In India 100 is synonymous with the Police but the irony is that public in India dread this very word, Its very presence must inspire confidence but it is contrary,In 1950 Justice AN Mullah called police as the "biggest organized goonda(goon)Force,Call100 is journey to empower citizens against the abuse power and corruption of Police.Indian Policing System has the exceptional assured career progression scheme for the criminal elements in Khaki uniform & we need to overhaul it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

year 2007- Initiatives

(Updated up to Dec. 11, 07)

Compiled By
K. Samu,
Human Rights Documentation,
Indian Social Institute, Lodi Road, New Delhi

Civil rights bodies flay Govt. policy on farmers' land acquirement (1)
JAIPUR: Civil rights organisations of Rajasthan have opposed the State Government's policies allegedly widening the gulf between the rich and the poor by acquiring the lands of farmers for Special Economic Zones and developing luxury colonies, malls and commercial complexes on the Gramdan and grazing lands. Representatives of the Rajasthan Samagra Seva Sangh, People's Union for Civil Liberties, Samta Sainik Dal, Bhaichara Foundation, Centre for Dalit Rights and Mahila Punarvas Samiti said at a press conference here on Saturday that the State Government had not launched any scheme for people's welfare despite the debt burden rising to a whopping Rs. 70,000 crores. Samagra Seva Sangh president Sawai Sangh alleged that the Government was openly supporting the land mafia, liquor manufacturers and multinational corporations exploiting natural resources of the State. He said the concessions given to liquor contractors had increased the crime rate across the State. P.L. Mimroth of the Centre for Dalit Rights said the atrocities against Dalits had increased manifold during the three years of the Bharatiya Janata Party rule and no action was taken to fill up the backlog of vacancies for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the Government jobs. (The Hindu 1/1/07)

DGP, chief secretary in UP get notices from NHRC (1)
New Delhi, Jan. 2: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday sent notices to the chief secretary and the DGP of Uttar Pradesh following media reports regarding sexual abuse and murder of children by two people in Nithari village in Noida. NHRC has asked the chief secretary and the DGP of the police to submit reports within two weeks. Taking suo moto cognisance of the reports appearing both in the electronic and print media, NHRC said media reports reveal gross violation of human rights of the citizens and in particular, the children, because of certain acts of omissions on the part of the public servants who did not take timely action in the matter. In the last few days, at least 38 children from Nithari village, near Sector 31 of Noida, went missing over a period of 30 months, but only 19 police complaints were registered. Only five of the 19 children returned home. The NHRC said the recent discovery of skeletons and body parts in the area suggests that more than those registered as missing had been killed. "Media reports said that employer-servant duo of Mohinder Singh and Surinder had confessed to sexual abuse, mutilation and killings of not only young boys and girls, but also grown-up women and dumping the remains of those murdered in the drain behind their house," the NHRC said. The rights body added, "The barbaric act came to light not because of the police but by sheer chance, as the police caught Surinder, who was in possession of a cell phone belonging to a missing woman, Payal, who was murdered." The NHRC said media reports highlighted the negligence of the state administration and said those who were guilty of and responsible for such prolonged negligence of even routine investigation and civil function should be sacked forthwith. (Asian Age 3/1/07)

Rights panel serves notice to BMC for sealing hostel (1)
Bhopal : Directing Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) to state reasons because of which it sealed a hostel at Halalpura, Lal Ghati, Madhya Pradesh State Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) has sought details from the Corporation regarding the issue. The MPHRC had directed the Corporation to furnish the details latest by December 31. Remarkably, the Corporation sealed a hostel naming Kanha Kunj being operated from Manglam Enclave Phase II, Halalpura, Lal Ghati nearly ten days ago. It was stated by the officials of the Corporation that the portion of the apartment from where the hostel was being operated was constructed against the norms of building permission. They asserted that the flats which were constructed for residential purposes were partitioned illegally without obtaining necessary approval from the Corporation. The apartment from where the hostel was being operated was bought by Rathore from one Rajendra Sahni. Rathore after buying the property started running a hostel from a portion of the apartment. The Corporation on receiving complaints from residents of the apartment served notices to the owner and eventually got the hostel locked under section 303 of Municipal Corporation Act, 1956. Sources informed that the owner lodged a complaint against the Corporation with MPHRC that in turn has directed the BMC to explain the reasons due to which the hostel was locked by it. City planner, Sunita Singh while speaking to The Pioneer has denied that the Corporation has been directed by MPHRC to state reasons behind the move wherein it locked the hostel. However, reliable sources at BMC claimed that the Commission has sough details latest by December 31 and now the officials are preparing answer of the questions asked by it. Notably, nearly 400 hostels are being operated in the city without obtaining requisite permission from the Corporation. Most of the hostels are located in MP Nagar, Area Colony, Saket Nagar, Kolar, Piplani, Harshvardhan Nagar, Mata Mandir, Nehru Nagar, Surendra Palace, Lal Ghati and Koh-e-Fiza. Running hostels in residential colonies not only violate norms of building permission but also trouble colony dwellers who are forced to bear the nuisance created by the students and also subjected to violence in case they raise voice against the students. (Pioneer 5/1/07)

Rights Commission without secretary for two months (1)
Bhopal : Considering postings at Madhya Pradesh, State Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) as non-lucrative, senior officials are unwilling to take up their responsibilities months after their posting to the Commission. In a recent incident, senior IAS officer Khushiram has not assumed the charge even after two-and-half months of his transfer from General Administration Department (GAD). The situation aggravated with a request of public relation officer (PRO) to retire from the services. Remarkably, the Principal Secretary of GAD Khushiram was transferred to MPHRC by the State Government as Secretary. Soon after the reshuffle, Khushiram went on leave and has not assumed the post till date. It should be noted here that the former Secretary Swarnamala Rawla too had remained on leave on most of the occasions during her posting at the Commission. Insiders claimed that the senior IAS officer Khushiram is reluctant to join the Commission. The reason which might be leading the IAS officer for not joining as Secretary of Commission is likely his opinion wherein he favoured the decision of former Secretary to cut short the allowances given to the members of the MPHRC. Problems aggravated further with notice of PRO Brijendra Dwivedi who has sought voluntary retirement in February. Dwivedi too had obtained leave and is reportedly unwilling to join the Commission anymore. Sources also informed that the Commission has requested the State Government to post Dwivedi to some other Government department. (Pioneer 15/1/07)

NHRC: Relief for STF victims (1)
New Delhi, Jan. 15: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday recommended interim relief of Rs 2.80 crores for 89 victims of "police atrocities" committed by the joint special task force (STF) set up by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to arrest sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. NHRC acting chairperson Justice Shivaraj Patil said that the commission took the decision based on the report of the two-member inquiry panel constituted by the NHRC. The inquiry panel, constituting former Karnataka high court judge A.J. Sadashiva and former CBI director C.V. Narasimhan, submitted the report on December 1, 2003, after recording statements of 243 persons, including 38 police officers. However, it was only after some NGOs brought a few dozen victims of police atrocities to Delhi to meet NHRC members that the commission held a full-bench meeting and discussed the report on October 2005, almost two years after the report was submitted. Then state governments, when asked to file their replies on the report, delayed for a further one year before giving their views on the report. National Federation of Indian Women general secretary. Annie Raja said they welcomed the interim report as it took 10 to 12 years to get any monetary support, but she said the amount granted by the NHRC was meagre compared to the Rs 10 crores set aside by the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for interim relief. She said the NHRC should have identified more victims as there are hundreds who were badly beaten up and even maimed by the joint STF. Ms Raja also said that the NHRC should immediately proceed in recommending legal action against the erring police officers as the delay in this matter is already years old. The atrocities of the STF include rape, assault, application of electric shocks, outrage of modesty, illegal detention, torture leading to permanent disability, detaining in camps and subjection to torture. The NHRC constituted an inquiry panel after it received a number of representations from non-government organisations and individuals and the commission took cognisance of their complaints in June 1999. The chief secretary of Tamil Nadu and additional chief secretary of Karnataka appeared before the commission on December 7, 2006 and conveyed that both the governments are ready and willing to respect the decision and recommendations to be made by the commission about interim relief. Earlier, the directors-general of police of both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka raised objections before the inquiry panel about the scope of the inquiry, so Justice Sadashiva sought clarification from the commission whether the inquiry should be confined to the cases registered with the NHRC. The NHRC clarified that the panel is akin to a commission appointed by a court and the panel should examine all those who depose before it. (Asian Age 16/1/07)

Reduction in members affects work at MPHRC (1)
Bhopal : Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) is facing lot of difficulties after the Government decided to reduce the number of members from four to two. The decision came after the Parliament passed "Protection of Human Rights Amendment Act-2006" at the end of last year. Among the other changes the amendment decided to reduce the number of members of all the State human rights commissions of the country from four to two. The decision came after the smaller states like the Northeastern States and Sikkim requested the Government to reduce the number of members citing financial constraints. But the bigger States like Madhya Pradesh are facing considerable difficulties because of the Central Government's decision. Besides solving the cases of human rights violations, the commission has other responsibilities like generating awareness about people's rights, arranging seminars, circulating pamphlets , visiting jails, juvenile homes and hospitals. And it was simply not possible to conduct theses activities in large States like Madhya Pradesh with just two members. Deputy Secretary of MPHRC Vijay Chandra while talking to The Pioneer said that with just two members it is very difficult to perform so many activities by the commission. He said that though the amendment for the first time gave the power to the commission to carry out sudden inspections at jails, juvenile homes and such places where human beings were kept, by cutting down on the number of members it had created lots of problems for the commission of larger States. "How can it be possible to carry out sudden inspections in so many places in the State with just two members?" questions Chandra. He also informed that since MPHRC is the most affected and functional commission in the country it receives over 15,000 cases every year. "And with the amendment it should be surely affected", he commented. (Pioneer 16/1/07)

NHRC announces relief for tribals tortured during hunt for Veerappan (1)
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 16: After sitting for nearly three years over a report that traced the trail of terror by policemen — during the search for forest brigand Veerappan, on tribals living in forests of the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border — National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) announced monetary relief to 89 victims on Monday. The interim relief of Rs 2.80 crore — awarded for death, rape, torture, prolonged detention and disappearance — falls much below the Rs 10 crore pledged by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments to wipe off horrifying memories of the operation led by the Joint Special task force (STF) of the states. Shivraj Patil, acting chairperson of NHRC, said that the commission has asked both states to use the remaining amount for “laying roads and setting up schools in the area, since people there have suffered badly”. NHRC’s action comes in the wake of protests by human rights activists over its inaction on the report of special commission headed by former Justice of Karnataka High Court,S C Sadashiva. C V Narsimhan, former CBI director, was the other member of the commission appointed by NHRC in 1999 to look into veracity of complaints of atrocities by the STF. Patil admitted that “NHRC took some time to act on the commission’s report”. “We finally summoned chief secretaries of both states and asked them to look into the entire matter from the human rights perspective.” Patil said. Giving details of the commission’s recommendations, Patil said that the lone woman victim, who had been allegedly raped repeatedly by the policemen, had been awarded Rs 5 lakh as relief. Rs 5 lakh has been awarded to the next of kin of the 36 persons who were killed in the operations against Veerappan. Three persons will receive Rs 2 lakh each for illegal detention and assault. The 18 persons, who were detained and tortured for over a month by policemen apparently to elicit details about Veerappan, would get Rs 1 to 1.5 lakh each. At least 15 persons detained under TADA, whose cases were never sent for review, would get Rs 2 lakh each. Rs 2 to 2.5 lakh each would be given to three persons, who became disabled due to torture in custody, and the lone case of disappearance would get Rs 3.5 lakh. Interestingly, the Sadashiva Commission is silent on the identity of the policemen involved in these atrocities. Patil admitted “the Commission is yet to apply its mind on how to fix responsibilitie for these atrocities.” He, however, said the Commission would pursue this aspect of the case. (Indian Express 17/1/07)

NHRC to camp in UP (1)
New Delhi, January 17: The National Human Rights Commission is planning to visit the worst-affected state to speed up disposal of pending cases of human rights abuse and take justice to the doorstep of victims. Uttar Pradesh, with its reputation of being the worst offender of human rights, would receive the commission members at its state capital in Lucknow on January 18 for the same purpose. Justice Shivraj V Patil, who is the acting chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, informed that panel members would camp there for three days. It has already sent a list of around 1,000 cases, which it intends to look at, to the UP Human Rights Commission. Patil said the panel members would try to dispose of at least 200 cases in these three days. The state commission has been asked to do the spadework and keep officials ready with responses of queries from the national commission. Sources state that this pro-active move by the NHRC is to effectively counter red-tapism among bureaucrats who delay communication and eventual disposal of cases. (Indian Express 18/1/07)

UP has most human rights violations, says NHRC (1)
Lucknow, Jan 20: Uttar Pradesh continues to report the maximum number of cases of human right viola­tions with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and compliance of the directives given by the Commission is also inordi­nately delayed. The NHRC team, led by acting chairman Dr Shivraj V Patil, told reporters here on Saturday that maximum complaints from Uttar Pradesh were related to police and prison depart­ments. "There were more than 21,000 cases from UP pending with us but we have cleared 5224 cases in a special drive during the past one month. The delay, in disposal of cases is mainly because of lack of compliance reports from the state government. We have discussed this issue with the state govern­ment and the chief secretary has now issued directives for prompt compliance by officials," he said. The NHRC team now plans to move out of Delhi and visit all state capitals in order to speed us disposal of cases and also to sensitize officials dealing with cases related to human right violations. On its first three-day visit to Lucknow, the NHRC team disposed off 32 cases of full commission and 150 cases of single members. "We want to discuss the issues with state govern­ments and ensure better interaction with the peo­ple," Dr Patil said. Replying to a question, Dr Patil said that the commis­sion was. 'anguished' at cases relating to manipula­tion of revenue records. He said that 90 such cases had been reported from Azamgarh district where the land holder had been declared dead and his land had been usurped. The Commission also expressed its 'deep concern' over the inadequate action taken against revenue offi­cials found guilty of manip­ulation of land records. The Commission has now directed the Secretary Rev­enue to submit a compre­hensive report of all such cases in all districts of Uttar Pradesh and send a full sta­tus report on action taken in the cases by March 12. (Asian Age 21/1/07)

NHRC pulls up UP on delays (1)
New Delhi, Jan. 22: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) pulled up the Uttar Pradesh authorities on a range of issues, including failure to file FIRs, delay in compliance with its recommendations, in cases where it has recommended prosecution or disciplinary action and delay in sending requisite details or reports in custodial deaths. In its special meeting with secretaries of various departments, additional director-general police (human rights), DG (prisons), the commission asked the officials to expedite the compliance of sending reports such as magisterial inquiry and viscera report of those who died in custody. The state government has been directed to complete all pending magisterial inquiries within three months and all future inquiries within three months and in exceptional cases within six months. In the three-day sitting, 32 cases of full commission and 150 cases of single members were disposed of. Nearly 1,000 cases were listed for these three days. During its three-day sitting in Lucknow, the commission also expressed deep concern about inadequate action taken against erring revenue officials found guilty of manipulation of records. (Asian Age 23/1/07)

NHRC disgusted with UP administration (1)
New Delhi : Being disgusted with Uttar Pradesh Government's lackadaisical attitude to prepare the reports on ghastly Nithari serial killings case and on several other issues the National Human Rights Commission has directed the state administration today to expedite their processes. During a three-day session in Lucknow recently, the commission drew the attention of the State Government to a string of issues, including failure to file FIRs, delay in compliance with its recommendations in cases where it has recommended prosecution or disciplinary action and delay in sending requisite details or reports in custodial death cases. The session, the first ever of its kind, was convened to expedite disposal of pending complaints relating to human rights, an NHRC official here said. The Uttar Pradesh Home Secretary, Health Secretary, Additional Director General Police (Human Rights), Director General (Prison) have been directed by the commission to expedite the sending of their reports such as magisterial enquiries and viscera reports of those who died in custody. (The Pioneer 24/1/07)

Custodial deaths: NHRC rap for UP Police (1)
New Delhi, January 26: Still grappling with the fallout of Nithari on its image, the Uttar Pradesh Police have got yet another reprimand. Taking serious note of the callousness shown by the police of the country’s largest state in handling cases of custodial deaths, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has given a three-month deadline for them to finish all such pending inquiries. The directive comes as a serious move from the NHRC, since it was given out to the senior Police authorities in person. The NHRC led by its chairperson Shivraj Patil held a special meeting with the director generals in charge of prisons and human rights of UP to make this point during their visit to Lucknow recently. The Commission, in a rather pro-active mode, has started visiting capitals of states with poor human rights record to do an on the spot study and dispose of the long pending cases. While Lucknow, for its dismal record of human rights was the obvious first stop for the NHRC, sources said its next visit was likely to visit Bihar in April. Patil asked the police bosses to complete all pending inquiries into custodial deaths within three months. Only in exceptional cases, the case may stretch to six months, he said. Besides the Police were also pulled up for various issues ranging from failure to file FIRs and delay in launching disciplinary action and prosecution against officials found responsible for custodial deaths. Shocked over the cases of land grabbing that were discovered at the on the spot hearing of petitions, the NHRC wondered why the guilty officials of revenue department were not take to task so far. Sources said out of around 1,000 odd cases the full Commission disposed off in three days, it received a huge number of petitions from people whose land had been usurped by powerful people who manage to manipulate land records in connivance with local revenue officials. After its three-day camp, where the NHRC heard complaints in presence of the state authorities, several cases of living landholders being declared dead for usurping property came to light. The shocked NHRC members have issued summons to revenue secretary to attend a meeting with the Commission on March 15. Meanwhile, it has asked the UP government to submit a detailed report about all complaints of land grabbing by April. The UP government has also been asked to conduct a survey to trace all cases of land grabbing by issuing a public notice inviting petitions from affected parties. (Indian Express 27/1/07)

