Posts Tagged ‘Post-mortem’

Concerns over civil and political rights in Assam

October 4, 2011

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar[1]

 I am asked to make a brief presentation on issues relating to civil and political rights in terms of the requirement of ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CAT) and its Optional Protocol, ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and other challenges relating to civil and political rights. I will try to present my views on the issues very briefly as an activist working in Assam in the field of human rights.

Ratification of the Convention Against Torture and Its Optional Protocol

Though torture is absolutely prohibited now, throughout history, it has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, coercion and punishment. Deliberately painful methods of execution for severe crimes were taken for granted as part of justice until the development of Humanism in 17th century philosophy, and “cruel and unusual punishment” came to be denounced in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The Age of Enlightenment in the western world further developed the idea of universal human rights. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 marks the recognition at least nominally of a general ban of torture by all United Nations member states[2]. Now in the 21st century the prohibition of torture has been recognized as a peremptory norm of international law and a number of international, regional and domestic courts have held the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be customary international law. [3] Some other legally binding international treatises, to which India is a state party, prohibits torture which include Geneva Conventions[4], International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[5]

Though the constitution of India does not expressly prohibit torture, the constitutional jurisprudence prohibits torture absolutely. According to the Supreme Court, any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment fall within the ambit of Article 21[6] of the Constitution – whether be it during interrogation, investigation or otherwise. A person does not shed his fundamental right to life when he is arrested. Article 21 cannot be denied to arrested persons or prisoners in custody (D K Basu v State of West Bengal[7]).

Despite such constitutional and judicial denunciation of torture, it is routinely practiced by law enforcement officials and security forces in India. However, there is no accurate data on the use of torture in the country since the Government does not have an unambiguous and strong policy against torture. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) gathers figures on custodial deaths. Based on these figures, the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) estimated that between 2002 and 2008, over four people per day died while in police custody, with “hundreds” of those deaths being due to police use of torture.[8]

Over the days, with the war on terror, practice of torture is becoming more wide spread and there is no legal instrument and mechanism to combat it in India. The CAT and its Optional Protocol provide such mechanism at the international level. The convention was adopted on 10 December, 1984 and came into force on 26 June, 1987. It has 78 signatories and 149 States Parties.[9] India signed the CAT on 14 October 1997, but is yet to ratify it. Advocacy and lobbying from all quarters including NHRC has succeeded and India decided to ratify CAT. The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on April 26, 2010 and was passed by that house on May 6, 2010 without referring it to the Standing Committee. It was a misnomer to call it the Prevention Torture Bill. It appeared to have been designed to promote torture. The definition of torture (a) was inconsistent with the definition of torture in the Convention against Torture, (b) it required the intention of the accused to be proved, (c) did not include mental pain or suffering, and (d) did not include some acts which may constitute torture. The Bill diluted existing laws by imposing a time limit of six months and requiring prior government sanction for trying those accused of torture. Existing laws do not have such requirements. There was no independent authority to investigate complaints of torture, and no provision for granting compensation to torture victims has been made.[10]  When it was introduced in the Rajya Sabha fortunately the house referred it to the Select Committee and which came up with fairly sensible suggestions and submitted its report on 6 December, 2010.[11] It changed the definition of torture to make it consistent with the definition given in the CAT. The Committee suggested that the limitation period should be two years and not six months as it was in the bill. It suggested dilution of requirement of prior approval for prosecution. The Committee also talked of witness protection which is very sensible. Overall, it can be said that the suggestions of the Committee, if incorporated in the bill in toto, will make the law a pragmatic and preventive tool, though there are much to be desired. For example, 1. requirement of prior sanction for prosecution is a question mark on the wisdom of the judiciary. Courts can deal appropriately with malicious, vexatious or frivolous complaints; 2. persons other than victim and his/her relatives should also be authorized by law to file complaint on his/her behalf without authorization by him/her as provided in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993;[12] 3.  an independent mechanism both at national and state level should be established to torture cases and situations in detention places.

Optional Protocol

Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (Optional Protocol) aims to create a global system of inspection of places of detention as a way of preventing torture and ill-treatment. A Sub-Committee of the Committee Against Torture, composed of 10 independent and impartial members working in their individual capacity, will be empowered to carry out missions to any State that ratifies the Optional Protocol. On the basis of its visits, the Sub-Committee will write a confidential report for the State Party, including practical recommendations. It will initiate a dialogue with the State Party on measures to improve the conditions of persons in custody with the aim of preventing torture.

The second important element of the Protocol is the requirement to put in place national preventive mechanisms. Article 3 of the Protocol requires ratifying States to “set up, designate or maintain at the domestic level one or several visiting bodies for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The emphasis of the Protocol is on prevention and being transparent to the world. Refusal to ratify it means refusal to be transparent which belies India’s claims to democracy and the primacy of the rule of law.

India should ratify both the CAT and its Optional Protocol and also extend invitation to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and provide facilities to interact freely with survivors of torture and human rights defenders from North East.

Ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance

Enforced Disappearance is abduction or kidnapping, carried out by State agents, or organized groups and individuals who act with State support or tolerance, in which the victim “disappears”. Authorities neither accept responsibility for the dead, nor account for the whereabouts of the victim. Legal recourse including petitions of habeas corpus, remain ineffective. Enforced Disappearance is a serious violation of fundamental human rights: the right to security and dignity of person; the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to humane conditions of detention; the right to a legal personality; as well as rights related to fair trial and family life. Ultimately, it can violate the right to life, as victims of enforced disappearance are often killed. Increasingly the international community considers Enforced Involuntary Disappearance as a specific human rights violation and a crime against humanity. This culminated in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. On February 6, 2007 the Convention was opened for signatures and signed by 57 States. The convention clearly states: – No one shall be subjected to Enforced Disappearance. – No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for Enforced Disappearance.[13]

India signed the International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in February 2007, but has failed to ratify the convention. The crime of Enforced Involuntary Disappearances is not codified as a distinct offence in Indian penal laws. Police either have to make an entry in the general diary as a missing case or register a case under provisions for kidnap or abduction.[14] These provision do not contemplate a situation which is contemplated in the Convention.

Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, the cases of enforced disappearances are routine in North East India, particularly in Manipur. The infamous secret killings in Assam during 1998–2001 also fall within the ambit of enforced disappearances. Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) also documented cases of enforced disappearances. BHRPC wrote to the Prime Minister of India on July 18, 2009 about the disappearance of Paresh Das (55) and Dilip Das (45) of Nandan Kanan Tea Garden area under Jirighat Police Station in Cachar district, Assam, on May 25, 2009 from Tamenlong in Manipur and the PMO in turn wrote to the Chief secretary of Assam requesting him to take appropriate actions.[15]

Lack of substantive and procedural laws as to with the problem is one of the factor that crippled the state in terms of effective prevention and placing deterrence. Ratification of the Convention along with incorporation of the provisions in domestic laws is the need of the hour.

Other Challenges Relating to Civil and Political Rights

There are so many other challenges in exercising and enjoying civil and political rights. One of them is the challenge of policing while respecting rights of the people adhering to the human rights norms.

Policing

The police, in a sense, is the most empowered group of human rights defenders.[16] But sadly enough, after 64 years of independence, the institution remains and functions more or less all over the country as it was designed by the British colonial rulers in the Police Act of 1861.

After decades of public pressure, lack of political will and continued poor policing, a police reform process is finally underway in India. On 22 September 2006, the Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment in Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others[17] instructing central and state governments to comply with a set of seven directives laying down practical mechanisms to kick-start reform.[18]

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.[19]

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)[20]

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 in India shows 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.[21]

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[22] and

7. To separate investigation and law and order function of police.[23]

The Government of Assam passed the Assam Police Act, 2007 purportedly to comply with the Supreme Court directives. But in reality it does not comply with the judgment fully. 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 Act says that the Act only partially complies with the directives:

  1. State Security Commission was established but the composition is not as per the Supreme Court directive.[24] The Act has also weakened the mandate of the commission and has made its recommendation non-binding.
  2. The second directive regarding selection process of the DGP and guarantee of his tenure not complied.
  3. 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.[25]
  4. Police Establishment Board was set up but the mandate was not adhered to.[26] 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.
  5. The Central Government did not establish National Security Commission in utter contempt of the judgment.
  6. 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[27]. But the Chairperson and members of the Commission are appointed directly by the government.[28] This can, at best, be called partial compliance.
  7. 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 former Assam director-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 the Assam Administrative Staff College, 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.[29]

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”.[30]

Implementation of the Laws

Another huge challenge to the civil and political rights is the no-adherence and non-implementation of laws and other instruments that are meant to protect such rights. The Supreme Court guidelines in DK Basu, and NHRPC guidelines regarding arrest, custodial deaths have the potential to drastically reduce the number of torture and disappearance cases 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.

BHRPC has documented many cases of fake encounters and custodial deaths where no magisterial inquiry was conducted in contravention of the statutory mandate of section 176, of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973[31]. In other two cases where the executive magistrates conducted the inquiry the accused police personnel have been found guilty of murder. [32] The reports are dated 28 March 2007 and 9 April 2008 but till the date neither prosecution has been started nor has any compensation been provided to the kins 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 responsible for the increase of the incidents of torture, custodial deaths and other extrajudicial killings.

Anomalies in the Legal Regime

Such gap between good laws on papers and their implementation on the ground may have been facilitated by the mindset that has been created among the law enforcement officials and security forces by the blanket power that has been given them to carry out their operations, once an area is declared disturbed under the AFSPA and ADAA. Even a non-commissioned officer in case AFSPA and a Havildar in case ADAA is granted the right to torture and to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion that it is necessary to do so in order to “maintain the public order” with full guarantee that he will never be required to answer in a court of law. If they are exempted from answering in a regular court of law, one may wonder, what the use of a magisterial inquiry is whether by judicial magistrate or executive magistrate.

Repeal Draconian Laws

Passing of the Prevention of Torture Bill, enactment of laws incorporating provisions of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance, carrying out the police reform as per the Supreme Court directives, ratification of CAT and its Optional Protocol and ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance envisage a sea change in the human rights regime in the country. As a logical corollary to these steps repeal of the AFSPA, ADAA, repeal or amendment to the National Security Act, 1980, the Assam Preventive Detention Act, 1980 and other such laws must be carried out to bring the entire human rights regime in India in conformity with the international human rights standards.

