on 6th April 2017. Reports state that she had commented that even people from higher castes of the Hindu community eat beef in the state and it was not just Muslims who consumed beef. This angered some people. She received death threats, rape threats, threats of acid attacks and sexually abusive comments. All this for condemning the arrest of three people, and expressing her views on the matter of beef consumption in the state.

On April 9, Acharya filed a complaint with the Superintendent of Police at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Guwahati. She attached screenshots of comments made against her on social media. AHRC has been given access to these by MASUM. Reportedly no action has been taken on her complaint to date. According to a statement issued by ‘Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression’ (WSS) of which Acharya is a member, the Bajrang Dal has issued a press release demanding a public apology from her for her criticism of the arrests.

BACKGROUND

According to the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950, under which the three were arrested, cattle slaughter is allowed only under certain conditions. As per Ss. 5 and 6 of the Act, cattle cannot be slaughtered unless a certificate in writing from the Veterinary Officer is obtained for the purpose. Nowhere does the Act state that possession or consumption of beef is criminal or prohibited.

It is becoming increasingly common for people to take refuge in the anonymity and assumed safety offered by the Internet. It allows them to make violent threats and abusive comments, especially against women, on social media platforms. Recently, the young activist, Gurmehar Kaur, was at the receiving end of similar vitriol for sharing her views on the India-Pakistan impasse. In this case, Acharya has also been subject to terrible abuse online. And this is simply because she stated what she feels with respect to beef consumption habits in Assam and the North East. The police must ensure that crimes of this nature are swiftly investigated, utilising the best technology and skills available and prevent religious fundamentalists from having an upper hand.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Bondita Acharya is a human rights defender from Assam, in north-eastern India, and a member of Women in Governance (WinG) Assam. She is also the Northeast coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) and a member of the network Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS).


SUGGESTED ACTION

Please write to the following authorities requesting that Ms. Acharya and her team are provided protection and her complaint is registered and enquired into speedily by the investigating agencies.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michael Forst, urging his intervention in this matter.

To support this case, please click here:

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SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ………………..,

INDIA: Assamese Human Rights Defender Bondita Acharya violently threatened on social media.

Name of Victim: Bondita Acharya, Human Rights Defender in Assam
Name of Alleged Perpetrators: Members of a Social Media Platform
Date of incident: 9/10 April, 2017
Place of Incident: Johrat, Assam

I am writing to you to voice my deep concern about the death threats and rape threats and sexually explicit abuse received by Bondita Acharya, Human Rights Defender. She received all this on a social media platform for expressing her views on the consumption of beef by Hindus and commenting on the arrest of 3 persons for the same.


On April 4th, three people were arrested by the police in Johrat, Assam after a complaint was made by the local BJP leader Mridupawan Bora. They were accused of offending the religious sentiments of the people, because they were in possession of 500 grams of beef meant for consumption. Since one was a minor, the other two were arrested and charged under Section 295 (a) of the IPC and the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 (hereinafter the Act).

According to MASUM, AHRC’s partner organisation, Bondita Acharya posted her comments on the incident on a social media website on 6th April 2017. Reports state that she had commented that even people from higher castes of the Hindu community eat beef in the state and it was not just Muslims who consumed beef. This angered some people. She received death threats, rape threats, threats of acid attack and sexually abusive comments on social media. All this for condemning the arrest of three people, and expressing her views on the matter of beef consumption in the state.

On April 9, Acharya filed a complaint with the Superintendent of Police at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Guwahati. She attached screenshots of the comments made against her on social media. AHRC has been given access to these by MASUM. Reportedly no action has been taken on her complaint to date. According to a statement issued by ‘Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression’ (WSS) of which Acharya is a member, the Bajrang Dal has issued a press release demanding a public apology from her for her criticism of the arrests.

According to the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950, under which the three were arrested, cattle slaughter is allowed only under certain conditions. As per Ss. 5 and 6 of the Act, cattle cannot be slaughtered unless a certificate in writing from the Veterinary Officer is obtained for the purpose. Nowhere does the Act state that possession or consumption of beef is criminal or prohibited.

It is becoming increasingly common for people to take refuge in the anonymity and assumed safety offered by the Internet. It allows them to make violent threats and abusive comments against women on social media platforms. Recently, the young activist, Gurmehar Kaur was at the receiving end of similar vitriol for sharing her views on the India-Pakistan impasse. In this case, Acharya too has been subject to terrible abuse online simply because she stated what she feels with respect to beef consumption habits in Assam and the North East. The police must ensure that crimes of this nature are swiftly investigated, utilising the best technology and skills available.

A little about Bondita Acharya – she is a human rights defender from Assam, in north eastern India, and a member of Women in Governance (WinG) Assam. She is also the Northeast coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) and a member of the network Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS).

I therefore request you to ensure that:


• Ms. Acharya’s complaint is registered and swiftly investigated to bring the perpetrators to book for the cyber abuse

• The safety and security of Acharya and her team are ensured by providing her with protection
• Investigate into the case of the 3 people arrested for cow slaughter as they were allegedly merely in possession of beef and that is not a criminal act as per the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950

I look forward to your prompt action in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

______________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Manav Adhikar Bhawan
Block-C, G.P.O. Complex, INA
New Delhi-110023
Email:cr.nhrc@nic.in

2. Shri. Mukesh Sahay
Director General of Police (Assam)
Ph: 03612450555
Email id: dgp@assampolice.gov.in

3. Shri. R Chandranathan
ADGP, CID, Assam
Email: : adgp-cid@assampolice.gov.in / ssp-cid@assampolice.com

4. Shri. RP Meena
IGP (Special Branch) , Jorhat, Assam
Ph: +91 96549 58803
Email id: igp-security@assampolice.gov.in

5. Michael Forst
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Palais Wilson
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH 1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Email: urgent-action@ohchr.org

Thank you.

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