Posts Tagged ‘Journalist’

Reporter assaulted in Assam for exposing corruption in government works

April 10, 2012


Introduction:

The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) is deeply concerned over an incident of assault of a reporter in Cachar district in Assam while he was returning home after collecting information and taking photographs of alleged irregularities in works under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA) in Borkhola development block area. The victim was severely beaten up that caused serious injuries including breaking of his teeth. The incident happened at a place a little away from a work site at Sonapur Gaon Panchayat (GP) on 28 February 2012.  The attackers were allegedly workers of a political party. Although the police registered a case against the attackers, instead of investigating the case, they registered another false case against the victim allegedly due to political interference. The victim is still traumatized and can not go out for work for fear of loss of limbs and life.

The case:

The BHRPC received a written communication from the victim Mr Sibir Ahmed Barbhuiyan on 7 April 2012 giving details of the incident and other relevant information. Mr Barbhuiyan is aged about 34, son of late Basarat Ali Barbhuiya and a resident of village Chandpur Part-III under the jurisdiction of Borkhola police station (PS) in Cachar. He is presently working as a local correspondent with the Dainik Jugasankha, a local daily news paper published from Baidyanath Sarani, Rongpur, Silchar-9. He also does a part time job as an insurance agent with the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC). It is also stated that Mr Barbhuiya also works as the president of a village level non-government organization named Borkhola Gram Bikash Parishad that aims to work for equitable and sustainable development of the villages in Borkhola block particularly by ensuring proper implementation of the government rural development schemes. It is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 vide No. RS/CA/243/G/32. However, the BHRPC could not thoroughly inquire into the works and activities of the NGO and its members.

According to the information provided by the victim, on 28 February he went out for works in the morning as usual. After the day’s work when he was returning home at about 9 pm some job card holders under the NREGA informed him that the GP president (elected head of the village level local government body) Ms Nazima Begum Laskar and its secretary Mr Shew Kumar Pandey caused deployment of Excavator and Tripper machines for soil excavation at the construction work of a village road from Dispur to Ashrab Shah Mukam in Sonapur GP and that the machines were at work at the time.

The work was sanctioned under the NREGA which is an Act of parliament ofIndiaenacted to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The use of machines in such works defeats the very purpose of the legislation. The operational guidelines for implementation of the law issued by the Ministry of Rural Development, the nodal ministry of the government ofIndiafor implementation of the Act, also categorically say that no contractors and machinery is allowed and a 60:40 wage and material ratio has to be maintained. Therefore, Mr Barbhuiya felt he was duty bound as a working journalist and social worker to capture the evidence of violations of law in camera. Accordingly he went to the work site immediately and shot some photographs.

 According to the information, after taking photographs when he reached Ashrab Shah Mukam a group of about 12 people led by one Liakat Ali Barbhuiya attacked him. Some of the attackers were identified by him as (1) Liakat Ali Barbhuiya, son of late Mujibur Rahman, (2) Abdul Mannan, (3) Jelu Mazumder, son of Gousul Mazumder, (4) Gousul Mazumder, (5) Anor Uddin, (6) Manjurul Haque, son of Nur Uddin, (7) Babul Ahmed, son of late Mujibur Rahman and other 4/5 unidentified persons. All of them are residents of village Sonapur under Borkhola police station and local workers of the congress party, the ruling political party inAssam. The victim stated that the attackers started beating him and continued to box and punch him till they broke one of his teeth and he fell unconscious. The victim alleged that the attackers then took away all his belongings including a camera (canon 14:4), a gold ring (4 Ana), two mobile handsets (Nokia 3110) with SIMs bearing numbers 9401311524 and 9854901235, one HMT wrist watch and Rs. 33,000.00 (thirty three thousand) cash of insurance premium that he collected that day and some important documents etc.

