Posts Tagged ‘Military’

Indian reserve battalion soldiers assault a physician in Assam

April 2, 2012

A convoy of soldiers belonging to 22 Indian Reserve Battalion stationed at Kadamtala camp in Jiribam of Manipur state assaulted a physician at Jirighat market in Cachar district of Assam state on 29 March 2012 causing injuries and mental trauma. The incident led a scuffle between the local people and the soldiers causing some more injuries and a lot of fear and anxiety. The local people later blocked the53 National Highway(NH) forcing the police officers in both the districts to come over to the spot and take control of the situation. No complaint has been registered by the police against the soldiers and the victim is very concerned about his and his family members’ safety and security.

According to the information, the physician Mr. Dulal Biswas (age about 43, son of late N L Biswas) is a resident of Jirighat town under the Jirighat police station (PS) in the district of Cachar. Jirighat is a small town falling in the border ofAssamwith Manipur state. A tributary of the river Barak called Jiri separates Manipur fromAssamhere. On the other bank of the river falls Jiribam town in the Imphal West district of Manipur. Mr. Biswas is a registered medical practitioner and has been practicing medicines for some years. He runs his own private dispensary at Jirighat. He is a very respectable person in the town.

On 29 March he went to the market as usual to buy household stuffs and some vegetables at about 8am in the morning. He was riding a motor bike. Things went wrong when he was crossing the road after two Bolero cars passed him. He had to stop in the middle of the road as the Bolero car ahead of him stopped suddenly. But another Bolero car collided with the bike powerfully from behind. Though Mr Biswas fell down with the bike he did not sustain much injury. After he got up he demanded from the driver of the colliding car an explanation as to why he was driving so rashly in the market place. After exchange of a few words the driver got down from the car brandishing a stick. Some other soldiers in uniform also came out with their guns in hands. One of them put the pointed gun on the chest of Mr. Biswas and others punched and kicked him incessantly for a while. At that time some other soldiers who were buying alcohols from a nearby shop started shouting and hurling verbal abuses at Mr. Biswas and other people. It is these soldiers who suddenly stopped their car ahead of Mr Biswas’ bike and partially responsible for the accident. When they rushed towards Mr. Biswas many other people in the market started running, some to other directions but many towards the spot. It caused a great commotion and confusion and helped Mr. Biwas to go away. Although such disturbances by the military and para-military personnel at public places is a part of life in this part of the country, a section of the public lost their cool and tried to gherao the soldiers. When soldiers threatened to open fire the people started pelting stones here and there missing targets. The stones touched none. On the other hand, it facilitated escape of the soldiers.

Fearing retaliation from the IRB the people decided to seek permanent solution of such disturbances that has become a part of their lives through peaceful means. They blocked the NH 53 that connects Cachar district administrative headquarters Silchar with Imphal, the capital of Manipur. At this point, the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Jirighat PS Mr S C Kaman came out and tried to persuade the people to disperse. However, people demanded talk with the authorities from Manipur as the battalion was stationed in that state. Accordingly he informed administration of Jiribam sub-division. A team led by OC of Jiribam PS Mr L Khagen Singh, an officer of Manipur police commando Mr O K Yumnam and another officer of crime investigation department (CID) of Manipur police was sent from Jiribam. At the arrival of the Manipur delegation the blockade that lasted only half an hour from 9am to 9.30am was lifted to hold talk. As a result of the talk that was held at the office of the local village defence party (VDP) the officers who came from Manipur apologized to Mr Biwas and the public on behalf of the assaulting soldiers. They also promised that some money would be paid to Mr Biswas for repairing his bike and such incident would never be repeated again; but it was on the conditions that Mr Biswas or the people should not complain to any authorities and courts.

Mr Biswas’ bikes’ registration number was AS 11 F 2993 and one of the cars of soldiers borne the registration number MN 02 A 4695.

It is learnt that the soldiers belong to 22 IRB stationed at Kadamtala under Jiribam PS in Manipur. They were returning from Kumbhirgram airport in Silchar where they went escorting Mr Chartolien Amo, member of Manipur legislative assembly (MLA) from Churachandpur constituency.

The local people told the BHRPC that they did not believe the promises made in order to lift the blockade as it came with veiled threats that the victim should not seek redress. Mr. Biswas appeared mentally traumatised and talking incoherently. He was very concerned. The physical injuries that were caused to his body by punching and kicking were by no means negligible, though it appeared lesser than the wound he sustained at his heart by being humiliated at the marked place in front of so many people who revered him so much. He was very concerned that the soldiers may harm his family, particularly his two young children, aged about 7 years and 10 years and were studying at class II and V respectively. He kept repeating that his two kids had to go to school and that is why he did not want to talk with reporters and human rights defenders.

It is clear that the soldiers, prima facie, committed many offences including the crime of attempt to murder and crime against public peace and tranquillity and violations of the right to life with dignity and security of person as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and many international human rights instruments to which India is a state party.

The police officers also violated his right to seek truth, justice and reparation in case of violations of any rights recognised by either the Indian domestic laws including the constitution or the international human rights laws by not registering a first information report (FIR) and trying to hush it up. The right to truth, justice and reparation is also guaranteed under the constitution as well as many international instruments.

The BHRPC sent a complaint on 2 April to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other authorities including the prime minister of India, chief ministers of both Assam and Manipur, union ministers for home affairs and defence expressing concern over the safety and security of the victim, his family and particularly his school going kids and other witnesses and urged them to take appropriate actions to ensure their physical and psychological integrity and safety, a prompt and impartial inquiry/investigation and registration of first information report (FIR) leading to truth, adequate reparation to the victims and prosecution of the alleged perpetrators in accordance with the criminal law of the land and universally recognised rules of criminal jurisprudence and other appropriate measures to ensure that such incident does not recur in the future.

2 April 2012

Guwahti-6,Assam

For further information please contact:

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

wali.laskar@gmail.com

+91 94019 42234

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Submission of BHRPC to the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions

March 28, 2012

The few representative cases submitted here clearly show the abysmal state of lawlessness which people live in.  Life here is virtually “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (as was claimed by Thomas Hobbes in his The Leviathan) for some people, particularly those who belong to the vulnerable groups such as minority communities, working class.

The alleged perpetrators in some of the cases belong to the armed forces ofIndiawhether regular military or para-military operating invariably under the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958. The Act empowers members of the armed forces to use lethal force against civilians even to the causing of death on mere suspicion that they may act in breach of any law or any order along with the power to enter into any doweling places by breaking their entrance and search and seize anything without warrant and arrest any person without warrant and keep the arrestees in custody for unspecified times without charge in the valley along with the rest of Assam and parts of some other North East Indian states and Jammu and Kashmir. The AFSPA also places the army above the law, constitution and judiciary for acts claimed to be done under the Act by barring institution of prosecution, suits or any judicial procedure in any court inIndia.

Some other cases of extra-judicial execution noted above were perpetrated by the state police who operate under a state version of the AFSPA titled the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955. Along with these special security laws with draconian provisions and laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the regular law that governs the policing in Assam is the Assam Police Act, 2007, which was enacted apparently to comply with the requirements of the directives issued by the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India (also known as the police reform case), in essence conform more with the colonial-era Police Act of 1861. The colonial police law was not aimed to provide democratic policing. It meant to create a repressive force subservient to ruling class and devoid of any accountability to the law and people.

After decades of public pressure, lack of political will and continued poor policing, a police reform process is finally underway inIndiaas the apex court stepped in. On 22 September 2006, the Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment in Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others instructing central and state governments to comply with a set of seven directives laying down practical mechanisms to kick-start reform.

The directives were aimed to ensure functional autonomy of the police and their accountability to the law. For ensuring functional autonomy the Supreme Court directed 1. to establish a State Security Commission to i. ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police; lay down broad policy guidelines aimed at promoting efficient, effective, responsive and accountable policing, in accordance with the law; give directions for the performance of the preventive tasks and service oriented functions of the police; evaluate the performance of the state police and prepare a report on police performance to be placed before the state legislature.

2. The second directive was aimed at ensuring fair selection of Director General of Police (DGP) and guarantee of his tenure.