CSOs must play proactive role to curb human rights violation: Experts (1)
Bhubaneswar : The civil society organisations (CSOs) have been urged to play a proactive role in the field of human rights violation. This message was given by the speakers attending a two-day training programme on human rights violation organised by the State Chapter of People's Watch as part of National Project on Preventing Torture in India here at Nabakrushna Centre for Development Studies. The speakers also said that a comprehensive awareness drive must be provided to the common masses about human rights and its violations. Former Director General of Police Sarat Chandra Mishra said that under-trial criminals should be treated with humanity and law-enforcing agencies should be aware about human rights violation. He said civil society organisations have a greater role to play in this campaign. MP Mohan Jena, however, pointed out that special laws should be made to stop human rights violation. (Pioneer 30/1/07)

NHRC notice to AP on girl sales (1)
New Delhi, Feb. 1: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to Andhra Pradesh chief secretary and director-general of police on reports that parents were selling their daughters in the state. The NHRC has demanded a report from the Andhra Pradesh government within two weeks. NHRC has directed that the news reports should be transmitted to the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary and DGP for a factual report, which should be submitted within two weeks to the NHRC. At least 41 girls were rescued from Maharashtra by the Rajahmundry police, who had gone there on a tip-off. Among the 41 girls, 37 were from Andhra Pradesh. Taking suo moto cognisance of the report telecast on a private TV channel and also published in a Delhi-based newspaper, NHRC felt that if the reports were, it raised serious issue of the violation of the human rights of the girls. A private TV channel had telecast a report on January 27 that said that young girls were being sold for as little as Rs 12,000 in Rajahmundry district of Andhra Pradesh. These girls were later being turned to the flesh trade. (Asian Age 2/2/07

Punjab DGP gets notice from NHRC (1)
New Delhi, Feb. 2: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the DGP of Punjab following reports about a six-year-old girl who died after being beaten up by her teacher. The NHRC took suo-moto cong-nizance of the report which stated that a Class 1 student of a private school in Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar died due to severe beating by her teacher. The incident took place on January 2, 2007 and the girl was admitted to a hospital where she succumbed to her injuries 10 days later. The report mentions that the police has send the body for post-mortem and will take action only after the post-mortem report is out. The commission, going through the report, has directed that the DGP of Punjab look into the matter and send a factual report within four weeks. NHRC also took note of another report which appeared on December 27, 2006 which said that farmers were brutally beaten up by the police when they were agitating over land acquisition at Chabba near Amritsar. (Asian Age 3/2/07)

Soon, NHRC norms for the missing (1)
New Delhi: : Following the gruesome Nithari serial murders — mostly of missing children — the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decided to formulate guidelines for the police to tackle cases of missing persons throughout the country. Acting chairperson of NHRC Justice Shivraj V. Patil said “the Commission would soon deliberate on this important human rights matter and issue a set of guidelines for the police.” The Commission, he said, could recommend what efforts the police must make in tracing the missing persons. Criticising the government for neglecting children, Patil said the budget for “children’s causes” in India was almost “negligible.” “This amounts to hypocrisy. Why are we feeling ashamed of allocating liberal funds for children?” he said while concluding a two-day conference on juvenile justice system. The conference attended by legal experts and officials from states and the Centre explored loopholes into the juvenile justice system in the country. Patil said since the implementation of juvenile justice laws by most states was tardy, the NHRC would play a more pro-active role in ensuring the monitoring of their implementation. To begin with, the Commission would call a meeting of all NGOs working for children’s rights to focus on their role in acting as the watchdog for implementation of the plethora of laws India has on children. The Commission, he said, would also crack the whip on the states that are dragging their feet on implementation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2006. The amended law makes it mandatory for the states to set up Juvenile Justice Boards and protection homes at district levels. The conference strongly recommended that justice for juveniles should be completely delinked from the mainstream justice since “children cannot be treated as offenders.” Patil even suggested that juveniles should be let out on bail on furnishing personal bonds and saved from being put into institutionalised custody for long.” Another key suggestion at the conference was about the need to involve children in deciding policies and laws that effect them directly. (Indian Express 5/2/07)

‘Juvenile justice system must be enforced’ (1)
New Delhi, Feb. 6: NHRC acting chairperson Justice Shivaraj V. Patil said that the NHRC commits to enforcement of rights of children at the valedictory function of a two-day national conference on the juvenile justice system in India organised by the commission. Dr Patil said that the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, along with its amendments in 2006, have to be looked into and forcefully enforced to get the maximum results. He said there has to be a development-oriented culture for the rights of children. The acting chairperson said Section IV of the act, as amended, makes its mandatory for the constitution of a juvenile justice board in every district in a time period of one year. He said: "We should take a cue from this and exercise our legal rights if no such board is established at the expiry of one year on August 22, 2007." Experts in the field who deliberated for two days came out with a number of suggestions. For example, the juvenile justice system must become an integral part of human resources development planning and kept apart from the criminal justice system to ensure development opportunities for children in conflict with law and in need of care and protection, without alienating them from the social mainstream. The conference felt an urgent need to ensure that appropriate bodies are constituted in every district of every state and UT to expeditiously take up cases relating to juveniles and children in need of care and protection. (Asian Age 7/2/07)

AP gets notice on missing kids (1)
New Delhi, Feb. 7: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a notice to the director general of police (DGP), Andhra Pradesh taking into account a news report, claiming that the state police was taking complaints of missing children very lightly. Calling it a violation of human rights of the children, the Commission has given four weeks time to the DGP to provide a factual report, a release by the NHRC said on Wednesday. The move assumes significance as child rights activists started demanding better measures to protect children from crime after the gruesome Nithari incident in Uttar Pradesh. As per a report published in a section of the media on January 12, over 3,000 pending cases of missing children are lying with various police stations across the state and majority of the missing children are girls. The report also said that the police rarely put out notices of missing children on the pretext that they are too expensive and do not even register the cases sometimes, saying that the children are delinquent and would return home on their own. Child rights activists are demanding the state government to disclose the status of these cases of missing children and direct the anti-child-trafficking police to trace them, the news report pointed out. A civil society organisation has already reported that over 2,079 children are missing in the Telangana region and 1,016 children from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions in 2006. The report also mentioned that 1,023 cases of missing children in Hyderabad since 2004 have not progressed. Child rights activists point out that there is no consolidated data on the number of missing children as there is no separate classification of offences against children in the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Crime against children is listed under different heads like procurement of minor girls, kidnapping or abduction etc. The NHRC report says, some 45,000 children go missing every year, of which 11,000 are never found. Though the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 is in force, most states are yet to set up the required committees that the act ordains. (Asian Age 8/2/07)

Give CBI concurrent jurisdiction to take up serious cases, says NHRC (1)
NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 11: IN A crucial suggestion in its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said the Central Bureau of Investiga­tion (CBI) be given concurrent jurisdic­tion along with the state police to take up cases of serious nature. The suggestion comes in the light of delay and bureau­cratic wrangles while handing over investigations to the CBI in the gruesome Nithari killings. The NHRC's opinion, however, is at variance with what the Soli Sorabjee Committee has recommended. The Sorabjee panel, which is drafting the Po­lice Act, has argued for entrusting inves­tigations of federal crimes to an inde­pendent Central agency other than the CBI. But the NHRC wants more pow­ers to the CBI by doing away with the mandatory prior permission of states re­quired by the agency, for investigating crimes of serious nature. Submitting the affidavit through its counsel Indu Malhotra, the NHRC pointed out: "The CBI, which is already investigating some cases after obtaining the concurrence of the state government concerned, may be entrusted with the re­sponsibility of investigating federal crimes whenever the gravity and the spread of of­fence so demand." "for this purpose, they should have the discretion to pick up specific cases under these Sections (see box) on their own without the concurrence of the state gov­ernments," said NHRC in reply to the court's order of September 22,2006. While issuing a slew of directions for re­forms in the police machinery during the hearing of a petition filed by Prakash Singh, the apex court appreciated the sug­gestion put forward by the petitioner's counsel Prashant Bhushan. Bhushan had sought directions for entrusting investiga­tions of cases involving inter-state or in­ternational ramifications to the CBI. The NHRC brought out the "handi­caps" faced by the state police and felt that "there is an acute need to identify certain crimes as federal crimes, the need arising from the stark reality of the national and international ramifi­cations and implications of these crimes". This finds an echo with the Sorabjee panel recommendations, which had also said that certain crimes be declared "federal crimes". "It is also desirable that the investiga­tion be entrusted to one Central agency," the NHRC added as it elabo­rated on various categories of crimes un­der different Sections of law to be classi­fied as federal crimes. Realising that the world of crime is also undergoing a sea change, the Commission has argued: "The challenges posed by multifaceted forms of growing terrorism and other connected activities, narcotics menace, human trafficking, the phenomenon of crimes syndicates and cyber crimes are indeed too grave to be ignored." (Indian Express 12/2/07)

Nithari: NHRC unhappy with State's explanation (1)
NEW DELHI: Dissatisfied with the Uttar Pradesh Government's reply on the recent spate of cases of alleged abduction and killing of children in Nithari village in Noida, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday asked the State Government to explain why cases of all missing persons or children were not registered by the police. Addressing a press conference here, Commission's Acting Chairman Justice Shivraj Patil said that the Director-General of Police, U.P., and the Chief Secretary have been directed to submit a detailed report within a month, giving the present status of CBI investigation and specifying whether cases of all the missing persons or children in Nithari village have been registered and entrusted for investigation to the CBI. The Commission had sought a report from the State Government on January 2 but the State police chief and the Chief Secretary only stated that 19 cases were registered between December 13, 2006 and January 4 this year in connection with the missing, abducted children or adults from Nithari village. "We want to specifically know what happened to the remaining cases. This is a very serious matter and we have sought further details from the State Government," Justice Patil told newspersons. He said the report referred to the investigation of 19 cases having been given to the CBI, steps taken by the State Government to provide monetary and other relief to the families of victims and the steps taken by the district police to trace the missing children. The report also dwelt upon disciplinary action taken against the erring police officers. Justice Patil, flanked by other NHRC members, said the State Government's report failed to clearly say whether CBI investigation was limited to the 19 registered cases or covered cases of all persons reported missing in the village. He said that according to media reports, more than 38 persons or children were missing from the village on the outskirts of the capital. Expressing serious concern over the recent phenomenon of missing children, the NHRC chief said the problem was not confined to Nithari village as similar incidents had been reported from other parts of the country as well. (The Hindu 16/2/07)

Rights Watch seeks independent probe (1)
SRINAGAR: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Government of India to launch a credible and independent investigation into all ``disappearances'' and fake ``encounter killings'' in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy began in 1989. The New York-based organisation released a statement here on Thursday, in the backdrop of the recent expose on fake encounters. Reminding the Government that only on February 6 did India sign a new United Nations treaty to combat forced disappearances, HRW Asia Director Brad Adams urged it to establish an independent commission on ``disappearances'' and fake encounter killings, one that is empowered to compel both testimony of state agents and disclosure of documents. The commission should include eminent persons who inspiretrust in witnesses and victims' families to file cases without fear of intimidation. Quoting the Srinagar-based Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, the statement said, "many families have not filed missing person complaints because they fear retribution from the security forces." "The Indian security forces have `disappeared' countless people since 1989 and staged fake encounter killings while fabricating claims that those killed were militants." He said, "We welcome judicial inquiries into encounter killings, but given the Government's track record, there is reason to be sceptical." "We hope the Government will surprise us with a speedy and credible investigation. To end the vicious cycle of violence and mistrust, Kashmiris have to be able to trust that their complaints will be heard and addressed.'' HRW has suggested strengthening and enforcing laws and policies that protect detainees against torture and other mistreatment. (The Hindu 16/2/07)

Ratlam case: MPHRC asks district admin to submit report (1)
Bhopal : Taking cognisance of several bones of infants and foetuses being found at a Mission Hospital in Ratlam district headquarters, the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) has directed the district administration to submit a detailed report. "The District Collector and the Superintendent of Police are to submit the report within two weeks," Commission Chairman D M Dharmadhikari told media persons here on Thursday evening. Dharmadhikari was speaking to the scribes on advisory committees going to be constituted to ensure protection to the victims and extend requisite help to them till the commencement of the trial. With a view to provide medical, legal, psychological and other required helps to the victims, advisory committees at district level will be constituted by mid March. The committee will consist of district Collector as its president, Superintendent of Police or his representative who should be a gazetted police officer, Chief Medical and Health Officer or any authorised medical practitioner and an advocate nominated by president of District Legal Service Authority. Apart from this, the committee will also consist of a social worker, a retired administrative officer, an educationist and a member of an NGO who will be appointed by the District Collector. The Chairman of MPHRC said that the State Government has given its approval to the project chalked out by the Commission for the protection of the victims. However, implementation of the project would the first of its kind in the country. Dharmadhikari described Ratlam incident as grave. He did not deny the apprehension of such cases coming to light in other hospitals of the State. Preliminary reports indicate foeticide, a crime that has to be checked," the jurist felt. More than 560 bones were found at the hospital since Saturday. (Pioneer 23/2/07)

Human rights group meets undertrials in Berhampur (1)
A human rights group on Monday chatted with the under-trial prisoners charged with involvement in Maoist activities and kept at the Berhampur Circle Jail. A fact finding group, comprising some women lawyers including Sheela Ramanathan of Human Rights Law Network (Social-Legal Information Centre), Sudha Bharadwaj and social activist Rumita Kundu from Bhubaneswar, has been visiting the jails and Maoist-hit areas. Besides the women activists, two lawyers DV Balakrishnan from Andhra Pradesh and Upendra Naik from Paralakhemundi in Orissa are accompanying the group during its visit. Their mission is to find out the details about the persons who are being kept in jail with allegation of their involvement in Maoist activities. Twenty-two persons have been kept in the Berhampur jail in this connection since a few months back. As per the statement of the Jailer RC Nayak, they were supposed to be produced at the R Udaygiri court within 15 days of their arrest. And they ought to be produced before the judicial magistrate at 15 days' intervals. But they have not been produced at the court since their arrest and have been languishing since then. The human rights activists visited the jail to inquire into this matter, but the Berhampur police allowed only two lawyers inside the jail. The women members of the group remained outside the jail. They had to chat with the persons, allegedly being falsely put behind the bars as Maoists, at the entrance of the jail. While discussing with the women activists, one of them said that they were sleeping inside their house when the police came and took them to the police station. And they are not involved in any Maoist activities. He also lamented that the authorities are not allowing their family members to meet them. Mediapersons were not allowed to the spot during the chatting session between the women activists and the prisoners. The members of the group declined to comment anything to the media about its findings on the ground that it would affect the course of their further investigation. (Pioneer 27/2/07)

Gujarat gets notice on missing children (1)
New Delhi, Feb. 27: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent notice to chief secretary and DGP of Gujarat on a media report, which has stated that more than 1,000 children have been missing in the state between 2001 and 2005. The report also said that the police did not help parents properly, when they approached the authorities to lodge complaints. It has also stated that 1,054 children — in the age group of six months to 18 years — have been missing from the state. The report said, the figures for the year 2006 are being compiled. Calling it a serious violation of human rights of the children, the commission has given four weeks’ time to officials to provide factual report in respect to all the districts of Gujarat. The report said there is no proper system by which the missing complaints filed at one police station, can be accessed or processed at other stations, even in the same city. (Asian Age 28/2/07)

US report expresses concern over rights abuses in India (1)
NEW DELHI, MARCH 7: Reports of alleged human rights abuse in the country, particularly in areas affected by insurgency, have again come to the fore. The US State Department’s report, released on Tuesday, expressed concern over the “extra-judicial killings in custody, disappearances, torture and rape by police and security forces”. The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2006, notes that India has numerous laws protecting human rights, but enforcement was “lax” and convictions were “rare”. However, the government can derive cold comfort from the fact that Pakistan has not been spared either. It has also come under strong criticism for its “poor” human rights record despite Pervez Musharraf’s commitment to democratic transition. On India, the report notes that serious internal conflicts marred J-K as well as parts of the North-East. It also talks about the Naxalite conflicts in many parts of the country. According to the report, security forces often “staged” encounter killings to cover up the deaths of captured non-Kashmiri insurgents and terrorists from Pakistan or other countries, sometimes after torturing them. It has cited several instances in J-K, like the one in Shopian in January 2005, where personnel of the Rashtriya Rifles and the Special Operations Group allegedly killed three persons and buried them without proper investigation. (Indian Express 8/3/07)