The victim further stated that when his senses returned he found himself confined in a nearby house belonging to one of the alleged attackers Gousul Mazumder and he sensed that they were preparing weapons to kill him. At this point in time the officer In-Charge (IC) of Bhangarpar police outpost Mr Robin Hazarika reached the spot who rushed after receiving information about the incident and rescued the victim but did not nab the attackers and recover the stolen stuffs and thus they fled away at his arrival. Mr Barbhuiya was then taken to a local hospital and later shifted to theSilcharMedicalCollegeand Hospital, Silchar (SMCH) where he was admitted in the surgery department and received treatment until he was released on 5 March.

The police officer told the victim that he needed to visit the police outpost in order that his complaint was registered while the victim was in severe need of urgent medical attention. Mr barbhuiya could not visit the outpost that night as he was at the Sonapur primary health centre (PHC). However, he managed to file a written complaint on 29 February at the Bhangarpar outpost. Still the police did not register the case promptly, let alone taking any actions. When the health condition of the victim deteriorated and he had to be rushed to the SMCH on 1 March and the police was repeatedly urged to take actions the Borkhola PS registered a case against the alleged attackers vide Borkhola PS Case No. 29/12 dated 1 March 2012 under sections 341, 326, 506, 379 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) for wrongful restraint, grievous hurt, criminal intimidation, theft and joint commission of the offences respectively. Sub-inspector of police Mr Robin Hazarika has been made the investigation officer (I/O) of the case.

Mr. Barbhuiya, however, alleged that even after registration of the case the I/O did not take any actions against the accused and investigation of the case did not proceed at all. No statements of the witnesses recorded. No stolen goods recovered. No arrest of the accused was made though they were roaming free. It is alleged that the police facilitated grant of pre-arrest bail of the accused persons from the Gauhati High Court by sending a biased and false report of the case to the court without investigations. After being repeatedly urged to take actions as per law, the officer told that he could not take any actions as he was asked by Dr Rumee Nath, the member of Assam legislative assembly (MLA) belonging to the ruling congress party and representing Borkhola constituency, not to take actions, the victim alleged in his written communication addressed to the BHRPC.

The victim further alleged that he believed that the attack on him was carried out at the behest of the MLA who wanted him to be killed because as a scribe he reported at different times stories containing allegations of corruption made by the people against her. He also mentioned that foundation stone of the particular NREGA work where he found violations of laws was laid by her and the local monitoring body is comprised of party workers loyal to her including the GP president and Liakat Ali Barbhuiya and some other attackers. However, when the BHRPC contacted Ms Nath for her side of the story she did not respond.

It is also alleged that under political influence the police registered a false case against the victim based on a complaint filed by one Ms Champarun Nessa (aged about 45 years) of village Sonapur Part-I vide Borkhola P.S. Case No. 30/12 under sections 341, 354, 376 and 311 of IPC on 1 March 2012. The sections invoked provide punishment for wrongful restraint, assault or criminal force on woman to outrage her modesty and rape. Although the case involves serious offence of rape the self-proclaimed rape victim was not medically examined and her statement was also not recorded by a judicial magistrate. The BHRPC believes that this case against Mr Barbhuiya is absolutely false and malicious filed with malafide intention of abusing the legal process to subvert the object of law, to weaken the case against the alleged attackers of Mr Barbhuiya, to harass and intimidate him. It goes against reasons and common sense that a person who sustained injuries amounting to grievous hurt within the meaning of section 326 of the IPC would be able to commit offence like rape soon thereafter. In fact, it has become a practice for unscrupulous influential persons to procure some complainants and cause registration of serious offences against human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists.

In view of the position and intent of the people against him and the negligence of the police in their duties and their abetment in harassing and intimidating the victim, he is apprehensive of more attacks and seriously concerned for his life and limbs and police harassment as well as for those of his family members and members of the Borkhola Gram Bikash Parishad. He said he always feels that his life and liberty is at risk as the alleged perpetrators are at large and consequently he could freely move and work.

The rights:

The BHRPC thinks that the information reveals a prima facie case of violations of fundamental rights of the victim to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a), the right to practice profession of one’s choice guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (g) and the right to security and physical and psychological integrity under Article 21 of the constitution of India as read by the Supreme Court of India. The non-investigation of his case by the police also entails violations right to truth, justice and reparation.