3. Security of tenure is similarly important for other police officers on operational duties in the field. In order to help them withstand undue political interference, have time to properly understand the needs of their jurisdictions and do justice to their jobs, the Supreme Court provides for a minimum tenure of two years for the following categories of officers:           – Inspector General of Police (in charge of a Zone)

– Deputy Inspector General of Police (in charge of a Range)

– Superintendent of Police (in charge of a District)

– Station House Officer (in charge of a Police Station)

4. To counter the prevailing practice of subjective appointments, transfers and promotions, the Supreme Court provides for the creation of a Police Establishment Board. In effect, the Board brings these crucial service related matters largely under police control. Notably, a trend in international best practice is that government has a role in appointing and managing senior police leadership, but service related matters of other ranks remain internal matters. Experience inIndiashows that this statutory demarcation is absolutely required in order to decrease corruption and undue patronage, given the prevailing illegitimate political interference in decisions regarding police appointments, transfers and promotions.

5. the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to establish a National Security Commission for Central Police Organisations and Central Cara-Military Forces.

For ensuring accountability the Supreme Court directed the governments to set up:

6. Police Complaints Authority and

7. To separate investigation and law and order function of police.

The Commonwealth Initiative for Human Rights (CHRI), a regional human rights organization which was also one of the interveners in the Prakash Shingh case, after an analysis of the newly enacted Assam Police Act says that the Act only partially complies with the directives:

State Security Commission was established but the composition is not as per the Supreme Court directive. The Act has also weakened the mandate of the commission and has made its recommendation non-binding.

The second directive regarding selection process of the DGP and guarantee of his tenure not complied.

Directive regarding guarantee of tenure of the police officers on the field are also not complied. Only one year of tenure is guaranteed to the Superintendent of Police in charge of a district and Officer-in-Charge of a police station with vague grounds for premature removal.

Police Establishment Board was set up but the mandate was not adhered to. DGP has also been given the power to transfer any officer up to the rank of Inspector “as deemed appropriate to meet any contingency”, contrary to the directive.

The Central Government did not establish National Security Commission in utter contempt of the judgment.

The Assam Police Act, 2007 establishes Police Accountability Commission to enquire into public complaints supported by sworn statement against the police personnel for serious misconduct and perform such other functions. But the Chairperson and members of the Commission are appointed directly by the government. This can, at best, be called partial compliance.

Half hearted attempts can also be seen regarding separation of investigation from law and order function of the police. Special Crime Investigation Unit has been set up in urban police stations but there is no specific section on separation of between law and order and crime investigation.

This deliberate attempt to bypass the Supreme Court directives prompted the petitioner in the case formerAssamdirector-general of police Prakash Singh to describe the Assam Police Act, 2007, as a fraud on the people of the state. He was speaking at a seminar  jointly organised by the commission and the Assam State Legal Services Authority at theAssamAdministrativeStaffCollege, Guwahati. According to him, the government had violated the letter and spirit of the apex court guidelines by passing the act without conforming to these guidelines.

The Act needs drastic amendment to be brought in conformity with the Supreme Court guidelines and to be compatible with International Human Rights Standards. More importantly the role of the police needs to be redefined “taking into account the emerging challenges of policing and security of the State, the imperatives of good governance, and respect for human rights”.

The cases cited also highlight another huge challenge to the civil and political rights inAssamwhich is non-adherence and non-implementation of laws and other instruments that are meant to protect such rights. The Supreme Court guidelines in DK Basu case, and NHRPC guidelines regarding arrest, custodial deaths have the potential to drastically reduce the number of extra-judicial executions if implemented properly. The DK Basu guidelines are only implemented in papers. In rural police stations the guidelines are not even hung in a language eligible to the public at a conspicuous place.

It may be noted that in many of the cases mentioned no magisterial inquiry was conducted in contravention of the statutory mandate of section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In the cases where such inquiries are conducted the magistrates employed were not judicial ones as is mandate of the law. Although even the executive magistrates when found in their inquiries the guilt of the accused police personnel established beyond doubt, neither prosecution has been started nor has any compensation been provided to the kin of the deceased. Apart from legal immunity provided by security legislations such as the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958, the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955 there is a regime of de facto impunity guaranteed to the violators which is responsible for the increase of the cases of extrajudicial killings.

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BHRPC submits cases of extra-judicial executions in Barak valley to the Special Rapporteur

March 28, 2012

Guwahati, 28 March: “Ours is a case of doing works of police by the army and using the regular state police by ruling politicians as their personal army” said Waliullah Ahmed Laskar during his oral presentation at the North Eastern regional briefing to the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions held today here at Ashoka Brahmaputra hotel. Mr. Laskar, director of law and legal affairs of the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) added, “although there are no terrorist activities and any home grown insurgent groups in Barak valley that can pose a threat to the national integrity and security the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 is in force in the valley along with the rest of Assam and parts of some other North East Indian states and Jammu and Kashmir. The Act empowers the army personnel to use lethal force against civilians even to the causing of death on mere suspicion that they may act in breach of any law or any order along with the power to enter into any doweling places by breaking their entrance and search and seize anything without warrant and arrest any person without warrant and keep the arrestees in custody for unspecified times without charge. The AFSPA also places the army above the law, constitution and judiciary for acts claimed to be done under the Act by barring institution of prosecution, suits or any judicial procedure in any court inIndia.” He further added that the state police also operate under a similar draconian law called the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955 and showed how the Assam Police Act, 2007 is a fraud on the people as well as on the Supreme Court of India in so far as it claims to conform with requirements of directives issued by the supreme court in Prakash Singh and others Vs. Union of India and others.

He also submitted a report to the special rapporteur professor Christof Heyns, who is on a fact-finding mission inIndiafrom 19 March to 30 March, containing cases of extra-judicial or arbitrary killing of innocent people both by the state police and armed forces of the central government. Cases that were submitted include 1. killing of one Islamul Hoque Choudhury (of Sonai, Cachar) by police because he became to threat to them as he witnessed how they tortured another person to death, 2 extra-judicial killing of Hashmat Ali (Kalain, Cachar) by police after being bribed by another person to teach him a lesson, 3. death of Motahir Ali (Kalain, Cachar) caused by torture in police custody as his family could not pay the amount of bribe demanded by the police for his release, 4. death of Mr. Moyfor Raja (Katlicherra, Hailakandi) in police custody due to torture, 5. fake encounter killing of Jamir Uddin (Katlicherra, Hailakandi) by central reserve police force personnel, 6. death of Iskandar Ali (Dholai, Cachar) caused by indiscriminate firing of  CRF personnel at a market place, 7. killing of a car driver by police apparently for speeding and 8. extra-judicial execution of Iqbal Hussain Laskar (Algapur, Hailakandi) by army after they picked him up and some other cases.

The BHRPC urged the special rapporteur to recommend to the authorities inIndiato 1. to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958; 2. to repeal the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955; 3. to make the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 compatible with international human rights standards by amending the Act; 4. to bring the Assam Police Act, 2007 in conformity with the directives of the Supreme Court of India through amendment; 5. to amend the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to extend the jurisdiction of both the state and national human rights commissions to conduct independent inquiries into cases of alleged human rights violations by the armed forces and to lengthen the limitation period of one year to five years; 6. to constitute an independent commission headed by a retired chief justice of a high court or the supreme eligible to be appointed as the chief justice of India with adequate numbers of members from the civil society to conduct time-bound inquiries into all allegations of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions leading to the initiation of prosecution and provision of adequate reparation; 7. to constitute special courts to conduct trial of all cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions under direct monitoring of the Supreme Court of India; and others.

At the meet presided over by Justice W A Shishak, former chief justice of the Chhattisgarh high court, Mr Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert (Manipur), Ms. Bubumoni Goswami, chairperson of the Manabadhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam), Ms Rosanna Lyngdoh of the Impulse NGO Network (Mehgalaya), Taring Mama of the Association for Civil Rights (Arunachal Pradesh), Neingulo Krome of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (Nagaland), Anthony Debbarma of the Borok Peoples Human Rights Organisation (Tripura) and others also made both oral and written submissions.