Victims of Veerappan hunt go to NHRC over relief delay (1)
Bangalore, March 14: Victims of human rights violations by the Special Task Force during the anti-Veerappan operations in Karnataka, today knocked on the doors of the acting chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, complaining about the Karnataka Government’s failure to compensate them. About 40 of the 51 victims presented a memorandum to Justice Shivaraj Patil stating that while the Tamil Nadu Government had cleared its liabilities, the Karnataka Government had failed to do so despite assuring the NHRC of compliance by March 12. The NHRC had in its order on January 22 directed the payment of Rs 2.8 crore by the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to 93 victims of human rights violations during search operations conducted by the joint special task forces of the two states against the now dead forest brigand Veerappan in the early 1990s. The NHRC had given the two states six weeks time to disburse the compensation amounts. The compensation was awarded on the basis of a report by the Justice Sadashiva Commission set up to look at allegations of gross human rights violence. Representatives of the NGO Peoples Watch told the NHRC acting chairman in Bangalore that while the Tamil Nadu Government had disbursed its share of Rs 1.23 crore to victims on February 19, the Karnataka Government was yet to do so. “We had to struggle for justice. We thank the NHRC for theirssupport,” a victim told the NHRC. Saying that he expected the state government to soon comply with the direction, Patil added, “If it is not complied with we may have to summon the Chief Secretary of Karnataka before us.” (Indian Express 15/3/07)

NHRC notice to state officials (1)
New Delhi, March 15: After media reports, the National Human Rights Commission has sent a notice to the chief secretary,and DGP of West Bengal, asking, for factual. report on the police violence in Nandigram. The Commission said, if the contents are true they will raise the issue of violation of human rights of the citizens. The report published in The Asian Age today, said that the decision of the West Bengal government to send a huge contingent of police to Nandigram led to the killing of at least 11 people in police firing on Wednesday. According to the newspaper report, at least 5,000 strong police force encircled Nandigram from two points — Bhangaberia and Tekhali. The police reportedly cautioned the vil­lagers against offering any resistance to their entry. The report also mentioned that according to Trinamool Con­gress president the death toll may rise to 50. (Asian Age 26/1/07)

Amnesty to hold rights assembly (1)
NEW DELHI: When the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries meet in the capital next month for the 14th summit, the Amnesty International (India chapter) will organise a Human Rights Assembly around the same time to focus on rights violation issues. The two-day assembly on April 1 and 2 will stress on security legislation, death penalty, corporate accountability and violence against women. And, to highlight these themes, the Amnesty International (India) will release four reports, specific to the SAARC nations and their human rights issues. Thoroughly researched and backed by statistics and data, these reports will provide ``compelling'' evidence of human rights violations. (The Hindu 18/3/07)

Set up rights panel: Amnesty tells Dhaka (1)
NEW DELHI: The Amnesty International has expressed serious concern over continuing violation of human rights in Bangladesh and called upon Dhaka to establish a national human rights commission and implement the Supreme Court directive to separate the judiciary from the executive. "Poor governance, corruption, nepotism, severe political tension in the country and lack of accountability remain the main facilitators of human rights abuses. Human rights defenders in Bangladesh have faced severe retaliatory measures over a decade of struggle against abuse of authority, breach of the rule of law, corruption and impunity," the Amnesty said in its report on "Bangladesh: Human Rights Defenders Under Attack," released here on Monday by Amnesty International India director Mukul Sharma. The international human rights watch body said that information received by it indicated that the most at risk in Bangladesh were the human rights defenders who criticised the authorities or parties of the ruling alliance for human rights violations; revealed links between politicians, police and armed gangs; exposed corruption in the ruling administration and law enforcement personnel; revealed the abuses against minorities and criticised rights abuses by Islamic parties. The report noted that the rights defenders were subjected to arrest and torture by politically motivated criminal charges and attacked by members or supporters of Islamic groups, ruling party activists and armed gangs. The defenders comprise journalists, writers, academics, staff of non-governmental organisations, lawyers, members of professional bodies and persons from various social backgrounds. "The Governments in Bangladesh have persistently failed to respond adequately to the need to protect individuals at risk, probe the violations committed against them, bring to justice perpetrators of rights violations and ensure the protection of witnesses, the victims and their family members or to provide reparation to the victims," it said. Analysing the dangerous "pressure points" that act to suppress the defenders, the report said these included a climate of political polarisation, a culture of gun violence, the tension between secularism and religious based politics and a shrinking liberal space. The report also recommended action by the government to strengthen the safeguards for protection of human rights by setting up the much-awaited rights commission and implementing the Supreme Court directive to separate the judiciary from the executive. (The Hindu 27/3/07)

Amnesty concerned over `secret detentions' in Pakistan (1)
NEW DELHI: The Amnesty International is ``gravely concerned about reports" that American intelligence agents had detained and interrogated terror suspects in secret places in Pakistan. A report, released at a press conference on Tuesday by Amnesty International India director Mukul Sharma, said Human Rights First, had claimed that the United States maintained secret detention facilities at Kohat and Alizai in Pakistan. ``U.S. intelligence agents are also alleged to have taken control of known places of detention in Pakistan (or parts of them) without declaring such places to be U.S. detention centres... they are also alleged to have been aware of or participated in torture or other ill-treatment, and to have moved detainees to other unofficial or secret detention centres, including in Afghanistan," it stated. Pointing out that secret detention was prohibited under international human rights law, the Amnesty said: ``If the U.S. has established secret detention facilities within Pakistan, the Pakistani authorities may have been complicit in human rights violations.'' It stated that if the Pakistani authorities had facilitated abduction of persons, knowingly provided an essential facility or placed its own territory at the disposal of the U.S. or another State, then this might constitute complicity. The Amnesty said that though Pakistani officials had consistently denied that foreign forces were allowed to operate in Pakistan, there was ``strong evidence'' that U.S. forces had, on several occasions, conducted armed operations in the tribal areas, at times using excessive force and allegedly carrying out extra-judicial executions. On the role of Pakistan, the Amnesty claimed that the country had violated a wide array of human rights, including the right to life, to the security of the person, to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, to freedom from torture and to legal remedies and reparations in the ``war on terror.'' ``The clandestine nature of the `war on terror' makes it impossible to ascertain exactly how many people have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, forcibly disappeared, tortured or ill-treated, or extra-judicially executed. Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan said in June 2006 that since 2001 some 500 `terrorists' had been killed, and over 1,000 arrested... " While recognising that Pakistan had the duty to prevent and punish terrorist crimes, the Amnesty argued that, at the same time, Islamabad should respect national and international human rights' laws. The group called on Pakistan to apply its constitutional and legal safeguards and to honour its international commitments by urgently addressing human rights' violations committed in the name of ``war on terror.'' The Amnesty demanded that Pakistan end arbitrary arrests and detention, detention of persons in secret locations and enforced disappearances, use of torture and other ill-treatment and unlawful transfer of detainees to other countries. It also called on Islamabad to bring to justice in a fair trial all those responsible for committing, ordering or authorising torture and enforced disappearances. (The Hindu 28/3/07)

Rights body for Saarc nations (1)
New Delhi, March 28: Eminent policymakers, academics and human rights activists from across South Asian countries jointly called for creating a new South Asian commission for poverty alleviation and human rights on Wednesday. Speaking at the final day of the two-day South Asian Policy Forum on socio-economic rights in the capital, titled "Imagine a New South Asia", delegates of the Saarc countries stressed on the need for a regional media commission with a "regional" right to information, which will have a South Asian constitution to help strike a balance between governance and democracy in all seven Saarc member countries. Urging the South Asian countries to fight to create a community, the Nepalese political commentator, C.K. Lal, said, "The ‘United States of South Asia’ may not be possible immediately, but South Asian solidarity for democracy, governance and human rights has become a necessity." Explaining how people of South Asia have not been liberated even after the colonisers left, the editor of New Age in Bangladesh, Nurul Kabir, said, "South Asia now needs a second independence from forces that impede the regional democratic, political, economic and cultural developments." Reminding the delegates how gains of Indian nationals are fast eroding and calling for preventing neo-liberalism in the region, ActionAid country director in India, Babu Mathew, said, "The right to life, which is a fundamental human right, is itself under threat for the ‘excluded’ citizens." "Our bureaucracies and political leaderships need to change their old mindsets and spend more for the people rather than spending on militarisation," said Haji Mohammad Adeel, a former provincial minister from North West Frontier Province in Pakistan. (Asian Age 29/3/07)

Rights violation in Lanka’ (1)
New Delhi, March 28: Increasing violence against civilians and rival Tamil groups by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), continued recruitment of children by the LTTE, Karuna faction and increase in the number of internally displaced people forced to move due to the conflict and improper protection by the government to civilians, are some of the human rights violations in Sri Lanka that have been highlighted in a report. The report — "Sri Lanka: Time to play by the rules" by Amnesty International has brought out cases of enforced disappearances in northern and eastern region of the country and in Colombo. The report has also highlighted on torture in the police custody, political killings and recruitment of children by the LTTE and its breakaway faction. Demanding setting up of an international and independent commission of inquiry to investigate past human rights abuses in the country, the report states that neither the government security forces nor the LTTE appear to be taking adequate precautions to protect civilian lives. "The human rights situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated dramatically in recent months. Increased fighting between the government security forces and the LTTE since April, 2006 has resulted in the death and injury of scores of civilians, the internal displacement of more than 215,000 people and the destruction of homes, schools and places of worship," the report states. The report further adds that the 2002 ceasefire agreement is only on papers as analysts referring to the situation on the ground as "an undeclared war".According to the report, more than 65,000 people, most of them civilians, have lost their lives during the over two decades of conflict in the country. (Asian Age 29/3/07)

Rajendra Babu takes over as NHRC chairperson (1)
NEW DELHI: The former Chief Justice of India, Rajendra Babu, on Monday took over as the new Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Mr. Justice Babu retired as the Chief Justice on June 1, 2004. He was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court on September 25, 1997. He is the fifth Chairperson of the Commission. During his tenure in the Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Babu delivered several landmark judgments in civil, criminal, constitutional, environmental, taxation, corporate law and intellectual property matters. He will have a two-year tenure as NHRC Chairperson. (The Hindu 3/4/07)

Rights abuses: Amnesty moots regional mechanism (1)
NEW DELHI: An assembly organised by Amnesty International India has recommended the setting up of a regional mechanism to address human rights abuses in the South Asian region. The demand comes in the wake of reports of large-scale rights violations being perpetuated through security laws and their specific forms. "SAARC was set up with the objective of maintaining trust and cooperation across South Asia, but security laws justified in the context of terrorism, frequently curb the freedom of expression and the ability of citizens to express peaceful political dissent," said Purna Sen, Asia-Pacific Director of Amnesty International, at a press conference here on Monday. Delegates at the assembly noted that it was becoming increasingly common for governments to use "security" as an excuse for violating human rights. The assembly has also asked for reviewing the death penalty, pushing for greater corporate accountability and curbing violence against women. "The death penalty is a violation of right to life and it allows no correction of miscarriage of justice," said social activist Usha Ramanathan. Seeking a moratorium on the death penalty, Ms. Ramanathan said: "It will allow States to assess whether or not the death penalty helps. It is neither an effective deterrent for crime nor a fail-safe means of punishment, given the flaws of the criminal justice system." She also drew attention to the need for pressing for greater corporate accountability. "There is a huge difference between corporate accountability and corporate social responsibility; the latter helps them improve their image, but it is difficult to pin down corporates, who have become powerhouses in the neo-liberal years. There is a need to tame them. Earlier, the governments talked of land for all, but today there has been a turnaround and land is being provided to corporates." The assembly also urged SAARC nations to declare their commitment to curb violence against women. It expressed concern over the impact on the rights of populations touched by mining projects and special economic zones. (The Hindu 4/4/07)

Govt 'finds' missing people after State HRC orders probe (1)
Kolkata A day after West Bengal Human Rights Commission ordered the State Government to probe and submit a report by April 10 on the decomposed body found near Sonachura at Nandigram, Home Secretary PR Ray came out with a declaration that the Government had managed to get the whereabouts of all but one of the 27 persons who went missing after the March 14 police firing. Though the senior official refused to disclose the location of the missing people, he maintained "the administration has specific information on the whereabouts of the people who went missing and an affidavit would be filed in this regard on Monday." On the refusal of the Opposition Trinamool Congress and the Congress to join the all-party meeting at Nandigram as the administration was "trying to circumvent the real issue of sustained attack on the residents of Nandigram by the CPI(M) cadres", Ray said the Government was determined to restore peace in the disturbed zone. Apart from seeking reports on the decomposed body dug up by Bhumi Ucchhed Pratirodh Committee members on Sunday, the Human Rights Commission also sought clarifications from the West Bengal Health Secretary regarding complaints of rape victims. Commission Chairman Justice (Retd) Shyamal Kumar Sen said the medical report submitted by the doctor concerned was not clear adding he could be summoned by the Commission to explain his position.All India Legal Aid Forum lawyers and social activist Purabi Roy had earlier complained against lack of facilities at the Tamluk district hospital where the injured were undergoing treatment. Latest reports from Tamluk said the victims of police firing now being treated at the hospital had embarked on a hunger strike complaining the doctors at the instance of the local CPI(M) leaders were insisting upon releasing the patients even before they were completely cured. "A doctor who had not complied with the Marxist leaders' order had been transferred," sources said.Meanwhile, local Trinamool Congress MLA and 'save farmland' leader Sisir Adhikary on Tuesday challenged the Government to go ahead with its chemical hub programme at East Midnapore. …… (Pioneer 4/4/07)

Allot homestead land to green-card holders: SHRC (1)
BHUBANESWAR: At a time when land prices are going through the roof, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has asked the Orissa government to devise a scheme of rehabilitation and allotment of homestead land to green-card holders. The SHRC's direction would cover about 175 petitioners who had approached the Commission at different points of time. Observing that green-card holders sacrificed for development of the country and were treated as a distinctive group, the three-member bench of SHRC recommended that the government should issue necessary direction to settle petitioners close to their residing area. "If beneficiaries are earning living in urban area, they can be settled with homestead land in close proximity to urban centre. The government should draw up a scheme for the purpose," SHRC said in a recent order. The SHRC is now headed by Justice D. P. Mohapatra while other two members of the commission are former chief secretary Sudhanshu Mohan Patnaik and former law secretary Himadri Mohapatra. One of the petitioners Laxmipriya Lenka from Bhubaneswar stated that after two children were born to her, officials of health and family welfare department had met her and persuaded her to accept termination method, which would entitle her to be issued with a green-card that would confer several benefits including eight decimals of land free of premium. She had applied for a piece of homestead land to Bhubaneswar tehesildar, who declined to entertain the request and again she approached General Administration (GA) department that clarified that there was no government provision for leasing residential plots in favour of green-card holders within the corporation limit of the city, Ms. Lenka said. "Since MLAs and persons, who encroached upon government land within the municipal area and were granted lease of homestead land, there should be no legal bar for green-card holders to be provided with such facilities, particularly when commitment is made by the government," she contended. The Revenue Secretary had stated that in the year 1884, the revenue department had issued a notification in which it was clarified that homestead landless person holding a green-card would be eligible to get eight decimal land in rural area. The health and family welfare department also concurred with the former. But the GA department said there was no provision at present for allotment of leasehold residential plot in Bhubaneswar to green-card holders……. (The Hindu 2/5/07)

A fresh look at unorganised sector (1)
JAIPUR: Labour economists, trade union activists, academicians and representatives of civil society organisations will deliberate on the conditions of work and promotion of livelihoods in the unorganised sector at a regional consultation in the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) here on Wednesday. The IDS is organising the consultation as part of its silver jubilee celebrations in collaboration with the Institute for Human Development, New Delhi, and the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS). The daylong event will focus on the draft report on the subject and the draft Bills for unorganised agricultural and non-agricultural sector workers prepared by the Commission. The Institute of Development Studies acting Director, Surjeet Singh, said here on Tuesday that stakeholders from the northern States of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Gujarat would discuss the issues covered by the report and the Bills. Noted economist and IDS Chairman V.S. Vyas will inaugurate the consultation, while NCEUS Member Ravi Srivastava will present the report and the two Bills. (The Hindu 2/5/07)

Human rights award for Irom Sharmila (1)
IMPHAL, MAY 8 : Social activist Irom Sharmila has had a good week with the South Korean city of Gwangju conferring the “Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2007” upon her, and a New Delhi-based publisher agreeing to print her latest book of poetry. Sharmila has been chosen for the award, along with Benaras-based anti-caste system activist, Lenin Raghuvanshi. The South Korean award, which marks the spirit of the pro-democracy Gwanju uprising on May 18, 1980—in which over 200 people were killed—was given on May 7 in Gwangju. Sharmila said on Tuesday in Imphal that her ill-health did not permit travel, adding that she was glad to have received the award. Sharmila, who has been on a fast-unto-death since November 2000, demanding the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1952, be lifted from Manipur, has been kept alive by the state government by force-feeding her through a nose tube. The annual human rights award is given to individuals, groups or institutions in South Korea and elsewhere for their contribution towards human rights and peace, and for their involvement in movements supporting unification and cooperation. On Tuesday, Sharmila also told media at the Jawaharlal Nehru Government Hospital—where she was admitted since her return from New Delhi—that she has penned a 1,010-word poem called Mapok (Birth) and a Delhi-based publisher would publish it. “The poem is mostly about my thoughts and my early days, a lot of memories,” she said. Two books of poetry by Sharmila have already been published before. (Indian Express 9/5/07)

Rights activist Irom Sharmila gets bail (1)
NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Friday granted bail to human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on a fast-unto-death for over six years demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. She is facing prosecution for allegedly attempting to commit suicide. Hearing Ms. Sharmila in her chambers, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kamini Lau granted bail on her furnishing a personal bond of Rs. 10,000. Counsel for Ms. Sharmila asked the court for a later date for hearing, as it was not easy to bring her to Delhi from Manipur frequently. The court then fixed September 28 as the next date of hearing. Ms. Sharmila, through her counsel, also pleaded with the court to transfer the case to Imphal. The court, however, said this was not under its purview and the petitioner should instead approach the Supreme Court. Her counsel alleged that the Delhi police had illegally detained her in October last and had not produced her before a magistrate within 24 hours. They also alleged that the police had illegally confined her thereafter. The court then asked the public prosecutor to respond to the allegations. The public prosecutor sought time following which the court asked them to file the reply on the next date. (The Hindu 12/5/07)

