Posts Tagged ‘Illegal raid’

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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Destruction of Police Post by police themselves and subsequent atrocity on villagers

January 18, 2011

Destruction of Police Post by Police themselves and Subsequent Atrocity on Villagers

In the wake of the incident of torture and death of Motahir Ali Tapadar on 21 September, 2007 in the custody of police posted at Kalain Police Patrol Post under Katigorah Police Station in Cachar, Assam the police themselves set fire on the PP and Bhairavpur-Klain Gaon Panchayat office situated in the same campus and burnt them down in order to distract the attention of people from the death of Motahir Ali.

Subsequently SI Biswajit Sinha registered Katigorah Police Station Case No. 455/07 under sections 147, 149, 447, 448, 336, 333, 436 and 307 of the Indian Panel Code, 1860 against Faruk Ahmed Laskar, president of Kalain Citizen Forum and other 500 (five hundred) unidentified persons accusing them of the very offences which were committed by police themselves. In connection with this trumped-up case the police conducted frequent raids, caused persecution and harassment to the people residing in the village of Bhatgram. Police also arrested Faruk Ahmed Laskar, Ibazul Haque Laskar, Imamul Hoque and Saidur Rahman Barbhuiya who were later accorded bail by the Gauhati High Court.

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

April 23, 2010

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

PDF Version of the Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BHRPC demands to the authorities to immediately:

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