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Silchar, Assam


[1] This is a little modified version of the presentation made in the North East Consultation for  Universal Periodic Review of India at the UN Human Rights Council in 2012 held at NEDFi House Dispur, Guwahati on 23 September, 2011.
[2] Article 5 states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
[3]  The United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 8/8 on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
[4] The four Geneva Conventions provide protection for people who fall into enemy hands.
The third (GCIII) and fourth (GCIV) Geneva Conventions are the two most relevant for the treatment of the victims of conflicts. Both treaties state in Article 3, in similar wording, that in a non-international armed conflict, “Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms… shall in all circumstances be treated humanely.” The treaty also states that there must not be any “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” or “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment”.
GCIV covers most civilians in an international armed conflict, and says they are usually “Protected Persons” (see exemptions section immediately after this for those who are not). Under Article 32, protected persons have the right to protection from “murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments…but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by non-combatant or military agents”.
GCIII covers the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) in an international armed conflict. In particular, Article 17 says that “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.” POW status under GCIII has far fewer exemptions than “Protected Person” status under GCIV. Captured enemy combatants in an international armed conflict automatically have the protection of GCIII and are POWs under GCIII unless they are determined by a competent tribunal to not be a POW (GCIII Article 5).
[5] Article 7: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.”
[6] Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides that “[n]o person shall be deprived of his life and liberty except according to procedure established by law”. The right to life in Article 21 of the Constitution of India does not mean mere survival or existence. It encompasses the right to live with dignity. Torture is inflicted with the aim of degrading a person and involves the violation of dignity. It therefore falls within the ambit of Article 21.
Further safeguards are provided under other articles of the Constitution. Under Article 20(3), no person accused of any offence can be compelled to be a witness against himself. Article 22 (1) and (2) provide that a person who is arrested must be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest. The person also has the right to consult a lawyer of his choice. An arrested person must be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) also requires the production of accused before court within 24 hours. Section 54 of the CrPC gives the arrestee the right to be medically examined. No statement of a witness recorded by a police officer, according to Section 162 of the CrPC, can be used for any purpose other than contradicting such a statement. Thus admission of guilt before a police officer is not admissible in a court of law. Section 164 of the CrPC requires that the magistrate must ensure that a confession by the accused is voluntary. Sections 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) make it a penal offence to cause hurt to a person in order to extract a confession. (Human Rights Feature (Voice of the Asia Pacific Human Rights Network), Optional Protocol to CAT: India can’t see the consensus accessed at http://www.hrdc.net/sahrdc/hrfeatures/HRF59.htm on 22 September, 2011.
[7] AIR 1997 SC 610, 1997 CriLJ 743, 1996 (4) Crimes 233 (SC), (1997) 2 GLR 1631, JT 1997 (1) SC 1, RLW 1997 (1) SC 94, 1996 (9) SCALE 298, (1997) 1 SCC 416, [1996] Supp 10 SCR 284
[8] “Hundreds die of torture in India every year – report”. Reuters. 2008-06-25.
[9] United Nations Treaty Collection, accessed at http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-9&chapter=4&lang=en on 22 September, 2011.
[10] PRS Legislative Research, Legislative Brief: The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010
[11] The Report is summarized as: 1. The Bill seeks to provide punishment for torture committed by public servants or with their consent. It was introduced to enable India to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Committee added a number of amendments to the Bill.
2. The Bill defines “torture” as grievous hurt or danger to life, limb and health. It adds that an act is torture only if it is done intentionally and with the purpose of getting information or confession. The Committee recommended that the definition of torture should be suitably expanded so as to make it consistent with the UN Convention and include offences under the Indian Penal Code. Torture of women and children should be given special consideration and attempt to torture should also be made an offence. The definition of public servant should include any government companies or institutions.
3. The Bill states that a person shall be liable to a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine. The Committee suggested that a minimum punishment of three years be given to make the law more of a deterrent. Also, the torturer should be fined a minimum of Rs 1 lakh.
4. The Committee was of the opinion that the Bill should include guidelines for arriving at a fair compensation to the victim or to his dependents on his death.
5. The Committee stated that the limitation period for filing a complaint should be two years so that complainants have sufficient time to initiate proceedings. It added that there should be a specific provision in the Bill to ensure that complaints of disadvantaged victims are registered according to the law.
6. The Bill states that approval of the central or state government is required before courts can admit complaints against a public servant. While there is a need to protect honest officials, the Committee was of the view that this provision should not be used to shield guilty officials and deny justice to victims. Therefore, it suggested that if requested sanction is not given within three months, it would be deemed to have been granted. Trial for every offence under this law should be concluded within one year.
7. Since victims and witnesses face threats from accused persons, the Committee recommended that adequate provisions for the protection of victims and witnesses should be included in the Bill. A medical examination of the victim should be mandatory while he is lodged in jail. The report should be sent to the trial court.
8. The Committee observed that this law should be in addition to and not in derogation of any other law in force.
9. The Committee stated that the appropriate government would need to frame Rules for implementation of the Bill. Such a provision should be included in the Bill.
10. In view of the importance of the Bill, the Committee recommended that the period of notification be specified in the Bill itself. It suggested that the Bill should be notified within 120th day of its enactment.
[12] Section 12 reads  “Functions of the Commission: The Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely : (a) 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; “
[13] Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, accessed at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/disappearance-convention.htm on 22 September, 2011.
[14] The sections of the Indian Penal Code that deal with kidnap and abduction are :359. Kidnapping; 360. Kidnapping from India; 361. Kidnapping from lawful guardianship; 362. Abduction 363.     Punishment for kidnapping; 363A. Kidnapping or maiming a minor for purposes of begging; 364. Kidnapping or abducting in order to murder; 364A.  Kidnapping for ransom, etc.; 365. Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person; 366. Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.; 366A. Procreation of minor girl; 366B.       Importation of girl from foreign country; 367. Kidnapping or abducting in order to subject person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc.; 368.       Wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement, kidnapped or abducted person.
[15] Vide PMO Letter No. vide No. 13/3/2009-PMP3/75979 dated August 6, 2009