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

It is obvious that the attack was carried out, if not to kill him, to take away the sense of security under which comfort Mr Barbhuiya works legitimately and peacefully both as a journalist and president of the Borkhola Gram Bikash Parishad against corruption and irregularities in implementation of rural development scheme of the government for practical realization of the rights of the people, particularly their social and economic rights. These circumstances make the definition of human rights defender as understood in the context of 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) applicable in the case.

Human rights works including socio-economic and cultural rights by peaceful and legitimate means are both duty and rights of every individual as spelt out in 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.”

 The Protection of Human Rights Act also mandates the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) 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. It is also the mandate of the NHRC to encourage the efforts of non-governmental organisations and institutions working in the field of human rights under clause (i) of the same section, which includes protection of defenders.

The actions:

In view of the circumstances the BHRPC wrote to the authorities including the prime minister ofIndia, the chief minister ofAssam, the president of the All India Congress Committee and the chairperson of the Press Council of India and also filed a complaint at the NHRC urging them to cause the relevant authorities:

 1. to conduct a prompt, objective and exhaustive investigation into the alleged assault on Mr Sibir Ahmed Barbhuiya, failure of police to perform their legal duties in investigating the allegations and the role of MLA Dr Rumee Nath in the alleged violations of human rights;

 2. to take all necessary measures to protect the physical and psychological security and integrity of Mr Sibir Ahmed Barbhuiya and his family and all members of Borkhola Gram Bikash Parishad and their families;

3. to provide adequate reparation in terms of monetary compensation to Mr Sibir Ahmed Barbhuiya for loss of his equipments, documents and other valuables and for suffering physical and mental agony;

 4. to guarantee that human rights defenders in Assam are able to carry out their legitimate human rights works without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including assault by goons and police harassment;

5. to guarantee that citizens and particularly the journalists in Assam are able to exercise their right to freedom of thought and expression without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including assault by goons and police harassment.

10 April 2012

Guwahati,Assam

For any clarification or more information you may contact

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Mobile: +91 9401942234

Email:wali.laskar@gmail.com

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Urgent Appeal: Journalists assaulted in Assam University

March 31, 2011

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

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

Dear Friends,

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

Yours sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Urgent Appeal Desk

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur, Silchar-9, Assam, India

INDIA: Journalists assaulted in Assam University

March 31, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-071-2011

Please click here to take action

31 March 2011

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

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

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Dear friends,

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

CASE NARRATIVE :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

SUGGESTED ACTION:

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

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

To support this appeal, please click here

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

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

Name of victim(s):

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

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

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

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

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

Names of alleged perpetrators:

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

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

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

Date of incident: 25 February 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO :

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia )

Send an appeal letter now

See the Ungent Appeal at the AHRC website:

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

BHRPC condemns assault on journalists

March 16, 2011

BHRPC condemns assault on journalists

Special Correspondent 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statement regarding assault on reporters at Assam University, Silchar

March 4, 2011

Press statement

For immediate release

3 March 2011

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reporters assaulted at Assam University, Silchar for covering students’ agitation

March 3, 2011

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has received information regarding an incident of assault on reporters at the Assam University campus at Silchar on 25 February 2011. It is reported that the assault was carried out by the security guards led by the proctor of the university Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury and dean, students welfare Mr. Ramendu Bhattacharjee allegedly for covering agitation of the students. The scribes sustained grievous injuries and their laptops and cameras were snatched away and destroyed.

According to information received by the BHRPC, a group of reporters and cameramen mainly belonging to Guwahati-based private television channels (namely NE TV, News Time Assam, DY365 and Frontier TV News) reached the university campus with their laptops, cameras and other equipments at about 12 noon on 25 February to report demonstration of students.