The special rapporteur who is accompanied by the UN human rights officer Irina Tabirta and other staff said in his concluding remark that he was thankful to the government of India for extending invitation to his mandate to the country and he assured the participants that he would take up the issues raised here with the government of India and is going to have a press conference in Delhi on 30 March where he would share his preliminary recommendations. He is expected to submit his report on the situation of extra-judicial execution inIndiato the UN human rights council and the General Assembly of the UN at the end of this year.  (Submission of BHRPC to the SR on Summary Execution)

Neharul Ahmed Mazumder

Secretary General,

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

AFSPA: A blotch on democracy in India

August 20, 2011

The Asian Human Rights Commission, REDRESS Trust UK, and Human Rights Alert, Manipur, India jointly authored and published a report on the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 titled: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in Manipur and other States of the Northeast of India: Sanctioning repression in violation of India’s human rights obligations on 18 August, 2011.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in Manipur and other States of the Northeast of India: Sanctioning repression in violation of India’s human rights obligations

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in Manipur and other States of the Northeast of India: Sanctioning repression in violation of India’s human rights obligations

In a statement jointly issued issued on 18 August, 2011 by AHRC, REDRESS and HRA it is claimed that a draconian legislation like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and the concept of democracy do not go together. While democracy nurture values of justice, equality and fraternity, laws like the AFSPA are synonymous with injustice, discrimination and hatred. A report that analyses the legislation’s complete incompatibility with India’s domestic and international human rights obligations is released today in India, Hong Kong and London. Human Rights Alert, a human rights organisation working in Manipur, India; REDRESS Trust, a human rights group based in London, UK; and the AHRC, a regional human rights body based in Hong Kong have jointly authored the report.

It is also stated that the report while analysing the Act draws extensively upon international and domestic human rights jurisprudence, that India is mandated to follow. The report exposes the visibly different standards even the Supreme Court of India has adopted while deciding the constitutionality and thus the compatibility of the law with India’s international and domestic human rights obligations. Despite repeated calls to repeal the law immediately by government-sponsored Committees that have studied the law, the Government of India is yet to take any steps in that direction. International human rights bodies like the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Racial Discrimination have expressed concern about the law and its implementation in India, suggesting that the law should be repealed.

The law has attracted, repeatedly, wide-ranging criticisms from jurists, human rights activists, and even politicians within India and abroad. Organisations like the AHRC and Human Rights Alert have documented more than two hundred cases, over the past eight years, where the state agencies operating under the statutory impunity provided by the Act has committed serious human rights violations in states like Manipur. Most of these cases has been reported by the AHRC through its Urgent Appeals Programme and brought to the attention of authorities in India and within the United Nations. Yet, so far not a single military or police officer has been prosecuted for the human rights abuses they have committed under the cover of impunity provided by this law.

The report also places emphasis upon the unique form of protest by Ms. Irom Chanu Sharmila, through her decade-long hunger strike, which has been largely ignored by the national media in India.

The report could be downloaded here.

For comments on the report you may contact:
1. Mr. Babloo Loitongbom
Human Rights Alert
Manipur, India
Tel: + 91 385 2448159

2. Mr. Serge Golubok
REDRESS
London, UK
Tel: + 44 20 7793 1777

3. Mr. Bijo Francis
AHRC
Hong Kong
Tel: + 852 2698 6339

Para-military forces run amock in Silchar with impunity

March 15, 2011

Assam Rifles personnel belonging to the 5th battalion camping at Jiribam, Manipur came to Silchar in Assam, a town known as the heart of Barak Valley, on 2 August, 2009, bought ‘pan’ from a panwala, pushed a pistol into the mouth of panawala who had shown the audacity of demanding money for his pan and then created a mayhem establishing the reign of terror for the whole night.

According to the reports, some ‘jawans’ in plain clothes belonging to the 5th battalion of Assam Rifles visited the College Road area in Silchar around 4pm on 2 August and kept loitering there for a few hours. They bought ‘pans’ from a ‘panshop’ owned by one Trinath Dhar of the same locality and started to go away without making payment for the ‘pans’. They got angry when the ‘panwala’ demanded money for his ‘pans’ and started to hurl abuses and threats at him. At further entreaties for the payment the ‘jawans’ beat him, tried to strangle him and one of the ‘jawans’ put his service pistol into the mouth of the ‘panwala’. When people gathered the ‘jawans’ went away but warned him that he would be dealt with appropriately later.

Around 10.30 pm that night 5 ‘jawans’ led by a major named R Gupta came back in a jeepsy car without number plate. They were in plain clothes. Most of the shops were closed at that time. They looked for Trinath Dhar, but his shop was also closed and he hid himself somewhere nearby. The ‘jawans’ entered a nearby saloon named ‘Ajoy Hair Cutting’, which was still open, and started to break things and to beat people inside the shop. The reports alleged that the ‘jawans’ hurled Sumon Sheel, a worker in the saloon, through the window into a drain several feet down. He sustained severe injuries.

According to the reports, at the hue and cry people of the locality started to gather at the spot and the ‘jawans’ kept beating indiscriminately whoever they could catch including women and rickshaw pullers creating a mayhem. They also allegedly opened fire. Ten persons including Ajoy Sheel, the owner of the saloon, Sumon Sheel, a worker in the saloon, Trinath Dhar, the panwala who came out from his hiding when people gathered and Rapon Bhattacharya of Subhash Nagar were injured.

At that time the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Headquarter, Cachar and the Officer-in-Charge of Silchar police station came to the spot with a large police force and brought the situation under control. The police took the ‘jawans’ including the major and the injured to the police station. The injured were sent to the hospital for treatment. But no First Information Report (FIR) was registered.

The Assam Rifles major told the media persons that they were in an ambush there and the local people attacked them even after the ‘jawans’ revealed their identity. He claimed that Assam Rifles personnel were acting in self defence. But there is no answer to the question why Assam Rifles did not inform the local police about their operation in a thick residential area which they are bound to do.

Members of the BHRPC visited the area next day (3 August) in order to find out the facts about the incident. They encountered with an eerie silence. Witnesses refused to talk. Victims were trying to avoid the team members. Fear and terror were visible in the eyes and faces of the people of the locality. After much persuasion and guarantee of protection of identity some victims and witnesses spoke out. Their accounts corroborated each and every facts stated above.

They added that they were asked not to speak with the media and human rights groups except that the matter was ‘settled amicably’ and that they had no grievances against the Assam Rifles personnel or Assam Police members. But the grievances were so acute and deep that one of them went on to say that ‘talks of human rights have meanings only in independent democratic countries’ and out of frustration he declared that ‘India is neither independent nor democratic in actual sense of the terms’. ‘If you try to fight for your rights legally they will kill you ‘legally’’, he claimed. He went on, ‘if you file a complaint with the police the investigation will be biased and at the end of the day the accused will not be prosecuted or if prosecuted will be acquitted for lack of evidence.’ According to him, this is the best expectable situation. At the worst you will be encountered, he claimed. According to him, it is a practice of the security forces to make terrorist of a person who dares to point his fingers against them by planting arms and ammunitions at his residence and then they will kill him in a staged encounter. ‘No human rights group will be able to save him’, he declared.

The statement said, BHRPC could not persuade the terrified victims to lodge a complaint with the police regarding the incident. It reveals their lack of trust in Indian justice delivery system, which is very dangerous.

One of leading local daily news paper carried the story of ‘mutual settlement’ on 4 August. The report informed that the matter was settled in a tripartite meeting among victims, Assam Rifles personnel and officials of Assam Police held at Silchar police station on 3 August. The news paper planted a new version of the incident completely contradicting what it told the day before. More over, it did not make any reference to the earlier story by way of refutation or corrigendum or whatever may be. The paper owes an explanation to its readers and the public. All other papers kept mum on the matter.

It shows a conspiracy of silence. BHRPC thinks that there are ample grounds to conclude prima facie that the Assam Rifles, Assam Police, local media and some other local elements are in collusion with each other to protection the accused ‘jawans’ from legal consequences. In effect, rights of the victims of crimes to justice, remedies and reparation are being denied.

BHRPC concludes that the incident and the subsequent efforts to hush it up amount to vaiolations of fundamental rights laid down in Artiles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India. Article 21 guarantees right to life and personal liberty, which includes, inter alia, right to live with human dignity, right to physical and psychological integrity and right to justice, remedies and adequate reparation in case of violations of any fundamental rights. Article 14 guarantees equality before and law and equal protection of law. The officials of the Assam Police violated this right of victims by not registering an FIR and by not initiating prosecution against the accused personnel.

The actions of the Assam Rifles personnel and officials of Assam police also violated international human rights obligation of the State of India in respect of the right to life, security of persons and property, right to physical and psychological integrity and right to justice, remedies and adequate reparation in case of violations as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and other instruments.