[16] The Preamble of the Assam Police Act, 2007 says that “it is expedient to redefine the role of the police taking into account the emerging challenges of policing and security of the State, the imperatives of good governance, and respect for human rights”
[17] Writ Petition (civil) 310 of 1996
[18] Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others: Analysis of the Supreme Court Directives on Police Reforms
[19] The Supreme court says, the Director General of Police of the State shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force. And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation. The DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the State Government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties.”
[20] The Supreme Court says, Police Officers on operational duties in the field like the Inspector General of Police incharge Zone, Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge Range, Superintendent of Police in-charge district and Station House Officer in-charge of a Police Station shall also have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years unless it is found necessary to remove them prematurely following disciplinary proceedings against them or their conviction in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption or if the incumbent is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his responsibilities. This would be subject to promotion and retirement of the officer.”
[21] CHRI:
[22] There shall be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Similarly, there should be another Police Complaints Authority at the State level to look into complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above. The district level Authority may be headed by a retired District Judge while the State level Authority may be headed by a retired Judge of the High Court/Supreme Court. The head of the State level Complaints Authority shall be chosen by the State Government out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice; the head of the district level Complaints Authority may also be chosen out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice or a Judge of the High Court nominated by him. These Authorities may be assisted by three to five members depending upon the volume of complaints in different States/districts, and they shall be selected by the State Government from a panel prepared by the State Human Rights Commission/Lok Ayukta/State Public Service Commission. The panel may include members from amongst retired civil servants, police officers or officers from any other department, or from the civil society. They would work whole time for the Authority and would have to be suitably remunerated for the services rendered by them.
The Authority may also need the services of regular staff to conduct field inquiries. For this purpose, they may utilize the services of retired investigators from the CID, Intelligence, Vigilance or any other organization. The State level Complaints Authority would take cognizance of only allegations of serious misconduct by the police personnel, which would include incidents involving death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody. The district level Complaints Authority would, apart from above cases, may also inquire into allegations of extortion, land/house grabbing or any incident involving serious abuse of authority. The recommendations of the Complaints Authority, both at the district and State levels, for any action, departmental or criminal, against a delinquent police officer shall be binding on the concerned authority.”
[23] The investigating police shall be separated from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. It must, however, be ensured that there is full coordination between the two wings. The separation, to start with, may be effected in towns/urban areas which have a population of ten lakhs or more, and gradually extended to smaller towns/urban areas also.”
[24] Section 35 lays down the composition :(1) The State Security Commission shall have as its members :-
(a) the Chief minister as the Chairperson;
(b) a retired high Court judge;
(c) the Chief Secretary;
(d) the Secretary in charge of the Home Department as its Member
Secretary;
(e) the Director General of Police of the State; and
(f) three non-political persons (hereinafter referred to as Independent Members”) of high integrity, expertise and competence in administration, law enforcement and security related matters nominated by the State Government. Out of these one shall be police officer superannuated in the rank not below Director general of Police, another a retired civil service officer not below the rank of Commissioner and Secretary to the State Government with experience in public administration, and the third member will be from the fields of public service, legal profession or social organization with at least fifteen years experience in the field.
Where as the Supreme Court approved Model Police Act in addition to the Chair and the Secretary, provides for the following composition:
(a) Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly
(b) Retired High Court Judge nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court
(c) Home Secretary3
(d) Five non-political persons of proven reputation for integrity and competence from the fields of academia, law, public administration, media or non-government organisations to be appointed on the recommendation of a Selection Panel composed of:
(i) A retired Chief Justice of a High Court to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court;
(ii) The Chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission; in the absence of a state Commission, a person nominated by the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission; and
(iii) The Chairperson of the State Public Service Commission.
[25] Sub-section 3 of section 12 provides: (3) Following officers on operational duties in the field shall have a term of minimum one year —
(i) Superintendent of Police in charge of District;
(ii) Officer in charge of Police Station :
Provided that such officer may be transferred from his post before the expiry of the minimum tenure of one year consequent upon,–
(a) promotion to a higher post; or
(b) conviction or charges having been framed, by a court of law in a criminal offence; or
(c) punishment of dismissal, removal, discharge or compulsory retirement from service or of reduction to a lower rank, or imposition of any other penalty other than censure awarded the relevant Acts and Rules; or
(d) suspension from service in accordance with the provisions of the Rules; or
(e) incapacitation by physical or mental illness or otherwise becoming unable to discharge his functions and duties; or
(f) the need to fill up a vacancy caused by promotion, transfer, or retirement; or
(g) on deputation with the consent of the officer concerned; or
(h) inefficiency or negligence or misdemeanor prima facie establishment after preliminary enquiry :
Provided that in the public interest the State Government may transfer the Superintendent of Police of the District as may be deemed appropriate to meet any contingency :
Provided further that in the public interest the Director General of Police of the State may transfer Officers in charge of Police Station of the rank of Inspector and District Superintendent of Police may transfer the Officer in charge of Police Station of the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police within the district as deemed appropriate to meet any contingency.
[26] See section 44 and 45 of the Assam Police Act, 2007
[27] See section 70
[28] See section 71
[29] The Telegraph, Monday, May 31, 2011: Ex-DGP dubs act ‘fraud’ – Govt faces flak over Assam Police Act, accessed at http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110530/jsp/northeast/story_14045156.jsp on 22 September 2011.
[30] Preamble to the Assam Police Act, 2007
[31] The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005 [NO. 25 OF 2005] incorporates sub-section (1-A) to the section 176 which reads
“(1-A) Where,—
(a) any person dies or disappears, or
(b) rape is alleged to have been committed on any woman,
while such person or woman is in the custody of the police or in any other custody authorised by the Magistrate or the court, under this Code in addition to the inquiry or investigation held by the police, an inquiry shall be held by the Judicial Magistrate or the Metropolitan Magistrate, as the case may be, within whose local jurisdiction the offence has been committed.”;