``Rights of Kashmiris trampled upon'' (1)
SRINAGAR: Calling for immediate restoration of civil administration in rural areas of Kashmir, where the "Army is at the helm," human rights activists on Friday urged the Centre to involve the people in finding a solution to the Kashmir issue. Painting a grim picture of "human rights violations" in the Valley, the 11-member team from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi told a news conference here that the basic rights of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir had been violated, and "there is no redress from authorities." Headed by K. Balagopal of the Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh, the team visited south Kashmir and documented cases of human rights violation allegedly committed by the security forces. It said the revolt against counter-insurgent-turned-politician Papa Kishtwari was significant. "We salute the courage of the people who revolted against Kishtwari, who has the full backing of the Army and the police," said Dr. Balagopal. Kishtwari, he said, had murdered hundreds of people during his "reign of terror since 1994," and there were "22 cases, about which full details have been given to the Government." (The Hindu 12/5/07)

'Sealing, a violation of fundamental human rights' (1)
New Delhi : The members of the Confederation of All India Traders, on Saturday, held a 'vyapari panchayat' to protest against the sealing. The meeting was also attended by some of the Municipal Councillors. The traders said that sealing is a violation of the fundamental human rights. "Sealing is a violation of Articale 14, 19, 21, 39A and 41 of the Indian Constitution," the traders said while stating it as a reflection of the abject failure of the Government agencies. They said that sealing is being carried in utter disregard of the statutory provisions of MCD Act, 1957. The trade leaders at the panchayat regretted the attitude of the Government counsels at the Supreme Court and said that all related issues should be firmly placed before the court to bring out realities before the judges. (Pioneer 13/5/07)

Ensure basic human rights, Assam Govt tells Army (1)
Guwahati : The Assam Government on Sunday directed security forces in the State not to commit any excesses and ensure basic human rights of civilians during anti-insurgency operations. "A fresh set of guidelines were being issued to the security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations to ensure that human rights of civilians are protected and respected," Assam Government spokesman and State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists. The Government's decision calling for restraint comes in the wake of a wave of anti-Army protests in eastern Assam following the killing of 24-year-old Buddheswar Moran last weekend allegedly in a staged shootout by soldiers of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles. "The Government of Assam is committed to protecting the rights of the people and would under no circumstances allow any kind of excesses," the Minister said. Across eastern Assam, thousands of people blocked highways and shouted anti-army slogans over the killing of Moran - the Army earlier claimed he was a hardcore ULFA cadre. Locals refuted the charges and said Moran was a private guard at a tea plantation and had no militant links. Army authorities later admitted the killing of Moran as an 'unfortunate incident' and ordered a probe. The Army on its own earlier this month issued a 28-page booklet for its soldiers engaged in anti-insurgency operations in Assam and the other northeastern States. Army chief JJ Singh in the booklet titled Sainikon ke liye dhyan dene yogya baten (Issues to be kept in mind by soldiers) asked soldiers to strictly adhere to the guidelines - the people that you (soldiers) are working with are "our own people", and so "when carrying out operations, behave with kindness, apply as minimum a force as possible and keep yourself under control". The Army engaged in anti-insurgency operations in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is under fire over frequent allegations of rights violations, torture of innocent civilians, and fake encounters while conducting raids.Earlier this week, the Army tendered an apology to the Arunachal Pradesh Government after it alleged atrocities committed on locals by soldiers while conducting raids on ULFA bases.In July last year, the Army punished Major Nishant Sharma and Rifleman Sudip Gurung after finding the duo guilty of killing a villager in custody. The court of inquiry was ordered after widespread public protests in eastern Assam……. (Pioneer 14/5/07)

PUCL condemns arrest of Sen (1)
NEW DELHI: The Chhattisgarh unit of the People's Union for Civil Liberties has strongly condemned the police action in detaining its general secretary Binayak Sen under the provisions of the "highly controversial'' Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In a statement issued here on Tuesday, PUCL (Chhattisgarh unit) president Rajendra K. Sail has said that the outfit had apprehended such a repressive action against the human rights and social activists working for the civil liberties in Chhattisgarh because the State police officials and Ministers had threatened its members. The PUCL has demanded that the search on Dr. Sen's premises be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the law. It would be in the larger interest of the law if the same were done in the presence and participation of independent witnesses and with video-recording. (The Hindu 16/5/07)

Rights activist arrested in Chhattisgarh for Maoist connection (1)
Raipur, May 15, 2007: A senior human rights activist has been arrested in Chhattisgarh on charges of alleged Maoist connection, police said on Tuesday. After a weeklong search, police picked up Binayak Sen, national vice-president, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), late on Monday from Bilaspur town, 110 km north from Raipur, when the activist was trying to consult his lawyer to evade possible police arrest. Sen was arrested under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005, police said. The activist's arrest followed closely that of Maoist cadre Piyush Guha, held in Raipur last week, after the latter allegedly revealed Sen's links with Maoist ultras, especially his regular interaction with a top jailed Maoist leader and passing on information and letters. "Police will seek his remand on Tuesday and will interrogate him for his long association with Maoist radicals," a senior police officer said in Raipur. Sources say that police have strong evidence how Sen met Narayan Sanyal, the lone living contemporary of Maoist movement founder Charu Mazumdar, in Raipur central jail, and passed on some vital information and exchanged letters. The 70-year-old ailing Sanyal has been put at Raipur central jail since he was arrested here in December 2005. Sanyal is facing dozens of cases including masterminding the October 2003 attack on former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and the jailbreak at Bihar's Jehanabad in November 2005. (The Hindustan Times 17/5/07)

Sen's arrest an example of repression by Chhattisgarh Government, says PUCL (1)
NEW DELHI : Alleging that fake encounters in the past two years have claimed the lives of 155 people in Chhattisgarh, members of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) on Thursday accused the State Government of subjecting Adivasis to atrocities under the garb of Salwa Judum — a people's movement against terrorism and naxalism initiated by the Government in June 2005. The recent arrest of PUCL member Binayak Sen in Chhattisgarh, they said, was an example of the Government's repression on voices that drew attention to human rights violations. Members of the PUCL, who organised a demonstration outside the Chhattisgarh Bhavan in the capital on Thursday, have sought Dr. Sen's unconditional release. They accused the Government of "framing" Dr. Sen, a paediatrician and the vice-president of the PUCL in Chhattisgarh. He was arrested on May 14 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004, and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005. Later addressing a press conference, Harish Dhawan of the People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) said Dr. Sen had been falsely implicated. ``The State Government has unleashed terror and the police have not yet filed a First Information Report. Threats to PUCL members and Dr. Sen had begun two-and-a-half years ago, because we had begun to draw attention to the large-scale killings, rapes and human rights violation that went unreported." Condemning the arrest of Dr. Sen, the former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice Rajinder Sachar, said: "PUCL members are committed to non-violence. ``Violence cannot be tolerated; State violence is no less than any other violence. POTA's draconian laws have been incorporated in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004." Criticising Salwa Judum, noted writer Arundhati Roy said: "What has happened to Dr. Sen is what has been happening to the people of Chhattisgarh; people who are not heard, who have no voices. It all begins with the creation of Salwa Judum. Both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are colluding to create a people's militia and using unemployed people as special protection officers. This is a dangerous trend... which will result in the society becoming militarised." Advocate Prashant Bhushan accused the Government of orchestrating "land grabbing" and repressing the Adivasis who raise their voice against this. Joining the PUCL in seeking the release of Dr. Sen were members of the PUDR, Medicos Friend Circle, the National Alliance for People's Movement, the Socialist Front, Saheli and the Delhi Solidarity Group. (The Hindu 18/5/07)

Activist groups condemn PUCL leader's arrest (1)
JAIPUR : Activist groups have strongly criticised the arrest of Binayak Sen, national vice-president of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), by the Chhattisgarh police. The arrest of the well-known medical practitioner and social activist under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (CSPSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 was an act of ``vengeful'' State repression and a gross violation of human rights, they said. The cases against Dr. Sen for espousing the cause of innocent Adivasis caught in the cross fire of the administration and the Maoists were unjustified, they said. Magsaysay award winner Aruna Roy, who led the protests, and Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan activist Bhanwar Meghvanshi pointed out in a letter to Chief Minister Raman Singh that Dr. Sen was a noted human rights activist and an esteemed member of the medical community. ``We have known Dr. Sen for the past 20 years and are shocked to learn that the Government of Chhattisgarh has arrested him,'' they said. It was deplorable that the Government was harassing sincere social activists who had dedicated their lives to working for the people, instead of addressing the real issues of poverty and economic marginalisation. Dr. Sen and the PUCL had consistently and courageously highlighted the gross human rights violations and injustices being committed in Chhattisgarh, they noted. ``As citizens of India, we are all very concerned about the deteriorating condition of human rights and the threat of civil war in your State, which is also the cause for a great deal of concern at the national and international level,'' they said. Even K.P.S. Gill, who was adviser to the State Government on naxalism, had recently stated in an interview that the problem of Chhattisgarh was not naxalism but the administration, the letter said. Rajasthan PUCL functionaries, Than Singh and Kavita Srivastava, in a statement, said the Chhattisgarh PUCL and Dr .Sen were instrumental in exposing the extra legal ``murders'' committed by the State police in the name of encounters. The police were accusing him of meeting Maoist leaders in jail, but he did that openly and after following the due process of law, they said. (The Hindu 18/5/07)

Documents, computer seized from PUCL official's house (1)
Raipur: After the arrest of prominent civil liberty activist Vinayak Sen, Chhattisgarh police was trying to tighten its grip over the people, whom it suspected, were having links with banned naxal organisations. "We have evidences against a couple of other people and those are being examined before taking action against them," top police officers dealing with anti-naxal cases told PTI on Sunday. There are people who had been in touch with the naxal commanders, including CPI (Maoist) politbureau member Narayan Sanyal, who is in Raipur Central Jail for about two years, and those inputs are being verified, the sources said. PUCL Chhattisgarh general secretary Vinayak Sen was also in touch with Sanyal and several documents to prove it are in possession of the police, they said. "More arrests can not be ruled out, as the investigation are still on," sources said. Meanwhile, police also claimed to have seized several "documents" to prove Sen's link with Maoist leaders. Police searched the Sen's Raipur residence yesterday and recovered several documents, both hand-written and printed, to establish his link with Sanyal and others, the sources said. "Besides papers, some digital documents and a computer were seized by police and that all are being examined," they said. Among the documents is a letter written by Sanyal to Sen and other things, police said, adding it is vital information for police to understand the network of naxalites. Sen was arrested on Monday from Bilaspur for having links with naxalites. However, police had to wait for a couple of days to search his house as it was in the name of his wife, and in her absence police were not allowed the search. -- PTI (The Hindu 21/5/07)

Arrest of PUCL leader by Chhattisgarh decried (1)
BHUBANESWAR: A group of activists and academicians here condemned the arrest of national vice-president of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Binayak Sen by the Chhattisgarh Government. At a meeting held to denounce the arrest of Mr. Sen at Lohia Bhawan here, the activists said that the Chhattisgarh Government carried out an undemocratic and anti-people programme by arresting the PUCL leader. They demanded that the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, having been amended in 2004, be repealed. Mr. Sen was arrested close on the heels of his criticism that over 100 fake counters had taken place in the Chhattisgarh. (The Hindu 21/5/07)

Woman deposes before OHRC (1)
BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa Human Rights Commission on Tuesday recorded statement of Mali Paleka, wife of Sirimajhi Paleka, who died allegedly in the police encounter at Birubai village in Rayagada district last year. While deposing before the OHRC, Ms Paleka said when her husband had gone out of their house in the night to attend the call of nature, the police and personnel of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) fired indiscriminately. Subsequently, she had not found his husband even as other villagers searched near her house, Ms. Paleka said adding that the next evening, the police had thrown the body of her husband at a little distance away from her house. "I was not even called to be present during the postmortem." (The Hindu 23/5/07)

Rights violation cases: Bihar pays Rs 7.6 lakhs (1)
New Delhi, May 22: The review camp of the National Human Rights Commission held at Patna resulted in the Bihar government paying Rs 7.6 lakhs as compensation to victims in six cases of human rights violations. "During the three-day camp in Patna, 30 cases of full commission and 125 cases relating to single members were disposed of," NHRC chairperson and former Chief Justice of India S. Rajendra Babu told reporters here. Several cases, including those of alleged custodial death, police torture, assault by police, illegal detention, encounters and deaths of undertrials, were taken up during the full commission sittings. He said the panel has also recommended interim relief of over Rs 14 lakhs in 10 cases, including eight of custodial deaths. "Also, during the review meeting with the senior officials, issues, especially on economic, social, cultural and political rights, besides status of preventing and combating trafficking of women and children and manual scavenging, were discussed," he said. (Asian Age 23/5/07)

Justice eludes Gujarat victims: Amnesty (7)
New Delhi: Amnesty International has expressed concern that the victims of 2002 post-Godhra riots are yet to get justice. In its report for 2007 on `World human rights' released here on Wednesday, Amnesty said: "Justice continued to evade most victims and survivors of the 2002 violence in Gujarat, in which thousands of Muslims were attacked and more than 2,000 were killed. Rehabilitation continued to be slow. Members of the Muslim minority in Gujarat reportedly faced difficulties in accessing housing to rent and public resources." It said, "An official panel concluded that over 5,000 displaced families lived in `sub-human' conditions. There continued to be a few successful prosecutions relating to the violence. However, 1,594 cases closed by the State police were reopened on the orders of the Supreme Court and 41 police officials were being prosecuted for their alleged role." The report said, "New evidence on the riots emerged, in the form of details of mobile phone calls made between those leading the attacks and politicians belonging to the then ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist party." On J&K, Amnesty said, "Politically motivated violence slightly decreased, but torture, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial executions continued to be reported. (The Hindu 24/5/07)

SHRC to probe firing in old city (1)
HYDERABAD: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) will hold an inquiry on June 11 into the police firing in the old city after the Mecca Masjid bomb blast on May 18 that reportedly claimed five lives. Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi along with his followers on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the SHRC Chairman, B. Subhashan Reddy, here on Thursday urging him to take up a full-fledged inquiry into the matter. Mr. Owaisi in his memorandum described police action as `unwarranted' and `unprovoked' adding that the firing was ordered without following due procedures. The MIM leader submitted an account outlining the conditions in which five persons were killed while another eight persons were injured in the police firing. "Police opened indiscriminate firing on innocent people who started running towards Shalibanda after coming out of the mosque," he said. MIM party workers who interacted with the media after meeting the SHRC Chairman pointed out that Self Loading Rifles were used in the firing. "SLRs are only used to combat terrorists or naxalites and not common people," Mr Owaisi said. SHRC Chairman B. Subhashan Reddy informed that they would wait for the report from Commissioner of Police and Hyderabad District Collector before reaching any conclusion. Mr. Reddy informed that the notice was served on the Commissioner of Police seeking explanation for reasons behind the police firing. (The Hindu 24/5/07)

Even Amnesty's intervention failed to trace Tariq (1)
Srinagar, May 3:: IN Tariq Ahmad Lone's case, an electrician with the Centaur Lake View hotel who went missing in the custody of the CRPF, even the international human rights group, the Amnesty International's intervention failed to trace his whereabouts. On September 9, 1990, personnel of the 33 battalion of CRPF, headed by a government official, cordoned off Lone's residence at Wanigam in Pattan and arrested him. The officer who was leading the search party assured the family that Lone will be released after questioning. Seventeen years have already passed, the family still waits for his return. "What happened to my brother in the CRPF custody is still a mystery," says Shabir Ahmad, Tariq's younger brother. "I want an answer from the J-K government and security agencies. Is my brother dead or alive?" To trace Tarqi, the family travelled all districts of Kashmir and visited every major jail in the Valley. The efforts, however, proved a futile. A senior government officer told the family that Tariq was lodged in a Rajasthan jail. "But on reaching Rajasthan, jail authorities denied having any knowledge," says Shabir. Fed up with "inability" of police and CRPF officials to trace Lone, the family moved court to seek justice. After hearing the writ petition, the court asked police and CRPF to produce Tariq before it. But the security agencies failed to do so. "Police as well as the CRPF tried to avoid the court hearings," Ahmad said. The family also sought intervention of Amnesty International to help trace missing Tariq. The human rights agency asked the J-K government to submit a report. The government, in response to Amnesty International's plea denied having any information about missing Tariq. "Police officials told Amnesty International that no missing report was registered about Lone's disappearance. We had registered an FIR at the Pattan police station," claimed his brother. As hope of Lone's return is fast fading with each passing day, friends still pray for his safe return. "Lone was a humble person. Not only me, each one of us in this village pray for his safety," said Lone's old friend Mushtaq (Indian Express 25/5/07)