HRW Report: Impunity in Manipur

January 30, 2011

Human Rights Watch Report:

“These Fellows Must Be Eliminated”

Relentless Violence and Impunity in Manipur

September 29, 2008

This 79-page report documents the failure of justice in the state, where for 50 years the army, empowered and protected by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), has committed numerous serious human rights violations. The report details the failure of justice in the killing and possible rape of alleged militant Thangjam Manorama Devi by the paramilitary Assam Rifles in 2004. Repeated attempts to identify and punish those responsible for her death have been stalled by the army, which has received protection under the immunity provisions of the AFSPA.

Download full report

Ikbal Hussain: Fresh victim of extrajudicial execution in Assam

January 10, 2011

Ikbal Hussain: Fresh victim of extrajudicial execution in Assam

The latest civilian victim of extrajudicial execution in the northeast state of Assam is Ikbal Hussain Laskar – who was tortured to death by army men on October 9, 2010. The state had counted more than 150 extrajudicial civilian deaths in 2009.

According to information received by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), an Assam based human rights organization of Assam, soldiers of Indian Army illegally raided a family at midnight and took Ikbal forcefully after torturing him severely and then torture continued resulting in his death. Ikbal Hussain Laskar, 42, belonged to the village of Chiparsangan, Part – III, under Algapur Police Station of Hailakandi district, Assam. He was tortured to death on 9 October, 2010 allegedly by the Army personnel belonging to 117/36 Artillery Field Regiment/ DTY COB, Manipur, Hailakandi, Assam.

According to Home Ministry’s annual report in 2009, 368 people, including 152 civilians, were killed in 424 incidents in Assam. Civilian death is the slow intensity war in north east India has wide prevalence. Extrajudicial execution is arbitrary deprivation of life by denying right to life and right to a fair trial. It is a kind of capital punishment by the state authorities without the Court’s verdict after a fair trial. Such executions are witnesses in north east India especially Assam and Manipur for decades under the umbrella Act called the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. Instances of extra judicial executions in the state of Assam and Mnaipur are going on without much visible remedy.

According to the field study conducted by BHRPC the sequence leading to the death of Ikbal indicates extrajudicial execution. The incident narrated by BHRPC is that on 9 October, 2010 at around 3:30 am when Ikbal was sleeping in his residence with his family members including his wife and 3 daughters. Suddenly he woke up hearing the sounds of someone calling him and knocking at the gate of his house. The caller identified as police officer and said that he wanted to ask something to Ikbal. Ikbal came out and opened the gate of his verandah. Instead of asking any questions, the visitor identifying as police caught him by the hand and dragged him toward the north side of the building where 5 other soldiers in uniforms started beating and kicking him without any rhyme and reason. Ikbal was stunned with these sudden unexpected developments and it took some time for him to realize the situation. He started crying and screaming in despair. Family members too became shocked at the developments and urged the soldiers in uniform to stop beating Ikbal. Then the family members realized that their house is cordoned off by about fifteen soldiers. Neighbors started rushing to the spot but were denied entry by gun men who were posted at the entrance.

The soldiers tortured Ikbal severely and then forced him to wash his face and change dress. Then they forcefully boarded him in a vehicle that they brought and continued to beat him.

Ikbal’s wife Parul Begum Laskar, aged about 38, daughters Adiba Ikbal Laskar (also known as Salmi) (19), Tahmima Ikbal Laskar aka Sammi (14) and Ajuba Ikbal Laskar aka Simi (9) informed members of BHRPC that when they were beseeching the army to stop the infliction of brutalities on Ikbal they were shown guns and asked to keep silence. The family also informed BHRPC that the army forced them to put their signature on a piece of paper where something was written but were not allowed to read the contents. They were also warned not to approach the police or file any complaint, otherwise they will have to face dire consequences, the raiding army told them. The army personnel took away two mobile sets, of which one was having a SIM card with phone No. +919707142785, one torch light and one mobile charger. The army gave them two mobile numbers 09508548935 and 094013210458 for contact.

The incident of Ikbal’s illegal detention was witnessed by several family members including Labib Ahmed Laskar (38), brother of Ikbal. He informed the BHRPC that when he rushed toward his brother’s house from his adjacent house at midnight hearing hue and cry, he was stopped at gun point by the army. He saw his brother was being beaten by the army from a distance of 15 feet. He saw his brother was severely injured; as a result, he was rendered unable even to walk toward the army vehicle. The Army came with two vehicles (TATA Sumo).

When army took away Ikbal, the villagers tried to contact the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Algapur Police Station Mr. Baktar Uddin over the phone. The OC informed them that he was ignorant about the operation. Then the family members approached the former Minister of Assam Mr. Shahidul Alom Choudhury. Mr. Choudhury then called the army of Manipur camp at around 7am. The army personnel told him that they had arrested Ikbal on wrong information and that he would be released soon. He then again called the army at around 12 noon on that day i.e, 9 October and got the same reply.

Several individuals tried to help the family. Mr. Anwar Uddin Barlaskar, a retired district judge, Mr. Labib and Mr. Sabib met the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Hailakandi at around 8:30am on behalf of the victim family and the villagers. The SP informed about the operation assuring follow up. The SP also told them a meeting of Army officers, district police and district administration was held the previous day where it was made sure that there would be no operation without any prior information to the police They then met the District Magistrate of Hailakandi at his residence. He also expressed his ignorance about the operation and he committed that he would find out the victim. At around 1pm some army personnel came to the victim’s house and asked for any earlier medical records of the victim related to heart or abdomen. But there were no such records. At that time they informed that the victim is at Silchar Medical College and Hosptial, Silchar and his health was deteriorating. The victim’s family then went to the SMCH and found him dead at 3pm.

With the death of an innocent civilian like Ikbal, local people started protesting it and thousands of people gathered at Chiparsangan area and blocked the road. The SP Mr. Hemanta Bhattacharya and the DM Mr. Tapan Chandra Goswami came at Chiparsangan and assured of a judicial enquiry including the post mortem examination would be conducted at day time and it would also be video recorded. At these promises the public lifted the blockade. The next day, 10th October, at about 5:30 pm, after the post mortem was held, the dead body was handed over to the family.

The BHRPC members also met Mr. Abdul Basit Choudhury, OC, Algapur PS (reinstated) at the house of the victim and collected information about the case. The OC informed that a case was filed by the victim’s wife Parul Laskar which was registered as Algapur PS case no.243/10 dated 09/10/10 under sections 302, 365 and 310 of the Indian Penal Code, 1861 and another case was also filed by Lieutenant Naveen Kumar which was registered as Algapur PS case no. 244/10 dated 09/10/10 under sections 489b and 489c, IPC. The OC was made the investigating officer of the case that was registered regarding the incident. He told that a home guard named Abdul Shukkur Barbhuiya from Kathlichera PS accompanied the army and he is the main witness of the incident. The OC also told that the army took the victim to the army camp, then to a primary hospital and then to the S. K. Roy Civil Hospital of Hailakandi and ultimately to the SMC Hospital where he was declared dead. The latter described that the accused Ikbal was found to keep some fake currencies and that the complainant had taken him to the said hospitals and there was nothing mentioned about the death.

Mrs. Parul Laskar (38), wife of Ikbal is a social activist and she is the counselor of the family counseling centre run by Assam Enviro-Legal Protection Society. Lt. Ikbal Hussain Laskar was one of the 7 brothers, very loving and adorable by the family members who share a joint family. Ikbal and Labib have recently constructed a new house as joint family property but his untimely brutal murder deprived him from enjoying his family life in the newly constructed house.

Car driver Fakhrul Islam ‘beaten to death by Assam police’ for speeding

January 10, 2011

Car driver Fakhrul Islam ‘beaten to death by Assam police’ for speeding

Acting on the information provided by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has condemned the ‘killing of car driver Fakhrul Islam by Assam police for speeding’, and written to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment seeking an intervention in the case.

The AHRC states, the local police in Hailakandi district, Assam state, has beaten to death the driver of a car because he refused to stop his vehicle when ordered by the police. It is reported that the police officers, led by the District Superintendent of Police, Mr. Maheshchand Sharma, chased the victim, Mr. Fakhrul Islam Mazumder, in their vehicle for a while before apprehending him. When Fakhrul stopped his vehicle, the police pulled him out, assaulted him with rifle butts until he was unable to move and threw him into a nearby lake. It is not known whether Fakhrul died of drowning or from the assault. The entire incident happened in full public view.