[32] See Magisterial Inquiry Report vide NO. MISC. CASE. 1/2007/28 Dated Silchar, the 9th April, 2008 and Memo No. KCL22/2007-08/242 dated Katigorah, 28 March 2007.

Custodial Death of Motahir Ali and Events in the Aftermath

June 13, 2010

Brief Summery of

The BHRPC Fact-finding Report

on Custodial Death of Motahir Ali and Events in the Aftermath in Kalain, Cachar

BHRPC Ref. No. …………….                                                                            Date………………….

Get the pdf version of the report

It was reported in local media that an innocent citizen was killed by police on 21st September, 2007 at Kalain in the district of Cachar, Assam. The police tortured the victim to death in full public view, allegedly for refusing by the victim and his relatives to pay a gratification of rupees ten thousand to sub-inspector Narain Tamuli, in-charge-officer of Kalain Police Patrol Post under Katigorah Police Station.

Next day, after getting the news, a team was formed by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee to visit the spot, and find the facts about the whole case and submit a preliminary report. According to the sources and witnesses talked with by the BHRPC fact finding team, Motahir Ali Tapadar, 38 was a resident of village Bhatghat in Kalain, a daily wage labourer and a father of 3 children of 9, 5 and 4 years of age. He was a law abiding and peace loving citizen. There were no complaints against him whatsoever other than one in connectionwith which he was taken into custody by the police.

Witnesses revealed that there was a petty quarrel at 11am on 20th September between him and his neighbours, namely, Ala Uddin and Sahab Uddin.The quarrel which led the parties to scuffling actually was originated from the quarrel of the kids of the two neighbouring houses over playthings or games. As a result Sahabuddin lodged a complaint against Motahir Ali which was registered under section 326 etc. of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. At about 12.30 pm Narain Tamuli, the in-charge-officer of Kalain PPP arrested Motahir Ali Tapadar. At 1.30pm both complainant and accused, namely Sahab Uddin and Motahir Ali, were medically examined by Dr Badal Das and only a minor bruise on the forehead of Mr. Tapadar was found which may be caused due to scuffling. There were no wounds whatsoever on the person of the complainant, leave alone such grievous hurt caused by dangerous weapons that can fall under section 326.

Some respectable persons from Bhatghat village and relatives of the detainees went to the PPP to bail them out and settle the dispute amicably. Thry saw, according to the statement of Alimun Nesa Tapadar, wife of the victim, who accompanied the group, that S I Narain Tamuli and other police personnel were beating, kicking, abusing and humiating the victim. Alimun Nesa also alleged that Narain Tamuli administered on her person severe lathi-blows and kicked her in the belly in her condition of pregnancy. Salman Uddin, a minor son of Motahir and Alimun Nesa, who accompanied his mother to see his father, was also beaten badly. When they prayed and beseeched the in-charge officer police got infuriated and denied to release him on bail. The whole night police tortured the detainee mercilessly.

Next day, that is 21st September, at 10.30am when Narain Tamuli brought Mutahir Ali Tapadar out of the station house to take him to court he started administering lathi-blows and kicking incessantly in full view of the people gathered at the adjacent office house of Kalain Gaon Panchayat where flood relief were being distributed. The crowd tried to stop Tamuli in vain. Namar Ali Tapadar and Alimun Nesa Tapadar, brother and wife respectively of the victim, who were also present in the crowd, beseeched Tamuli for mercy with no effect. At this time Tamuli demanded ten thousand rupees from Alimun Nesa but she expressed her inability to pay such a huge sum. Here also Tamuli beaten her and her brother in-law. Being frustrated they went to the Circle Office to file complaint and seek help from Debashis Baishya, circle officer and the nearest magistrate.

When the condition of the victim deteriorated beyond limits Tamuli took him to Kalain Primary Health Centre instead of court. In the PHC too Tamuli kept kicking and beating him. The crowd gathered at a free medical camp, which was then being held there, tried to dissuade him without result. Tamuli continued his ritual until there was no sign of life in the body and it got still. When at 1.30pm Dr Badal Das, in-charge officer of the health centre came and examined he did not declare Motahir Ali dead, though in fact he was, for fear of public fury. Instead, he referred him to the Silchar Medical College Hospital, Silchar where Tapadar was declared dead.

After autopsy of the body of Tapadar at the Silchar Medical College Hospital it was returned to his family members at 1.30am in the night.