Arrests aimed at stopping rights movement: PUCL (1)
RAIPUR, MAY 25: The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) today alleged that the arrest of its president and human rights activist Rajendra Sayal yesterday was part of the Chhattisgarh Government’s attempt to thwart a civil rights demonstration scheduled for May 31. The demonstration has been planned to protest against the recent excesses by the state police. A statement issued by PUCL claimed it was being targeted by the Government after it brought to light several human rights violations by the state. “The arrest of our office-bearers, including Sayal, is part of the Government plan to crack the whip on rights activists involved in a campaign against Draconian laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005,” it said. “PUCL national vice-president Dr Vinayak Sen was also arrested for actively opposing the Government and regularly exposing fake encounters, disappearances and rapes conducted in the garb of anti-Maoist operations,” the statement added. Sayal is the second top PUCL leader to be arrested after Dr Sen, who was arrested on May 14 last for his suspected links with Naxalites. The police claim Sen was arrested after jailed Maoists revealed his Naxalite links, especially his regular interaction with a top Naxalite leader in jail. PUCL said the warrant against Sayal has been pending for two months. “The unnecessary delay in serving it is questionable, especially as a massive demonstration is planned for May 31 to protest against Dr Sen’s arrest. This is the police’s attempt to undermine, jeopardise and suppress the democratic human rights of people,” the statement added. However, rubbishing PUCL’s claims, Raipur SSP B S Marawi said, “Sayal has been arrested on a warrant issued by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a case of contempt.” He denied Sayal’s arrest had anything to do with Sen. “There hasn’t been any delay in serving the warrant and the allegation is totally false,” he added. (Indian Express 26/5/07)

Tribal killings: Cong team to press for NHRC probe (1)
Raipur: A fact finding team of the All India Congress Committee, sent to probe the killing of seven tribals on March 31 in an alleged fake encounter at Santoshpur village in Bijapur, has demanded an inquiry into the incident by the National Human Rights Commission. MP Moolchand Meena from Rajasthan, who is part of the team, said the district administration had tried to prevent the delegation from visiting the area saying that the people have deserted the villages. "We found people in these villages. They are scared after the March 31 incident," he said. Meena said the team spoke to the villagers. "The villagers said the men in police uniform and Salwa Judum activists were behind the incident," Meena said. (Indian Express 26/5/07)

Even Amnesty's intervention failed to trace Tariq (1)
Srinagar, May 3:: IN Tariq Ahmad Lone's case, an electrician with the Centaur Lake View hotel who went missing in the custody of the CRPF, even the international human rights group, the Amnesty International's intervention failed to trace his whereabouts. On September 9, 1990, personnel of the 33 battalion of CRPF, headed by a government official, cordoned off Lone's residence at Wanigam in Pattan and arrested him. The officer who was leading the search party assured the family that Lone will be released after questioning. Seventeen years have already passed, the family still waits for his return. "What happened to my brother in the CRPF custody is still a mystery," says Shabir Ahmad, Tariq's younger brother. "I want an answer from the J-K government and security agencies. Is my brother dead or alive?" To trace Tarqi, the family travelled all districts of Kashmir and visited every major jail in the Valley. The efforts, however, proved a futile. A senior government officer told the family that Tariq was lodged in a Rajasthan jail. "But on reaching Rajasthan, jail authorities denied having any knowledge," says Shabir. Fed up with "inability" of police and CRPF officials to trace Lone, the family moved court to seek justice. After hearing the writ petition, the court asked police and CRPF to produce Tariq before it. But the security agencies failed to do so. "Police as well as the CRPF tried to avoid the court hearings," Ahmad said. The family also sought intervention of Amnesty International to help trace missing Tariq. The human rights agency asked the J-K government to submit a report. The government, in response to Amnesty International's plea denied having any information about missing Tariq. "Police officials told Amnesty International that no missing report was registered about Lone's disappearance. We had registered an FIR at the Pattan police station," claimed his brother. As hope of Lone's return is fast fading with each passing day, friends still pray for his safe return. "Lone was a humble person. Not only me, each one of us in this village pray for his safety," said Lone's old friend Mushtaq. (Indian Express 28/5/07)

PUCL chief held in Raipur (1)
Raipur, May 24: In the second arrest of a Civil Liberties leader in 10 days, the Chhattisgarh police on Thursday took into custody the state president of People’s Union for Civil Liberties Rajendra Sail here. "Mr Sail was arrested here in connection with a contempt case, in which he had been sentenced to jail term," Raipur district superintendent of police Lal Umed Singh said. Mr Sail is the second top leader after state PUCL general secretary Vinayak Sen to be arrested by the Raman Singh government in ten days. Mr Sen was arrested on May 14 for his alleged links with Naxalites. "Mr Sail was convicted by the Supreme Court on April 21, 2005 in a contempt of court case," Mr Singh said. "It was a case of willful contempt of Madhya Pradesh high court for which he had been sentenced to one week imprisonment and the Chhattisgarh police on Wednesday got the orders from Madhya Pradesh to arrest him and Mr Sail was on Thursday arrested here by Raipur police," the SP said. After arrest, Mr Sail was taken to the Raipur Medical college hospital for check up, the police said. (Asian Age 25/5/07)

Rights activists demand inquiry into encounter killings in Gujarat (1)
NEW DELHI: Asserting there was a "pattern" in the encounter killing of Sohrabbudin and the recent expose by a tabloid on the killing of Sameer Khan in 2002, a group of human rights activists on Monday decided to file a public interest litigation petition in the Supreme Court demanding an inquiry into the encounter killings committed in Gujarat in the past couple of years. At a press conference organised by the non-government organisation Anhad here, poet Javed Akhtar, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and social activist Shabnam Hashmi said a pattern has emerged in the encounter killings in Gujarat. They alleged that a cover-up has taken place in the inquiry into the encounter killing of Sameer Khan. "A concerted cover-up has taken place in the inquiry into the encounter killing at the level of the Chief Minister's office," alleged Mr. Bhushan. "Both Sohrabuddin and Sameer Khan were killed claiming they were militants who plotted to kill Narendra Modi or other important people in the State and Central Governments," he added. The activists demanded a thorough investigation into all encounter killings allegedly committed by the now suspended police officer D.G. Vanzara and his team. Calling such encounter killings "cold-blooded murder", Mr. Akhtar said, "Encounter killings are now becoming a national issue." Alleging that fake encounters were a way for the Modi Government to "demonise" Muslims and Pakistan as well as to divert attention from farmer suicides and poverty in the State, activist Shabnam Hashmi said they were approaching the apex court as "there is no way the judiciary in Gujarat can come to a conclusion on the matter." "We want an inquiry into the encounters committed by the team," demanded Ms. Hashmi. "Fourteen encounters have taken place in the past three years out of which Mr. Vanzara has been directly involved in six," she alleged. (The Hindu 29/5/07)

Even Amnesty's intervention failed to trace Tariq (1)
Srinagar, May 3:: IN Tariq Ahmad Lone's case, an electrician with the Centaur Lake View hotel who went missing in the custody of the CRPF, even the international human rights group, the Amnesty International's intervention failed to trace his whereabouts. On September 9, 1990, personnel of the 33 battalion of CRPF, headed by a government official, cordoned off Lone's residence at Wanigam in Pattan and arrested him. The officer who was leading the search party assured the family that Lone will be released after questioning. Seventeen years have already passed, the family still waits for his return. "What happened to my brother in the CRPF custody is still a mystery," says Shabir Ahmad, Tariq's younger brother. "I want an answer from the J-K government and security agencies. Is my brother dead or alive?" To trace Tarqi, the family travelled all districts of Kashmir and visited every major jail in the Valley. The efforts, however, proved a futile. A senior government officer told the family that Tariq was lodged in a Rajasthan jail. "But on reaching Rajasthan, jail authorities denied having any knowledge," says Shabir. Fed up with "inability" of police and CRPF officials to trace Lone, the family moved court to seek justice. After hearing the writ petition, the court asked police and CRPF to produce Tariq before it. But the security agencies failed to do so. "Police as well as the CRPF tried to avoid the court hearings," Ahmad said. The family also sought intervention of Amnesty International to help trace missing Tariq. The human rights agency asked the J-K government to submit a report. The government, in response to Amnesty International's plea denied having any information about missing Tariq. "Police officials told Amnesty International that no missing report was registered about Lone's disappearance. We had registered an FIR at the Pattan police station," claimed his brother. As hope of Lone's return is fast fading with each passing day, friends still pray for his safe return. "Lone was a humble person. Not only me, each one of us in this village pray for his safety," said Lone's old friend Mushtaq. (Indian Express 3/6/07)

Amnesty for 4,000 prisoners (1)
LUCKNOW : To mark 12 years of the formation of the first Bahujan Samaj Party Government in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Mayawati on Sunday announced the release of over 4000 male and female prisoners, who have been serving jail terms for petty offences and whose conduct in prison has been exemplary. The Chief Minister clarified that the Government's amnesty would not apply to those jailed for heinous crimes. As per Sections 195, 196 and 197 of the Uttar Pradesh Jail Manual, the State had the power to give such amnesty. The decision was taken at last Friday's Cabinet meeting presided over by Ms. Mayawati. Addressing a press conference, Ms. Mayawati said the decision taken on humanitarian grounds was in tune with her Government's policy of "sarvajan hitaya sarvajan sukhaya" (equality-based society). She said the move would enable them and their families to make a new beginning. Ms. Mayawati described it as a step to end social ills and for the convicts' rehabilitation. The Chief Minister said the Government would consider providing them with some economic incentive. Recalling that it was on June 3, 1995 she took over as the Chief Minister for the first time, Ms. Mayawati said it was a historic day and a milestone in the Bahujan Samaj movement. (The Hindu 4/6/07)

NHRC seeks amendments in Constitution to check corruption (1)
New Delhi : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decided to recommend amendments in the Constitution to check corruption. It wants to add "not to involve in corruption" in the fundamental duties enshrined in the Constitution. The NHRC has prepared a report compiling all recommendations and will soon make the report public, sources in the commission said. Apart from suggesting the amendments, the NHRC has decided to make several recommendations that include setting up fast track courts for speedy trials of graft cases and a law to provide security to whistle blowers. It would also seek India's endorsement of the United Nations Corruption Prevention Treaty. NHRC report says: "There is a need to include a new section which should declare no person should be involved in corruption" as a fundamental duty. The NHRC has also suggested expeditious disposal of graft cases. "To handle the corruption cases there is a need to set up fast track courts. Similarly, there is a need to review and improve the laws related with such cases and system," its report said. Sources said the panel in its recommendations has given top priority on the need to protect whistle blowers exposing corruption in society. "There is need to develop a system which can provide security and protect human rights of the witness and whistle blowers," says the NHRC suggestions. Such system can be enforced by enacting a legislation which can be termed as Whistle Blower Act, the NHRC adds. The suggestions were prepared on the basis of a two day seminar "Impact of Corruption on Human Rights and Governance" which was inaugurated by President APJ Abdul Kalam last month. (Pioneer 4/6/07)

Rights violation report says equal blame lies with ULFA (1)
GUWAHATI, JUNE 3: The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and security forces are both equally guilty of violating basic rights of the common people, leading to the death of as many as 242 persons in 413 insurgency-related incidents in Assam during 2006. This was stated in a report compiled by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) that was released today. The report said security forces, including the Army and Central Paramilitary Forces, committed “blatant” human rights violations, while armed underground groups were responsible for “gross violation” of international humanitarian laws, with the common man being the worst victim of the crossfire. “Armed groups were responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian laws, especially by targeting civilians through explosive devices. As per records of the state Government, as many as 191 persons were killed and 1,276 were injured in bomb blasts triggered by these groups in Assam between 2001 and 2006. As many as 1,536 civilians were killed in the armed conflict during the same period,” the ACHR report said. The report particularly held militant groups—primarily the ULFA— responsible for the death of 1,214 people in Assam between May 2001 and May 2006. “Of these, 1,031 were civilians, 183 security forces personnel,” it said. The report also quoted from the Union Home Ministry and said while 254 people were killed in 398 insurgency-related incidents in Assam during 2005, at least 242 persons were killed in 413 incidents during 2006. “The armed groups were responsible for indiscriminate killings of civilians,” the report said, listing at least 23 specific cases, which included death of a 10-year old child in a blast at a vegetable market in Guwahati to a tea estate manager in Upper Assam. “Armed groups also carried out several kidnappings of civilians, often demanding ransom. Failure to meet their demands resulted in killing of the hostages,” the report said. Executive Director (NE) of Food Corporation of India PC Ram, who was kidnapped by the ULFA about a month-and-a-half ago from the heart of Guwahati, has still not been traced. The underground groups have also been held responsible for numerous incidents of extortion, with the ULFA and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) topping the list. “Besides abductions for ransom, armed groups were also responsible for extortion,” it said. The report pointed out that there were 27 cases lodged against NDFB cadre for extorting money even after signing of a ceasefire pact with the Government in June 2006. The Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report also held ULFA cadre responsible for destruction of public property and infrastructure. “They especially targeted the oil installations of the state, blew up pipelines carrying natural gas and crude oil, as also railway tracks,” the report said. (Indian Express 4/6/07)

NHRC for constitutional reform (1)
New Delhi, June 3: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), is planning to recommend suitable amendments in the Constitution to check increasing corruption in the country. According to the NHRC, a section "not to involve in corruption" should be added in the 51 Section of the fundamental duties of the Constitution. The NHRC has prepared a report, compiling all recommendations and will soon make them public, according to sources in the Commission. The suggestions were prepared on the basis of a two-day seminar on "Impact of Corruption on Human Rights and Governance", which was inaugurated by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in May. Apart from suggesting the amendments, the NHRC will also make several recommendations, including setting up of fast track courts for speedy trials of graft cases and a law to provide security to whistle-blowers. It will also seek India’s endorsement of the United Nations Corruption Prevention Treaty. Regarding the amendments in the Constitution, the NHRC recommendations said, "There is a need to include a new section, declaring that no person should be involved in corruption" as a fundamental duty. Concerned about the rampant corruption in the country, the NHRC was in favour of expedition of graft cases. "To handle the corruption cases, there is a need to set up fast track courts. Similarly, there is a need to review and improve the laws related to such cases and system," the NHRC suggested. Admitting that corruption is not limited to India but is present across the world, the rights panel suggests an urgent need to link up with some international organisations, like the UN. (Asian Age 4/6/07)

State rights panel registers case (1)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Human Rights Commission has registered a case questioning the holding of school assemblies in searing heat. Commission member V. P. Mohankumar issued a notice to the Director of Public Instruction in the case, filed by Dr. Nazeema, Head of the Department of Education, Calicut University. The complainant said that some schools, mostly private, made students stand in the sun for up to an hour. The school authorities did not care even if children fainted or suffered other physical discomforts. Students from LKG to Standard 10 were forced to attend the assembly. She requested that assemblies be conducted only in roofed halls. The Commission said that those concerned could implead in the case. A hearing will be held at the Government Guest House in Kozhikode on June 16. (The Hindu 5/6/07)

NHRC report on missing children (1)
NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation and the police forces in the States to ensure that children who go missing were traced out and restored to their families quickly. Releasing a report of the committee set up to examine the issue of missing children as a follow up to the Nithari killings in Noida, NHRC Chairperson S. Rajendra Babu, said that it should be considered a priority by the law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders. Noting that the problem had not received the attention it deserved from the Government and the society at large, the committee headed by former CBI Director and NHRC Member, P. C. Sharma, has urged that while the CBI needs to strengthen itself to investigate such cases, the State police forces need to make themselves more accountable. (The Hindu 3/7/07)

NHRC unveils rights syllabus for school, college (1)
New Delhi : In making human rights awareness an essential part of school and college curriculum, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has unveiled a course structure in human rights education to be made compulsory across all disciplines of undergraduate studies. For the first time, the NHRC has even prepared a module for training teachers in human rights with a view to impart awareness on the subject at the primary, secondary and higher secondary school level. The thrust this time is on "application-based" knowledge in human rights. With the result the students who will undergo the foundation course in human rights at the undergraduate level will be asked to identify some societal problems and internalise it into the course of their field work/project. This will be essential across all disciplines of undergraduate studies. Releasing the twin sets of recommendations by NHRC at a function here, Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh said, "This effort will lay a strong foundation for inculcation of respect for human rights." In his view, integrating human rights education into school and University will go a long way in "sensitising" the young minds in achieving the goals stated in our Preamble to Constitution, in promoting values, advancement of the backward and under-privileged, and protection of environment. Echoing the sentiments of the Minister, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman SK Thorat said, "Recently in the course of uplifting the disadvantaged, the amount of realisation among sections of the society was lacking because people do not know what the real picture (of society) is." He was possibly referring to the recent Government initiative to allocate 27 per cent reservation for OBC in central educational institutions that evoked widespread agitation and protests. "Knowledge alone is not sufficient. Education of human rights must create sensitivity among students n seeing violation of other persons' human rights" Thorat said. Making it clear that he was referring to exclusion of basic rights to certain groups in the society, he said, "Indian society is characterised by social exclusion." Despite provision of equality of all citizens under law, some groups face problems with regard to access to rights. According to him, the recent initiative must remove this contradiction that exists between law and practice. It was insistence by NHRC that led the UGC to formally introduced human rights education curriculum in Universities across the country in year 2001. But with progress in this field of law, a Task Force on Human Rights Education comprising of academicians and legal experts was constituted in June 2006 to prepare a revised syllabus for undergraduate and post-graduate courses already been rendered by 40 odd universities. NHRC Chairperson S Rajendra Babu commended the efforts of the task force in bringing out the revised syllabus for colleges and a model teacher-training course. Expressing confidence about the recommendations being implemented, Babu said, "I am sure the recommendations of the Commission would be given due cognisance by various stakeholders (UGC and NCERT) while introducing human rights education at various levels of education." (Pioneer 9/7/07)