Case Narrative

According to the report of the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee sent to the AHRC, the incident happened on 13 September at about 8 pm on National Highway 154 near Bakrihaor.

The deceased, Fakhrul, aged about 26 years, son of Muzammil Ai Mazumder of Ward number 11, Hailakandi Town, Assam was coming from Silchar to Hailakandi driving a car with vehicle identification number AS-11C-9494 along National Highway 154. When he reached Bakrihaor, he was signalled to stop his car to give way for a convoy of police vehicles in which Mr. Maheshchand Sharma, the District Superintendent of Police was travelling.

The police vehicles were coming from the opposite direction in which the victim was travelling. It is common in India for the police to stop vehicles on the street for the police to travel at high speeds without traffic blocks, even if it is not an emergency. Drivers usually comply fearing abuse, assault and fabricated traffic offences charged upon them. However, Fakhrul refused to stop his car and drove past the police vehicle convoy, an act that apparently infuriated the police officers.

It is reported that the police officers chased Fakhrul’s car for a short distance and soon intercepted his vehicle. According to eyewitnesses, Mr. Akram Uddin Laskar, Mr. Selim Uddin, and Mr. Bahar Uddin and many other people from the locality, the police then forced Fakhrul to come out of the car. When he came out of the vehicle, the police started beating Fakhrul severely with rifle butts. Five to six police officers took turns to assault Fakhrul. When they stopped for a minute, Fakhrul gathering strength, tried to run away.

The officers chased Fakhrul on foot for a short distance and stopped him again and continued assaulting him. This time however, they did not stop until they threw Fakhrul into the Bakrihaor Lake, which is by the roadside. The officers then left the scene. The incident caused traffic jam for a while. No one dared to intervene in the police action however, as they were afraid of the police.

Fakhrul’s body did not surface till 1 pm the next day. A large crowd gathered around the lake till the body was brought out from the water. Those gathered include Mr. Rahul Roy, Member of Assam State Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Algapur constituency, Mr. Selim Uddin, MLA and Mr. Shahidul Alom Choudhury, a former minister of the Assam state government.

The crowd soon started shouting slogans against the police and temporarily prevented the police from taking the body for autopsy. Fearing violence, the political leaders present at the scene guaranteed that they would ensure stern actions taken against the police officers responsible for the crime. They also guaranteed that the entire autopsy would be video recorded.

On 15 September, the Progressive Students’ and Youth Front and the District Drivers’ Association called for a general strike in protest of the murder. In response, the district administration ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident and ordered the Superintendent of Police to be on leave and stay away from office temporarily. In follow-up, a complaint was lodged at the Hailakandi Police Station against the police officer, with an expectation that a criminal case will be registered and an investigation undertaken.

However upon enquiry, it is learned that the police is trying to influence the investigation to absolve from their responsibility in committing the crime. It is also feared that the witnesses will be threatened by the police, and under intimidation, they would not depose in the inquiry.

Additional Information

The minority Muslim community dominates Hailakandi district, where the incident took place. The public protest that followed after the recovery of the victim’s body demanded an investigation and stern actions against the police officers involved in the incident. Registering a case and conducting an investigation is a primary requisite under the Indian law in every case of unnatural death.

However, fundamentalist Hindu political parties like the Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) with support from the Baratiya Janatha Party (BJP) and its militant wing the Rashtirya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have brought in an unnecessary religious twist into the incident by coming out in support for their ‘Hindu brother’, none other than the perpetrator police officer, Mr. Maheshchand Sharma, offering him the support of the three political parties. According to them, the public anger is nothing more than an unnecessary rant against a Hindu police officer by the Muslims. This has divided the community along religious fault lines.

The HJM is accused of having masterminded the Malegaon bomb blasts of September 2006. 37 persons were killed and an estimated 148 persons injured in that incident.

The fact that a driver was murdered in open by the police officers and that the case must be investigated and the perpetrators punished no more appear to the issue that dominates the debate in Assam concerning the crime. The discussions on the question of murder by uniformed officers have fallen prey to the political trick played by the HJM, BJP and the RSS, where the question of murder is sidelined, and instead, the questions of religious affinities have sprang up. This is the very purpose of the public support orchestrated in favour of the accused police officer by these political parties.

By stirring up religious sentiments, for and against the officer, it is believed that the investigation of the case will be delayed or never completed. Already the District Magistrate has issued a prohibitory order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, disallowing the public from gathering for any reason without the prior permission of the authorities and the police.

Urgent Appeal Regarding an Incident Where Army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam

June 10, 2010

URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

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Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC/UA/22/210                    Dated: 08 June 2010

Dear Friends,

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) forwards this Urgent Appeal issued by Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding an incident where army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam with request to all to take suggested actions.

Yours Sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

15, Panjabari Road, Six Mile,

Guwahati-781037, Assam

INDIA: Army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMMEUrgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-080-20107 June 2010
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INDIA: Army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam

ISSUES: Violence against women; torture; militarisation; impunity
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the soldiers from a field regiment stationed in Manipur Block, Hailakandi district, Assam illegally raided houses in Mohanpur village and in the process tortured the inmates, molested women and girls and even took their pictures at gun point. It is reported that the soldiers were looking for Mr. Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya, the former elected president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat. During the raid that lasted for about half a day, the soldiers destroyed household properties at gun point and opened fire to threaten the villagers who gathered near the house. A pregnant woman who was kicked in her abdomen by the soldiers lost her child in a miscarriage within two days after the incident.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to the information we have received from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human right organisation based in Assam, the soldiers from 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur Block, Hailakandi, Assam state raided the house of Mrs. Hawatun Nesa, wife of Mr. Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya at about 3.30am on 23 May 2010 in Mohanpur village. Hawatun is the president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat, a position previously occupied by her husband Nurul.

There were about 17 soldiers who entered the house and all of them had their face covered by black cloth. The soldiers knocked at the front door of the house at about 3.30am when the family was sound asleep. Hawatun opened the door. Without warning, the soldiers marched into the house and asked Hawatun where her husband Nurul was. Hawatun replied that Nurul is not at home as he had gone to a relative’s house in a nearby village a day before. The soldiers refused to believe this and started searching the house.

They ordered everyone to get off from their bed. 82-year-old Mr. Mashur Ali Barbhuiya, Nurul’s father was unable to get from the bed since he requires help to get up. The soldiers dragged Mashur from the bed holding him by his throat. Then the soldiers started beating 65-year-old Mrs. Fulerun Nesa, Nurul’s mother accusing her that she is hiding Nurul. Then the officers started destroying household goods and furniture including chairs, tables, drawers, wardrobes and cooking utensils. The soldiers were not accompanied by women soldiers or women police officers from the local police station, which is a mandatory requirement under the law. The soldiers did not inform the family why they were looking for Nurul.

At about 7.30am the villagers gathered around the house to see what was going on in Nurul’s house. At the time some of the soldiers came out of the house and fired a few shots into the air asking the villagers to stay away. The soldiers did not allow Hawatun to feed her children and others inside the house till 2.30pm. When she requested the soldiers to allow her to feed the family, a soldier pointed his rifle at her and ordered that she must feed the soldiers rather than her family and forced her to make tea and cook snacks for the soldiers to eat. They refused her to feed her family members until the soldiers left.

In the meanwhile some soldiers went to the neighbouring house where Mr. Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya resides with his family. The soldiers searched this house also. Mrs. Rejwana Parvin Barbhuiya, aged 24 years, the eldest daughter of Moinul who was recently married was home at the time. The soldiers molested her and her two younger sisters, Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiya aged 14 years and Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya aged 17 years, by holding the girls by their arms and pulling them towards them with a gesture to have sex with them in front of their father.

The soldiers threatened that they have weapons and that they could do anything to them if they refused to come closer. They threatened that they could rape the girls in front of their father. One of the soldiers asked the girls and their elder sister to come along with them if they wanted to have sex away from their home and parents. Then the soldiers took turns to take the pictures of the girls and their elder sister with their mobile telephone camera.

Rejwana informed the BHRPC that she had to beg and plead with the soldiers not to rape herself or her sisters. Rejwana informs that her sisters and she are traumatized by the incident and they find it difficult to speak to their father who witnessed helplessly while his daughters were abused by the soldiers.