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

According to the information, reporters had taken footage of the students’ agitation before they were attacked. At about 12.30 pm the proctor of the university Mr. Manabendra  Dutta Choudhury and Dean, Students Welfare Mr. Ramendu Bhattacharjee arrived while the scribes were sending the news through their laptops. The proctor started hurling verbal abuse at the journalists and demanded them to stop sending the footages. The journalists tried to talk to him, but the proctor got furious and started beating them. The security guards accompanying him also joined him.

According to Mr. Anath Bandhu Nandi (Arup), one of the injured reporters, Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury first kicked at a laptop and then the guards jumped on them. At the behest of the proctor and the dean, the security guards kicked, punched and beat the journalists mercilessly. They snatched 3 laptops and 2 cameras destroyed them.

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

The reporters later filed a complaint at Silchar Sadar Police Station, which is registered as Silchar PS Case No. 285/11. The complaint named Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury and Mr. Ramendu Bhattacharjee and security guards as accused.

It is also reported that the university authority did not allow the entry and reading of the Dainik Samayik Prasanga, a local daily newspaper inside the campus. This is an undemocratic and authoritarian attempt at stopping outside information from coming to the hostel boarders of the university coupled with the attempt of stopping flow of information from the university as evident from the assault on the reporters. It seems that the authority of the university are flouting law of the land and behaving as law unto themselves.

BHRPC thinks that the information reveals a prima facie case of offences of ‘voluntarily causing grievous hurt’, ‘theft of equipments’ and ‘criminal intimidation’ by several persons under section 35, 379 and 506 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

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

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

BHRPC also observes that the conduct of the university authority vis-a-vis the grievances of the students and their peaceful protest is, to say the least, authoritarian and undemocratic. The students were staging peaceful protest and demonstration for adequate sanitary facility, adequate supply of drinking water and other such basic amenities.

BHRPC wrote to the prime minister of India urging his personal intervention for ensuring a prompt and objective investigation into the incident, adequate security for the victims and witnesses, adequate compensation for the victims, effective redress to the students of the university. BHRPC also filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission.

A. Names and addresses of the alleged victims:

1. Mr. Samin Sen Deka (40yrs.), News Burea, Silchar, News Time Assam

S/o. Lt. Saneshar Deka

Jail Road, Near Normal School, Silchar -3, Assam

2. Bibhuti Mazumder, Silchar Correspondent, NE TV

S/o. Johorlal Mazumder

Khatal Road, Silchar, Assam

3. Anath Bandhu Nandi (Arup), Cameraman, Dy 365

S/o Lt. Bagaban Chandra Nandi

Radamadav Road, Silchar-1, Assam

4. Anupam Mandal, Reporter, Frontier TV

S/o. N.K. Mandal

Nataji Sarani, Batartal, Meherpur, Silchar-15, Assam

5. Paplu Das, Cameraman, Frontier TV

S/o Lt. Priti Bushan Das

Nikunja Bhawan opposite Drugasankar Patsala

Ambicapatty, Silchar-4, Assam

B. Names and addresses of the alleged perpetrators/violators:

1. Mr. Manabendra Dutta Choudhury,

Proctor, Assam University, Silchar

Dargakona, Cachar, Assam

2. Ramendu Bhattacharjee,

Dean, Students Welfare,

Assam University, Silchar

Dargakona, Cachar, Assam

3. Security guards working at the university and assaulted the reporters

Assault on Journalists

January 18, 2011

Assault on Journalists Facilitated by the Wilful Negligence and Abetment of Police

Abijit Bhattacharjee, reporter with Barak Television Natwork, Anup Das camera person of the same channel and another camera person was assaulted and injured by a group of hooligans when they ware covering on-going polling at Atal Basti J.P Das L.P school poll centre on 9th January, 2007 in Cachar, Assam in the presence of security personnel posted there. As the police remain silent spectators the attackers inflicted such grave injury to Abijit Bhattacharjee that he had to remain at Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Silchar for more than 14 days. However, an FIR was registered against the accused but none is arrested and no action has been taken against the negligent police personnel.