Before news came from the Medical College the people could guess the fact and got outraged. Hundreds of local people gathered at 2.00pm around the house of patrol post and started shouting slogans demanding arrest of Narain Tamuli. Police charge them with sticks and bayonet which further infuriated the crowd and they started throwing stones. Police then opened fire and kept firing till 80 rounds were shot. In the firing there was only one severe injury. Shahidur Rahman, 17, who was watching the incident from the roof top of a two storied house, was injured badly in his left leg. He was admitted to Silchar Medical College Hospital; Silchar. .Being terrified by such heavy firing the crowd got dispersed. Then the Police themselves set fire on the patrol post and burnt it down in order to distract the attention of people from the murder case and hush it up. The propaganda that after the death of Mutahir Ali the outraged local people burnt down the patrol post is false and intentional.

The terrified local people shut their mouth tight. At first nobody dared to speak anything about the incident. Subsequently a large number of local people requesting anonymity claimed that some men of police had burnt down the patrol post. They raise two arguments for the claim. Firstly, although there was only one hit and injury the police shot eighty rounds of fire to disperse the mob and no mob can withstand such a large quantity of fire. In fact, exactly this thing happened. The mob got dispersed and fled away after a few rounds of firing. Secondly, fire caught first in the hind part of the patrol post. If the mob had set fire they would have done so in the front part because they were there. Moreover, there is a marsh behind the patrol post house for which it is not possible for the mob to come along this side.

Police registered an FIR against one Faruk Ahmed and other five hundred unidentified persons in connection with the fabricated charges of attempt to murder, causing obstruction to police the performance of their lawful duty etc invoking section 307 etc. of IPC. Police, in connection with this false case, raided, beaten, abused and humiliated family members, relatives and fellow villagers of the victim. Even arrested they arrested three innocent persons, namely Faruk Ahmed, Ibajul Hoque and Imamul Hoque, who were subsequently released on bail by the Gauhati High Court.

When, Saidur Rahmen, the person injured in police firing recovered a little and released from the Medical College Hospital was also arrested by the police which act of the police was termed by the intellectuals of the valley as barbaric and brutal. With the intervention of Barak Human Rights Protection Committee the Superintendent of Jails sent him to the hospital then applied to the court for according permission.

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee thinks that the weight of the arguments can not be denied. There are enough reasons to believe that the police might not have burnt the patrol post themselves but they did so through the agency of hired persons. In fact, the incident of burning down the patrol post is enigmatic and indicative of a deeper and larger conspiracy. The way in which police is desperately over-active in hounding the people in relation to the case of burning down the patrol post despite requests from various quarters not to harass and arrest the innocent people and to call an all-party-meeting to decide further action regarding the case, is indicative of such a conspiracy. The fact of non-registration of an FIR regarding the murder of Mutahir Ali and harassing and arresting innocent people arbitrarily tells of the desperate efforts on the part of the police to save their skin at any cost. The enigmatic web of the whole incident can only be unknotted by an impartial investigation. So the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee strongly demands a CBI probe of the whole incident.

Neharul Ahmed MazumderSecretary General

Urgent Appeal Regarding an Incident Where Central Reserve Police Force open fire indiscriminately in a market place in Assam, killing one

June 10, 2010

URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Get Pdf version of the document
Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC Case No 58/2010/UA/23/210 Dated: 10 June 2010
Dear Friends,
Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) forwards this Urgent Appeal issued by Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding an incident Central Reserve Police Force open fire indiscriminately in a market place in Assam, killing one
with request to all to take suggested actions.
Yours Sincerely
Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
15, Panjabari Road, Six Mile,
Guwahati-781037, Assam

INDIA: The Central Reserve Police Force open fire indiscriminately in a market place in Assam, killing one

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-084-2010

10 June 2010
——————————————————
INDIA: The Central Reserve Police Force open fire indiscriminately in a market place in Assam, killing one

ISSUES: Extrajudicial execution; impunity; militarisation; excessive use of force
——————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that on 23 May 2010, a team of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel opened fire indiscriminately and without warning in a small market place in Panchaboti, and later shot dead Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, an innocent person on mere suspicion. The attitude of the CRPF has raised suspicions that they may try to use a complaint they have filed against two persons they arrested to justify their murder. This case must be immediately investigated to challenge the impunity surrounding the numerous human rights violations committed by security personnel in North-East India.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to the information we have received from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee who carried a fact-finding investigation into the case, on 23 May 2010 at 4.30pm, a team of 11 or 12 CRPF personnel opened fire indiscriminately and without warning in Panchaboti, a small market place in Cachar, Assam, spreading panic among the shoppers and merchants present who tried to escape by finding shelter in nearby shops and houses. Witnesses report having seen one man, later identified as Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, running through a small field in direction of the nearby river, Sonai, and jumping into the river while the CRPF personnel were shooting at him. According to the witnesses, no provocation triggered the firing. (Photo: Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, Source: BHRPC, Assam)

Following the firing, the CRPF arrested two persons: Moniruddin Barbhuiya, aged about 32 years, son of Abdul Majid Barbhuiya of village Bidruhipar, Sonai Police Station, Cachar, Assam and Mr. Abdul Khalik, aged about 25 years, son of Siraj Uddin of village Sundari Part-II, Sonai Police Station, Cachar, Assam. The CRPF claim that they were there on a routine patrolling when they observed suspicious behaviour from Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and Iskandar. They further state that when they challenged them, the three suspects tried to run away thereupon the CRPF opened fire. According to the CRPF, the suspects are ordinary criminals who do not belong to any organisation and Moniruddin was found in possession of a 9mm pistol and four bullets.