Activists demand withdrawal of Bill (1)
NEW DELHI: Human rights activists met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday to communicate to him civil society’s opposition to the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005. They will now meet Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Wednesday to demand its withdrawal. Though only three activists — Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad, Gagan Sethi of Jan Vikas and Farah Naqvi — met the Prime Minister, they presented to him public statements articulating “nation-wide opposition” to the proposed legislation. The first statement was issued by women’s groups on International Women’s Day; the second by eminent jurists, academics and civil society activists after a National Consultation on the Bill in Delhi in mid-June, and the third by a similar grouping in Mumbai last week. (The Hindu 10/7/07)

Steps on to rehabilitate rural green-card holders (1)
BHUBANESWAR: Following the State Human Rights Commission’s (SHRC) directive to devise a scheme of rehabilitation and allotment of homestead land to green-card holders, the State Government has made a move in this connection. The Revenue and Disaster Management department has sent an official communication to Board of Revenue saying that a rural green-card holder, who is a homestead landless person and has been residing in urban area, may be considered for settlement with homestead land in close proximity to urban area. If suitable land is not available in the vicinity of the urban area, the green card holder should be considered for allotment of land in his native or neighbouring village or village adjoining to nearby urban settlement. "All such applications of rural green card holders pending before the concerned tehesildar as on March 31 this years shall be disposed of," the commissioner-cum-secretary of revenue department said in hisletter. About 175 petitioners had approached SHRC at different points of time for settlement. A three-member bench of SHRC had recommended that the Government should issue necessary direction to settle petitioners close to their residing area as they had made sacrifice for the development of country and were treated as a distinctive group. One of the petitioners Laxmipriya Lenka from Bhubaneswar had stated that after two children were born to her, officials of health and family welfare department had met her and persuaded her to accept termination method, which would entitle her to be issued with a green-card. But her applications were not entertained in administrative level. Those who had filed applications with tehesildar after March 31 may be considered for settlement near their permanent residence or adjoining villages, the revenue department communiqué said. (The Hindu 10/7/07)

NHRC for action against officers (1)
New Delhi, July 11: With an aim to safeguard everyone’s right, including foreigners, the National Human Rights Commission has asked for disciplinary as well as criminal action against delinquent officers, in a case relating to a Pakistani national in Banaskantha district of Gujarat. However, the four officials have been given four weeks to give in writing why action should not be taken against them in the case. The case relates to Raziabibi Sheikh Jamir Luhar, who was intercepted on March 25, 2003, at the Indo-Pak border and produced at Mavsari police station. This was intimated by SP, Banaskantha, to the commission on May 12, 2003. He also said that Jamir Luhar was not produced in the court. During interrogation on May 12, 2003, he complained of headache and asked for water. A doctor from the Primary Health Centre, Suigam, was immediately called but Jamir Luhar collapsed and was declared dead. The investigation division of the commission obtained the post-mortem and magisterial reports from the state government. The post-mortem report showed ante-mortem injuries, with most of the injuries on the back. There was only one head injury. According to the doctors, the cause of death was shock and haemorrhage. The SDM, Tharad, who conducted an inquiry into the circumstances of the death, Luhar was interrogated on the day he died by a joint team. (Asian Age 12/7/07)

Honour killing: NHRC tells Haryana Chief Secretary to file report (1)
New Delhi, July 12: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked for a report in two weeks time from the Haryana Chief Secretary over the killing of a couple—Manoj and Bubli—in Kaithal district by the girl’s family because they married despite belonging to the same gotra. The Commission also directed the Haryana Police to protect Manoj’s family members. NHRC Chairperson Justice S Rajendra Babu said the Haryana and Punjab High Court had asked the state police to provide security to the couple when they got married. He said the police, however, lodged a complaint that the girl was a minor and started harassing Manoj’s mother and sisters. Manoj and Bubli were then compelled to come to the Kaithal Court where the District Judge refuted the police allegations that the girl was kidnapped. The District Judge asked the police to provide protection to the two. However, the police left the couple in the Pipli township, at the mercy of her relatives. The two were killed and their bodies were thrown into a canal. The National Commission for Women sent a notice to the Haryana Police on a complaint from the All India Democratic Women’s Association which wanted action against the police. (Indian Express 13/7/07)

Kerala gets NHRC notice on chikungunya outbreak (1)
New Delhi, July 12 : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued a notice to the Kerala Chief Secretary seeking details about the recent outbreak of chikungunya in the state, which claimed 40 lives. The rights body said such incidents were a violation of the right to health. The Commission also directed its Investigation Division to depute a team to Kerala to assess the prevailing situation in the state and submit a report within a month. The NHRC took cognizance of reports that appeared in print as well as electronic media highlighting that more than one lakh people had been affected by the disease. The reports also said teams from the Army and Navy had been called to combat its spread in Kerala. “After going through various reports, the Commission said such incidents are violation of the right to health of the people,” the NHRC said. This mosquito-borne viral disease erupted in Kerala towards May-end this year, claiming 40 lives while 7,000 people were admitted in hospitals. The state had allotted about Rs 50 million to battle chikungunya. A dozen medical teams from the Army and Navy had been deployed. The Army flew in three cold fogging machines from Pune’s Armed Forces Medical College for the first time in south India to tackle mosquito breeding. Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss had said in June the deaths were not due to chikungunya. Committees appointed by the Centre had reported that though chikungunya cases were found, the casualties were not due to it. (Indian Express 13/7/07)

NHRC wants speedy justice (1)
New Delhi, July 16: The National Human Rights Commission has come up with guidelines for speedy disposal of child rape cases recommending that the investigation should be completed in three months and that it should be done in a child friendly atmosphere. The guidelines of NHRC mention that the complaint related to child rape cases should be recorded promptly as well as accurately. NHRC recommends that the case should be handed by an officer not below the rank of a sub inspector, preferably a lady officer, who should be in civil dress. It also said the recording of the case should be conducted at the resident of the victim and that the police should not insist on the victim coming to the police station. NHRC has said that the complaint might be recorded by the victim or an eye witness or anyone including a representative of an non-governmental organisation. But in case the complainant is the victim itself then the police should ensure that the victim is made comfortable before recording the statement. NHRC has asked that the recording should be verbatim and if feasible assistance of psychiatrist should be taken. The investigation officer shall ensure that medical examination of victim of sexual assault and the accused is done preferably within 24 hours in accordance with Cr. PC Sec. 164 A. Instruction be issued that the chief medical officer ensures the examination of victim immediately on receiving request from investigating officer. This would help in ensuring accurate narration of the incident covering all relevant aspects of the case. Also the gynaecologist, while examining the victim should ensure recording the history of incident. NHRC also recommended that after the registration of the case, the investigation team should visit the scene of crime to secure whatever incriminating evidence is available there and if needed take pictures of the same. The investigating officer should secure the clothes of the victim and the accused and send it for forensic analysis for matching blood group and DNA profiling. NHRC has also asked that the investigation should be done under the supervision of senior officers to ensure proper investigation. Also NHRC has asked for the identity of the victim and the family to be kept secret and to ensure them protection. Issuing guidelines to courts, NHRC said that the case should be take up by fast track courts preferably presided over by lady judges and that the trial should be held in camera in a child friendly atmosphere. NHRC said that the recording should be conducted by video conferencing if possible so that the victim is not subjected to the close proximity of the accused and that the magistrate should commit the case to sessions within 15 days of filing the charge sheet. The issue emerged from three incidents of sexual assault and rape of minor girls in Kerala, which were brought to the notice of the Commission by the President of All India Democratic Women’s Association, Thiruvananthapuram. (Asian Age 17/7/07)

India rejects Amnesty report on copter sale to Myanmar (1)
New Delhi, July 16: India on Monday dismissed as “completely baseless” a report by an international human rights watchdog saying that the country is selling Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to Myanmar in violation of the European Union’s arms embargo. “These reports are baseless,” an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said, refusing to comment in detail on allegations in the report. Amnesty International and a group of European NGOs released a report on Monday saying that the “proposed transfer” of an HAL-manufactured military helicopter to Myanmar containing key components and technology from six European Union countries will undermine an EU arms embargo on the military junta. In a report titled “Indian helicopters for Myanmar: making a mockery of the EU arms embargo?” the watchdogs cite sources saying that the Indian government is planning to transfer the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to Myanmar. It elaborates that the Indian-manufactured helicopter would not be operational without vital components from EU member states and urges the need for stricter EU arms controls. “The EU embargo explicitly states that no military equipment should be supplied, either directly or indirectly, for use in Myanmar—what's the point in having an arms embargo if it is not going to be implemented or enforced?” Roy Isbister of Saferworld, one of the NGOs involved in the report, said. The report has been sent to the EU Presidency along with a letter by Amnesty International asking the EU to initiate immediate consultations with the Indian Government. The letter says EU should cancel transfers of components for the helicopter and discontinue future production cooperation with India if the country “plans to supply or has indeed already supplied ALHs to Myanmar”. The report says that Myanmar has a “widely-documented record” of serious human rights violations that include summary executions, torture and the recruitment of child soldiers. “Should this transfer go ahead, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK could be undermining an EU arms embargo on Myanmar in place since 1988,” the report says. The report documents that “variants” of the ALH contain rocket launchers from Belgium, rockets, guns and engines from France, brake systems from Italy, fuel tanks and gearboxes from the UK and self-protection equipment from a Swedish company besides German help in the design development. (Indian Express 17/7/07)

India rejects Amnesty report on copter sale to Myanmar (1)
New Delhi, July 16: India on Monday dismissed as “completely baseless” a report by an international human rights watchdog saying that the country is selling Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to Myanmar in violation of the European Union’s arms embargo. “These reports are baseless,” an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said, refusing to comment in detail on allegations in the report. Amnesty International and a group of European NGOs released a report on Monday saying that the “proposed transfer” of an HAL-manufactured military helicopter to Myanmar containing key components and technology from six European Union countries will undermine an EU arms embargo on the military junta. In a report titled “Indian helicopters for Myanmar: making a mockery of the EU arms embargo?” the watchdogs cite sources saying that the Indian government is planning to transfer the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to Myanmar. It elaborates that the Indian-manufactured helicopter would not be operational without vital components from EU member states and urges the need for stricter EU arms controls. “The EU embargo explicitly states that no military equipment should be supplied, either directly or indirectly, for use in Myanmar—what's the point in having an arms embargo if it is not going to be implemented or enforced?” Roy Isbister of Saferworld, one of the NGOs involved in the report, said. The report has been sent to the EU Presidency along with a letter by Amnesty International asking the EU to initiate immediate consultations with the Indian Government. The letter says EU should cancel transfers of components for the helicopter and discontinue future production cooperation with India if the country “plans to supply or has indeed already supplied ALHs to Myanmar”. The report says that Myanmar has a “widely-documented record” of serious human rights violations that include summary executions, torture and the recruitment of child soldiers. “Should this transfer go ahead, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK could be undermining an EU arms embargo on Myanmar in place since 1988,” the report says. The report documents that “variants” of the ALH contain rocket launchers from Belgium, rockets, guns and engines from France, brake systems from Italy, fuel tanks and gearboxes from the UK and self-protection equipment from a Swedish company besides German help in the design development. (Indian Express 17/7/07)

HRC urged to rescue mentally challenged youth (1)
Dhenkanal : The villagers of Ranjagola in Hindol blocks have urged the State Human Rights Commission to rescue a mentally challenged youth from the hell of house confinement.Sources said one Radha Biswal of village Ranjagola in Hindol, has fastened his second adult son, with a chain like a dog since last 10 years, because he is mentally challenged. Radha Biswal, who is working as a casual labourer at Kendu leaf phadihouse at Balani, is unable to provide proper healthcare to the ailing son. Apart from the insane son, unfortunate Biswal has to bear the burden of a widowed daughter and daughter-in-law as his elder son expired few years back. Source further said that the second son, all of a sudden started to behave abnormally at the age of 14. Gradually, he started moving around naked and scolded others in abusive languages. To arrest his growing violent activities towards the neighbours and family members, Radha was compelled to shackle him. Curiously, 10 years have passed since, but no Government agency or private organisation came forward to rescue the mentally challenged youth from the hell. (Pioneer 18/7/07)

Encounter: OHRC grills two policemen (1)
BHUBANESWAR: Orissa Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Tuesday heard two police personnel who were involved in an encounter alleged to be a fake one at Birubai village in Rayagada district last year. One Sirimajhi Paleka of Birubai village in Rayagada district was killed in the police firing. Wife of the deceased, Mali Paleka, had approached the OHRC seeking a compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs and punishment for police officials responsible for the ‘fake encounter.’ Two police officials -- K. K. Dangayat, then circle-inspector of Rayagada, and A. K Das, the then sub-inspector of Chandli police station, were summoned by the commission to present their version. According to Biswapriya Kanungo, counsel for Mali Paleka, the police officials could not give satisfactory answer on the police firing. They said three officials along with one platoons of CRPF personnel had gone to Bagudi Ghati following information that Surya Dalam, a naxalite group, had assembled there. When the police reached Birubai village, they noticed an unusual movement. As they go closer, they were fired upon in the night. They retaliated in which a person, later identified to be Sirimajhi Paleka, was found dead, two policemen said.Mr. Kanungo said the policemen could not answer as to how many suspected naxalites were involved in the exchange of fire. (The Hindu 18/7/07)

NHRC notice to Ktaka govt on out-of-school children (1)
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notice to the Karnataka government on the issue of huge number of out-of-school children in the state saying that it could amount to violating their education rights.. The National Human Rights Commission has issued notice to the Karnataka government on the issue of huge number of out-of-school children in the state saying that it could amount to violating their education rights. Taking suo motu cognisance of a news report published in Deccan Herald on July 14 on out-of-school children in the state, the NHRC had asked the state chief secretary to send his response within two weeks. According to the news report, the latest census conducted by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan stated that at least 80,863 children were out of school in Karnataka and out of this at least 60,516 (age group 7-14) were drop outs while 20,347 had never been to school. The census further highlighted that the cosmopolitan city of Bangalore had the second highest number of children of school-going-age, who do not go to school while Gulbarga topped the list of such children. After going through the detailed census report which appeared in the newspaper, the Commission said it could raise a serious issue of violation of human rights relating to “Right to Education” of the children. It has also sent notice to Superintendent of Police, Gurgaon, Haryana, on a report which said that a nine-year-old boy was thrashed by Gurgaon firemen. The news report said that Gurgaon fire service personnel had mercilessly beaten up mentally challenged Kalu for no fault of his. The father of the victim had lodged an FIR against the fire service personnel. The senior official who was investigating the case had however, said that he would wait for the medical report of the victim before taking any step. The National Human Rights Commission has given two weeks time for the SP to respond. (Deccan Herald 27/7/07)

ACHR demands high-level probe into foeticide (1)
Bhubaneswar : With the Nayagarh female foeticide issue getting complicated day by day since it came to fore last week, the New Delhi-based Asian Centre of Human Rights (ACHR) on Thursday demanded a high-level inquiry into the issue. The ACHR has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to conduct an impartial investigation into the whole nexus responsible for the crime and sought strong action against the culprits and intervention of the Medical Council of India in the issue. Talking to The Pioneer from Delhi, ACHR Director Suhas Chakma said, "The female foeticide in Orissa is a reflection of the complete failure of the medical system in India. It is also a case of the failure of the State health system under which the district medical officers are authorised to inspect the private nursing homes but which they seldom do." It is a failure to enforce that the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Amendment Act 2002 and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Amendment Act 2002, he pointed out. He further argued that ultimately, it is also a failure of the Medical Council of India. What action has the MCI taken against so many cases of reports of female foeticide across the country, he asked. Has the Medical Council of India even conducted any inquiry or have they withdrawn the licenses of the doctors, he further questioned. "Unless the Medical Council of India is equally active in enforcement of the medical code of conducts, law enforcement alone cannot be effective," he added. (Pioneer 27/7/07)

14 yrs on, 11 States yet to form own rights panel (1)
New Delhi : Fourteen years after a law was enacted by the Parliament envisaging setting up of a Human Rights Commission in all States to deal with human rights violations, over 11 States are yet to comply with the rule. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 was considered a path-breaking legislation towards achieving a human-rights protection system by creating a National Human Rights Commission at the Central level and an independent Human Rights commission in every State. The Commission was empowered with the right to inquire suo moto or on a petition into any alleged violation of human rights, negligence by public servant, to conduct independent investigation and recommend steps to Government to remedy the problem.But in the absence of an institutionalised arrangement to deal with such complaints, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is finding the going tough. Among the States not having a functional Human Rights Commission include Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana and Uttarakhand. According to NHRC, several cases of criminal injustice and custodial deaths, starvation deaths, gender discrimination and child labour complaints are reported from these States. This is evident from numerous complaints reaching the Commission. In this regard, the Commission, in the past, has held meetings with the State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC). At a similar meeting held in 2005, the representatives of NHRC and SHRC unanimously adopted a resolution urging the State Governments for setting up commissions on a priority basis. But in the subsequent meeting held in 2006, the Commission on review found that of the 16 functional SHRCs, Gujarat had notified the name of its chairperson only with no effective action on complaints. Five out of the 16 commissions are still without a chairperson. The latest entry to the list is Karnataka, which has issued notification for setting up SHRC but is yet to appoint its chairperson or members. The Commission's concern also stems from the fact that Bihar, which is still to have a SHRC, has shown a consistently dismal record of custodial deaths. Even in the north-east, except for Assam and Manipur, no State has a SHRC. It is in these States that the complaints of atrocities by Army under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 abound. The State commissions are not accountable to the NHRC but to their respective State Governments to whom they have to submit annual reports. But the concern of the NHRC stems from the duty entrusted with NHRC to preserve and protect human rights, especially of the vulnerable sections.Expressing concern over the issue, former NHRC Chairperson Justice AS Anand said, "State Governments need to appreciate State commissions act as facilitators and assist the Government concerned in fulfiling their constitutional obligations and responsibilities of protecting and promoting human rights of the citizens." The matter is tipped for discussion in the forthcoming meeting of all SHRCs in November this year. (Pioneer 30/7/07)