The soldiers during the raid in Hawatun’s house also engaged in pilferage. They took dress, cosmetics, utensils and gold ornaments belonging to the family when they left the house. The articles stolen from the house is approximately of Rs. 70,000 in value. Hawatun also accuses that the soldiers took Rs. 20,000 in cash that they found inside the house.

Before leaving, the soldiers forced Hawatun to sign documents that they had prepared and forced her to affix her official seal in the documents. The soldiers also took by force documents belonging to the Panchayat that Hawatun had kept at home. The soldiers took two mobile telephones from the house with its SIM cards with registered numbers 9854621923 and 9435582945 used by Nazim Uddin, Hawatun’s brother, and that of Hawatun. Hawatun’s brother’s telephone was returned on 25 May.

While the soldiers were still at Hawatun’s house some other soldiers were on the rampage in the village. At about 5am, they raided yet another house. This house belonged to Mr. Mujammil Ali Barbhuiya and is about 0.5kms away from Hawatun’s house. When the soldiers entered the house compound Ali was getting ready to go to his farm. The soldiers stopped him and demanded to know where Nurul is. When Ali informed the soldiers that he did not know where Nurul was they assaulted him with a bamboo stick and started hitting him with their rifle butt. Ali fell down and his cloths were torn. Ali’s wife Rushna Begum came running to rescue Ali from the soldiers. But she was also kicked around and beaten by the soldiers. The soldiers stopped assaulting Ali when they saw yet another villager Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65 years on the street.

Laskar was going to the mosque for his morning prayers. The soldiers grabbed Laskar by his dress and without asking anything started beating him. Some persons who happened to witness this tried to intervene and they were also beaten up by the soldiers. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, aged 35 years, Sharmina Begum, aged 12 years and a mentally challenged boy, Imran Hussain aged 14 years are among those who were beaten up. Mrs. Suretun Nesa, aged about 30 years was beaten up by the soldiers and kicked in her abdomen. Suretun Nesa was in her advanced stage of pregnancy and on 25 May she had a miscarriage at Silchar Medical College and Hospital due to the injuries suffered to her womb from the assault.

Another group of soldiers at about 6am went to yet another house belonging to Mr. Amit Das. The soldiers asked Das about Nurul for which Das replied that he did not know about Nurul’s whereabouts. Immediately the soldiers started beating him, whereby he sustained serious injuries on his leg. Das is currently under treatment at Community Health Centre, Mohanpur. It is reported that the soldiers refused to allow anyone to leave the village to seek medical help until they left.

It is suspected that the raid and assault was carried out for wrecking political vengeance against Nurul and his wife, who are popular among the villagers. Both husband and wife do not belong to any political parties and during their tenure as the president of the local panchayat they are trying to root out corruption in the distribution of funds in the government schemes. It is widely believed among the villagers that the some local politicians are behind instigating the soldiers to raid the village in an act of vengeance against Nurul and his wife since they have so far refused to join any political parties.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The BHRPC contacted Subedar Mr. Yadav at the 117/33 Field Regiment in Manipur Block on 4 June at about 12pm. The officer informed BHRPC that the operation was conducted based on the information provided from anonymous sources, but the identity of the suspect was mistaken and that they have apologised to Hawatun about the incident. Yet the officer insisted that he need to meet Nurul.

At about 1pm Captain Mr. Amit Gautom, COB Commander contacted BHRPC from the telephone number +91 9435742088. The Captain informed BHRPC that the raid was conducted by the 117/33 Field Regiment. When the Captain was questioned about the absence of any police officer during the raid he first replied that it is not required under law. When confronted about his misinterpretation of the law, quoting from the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights case as decided by the Supreme Court of India, the Captain claimed that the raiding party was accompanied by a police constable from Katlicherra Police Station. However, the BHRPC claims that Mohanpur is outside the jurisdiction of Katlicherra Police Station.

The Captain further claimed that they did not injure, torture or abuse anyone during the raid and that the soldiers did not destroy any property. He claimed that Hawatun has signed a document to prove this. Hawatun as well as her family members claim that the document was signed by Hawatun at gunpoint and that she was not informed about the content of the document. It has to be noted that this is a common practice employed by soldiers and police officers when they conduct illegal house raids in India. The AHRC has reported cases in the past where soldiers and police officers resorting to such practices.

The Captain further informed BHRPC that Hawatun and her husband need not be afraid if they are innocent. The Captain also claimed that the army will use force only when required. Yet the Captain insisted that Nurul and Hawatun must come to their camp and meet the Captain. He also threatened that there would be further raids in the village if the army receive any information and insisted that the raid on 23 May was not conducted on any mistaken identity.

The police so far have refused to register any case concerning the incident. Two complaints however are filed at Algapur Police Station, one by Hawatun and the other by Abdul Jalil. The police accepted Hawatun’s complaint but refused to register any formal case. As for Abdul’s complaint, the police asked him to go home and refused to register a case based on his complaint. The police told Abdul that he must be happy that he is alive after his encounter with the army and that he should not complain and if he insisted, the army would get him and finish him off in some other excuse.

It must be noted that the army has no right whatsoever to summon a civilian to their camp and has no legal mandate to engage in crime control or other operations in the area unless for supporting police operations. The local police must immediately record the statement of the injured and the witnesses to the incident. This is a clear case of abuse of authority by the army and such acts must not be allowed to recur. In addition, the soldiers conducting house raids without informing their ranks and names with their face cowered is a direct violation of law against which the unit’s immediate commanding officer must be punished.

The villagers also fear for the safety of Nurul and his wife Hawatun. They say that if the husband and wife try to pursue their case against the soldiers, they will come again and kill both of them and later claim that they were killed in an armed encounter, a phenomenon common in the region and there would be no inquiry into the case at all. But Nurul and Hawatun are confident that if there is enough pressure, there will be an investigation into the incident and the soldiers will be punished.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities mentioned below, in particular to the Defence Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Assam, expressing your concern in the case. The statements of the victims and witnesses must be recorded by a judicial magistrate and the Army has a legal as well as moral duty to inform the civilian authorities about the identities of the officers involved in the raid. The AHRC is writing separate letter of concern to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women calling for an intervention in the case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Illegal army raid in Mohanpur, Assam must be investigated

Name of injured victims:
1. Mrs. Suretun Nesa, aged about 30 years, wife of Mr. Altaf Hussain Barbhuiya
2. Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65 years
3. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, aged about 35 years
4. Ms. Sharmina Begum, aged about 12 years
5. Imran Hussain, aged about 14 years
6. Mr. Amit das, aged about 35 years, son of Umesh Das
7. Mr. Mashur Ali Barbhuiya, aged about 82 years
8. Mrs. Fulerun Nesa, aged about 65 years
9. Mrs. Hawatun Nesa, aged about 30 years
Name of the threatened victims:
1. Mr. Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya, aged about 42 years
2. Farhat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya, aged about 9 years, daughter of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya
3. Rahat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya, aged about 7 years, daughter of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya
4. Fuzail Ahmed Barbhuiya, aged about 6 years, son of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya
5. Mikail Ahmed Barbhuiya, aged about 3 years, son of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya
6. Mr. Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya
7. Mrs. Rejwana Parvim Barbhuiya, aged about 24 years, daughter of Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya
8. Ms. Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiya, aged about 14 years, daughter of Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya
9. Ms. Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya, aged about 17 years, daughter of Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya
All the above victims are the residents of Mohanpur village, Hailakandi district, Assam

Names of the perpetrators:
1. About 17 unidentified soldiers under the command of Captain Mr. Amit Gautom, stationed at 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur block, Hailakandi District, Assam
2. Captain Mr. Amit Gautom, of 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur block, Hailakandi District, Assam

Date of incident: 23 May, 2010
Place of incident: Mohanpur village, Hailakandi district, Assam

I am writing to voice my concern regarding the case of an illegal army raid held on 23 May 2010 in Mohanpur village, Hailakandi district Assam, in which several persons were seriously injured and several others threatened by the soldiers of 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur block, Hailakandi District under the command of Captain Mr. Amit Gautom.

I am informed that about 17 soldiers on 23 May 2010 at about 3.30am raided the house of Mrs. Hawatun Nesa, the president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat, a position previously occupied by her husband Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya. I am informed that the soldiers were looking for Nurul, Hawatun’s husband.