The CRPF handed over both arrestees to the Palonghat police out post under Dholai Police Station at 9pm on that day. The Dholai police registered a case against Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and another unnamed person (vide Dholai Police Station Case No. 99/2010 dated 23 May 2010 under Section 47 of the Indian Arms Act, 1959). According to the fact-finding team, the First Information Report has been drafted in such a way that Iskandar can be incriminated as the third accused and therefore could be used by the CRPF to justify its crime.

On 24 May the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Dholai Police Station produced the two accused before a magistrate praying for police custody of the accused which was granted for seven days. They were then sent to the judicial custody.

At about 1pm on 26 May, some people of the Sundari Part-II village saw a dead body adrift in the Sonai river. They informed Kachudaram police outpost and at about 3pm, police officers from the outpost and the police station came and sent the body to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital for autopsy. At about 11am on 27 May the police handed over the body to Monijun and the last rites were performed at about 2.30pm on the same day.

According to the persons who performed the pre-funeral rituals like washing of the body, they saw two bullet holes in the body: one on the victim’s waist and the other one on the left side of his neck. Nevertheless the autopsy report has not yet been provided to the family and Monijun and other villagers fear that the CRPF may want to interfere with the content of the autopsy report.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

According to the police sources, Moniruddin, who was arrested in possession of the pistol, told that he is a labourer who worked in Mizoram for many months and found a pistol near a river, picked it up and was trying to sell it. He stated that Iskandar had nothing to do with them.

Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, is a small business man from Bidruhipar village. He had left his family house and told his wife, Monijun, that he was going to the Panchaboti area to collect betel nuts and that he would latter visit his sister Champarun Nesa at Krishnapur, Amragat and asked his wife not to worry if he did not return on the same day. When on 24 May, Monijun heard about the firing, she contacted her sister-in-law who informed her that Iskandar did not visit her the day before. Monijun subsequently contacted all the relatives of her husband but none had any idea where her husband was. On 25 May, she and her sister-in-law Sitarun Nesa went to Sonai Police Station and informed the police in writing about her husband’s disappearance. This is entered in the general diary of the police station vide GD Entry 601 dated 25 May 2010.

According to the villagers and the police officials, the victim had never been involved in any crime and had no previous confrontations with the police. Mr. Kutub Ahmed Mazumber, a member of the Assam Legislative Assembly also told that he knew Iskandar personally and that Iskandar was a very good person.

On 28 May, hundreds of people held a condolence meeting, presided by Nazrul Islam Ahmed, Vice President of Sonai Anchalik Panchayat. Three resolutions were passed condemning the killing and terming it as an intentional murder of a law-abiding and peace-loving citizen by power fuddled unscrupulous security forces; expressed condolence to the family for their loss and demanded compensation to be paid to the family by the government and prosecution initiated against the CRPF personnel involved in the case.
Monijun filed a complaint before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Cachar on 29 May praying for the court to direct the police to conduct a proper investigation of the murder, after having a case registered against the CRPF under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The complaint was forwarded to the Sonai Police Station and was registered as an FIR vide Sonai Police Station Case No. 126/10 dated 4 May 2010.
Iskandar was the only earning member of a family of six and his death leaves his wife and their four children without stable incomes and resources.

BACKGROUND COMMENTS:

The military and paramilitary forces heavily deployed in North-East India have repeatedly demonstrated their disdain toward the principles of proportionality and restrain in the use of force which should govern the functioning of security forces in a democratic country. The AHRC has been documenting numerous cases of human rights violations committed by the security forces deployed in the region, in which people may be harassed, tortured, raped or killed with the police being unable and unwilling to investigate the case and to provide protection to the victims. Please see UAC-080-2010 another case, which took place on the same day as Iskandar’s killings, in which the rights of the ordinary citizens of Assam were violated by security forces and in which the police refused to file the case.

The UN basic principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials are the relevant guidelines to the democratic functioning of security agencies. This indiscriminate firing in Panchaboti disrespects Principle 4 according to which the law enforcement officials should only use force and firearms as the last resort, if ‘other means remain ineffective’ and Principle 5 mandates the law enforcement officials to exercise restraint in the use of force and firearms in order to minimise damage and injury and to respect and preserve human life.

More specifically, Principle 10 states that ‘law enforcement officials shall identify themselves as such and give a clear warning of their intent to use firearms, with sufficient time for the warning to be observed, unless to do so would unduly place the law enforcement officials at risk or would create a risk of death or serious harm to other persons, or would be clearly inappropriate or pointless in the circumstances of the incident.’ Not warning of their intention before shooting is an act of carelessness and negligence from the CRPF personnel which could have resulted in further losses. The incident proves how little human life is valued by the members of the paramilitary forces.

The attitude of the CRPF have raised suspicions that they may try to use the FIR and to manipulate the post-mortem report to preserve themselves from a legal process. Regarding the large record of human rights violations committed in the North-Eastern Indian States which went uninvestigated and unpunished, it is necessary to make sure that Iskandar’s family will have access to an independent process, as reminded in Principle 23 of the UN basic principles.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please join us in writing to the following authorities to express your concern regarding this case of slaying and ask for its proper investigation and the prosecution of the perpetrators. Also join us in

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, calling for his intervention in this case.