Rights panel pulls up forensic science lab for wrong tests (1)
Bhubaneswar : In the event of clueless crimes, when the police find themselves helpless, the State's Forensic Science Laboratory is called in to show the light. But the State's Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at Rasulgarh Square here is in a sorry state of affairs. What is most shocking is forensic examinations conducted at the laboratory are often proved wrong. On many occasions, the FSL reports have come under the scanner of the State Human Rights Commission. Currently, the State Forensic Science Laboratory is at Bhubaneswar and three Regional Forensic Science Laboratories are located at Berhampur, Sambalpur and Balasore. These laboratories carry out forensic examination of all material adduces collected from the scenes of crime or from victims or accused or from the deceased. After technical evaluation, the reports are submitted in the concerned judicial courts. The State FSL has seven specialised divisions like Physics, Ballistics Chemistry, Toxicology, Biology, Serology and Lie Detection. Meanwhile, sources revealed that recently the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has sent a notice asking the State FSL to clarify its goof-ups in several cases and also counselled it to keep samples of various corpses. After receiving the notice, SFSL Director B Radhika, deputy director S Satpathy and assistant director PN Das were reported to have jointly appeared before the commission to furnish their reply. Sources further said that the SHRC has criticised the various forensic examinations and questioned the veracity of the test reports. "Normally, a unit could attend a maximum of 450 cases per year, but at the FSL the mandarin examine as many as 2,000 cases per year, which is responsible for the tidy examinations that irked the commission," sources informed. It may be noted that a unit consists of an assistant director, a scientific officer, a scientific assistant, a laboratory attendant and a worker. Similarly, an officer could attend a maximum of 17 to 20 cases per month, but each official here is attending more than 50 cases. "The Forensic Science Laboratory is receiving as many as 2,000 cases per year and the figure sometimes rises, and for that at least four examination units are needed right now," official sources said. During the year 2006, as many as 46,367 exhibits were examined, they added. (Pioneer 31/7/07)

NHRC seeks report on female foeticide cases (1)
New Delhi : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday asked for a report on the female foeticide cases within four weeks. Sources said that the NHRC was upset at the way Nayagarh district administration handled the whole issue. It asked the Government to give in detail about the whole incidents and what steps have been initiated to curb all these evil practices. Meanwhile, the State Women Commission today submitted its report to the State Government. Chairperson of SWC, Namita Panda in its report stated that due to the faulty district administration in Nayagarh such a heinous crime took place. It also questioned the missing of the bodies of the seven female infants after it came to light. The bodies were recovered from the site of Deuli hills near Nayagarh. She further stated why the police did not swing into action after the seven female babies were recovered and later found missing. SWC in its report suggested that Government should appoint a lady doctor in each district and they should look after all these incidents. It further suggested that Government should take the help of the ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) and Anganwadi activists on the socio-development programme. They should educate the ladies about the illegal abortion. "All helps should be provided to the ASHA and Angawandi activists in this regard," the report says. Panda in her report further suggested that regular raids should be conducted on the nursing homes in the State. "Unlicensed clinics should be sealed," she suggested. (Pioneer 31/7/07)

Human rights panel orders CB-CID probe (1)
Hyderabad : The Andhra Pradesh State Human Rights Commission has directed the CB-CID to register a criminal case in connection with the police firing in Mudigonda. The court asked the CB-CID to investigate and take action against the guilty policemen who opened fire on the people and the agitators who attacked the police. The Commission had taken up the case suo motu after television channels beamed the scenes of violence. Chairman Justice Subhashini Reddy and Member E Ismail said the CB-CID should take action after the investigations in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code. Meanwhile, The Andhra Pradesh High Court has adjourned the hearing till Friday into the petition seeking a judicial inquiry into incident. Advocate General Mohan Reddy informed the division bench headed by Chief Justice GS Singhvi that the Government has issued an order for a judicial inquiry into the firing. He said the Government was in the process of finalising the terms of reference for the judicial inquiry. The court, which has already received the reports from the Khammam District Judge, Khammam District Collector and the State Director General of Police regarding the incident, will be hearing the case on Friday. The petition was filed by a Telugu Desam leader seeking High Court's intervention to ensure a proper judicial inquiry into the incident. Meanwhile, the police in Mudigonda has registered an attempt to murder case against about 400 unnamed people in connection with the incidents of Saturday last. The cases have been booked under nine different sections including 307 for attempt to murder and violation of prohibitory orders under Section 144. The cases have been booked on the day of the incident. (Pioneer 3/8/07)

Report on rights abuses tendentious, says Colombo (1)
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Tuesday said there was no justification for the demand for a special U.N. Observer Mission on Human Rights. Referring to the Human Rights Watch report “Return to War – Human Rights under Siege”, the Presidential Secretariat here said it was “largely tendentious, and is replete with generalisations”. The statement said the report referred to issues that had been largely resolved and based on “largely unconfirmed and unsubstantiated allegations and outdated information”. Government has been engaged in a war of words with several national and international human rights groups on the humanitarian situation triggered by the fighting with the LTTE for over a year. The Government’s contention is that most of the NGOs are either “ill-informed or motivated”. However, the charge has been strongly refuted by human rights bodies. The Secretariat said the HRW report on the number of persons who had allegedly disappeared and the Internally Displaced Persons was based on unsubstantiated information. “The work of government agencies to establish the whereabouts of these persons has been ignored. The Report also ignores the fact that the numbers of alleged disappearances and abductions have sharply declined in recent months due to the firm action taken by the Government and the arrest of two criminal gangs.” Separately, the military claimed that at least seven cadres of Tamil Tigers were killed in different incidents of fighting in the north. (The Hindu 8/8/07)

NHRC seeks report on student’s death (1)
New Delhi:: The NHRC has asked for a factual report from the authorities in Rajasthan on the death of a student in Udaipur, allegedly due to thrashing by his teacher. It said the incident, if true, was a grave violation of human rights. Taking suo motu cognisance of news reports on the incident, the NHRC asked the Chief Secretary, Rajasthan, and the SSP and DM of Udaipur to submit a report in a month. Meanwhile, the commission has asked for a factual report from the authorities in Orissa on the foetuses which were found in Khurda district recently. The foetuses had been recovered from the backyard of a private nursing home in a posh locality. The Chief Secretary, Orissa and District Collector, Khurda, have to submit a report in four weeks. (Indian Express 10/8/07)

Asian human rights body’s warning (1)
NEW DELHI: The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has condemned the “expulsion” of Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) Doctors Without Borders, from Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh as a “counter-productive” measure that can only help the Naxalites. “The MSF, a Nobel Prize winner, maintains absolute neutrality in providing humanitarian assistance in armed conflict situations. It provides health care services in the areas where the State Government cannot reach out effectively,” a statement issued by director of the centre Suhas Chakma said here on Saturday. He said the “expulsion” of MSF – winner of the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award for International Understanding by India – is another incident of the Government’s failure to acknowledge that naxalism breeds because of their failure to provide basic services including the health services. Stating that the “expulsion” of MSF would only accentuate the suffering of the people and increase the support for naxalites, the ACHR has called upon the Centre and the Chhattisgarh Government to revoke the order and invite the organisation to provide humanitarian services. The MSF was the only humanitarian organisation which withdrew its programme from the refugee camps in Rwanda as the camps housed war criminals. It had consistently adopted a principled and neutral approach, the statement said. (The Hindu 12/8/07)

NHRC issues notice to AIIMS (1)
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission on Monday issued notice to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences on a report alleging that a towel was left behind in the stomach of a woman who was operated in the premier institute last month. Taking suo motu cognisance, the Commission sought a report from AIIMS within four weeks. The woman, Gursharan Kaur, was operated upon for removal of gall bladder stones at AIIMS on July 27. According to her family, a CT scan at a private hospital revealed that there was a foreign object in her stomach. Kaur underwent an operation at the same hospital and doctors took out a towel from her stomach, her family said. (The Hindu 14/8/07)

NSA invoked against social activist! (1)
NEW DELHI, Aug. 18: The Sonbhadra district administration in Uttar Pradesh has invoked the dreaded National Security Act against Roma, a prominent social and human right activist from Delhi. Roma, along with others, has been active under the banner of the National Forum for Forest People and Forest Workers, among the tribals and the poor in the least developed area of eastern UP bordering Jharkhand and Bihar. Her arrest, along with three others, allegedly at the instance of the landlord lobby, has sent shock waves among social and human right activists. Roma’s arrest, along with Shanta Bhattacharya and two others shows that even non-violent and constitutional struggle is becoming impossible in large parts of the country, a social activist, said.
“The Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh is no different from others and there is a clear attempt by the police administration to brand the forum’s activists as Naxals,” Mr Ashok Choudhry, chairman of the organisation, told The Statesman today. Prominent social activists, such as Ms Medha Patkar, Ms Kalyani Menon Sen, veteran socialist Mr Surendra Mohan and others have gathered in Lucknow to protest the government action. The CPI (ML) Liberation state committee leader, Mr Akhilendra Pratap Singh, described the state action as “part of widespread suppression of democratic movements in the area”. On 3 August, the police picked up Roma (41) and Shanta Bhattachraya (50) from their Roberstganj office. Later, the NSA Act was invoked against Roma. She and Shanta have been campaigning since 1997 for the rights of downtrodden tribals and dalits in different parts of UP and Uttarakhand. In the contiguous districts of Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli, the land mafia has control over large tracts forest land and attempt to free the land is taken as an affront by the vested interests. On 31 July, tribals and other landless people in the Kaimur region asserted their rights by planting trees in the open space in the forest area. The officials of Kone police station, led by Mr Amarnath Yadav in a bid to remove them from the spot, arrested one person. On 1 August, Roma along with another activist Rajneesh called on the chief secretary in Lucknow and apprised him of their activities. A written and verbal complaint was made against the Kone police station in charge, Amarnath Yadav. Returning to the base in Roberstganj, Roma communicated to the NGO members her talks with the higher officials. As this became known, the police became active. A forest guard was made to file a case against Roma, Shanta Bhattacharya, Hanif and 41 others under various sections of the CrPC. (Statesman 19/8/07)

Human rights group demands compensation (1)
Berhampur : A team of activists of Human Rights Forum (HRF) and Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee visited Mandrabaju village near Mohana in Gajapati district on Saturday to inquire about the condition of the families of the eight victims killed in a police firing on December 30, 1999. The team after their visit stated that the bereaved families were now living in destitute condition, as they had not received any assistance from the Government till date. Hence, they were demanding the Government should immediately announce and pay Rs 5 lakh to the bereaved families of the village. They also argued that when the Government announced compensation for the victims of Kalinga Nagar police firing, a different yardstick could not be adopted in the Mandrabaju case. The team included K Balagopal, Burra Ramulu, VS Krishna of HRF and researcher Bela Bhatia of New Delhi and VV Balakrishna of the AP Civil Liberties Committee. A Press release by the team said the trouble in the village started when the tribal people became organised and tried to protect their land from the non-tribals who had acquired the land by cheating the tribals. At least 25 acres of land belonging to the tribal people had been taken away by the non-tribal people. In due course, the then Congress Government had posted a police camp of OSAP in the village to prevent any such untoward incident following the protest by the tribal people to return their land. Subsequently, the police personnel started exploiting and torturing the village people. The police personnel started taking away the chicken, goats and other valuables. When the tribal people went to the camp to protest against such illegal activities, the police opened fire in which eight tribal persons, including one woman, were killed. In the incident, a home guard was also killed. Four persons were sentenced for life and two persons who were not involved were arrested in connection with the killing of the home guard, sources informed. If the demands were not met, they would move the National ST Commission for justice, the release said. Ramulu, president of Human Rights Forum (AP) speaking over phone said that the Government should take action as per the Tribal Act against the police personnel who opened fire on the innocent tribal people who were protesting against unlawful alienation of their land and property. (Pioneer 20/8/07)

NHRC view on anti-rabies vaccine gets ministry nod (1)
New Delhi August 20: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has accepted a major recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the use of anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) through Intradermal (ID) route. Pitching for the need to develop ‘emergency medicines’ to improve the emergency medical services in the country, the NHRC recommended that the treatment of snake bites and dog bites be included under these services and they be provided free of cost. The Commission also recommended that approval should be given to the use of Intradermal rabies vaccination, as it will reduce the cost tremendously. In response, the Health Ministry said that it has approved the use of ARV in the country through the ID route. . (Indian Express 21/8/07)

Rights panel seeks details on garbage yard (1)
COIMBATORE: Even as the residents of a town panchayat and a municipality here prepare to launch a fresh struggle against the Coimbatore Corporation over the piling up of garbage, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought details of the problems they face. So far, the residents of over 20 colonies in Kurichi Municipality and Vellalore Town Panchayat knocked at the doors of the district administration, the Corporation and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. They see the notice from the NHRC, on their petition seeking its intervention, as a significant success in their ongoing “struggle”. The residents have been complaining of smoke from burning garbage and flies from the waste dumps for the last four years causing various health problems. They want the garbage yard shifted, even though the Corporation has promised to implement a waste management scheme that will convert biodegradable waste into manure. The non-biodegradable waste will be buried as part of a landfill method of disposal. Kurichi-Vellalore Pollution Prevention Action Committee secretary K.S. Mohan says the Law Division of the Commission has sought from the residents’ group its comments on the situation at the yard where thousands of tonnes of garbage lie accumulated. More than 500 tonnes of garbage is dumped every day. The committee had lodged a complaint with the Commission on August 18, 2005. The Commission’s notice in late July this year has given the committee time till September 4 to respond with its comments. The Commission has mentioned in its case file that a copy of the committee’s complaint is to be sent to the District Collector, who will have to look into the allegations and submit his comments within four weeks. The Commission has said it will call for an action taken report. The case status report as on August 18 says that a response from the authority concerned is awaited. Enthused by the Commission’s response to its complaint, the residents’ committee says it will hold protests in the city next month to press for the shifting of the garbage yard. “We will meet the City Police Commissioner in a couple of days with our plan. The Corporation had promised to end by April 14 the dumping of garbage in the yard. It was not met. Now, we have given it time till September 15 to shift the yard. We will provide more details to the rights commission,” says Mr. Mohan. (The Hindu 25/8/07)

US-based rights group urges Bangladesh to curb abuses (1)
NEW YORK: US-based Human Rights Watch, on Friday, urged Bangladesh to respect the legal and human rights of protesters and curb abuses by law enforcement acting under emergency rule since January 11. "The Bangladesh government must respect international human rights standards as it enforces a curfew and seeks to police demonstrations," the international rights group said in a statement. It said that "anyone detained under the emergency regulations must be charged with a cognizable criminal offense or released." Bangladesh has been wracked by four days of demonstrations and violence sparked by an incident at Dhaka University. Curfew imposed in six cities will be eased on Saturday for 17 hours, the government announced on Friday. The violent protests took place in defiance of a ban on all demonstrations under the state of emergency declared a day before a military-backed interim government took power after months of unrest over vote-rigging allegations. "The authorities are trying to silence political protest through arbitrary arrests and restricting freedom of expression," said HRW Asia advocacy director Sophie Richardson. "The government can take steps to make sure a protest is peaceful, but it must above all respect its human rights obligations when doing so," she added. (Times of India 25/8/07)

Social activists demand justice for top cop (1)
Bhubaneswar: Social Welfare Association and Right Action for Justice (Swaraj) on Monday took to street in protest against the NBW issued against DG (Home Guard and Fire Service) Bidya Bhusan Mohanty by a Rajasthan court. Swaraj activists blocked NH-5 near Vani Vihar Square for several hours bringing traffic to a standstill for sometime. The activists submitted a memorandum to Home Secretary TK Mishra, stating that the move against Mohanty is a violation of human rights. "There is no provision in law to arrest a surety holder of a prisoner, who goes on parole and becomes an absconder thereafter. Bittihotra Mohanty was not the only prisoner who is absconding after going on parole and there are 34 such other cases in Rajasthan itself," Swaraj pointed out in its memorandum. The memorandum further argued that the FIR lodged by the authorities of Jaipur Central Jail against DG Mohanty is illegal as the District Collector is the real authority to take action as per law. Swaraj secretary Ritanjali Pradhan said 42 convicted prisoners in Orissa, who had gone on parole, have been absconding with no action being taken against them. (Pioneer 28/8/07)