It is reported that the soldiers who entered the house had their face covered by a black cloth thereby concealing their identity, which is illegal in India. The soldiers knocked at the front door of the house at about 3.30am when the family was sound asleep and asked for Nurul when his wife Hawatun opened the door. I am informed that without being accompanied by any woman soldiers or police officers and without offering the women in the house to step outside the house, the soldiers marched into the house and asked Hawatun where her husband Nurul was. This again is a clear violation of Indian laws, in particular the several directives issued by the Indian Supreme Court concerning state agencies, including police and the military, conducting house raids and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

I am informed that Nurul was not at home at the time of the raid since he had gone to a relative’s house in a nearby village a day before. It is reported that the soldiers refused to believe the statement given by Hawatun that her husband is not at home and started searching the house.

It is reported that the soldiers then ordered everyone to get off from their bed. I am aware that 82-year-old Mr. Mashur Ali Barbhuiya, Nurul’s father was unable to get up from his bed since he required help and that the soldiers dragged Mashur from the bed holding him by his throat. The soldiers reportedly assaulted 65-year-old Mrs. Fulerun Nesa, Nurul’s mother accusing her that she is hiding her son. It is reported that the officers then destroyed household goods and furniture including chairs, tables, drawers, wardrobes and cooking utensils. Until today the soldiers have not informed why they are looking for Nurul.

It is reported that at about 7.30am the villagers gathered around the house to see what was going on in Nurul’s house. At the time some of the soldiers came out of the house and fired shots into the air asking the villagers to stay away. I am informed that the soldiers did not allow Hawatun to feed her children and others inside the home till 2.30pm whereas the soldiers forced Hawatun to make them tea and snacks. I am aware that the soldiers refused anyone in the house to have food until they left.

I am also informed that while some soldiers stayed at Hawatun’s house some soldiers went to the neighbouring house where Mr. Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya resides. I am informed that the soldiers searched this house and in the process molested Moinul’s daughters who were in the house at the time. Mrs. Rejwana Parvin Barbhuiya, aged 24 years, the eldest daughter of Moinul who was recently married was home at the time. The soldiers molested her and her two younger sisters, Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiya aged 14 years and Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya aged 17 years, by holding them by their arms and pulling them towards them with a gesture to have sex with them in front of their father.

I am informed that the soldiers threatened that they have weapons and that they could do anything with the girls and the woman if they refused. It is reported that the soldiers threatened that they could rape the girls and the woman in front of their father. One of the soldiers asked the girls and their elder sister, Rejwana, to come along with them if they wanted to have sex away from their home and parents. It is reported that the soldiers then took turns to take the pictures of the girls and their elder sister with their mobile telephone camera.

Rejwana has informed the BHRPC, a local human rights organisation that she had to beg and plead with the soldiers not to rape herself or her sisters. It is reported that Rejwana and her sisters are traumatized by the incident and they find it difficult to speak to their father who witnessed the incident helplessly while they were abused by the soldiers.

It is alleged that the soldiers during the raid in Hawatun’s house also engaged in pilferage. Hawatun claims that the soldiers took dress, cosmetics, utensils and gold ornaments belonging to the family when they left the house. The articles stolen from the house is approximately of Rs. 70,000 in value. Hawatun also accuses that the soldiers took Rs. 20,000 in cash that they found inside the house.

I am also informed that before leaving the soldiers forced Hawatun to sign documents that the soldiers had prepared and forced her to affix her official seal in the documents. It is reported that the soldiers also took by force documents belonging to the Panchayat that Hawatun had kept at home. Hawatun claims that the soldiers took two mobile telephones from the house with its SIM cards with registered numbers 9854621923 and 9435582945 used by Nazim Uddin, Hawatun’s brother, and that of Hawatun. Hawatun’s brother’s telephone was returned on 25 May.

I am also informed that while the soldiers were still at Hawatun’s house some other soldiers were on the rampage in the village. It is reported that at about 5am, they raided yet another house belonging to Mr. Mujammil Ali Barbhuiya. When the soldiers entered the house compound it is reported that Ali was getting ready to go to his farm. It is alleged that the soldiers stopped him and demanded to know where Nurul is. I am informed that when Ali told the soldiers that he did not know where Nurul was they assaulted him with a bamboo stick and started hitting him with their rifle butt.

Ali fell down and his cloths were torn. Ali’s wife Rushna Begum came running to rescue Ali from the soldiers. But she was also kicked around and beaten by the soldiers. The soldiers stopped assaulting Ali when they saw yet another villager Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65 years on the street.

I am informed that Laskar was going to the mosque for his morning prayers when the soldiers grabbed him by his dress and without asking anything started beating him. It is reported that persons who happened to witness this when tried to intervene they were also beaten up by the soldiers. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, aged 35 years, Sharmina Begum, aged 12 years and a mentally challenged boy Imran Hussain aged 14 years, are among those who were beaten up.
Mrs. Suretun Nesa, aged about 30 years and wife of Mr. Altaf Hussain Barbhuiya also was beaten up by the soldiers and kicked in her abdomen. Suretun Nesa was in her advanced stage of pregnancy and on 25 May she had a miscarriage at Silchar Medical College and Hospital due to the injuries suffered to her womb from the assault.

I am further informed that another group of soldiers at about 6am went to yet another house belonging to Mr. Amit Das. The soldiers asked Das about Nurul for which Das replied that he did not know about Nurul’s whereabouts. Immediately the soldiers started beating him, whereby he sustained serious injuries on his leg. I am informed that Das is currently under treatment at Community Health Centre, Mohanpur. It is reported that the soldiers refused to allow anyone to leave the village to seek medical help until they left.

Nothing is known as to why the soldiers conducted the raid and for what purpose are they looking for Nurul. I am informed that the raid was conducted by soldiers under the command of Captain Mr. Amit Gautom of 117/33 Field Regiment stationed at Manipur block, Hailakandi District. I am informed that the Captain has ordered Nurul and Hawatun to be present in his camp, an order he is legally unfit and have no powers to issue.

I am certain that the deployment of army detachment units in Assam is for the singular purpose of aiding operations by the local police and that the army has no legal mandate to engage in either crime control of carryout investigations or house raids without police assistance. I am also certain that the law in India mandates the army can enter houses only if they suspect that an enemy or a terrorist is harboured in the house. In all these circumstances they are expressly prohibited to cover their face or take similar measures to cover their identity. This very act forces me to suspect that the soldiers were operating illegally, for which they have to be punished. Captain Amit Gautom, being the immediate commanding officer of the unit engaged in the raid, must be immediately punished for his command responsibility, even if he was not directly present in the raid.

The army also has a moral as well as legal duty to divulge the identities of the soldiers involved in the raid to the civilian authorities, in particular the Algapur Police Station, where a complaint has been registered against the incident.

I am informed that the police so far have refused to register any formal case concerning the incident. Two complaints however are filed at Algapur Police Station, one by Hawatun and the other by Abdul Jalil. It is reported that the police accepted Hawatun’s complaint but refused to register any formal case based on his complaint. As for Abdul’s complaint, the police asked him to go home and refused to register a case. It is reported that the police told Abdul that he must be happy that he is alive after his encounter with the army and that he should not complain and if he insisted, the army would get him and finish him off on some other excuse.

I therefore request you to:
1. Make appropriate arrangements so that the statements of the victims and the witnesses in the case are recorded by a judicial magistrate;
2. The soldiers involved in the incident, in particular Captain Mr. Amit Gautom, and the soldiers involved in the raid are suspended from active duty and detained by the military police;
3. That the complaint filed by Hawatun at Algapur Police Station is converted into a formal case after registering a First Information Report and Crime; and the case be investigated by the police;
4. The soldiers involved in the raid handed over to the custody of the local police and produced before a Judicial Magistrate, charged with the offense as alleged in the complaint filed by Mrs. Hawatun;
5. The complaint filed by Mr. Abdul Jalil at Algapur Police Station be accepted to records and a similar procedure initiated as in the complaint filed by Mrs. Hawatun;
6. The Army Command conducts an impartial inquiry into the incident and actions initiated to prevent the soldiers from misusing their presence in the district among civilian population for acts that could be termed as ‘unbecoming of a soldier’.

I’m looking forward to your intervention in this case.