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To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Please investigate the CRPF firing in Panchaboti market in Assam

Name of victim: Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, 42 (aged about 42, son of late Abdul Matlib Barbhuiya) resident of Bidruhipar, Cachar District, Assam
Names of alleged perpetrators: Between 11 and 12 Central Reserve Police Force personnel from A147 Battalion led by Mr Muatoshi Dubichu, Deputy Inspector of Police and in-charge of Shachinpur Camp
Date of incident: 23 May 2010
Place of incident: Panchaboti market place, Cachar District, Assam.

I am writing to draw your attention to the killing of Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya after a team of Central Reserve Police Force Police opened fire indiscriminately and without warning in a small market place in Panchaboti, Cachar, Assam on 23 May 2010 at about 4.30pm.

According to the information I have received from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), witnesses report having seen one man, later identified as Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, running through a small field in direction of the nearby river Sonai and jumping into the river while the CRPF personnel were shooting at him. According to the witnesses, no provocation triggered the firing and the CRPF personnel did not warn about their intention to open fire beforehand.

I know that on the morning of that day, Mr. Iskandar Ali Barbhuiya, 42, a small business man from Bidruhipar village went to the area to collect betel nuts. After he did not return home for a few days, his wife, Monijun contacted all his relatives to enquire about his whereabouts and since no one was able to inform her about them, she and her sister-in-law Sitarun Nesa went to Sonai Police Station and informed the police in writing about her husband’s disappearance (Entered in the general diary of the PS vide GD Entry 601 dated 25 May 2010).

I am informed that following the firing, the CRPF arrested two persons: Moniruddin Barbhuiya (32, son of Abdul Majid Barbhuiya of village Bidruhipar, Sonai Police Station, Cachar, Assam) and Abdul Khalik (25, son of Siraj Uddin of village Sundari Part-II, Sonai Police Station, Cachar, Assam). The CRPF claim that they were there on a routine patrolling at that time when they observed suspicious behavior from Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and Iskandar. They state that when they challenged them the three suspects tried to run away following which the CRPF opened fire. According to the CRPF, Moniruddin was found in possession of a country made 9mm pistol.

I know that the CRPF handed over both arrestees to the Palonghat police outpost under Dholai Police Station at 9pm on that day. The Dholai police registered a case against Moniruddin, Abdul Khalik and another unnamed person (ie. Iskandar), (vide Dholai PS Case No. 99/2010 dated 23 May 2010 under sSection 47 of the Indian Arms Act, 1959). On 24 May the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Dholai Police Station produced the accused before a magistrate praying for police custody for them which was granted for 7 days. They were then sent to the judicial custody.

I am concerned that the FIR has been drafted in such a way to lead the police investigation to conclude that Iskandar was the third suspect and that it may be an attempt by the CRPF to promote a version of the event which would justify the indiscriminate firing. This version is contradicted by a statement from one of the arrestees, Moniruddin, that he had found the pistol when he was working in Mizoram and was trying to sell it in the market that day and that Iskandar had nothing to do with them. I am informed that according to the villagers and the police officials, Iskandar had never been involved in any crime and had nothing against him in the police record. A member of Assam Legislative Assembly, Mr. Kutub Ahmed Mazumder, also confirmed that Iskandar was ‘a very good person’.

I know that Iskandar’s body was discovered at about 1pm on 23 May by some villagers from Sundari Part-II adrift in the river Sonai. They informed Kachudaram police outpost under Sonai Police Station and at about 3pm, police came and sent the body to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital for autopsy. At about 11 am on 27 May the police handed over the body to Monijun and the last rites were performed at about 2.30pm.

The persons who performed the pre-funeral ritual bathing of the body saw two bullet holes in the body: one on the victim’s waist and the other one on the left side of his neck. Nevertheless the autopsy report has not yet been provided to the family and I am aware that Monijun and other villagers fear that this might be because the CRPF wants to change its content.

I know that Monijun has filed a complaint before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Cachar on 29 May praying for the court to direct the police a proper investigation of the murder after having a case registered against the CRPF under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The complaint was forwarded to the Sonai Police Station and was registered as an FIR vide Sonai Police Station Case No. 126/10 dated 4 June 2010.

Additionally, as required by the directives issued by the National Human Rights Commission of India, the post-mortem examination must be video graphed and a separate report about the incident must be send to the Commission.

I know that reports of extrajudicial executions and human rights violations committed by security forces which are heavily deployed in the State of Assam are numerous and often go uninvestigated, promoting the impunity of the perpetrators and encouraging further exactions.

I therefore urge you to promptly intervene into this case by:

1. Launching an independent and impartial investigation into the case registered as FIR vide Sonai Police Station Case No. 126/10 dated 4 May 2010 in Sonai Police Station;
2. Taking appropriate measures to guarantee the protection of the victim’s families and of the witnesses against threats and intimidation from CRPF personnel;
3. Making sure that all the CRPF personnel involved in this murder are temporarily suspended from their duty during the course of the investigation. If enough evidence is gathered, they should be brought before a civilian court and face sanctions which are proportionate to the damage they inflicted;
4. Providing adequate compensation and interim relief to the victim’s family: Iskandar was the sole earning member of a family of 6 and his death leaves his wife and their four children without stable incomes and resources;
5. Providing the post-mortem report to the family without delay.

I am looking forward to your intervention.

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

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

Thank you

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

Posted on 2010-06-10
AHRC URL: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2010/3477/
BHRPC URL:

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

June 10, 2010

URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Get pdf version of the document

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
——————————————————
INDIA: Army raids a village, assault and molests women in Assam

ISSUES: Violence against women; torture; militarisation; impunity
——————————————————

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