Yours sincerely,

—————-
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. A. K. Anthony
Defence Minister
Government of India
104 South Block
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23015403

2. Dr. P. Chidambaram
Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs
Griha Mantralaya Room
No. 104, North Block Central Secretariat
New Delhi 110001
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2301 5750, 2309 3750, 2309 2763

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

Posted on 2010-06-07

AHRC URL: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2010/3473/

BHRPC URL:

BHRPC Fact-finding Report on Army Atrocity in Mohanpur, Hailakandi

May 27, 2010

Vandalism by Soldiers in Assam Causing Grievous Hurts and Miscarriage

Report in the Portable Document Format (pdf)

In another atrocious incident in Assam soldiers of the Indian army illegally raided several houses in a village, indiscriminately beaten up many people including bed-ridden aged persons, expectant mother causing miscarriage, children and disabled persons causing grievous injuries to them in the district of Hailakandi on 23 May, 2010. They molested young girls and attempted to rape them. They also reportedly robbed a family of all their cash and other valuables. There are strong fears among the villagers that the incident may be repeated and worse. Extrajudicial killings by state agents are common in this part of India, and impunity remains a severe problem.

BHRPC received information that at about 3.30 am on 23 May, 2010 a group of 16/17 soldiers belonging to the artillery 11 field regiment from their base at Arunachal, Silchar knocked at the door of Mr Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya (better known to the local people as Samoi Panchayat), former president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat (GP, elected village level local government body, village counterpart of municipality) and husband of the present president, aged about 42, of village Mohanpur under the jurisdiction of Algapur police station in the district of Hailakandi in Assam. Mohanpur is a village situated at a distance of about 15 kilometres to the northward from Hailakandi town.

Having received information a team from BHRPC visited the village and talked with victims, their relatives, doctors treating them and other villagers and collected evidence from them. BHRPC also talked with police officers including the officer in charge of Algapur police station. The information received reveal that the soldiers were in uniform and their faces were covered with black clothes. They were not accompanied by a police officer or any other representative of the civil administration.

When the present GP president Mrs Hawatun Nesa, wife of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya, aged about 30 years, opened the door the soldiers entered the house and asked for Samoi Panchayat, her husband. She told them that he did not return home last night from the house of a relative in another village where he went the day before. They started searching for him in all the rooms and asked the inmates to get up from bed. They wrung the throat of 82 year old bed-ridden father of Samoi Panchayat Mr Mashur Ali Barbhuiya because he could not immediately drag his body from the bed, which normally he hardly can do without help. They also beat up 65 year old mother of Samoi Panchayat Mrs. Fulerun Nesa accusing her of hiding her son. The soldiers then started breaking and destroying household goods such as furniture including chairs, tables, beds, drawers, wardrobes etc. and utensils.

Mrs Hawatun Nesa Barbhuiya stated that when in the morning at approximately 7.30 am people from the locality tried to see what is going on the soldiers opened fired. They fired in the air three times at which the whole village got terrified. She was not allowed to feed her five children and ailing elders till the soldiers left her house at about 2.30 pm in the evening. When she tried they abused her and threatened her by pointing gun at her ear and they forced her to serve them tea and snakes several times.

Her daughters Farhat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya aged about 9, Rahat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya aged 7, and sons Fuzail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged about 6, Suhail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged about 5 and Mikail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged 3 were badly traumatised. BHRPC members observed that the children developed some syndrome of trauma such as they could not sleep well in the night due to several interruptions by nightmares, they even experience hallucinations that armed men are trying to kidnap them in waking hours, they shudder and break down into weeping even at indirect mentions of the incidents.

In the mean time, some of the soldiers went to the adjacent house belonging to Mr Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya and purportedly searched for Samoi Panchayat. Mrs Rejwana Parvin Barbhuiya aged about 24, the older daughter of Moinul Hoque who is married and came for a few days to her father’s house, stated that two soldiers seriously misbehaved with her younger sisters namely Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiay aged about 14, a student of class VIII, and Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya aged about 17 and studying in class XI. The soldiers repeatedly proposed them for sex and elopement in front of all family members and other soldiers. They grabbed their hands and engaged in scuffling with them. They also told the girls that they are soldiers with big guns and they can do anything with them. The soldiers threatened that if they would not comply they would be abducted and raped. They took the photos of the girls in their mobile sets. Rejwana told that she managed to protect the girls somehow from the worst. But they also got traumatised.

Mrs Hawatun Nesa also stated that the soldiers took away items of apparel, cosmetics, utensils and jewellery etc. bought to be given as wedding gift to Shahnaj at her marriage fixed to be solemnised on 26 May, 2010 worth approximately Rs. 70, 000.00 (seventy thousand) and Rs. 20, 000.00 (twenty thousand) cash. She also stated that the soldiers took signatures of Rejwana and herself in a paper written something on it which they did not allow her to read and they used her official stamp in the paper. They did it at gun point. The soldiers took away some official documents and papers belonging to the GP office. They also took away two mobile phones with SIMs with the numbers +919854621923 and +919435582945 used by Mr. Nazim Uddin, brother of Hawatun Nesa, and Hawatun Nesa respectively. However, the mobile used by her brother was returned to Hawatun Nesa on 25 May, 2010. She filed a complaint to the officer in charge (OC) of Algapur Police Station (PS) but police did not register a First Information Report (FIR).

Some other soldiers were also on rampage at the same time in other parts of the village. At about 5 am they raided the house of Mr. Mujammil Ali Barbhuiya, aged about 35, son of late Namor Ali Barbhuiya of Mohanpur part VI, half a kilometre away from the house of Samoi Panchayat. Mujammil Ali lives by farming his lands and at that time he was preparing to go to his farming field for work. Soldiers stopped him and asked whether he knows the whereabouts of Samoi Panchayat. But at his expression of ignorance they started beating him with the butts of gun and bamboo sticks. When he fell to the ground they kicked him incessantly. His clothes were torn into pieces. When his wife Mrs Rushna Begum Barbhuiya tried to rescue him they also beat her up.

They left severely injured Mujammil Ali when they saw another old man Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65, in the street, who was going to the nearby mosque to participate in the morning prayer. They grabbed him and without much ado started administering severe blows of gun butts and bamboo sticks on the fragile body of the old man. When people tried to intervene they were also beaten up. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, a woman aged 35, Sharmina Begum, a girl aged 12 and a mentally retarded boy Imran Hussain aged about 14 were also badly beaten up. An expectant mother of about 9 months of gestation Mrs. Suretun Nesa (aged about 30, wife of Altaf Hussain Barbhuiya) was not spared. The soldiers kicked her in the abdomen and as a result she suffered miscarriage on 25 May, 2010 at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Silchar.

Another group of soldiers at about 6 am went to a nearby house belonging to Amit Das (known also as Sona Das, aged about 35, son of late Umesh Das). They also asked him about Samoi Pachayat and when he told them that he did not know where he is, they started beating him. He sustained injuries on his legs and is under treatment in the Community Health Centre, Mohanpur. It is also reported that soldiers even tried to prevent the wounded and injured from going to hospital.

The villagers are as much terror struck as surprised by the incidents. They are at a loss to explain the incidents. As there is no complaint against Samoi Panchayat with the police or any other authorities. He is a peace loving public spirited person. According to the persons BHRPC team spoke with, Samoi Panchayat is a very respectable person in the village. People love and trust him. He was elected as the GP president for two consecutive terms and when in the last election the seat fell under the quota for women his wife got elected with a huge margin. Some villagers requesting anonymity told that they saw political conspiracy behind the incidents. Neither Samoi Panchayat nor his wife is a member of a political party. They are independent politicians. They also don’t divide funds for rural development schemes that are implemented by the Panchayat among politicians and officials as is the practice in many other GPs. These villagers think that some of the politicians, most probably, belonging to ruling congress party might want to teach Samoi Panchayat a lesson and for this purpose they are using the army.

There are fears among the villagers for the safety of Samoi Panchayat and two girl children Sabina and Shahnaj. BHRPC is also very concerned for their safety and physical and psychological integrity of all victims and other villagers.

It is obvious that the actions of the soldiers don’t come within the rules of any civilised society. They not only violated human rights of the villagers but also violated the law of the land and committed serious crimes of house trespass, robbery, grievous hurt, causing miscarriage, attempted rape, molestation, assault, criminal intimidation and so on with intent to terrorise the people for political purpose like members of a terrorist group.

Report prepared by

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

For BHRPC

On 26 May, 2010-05-26

At Guwahati, Assam