Activists gear up to curb child abuse (1)
Balangir: The shocking incident, where Akshay Pradhan (12), working as a domestic help in a doctor's house was tortured by his employers, have gathered a rage among the people who are bracing up for a high-pitch campaign to root out the menace of child abuse. The Regional Alliance for Child Rights and Advocacy (RACRA) Balangir and Voice for Child Rights Orissa(VCRO), the two organisations working for child rights, demanded that the district administration should take immediate steps for identification of the child labour in the district, their rehabilitation and punishment to persons perpetrating it. Migration of poor children to other areas for works and the Pathuria system still in vogue in the district should be checked, said an activist. Pathuria is a unit of three members who works in the brick kilns which includes a male, a female and a child. A delegation led by Prasant Naik, Saroj Barik, Pancha Panigrahi, Khageshwar Manhira and others met the Additional District Magistrate(ADM) Manmohna Deo on Friday and submitted a memorandum. Their demands include strong action against the doctor and his wife for torturing the child, two lakh compensation to the victim, immediate survey by the district administration of child labour, halting child labour migration and the Pathuria system, schooling for child labours and setting up of a child help line in the district. Meanwhile, Akshaya Pradhan was given Rs 20,000 out of the Red Cross fund by Deo and the district administration decided to provide schooling to Akshay at Mahipur free of cost. (Pioneer 28/8/07)

NHRC holds out hope for Pak nationals seeking asylum (1)
New Delhi, August 27: The National Human Rights (NHRC) has recommended that 63 Pakistani nationals who have sought asylum in India should not be deported till their request has been carefully considered. The Commission has further told the Government that these petitioners be treated in a humane manner and proper medical care and other basic amenities be provided to them as long as they are in India. The NHRC recommendations came on a petition filed by the lawyer representing the Pakistani nationals, Nilema Prabhoo, seeking the Commission’s intervention to ensure that they were not deported. She said that repatriation might mean death penalty for them. The NHRC in turn approached the Ministry of External Affairs for its views. The MEA held that the petitioners had obtained a visa from the Indian High Commission on the basis of fake letters of reference and fear of persecution by the petitioners was unfounded. After going through the statement of the petitioners, the NHRC admitted that the grant of asylum was an administrative decision to be taken by the Government of India, where it could not interfere. However, it drew the attention of the Indian Government to the observations made by the House of Lords in a similar case where it was held that the Secretary of State had the power and duty to act so as to avoid any breach of a person’s right as soon as an asylum seeker made it clear that there was an imminent prospect that such a violation could occur. The NHRC hoped that while considering the petitioners’ request for asylum, the Government will give due regard to the observations made by the House of Lords. (Indian Express 28/8/07)

NHRC notice to Tamil Nadu official (1)
New Delhi Aug. 27: The National Human Rights Commission has sent notice to the secretary, health, Tamil Nadu on an incident which said that an HIV-positive woman was gangraped and denied treatment. Taking suo-motu cognisance of a news report which appeared on August 21, 2007 in an English newspaper, the commission said that the incident raises serious issue of violation of human rights of the woman. As per the report, a 35-year-old woman of Pochampally in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu was reportedly attacked by six persons, dragged, raped and left by the roadside. She was taken to a Pochampally hospital by an NGO but was denied admission. The report, further said that she was taken to her native village Kittanoor as well, but was thrown into a bush outside the village by the villagers when they came to know about her HIV-positive status. She was again rescued by the volunteers of the NGO and was again denied admission at the Krishnagiri government Hospital till a HIV test was conducted. Besides the physical pain, the woman had to undergo mental agony as the visitors and other patients at the hospital abused her for coming for treatment despite being a HIV positive. The commission while sending the notice has asked for a factual report from the state authorities within four weeks. In another case, NHRC recommends that 63 Pakistani asylum seekers should not be deported till a proper decision on their request is taken. (Asian Age 28/8/07)

NHRC notice to cops on Bhagalpur incident (1)
New Delhi, Aug. 29: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notice to the SP, Bhagalpur and DGP, Bihar on an incident where a chain snatcher was severely thrashed by the public and the police joined them in humiliating him. Taking suo motu cognisance of the Bhagalpur incident, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) also has issued a notice to the Bihar government seeking a report on it. The state government has been given a week to submit its reply. The NHRC which viewed a CD of the incident, said that the Bihar police seemed to be living in the old colonial days where the authorities showed scant regard for the dignity of the people. The commission strongly disapproved such despicable behaviour and said that it is a serious issue of violation of human rights. The commission, further said that the two police officials have been given four weeks time for their comments and in the meanwhile a team of the investigation division of the commission will visit Bhagalpur and submit a factual report. As per the incident recorded in the CD, the accused who snatched a gold chain was severely thrashed by the people in the presence of the police. Further, the police instead of restraining the mob, tied the person with a rope to a motor-cycle and dragged him on the road. The notice by NCM has come following an informal meeting of the members which was attended by Harcharan Singh Josh, Zoya Hasan and Mehroo Dhunjisha Bengalee. The NCM has taken note of the incident in view of the fact that the man who was dragged by policemen while tied to a motorbike belonged to the minority community. (The Hindu 29/8/07)

Notice to Chhattisgarh on bail plea of rights activist (1)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Chhattisgarh Government on a petition filed by Vinayak Sen, vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, challenging his arrest in May under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and seeking his release on bail. A Bench, comprising Justices Ashok Bhan and V.S. Sirpurkar, issued notice to Chhattisgarh after hearing senior counsel Soli Sorabjee, who submitted that Dr. Sen had been arrested on fabricated charges of having links with naxalites. On the statement of a co-accused, Dr. Sen had been arrested “for acting as a carrier of letters for the naxalites.” In his special leave petition against the Chhattisgarh High Court order dismissing his petition, Dr. Sen said he had also been charged under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. He was arrested following the recovery of letters relating to the naxalite movement from the possession of Piyush Guha. The police claimed this established that Dr. Sen was acting as a courier for the underground movement. His bail was rejected by the trial court and the High Court. Dr. Sen submitted that he was innocent and had been falsely implicated by the police. He had been working for the welfare of the downtrodden in Chhattisgarh for the last 25 years and had set up several health centres, besides inspiring doctors from the AIIMS to join him in his mission. As a human rights activist, he was a frequent visitor to the various jails for espousing the custodial rights of prisoners. (The Hindu 1/9/07)

Arrest, torture condemned (1)
MUMBAI: Various civil rights organisations, lawyers and individuals on Friday protested the arrest and torture of Shridhar Srinivasan, Vernon Gonsalves and advocate K. D. Rao earlier this month on the suspicion that they were naxalites. At a meeting, writer and film-maker Sagar Sarhadi said the onus was on the people who were arrested to prove their innocence and that was not the way it should be. Advocate and human rights activist Mihir Desai said the State was opposed to anyone who supported the poor and marginalised sections. The arrests were a reflection of the mood of the State and had to be understood in the context of globalisation and making the country attractive to investment in the global market, he said. Mr. Desai said the issue was not whether a person was a naxalite or not. It was now a question of the political beliefs he was holding and whether it went against the ruling classes. (The Hindu 1/9/07)

Rights panel team probes Bhagalpur police torture (1)
Patna : A National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) team on Monday began a probe into the brutal torture by police of an alleged chain-snatcher in Bhagalpur district last week. The two-member NHRC team from New Delhi arrived in Nathnagar in Bhagalpur on Sunday. They are probing the Aug 27 incident when a man, Aurangzeb alias Saleem, in his early 20s, was thrashed and brutally tortured by police at Nathnagar. TV footage showed a cop dragging him through the street tied to the back of a motorcycle, triggering national outrage. The man was hospitalised in a critical condition and has recovered since. "The NHRC team visited the police station at Nathnagar and urged locals to appear before them and submit information about the incident," police officials said. The NHRC team will camp in Bhagalpur till Sep 6. "It will hold talks with the Bhagalpur district administration officials, policemen, locals and also the victim for preparing the report," a senior official said. Last week, after taking suo motu cognisance of the incident, the NHRC issued notice to the Bihar home department to produce a report on the incident. The commission viewed the incident as a serious violation of human rights by the policemen. The incident triggered protests and violent clashes in Nathnagar last Tuesday with an angry crowd throwing stones at a police station following rumours that the man had died due to the torture. Some anti-socials tried to give a communal twist to the incident, but the local administration controlled the situation. The two policemen, Ramchandra Rai and LB Singh, have been dismissed from service and face criminal charges. (Pioneer 4/9/07)

NHRC sends notices to Gujarat, Rajasthan (1)
New Delhi, Sept. 3: The National Human Rights Commission has sent notices to the chief secretaries of Gujarat and Rajasthan on a report, which said that tribal children from Rajasthan are trafficked to Gujarat to work as labourers in cotton farms. The commission took suo-motu cognisance of the report which appeared in a national English daily on August 30, 2007 and said that the incident is a serious issue of violation of human rights of these children. As per the press report, tribal children from shepherd community, in the age group of 10-15 years from Banswara, Dungarpur and Udaipur districts of Rajasthan are trafficked to Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts of Gujarat to work in cotton farms. The report, further said that these children were exploited and were paid Rs 40 per day for 10-hours work despite a fixed minimum wage of Rs 50. The report also said that this wage is not paid directly to the children but to the contractor who had brought them from Rajasthan. The news report further highlighted that these children including a number of girls were made to stay in makeshift shelters, in the middle of the cotton fields where they were vulnerable to abuse. (Asian Age 4/9/07)

NHRC notice on man pushed off train (1)
New Delhi, Sept. 5: The National Human Rights Commission has sent notice to the SP, Railway police, Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh and secretary, railway board, New Delhi on a press report, which said that the TTE on Sealdah Express pushed out a handicapped passenger off the running train, leading to his death. Taking suo-motu cognisance of the press report, which appeared in a Hindi daily newspaper on August 31, 2007, the commission said that the incident raises a serious issue of violation of human rights of the handicapped. As per the press report, a physically challenged person named Imtiaaz and his friend Zafar had boarded the Sealdah Express at Shahjahanpur for Bareilly. The two had tickets for general coach but could not enter the general coach due to crowd and boarded a sleeper class compartment. The TTE on duty asked them to pay a fine of Rs 650. On their inability to pay the fine, the TTE thrashed the two and let off Zafar after extracting Rs 50 as bribe. Since Imtiaaz could not pay the money the TTE thrashed and pushed him out of the running train. Zafar complained about the incident to the GRP. An inspector of GRP reached the place of the incident and found Imtiaaz lying by the rail track writhing in pain. Imtiaaz was taken to Shahjahanpur but he died on the way. The commission after going through the distressing news, directed that a copy of the news report be sent to the two authorities for a factual report within four weeks. (Asian Age 6/9/07

Cases piling up with rights panel (1)
BHUBANESWAR: It has been four years since the establishment of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), yet scores of complaints have been piled up against the police administration for its alleged “high handedness” in dealing with public matters. A status report on cases brought to the notice of the SHRC says that the highest number of 1,388 cases have been filed against the police administration dwarfing the alleged human rights violations in other fields. The SHRC received some 5,185 complaints and had taken suo motu cognizance of 434 incidents, which came to total of 5,619 cases. However, the commission has failed to dispose less than 50 percent of the cases so far. About 3,029 cases were pending with the human rights body at various stages of investigation. After alleged police high handedness, the State Government employees seemed to be aggrieved due to violation of their rights in the administration for which they had served for years. About 721 cases in service matters are pending with the SHRC and more employees in service and after retirement are now making beeline before the body. As regards to child torture case, only 43 cases were brought to the notice of SHRC during the last four years. Though crumbling health infrastructure in all rural pockets of Orissa was major issue, only 43 cases on health were filed before the body. Ironically, only 13 cases pertaining to human rights violation on the issue of pollution were filed in SHRC. Meanwhile, the SHRC is in process of scrutinizing 960 cases and sent queries to administration in 1,582 cases. Petitioners were asked to present their sides in 874 cases. Similarly, about 166 cases are in pending. “The State government gives little importance to human rights issues. It has been one month now since the first SHRC Chairman retired from the post but there has been no replacement so far,” Human rights activist Biswapriya Kanungo said. State government recently handed over the charge of SHRC Chairman to one member S. M. Patnaik till new chairman took over. Lack of manpower to investigate into the ever-increasing human rights violation cases handicaps the commission. Sources said the SHRC urged the State government to appoint rapporteurs and programme officers for speedy disposal of cases. (The Hindu 10/9/07)

NGO shuns Kashmir move to amend act (1)
Srinagar, Sept. 10: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a New Delhi–based NGO working towards safeguarding human rights across the Commonwealth nations, has ridiculed the Jammu and Kashmir government’s recent move to amend its Right to Information Bill in order to bring the existing RTI Act at par with such a law passed by Parliament two years ago terming it a "half-hearted" measure. "The proposed amendments are a half-hearted measure and do not go the whole length of the way to bring the State RTI Act at par with the Central RTI Act," a statement issued by the CHRI on Monday said. It added that there was no visible public consultation conducted by the state government prior to the tabling of the amendments. "Several MLAs had strongly argued for referring the amendment bill to a joint select committee consisting of members of both the Houses for detailed consideration of the act and the amendments as it is an important law giving effect to a fundamental right of citizens something that was ignored by the state legislature," the statement said. The state government during the just concluded Legislature session tabled a set of amendments to the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2007. The objective of the bill, it said, was to bring the state RTI Act, passed by the Legislature in 2003, at par to the RTI Act 2005, passed by the Parliament. The state government pressed for the passage of the bill and the Legislative Council gave its approval to the amendments. The Bill is being presented to the governor of Jammu and Kashmir for his assent. The CHRI said that the amendments remain inadequate because they do not provide the information to the citizens, seeking information from public bodies in Jammu and Kashmir, the same guarantees and protections available to citizens in other parts of the country under the Central Right to Information Act 2005. "CHRI, therefore, believes that the amendments do not effectively secure the fundamental right to access information to the citizens in Jammu and Kashmir," it said and added, "If the Amendment Bill becomes law, citizens will have inferior rights in matters relating to seeking and obtaining information from the government as compared to that enjoyed by citizens in other parts of the country." According to it, the amendments will create a weak enforcement mechanism for securing compliance of public bodies with the provisions of the J&K RTI Act. It said that the Amendment Bill requires several changes if it has to bring the J&K RTI Act at par with the Central RTI Act and urged the governor to invoke powers under Section 78 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution 1956 (1) withhold assent to the Jammu and Kashmir RTI Amendment Bill 2007. (Asian Age 11/9/07)

NHRC notice to police chiefs (1)
New Delhi, Sept. 11: The National Human Rights took cognisance of four different incidents of alleged human rights violations in the country and has asked the concerned police chiefs to submit factual reports about the incidents. NHRC sent notice to SP, Railway police, Burdwan, West Bengal and secretary, Railway board, on a press report which said a man was who thrown out of train by TTEs was run over by the same train. The commission took cognisance of the report published on August 3, 2007, in a national newspaper which said that Suraj Pandey, a 24-year-old resident of Kirnahar in Birbhums Nanur, boarded a local train at Kuntighaat and was pushed out near the Katwa station by a group of TTEs as he failed to produce ticket and could not pay Rs 200 fine. The commission has given four weeks time to the two authorities for a factual report. In another incidence, the commission also took cognisance of a news report published under the heading "Framed" in a national daily newspaper. The news report related to a schoolteacher Uma Khurana, who according to "Live India" channel had pushed the student of a school into prostitution. The incident was aired by "Live India" channel, which carried out a sting operation. The telecast started a riot outside the school in old Delhi area and resulted in suspension of Ms Khurana. Further, the schoolteacher was questioned by the police. The report sounded that the investigators believed that the sting operation was conducted with an ulterior motive and had loopholes as no evidence was found against Ms Khurana. The commission after going through the report said that because of the sting operation, Uma Khurana was subjected to indignity and defamation, which raises a serious question of violation of human rights. The commission has issued notice to the commissioner, Delhi police, to submit a factual report within two weeks. The Commission also came across a distressing report, which appeared in a national daily newspaper on September 6, 2007, under the caption "12 Bihar districts drink poison". According to the press report, the ground water level in 12 districts of Bihar — Bhojpur, Vaishali, Bhagalpur, Samastipur, Buxar, Khagaria, Begusarai, Katihar, Chapra and Mungher, including Patna had been contaminated with arsenic due to fall in level of ground water. The report also cited the study conducted by the public health engineering department which said that the ground water in these districts contained 500 parts per billion of arsenic as against the WHO permissible limit of 10 parts per billion. Expressing concern at the revelation in the news report, the commission asked chief secretary, Bihar, to provide a factual report within four weeks. The commission also took cognisance of a news report which said that an "Eight-year-old may lose voice after thrashing by the policemen". The report in a national English newspaper which appeared on September 7, 2007 said that the UP police entered the house of one Ashwaq Ahmad, wanted in a theft case, where his wife and daughter were fast asleep. The report said that one of the policemen allegedly jumped on the sleeping girl’s chest, threatening to continue torture till the accused was arrested. The girl was found unconscious with blood coming from her mouth when the corps left. She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors said that her condition was critical and she may not be able to speak again as her vocal chords had been crushed. The Commission after going through the press report directed that a copy of the news report be forwarded to SSP, Mau and DGP, UP, for a factual report within four weeks. (Asian Age 12/9/07)

“Rights probe in Sri Lanka slow” (1)
MADURAI: The Sri Lankan Presidential Commission of Enquiry probing serious human rights violations in the island nation has made “woefully slow” progress in the last 10 months since its inception on November 3, said P.N. Bhagwati, Chairman, International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) which oversees the functioning of the Commission. In an interview to The Hindu here on Saturday, Mr. Justice Bhagwati expressed concern that the Commission had not completed the enquiry even in one of the 15 stipulated incidents that occurred since August 1, 2005. The incidents inc lude the assassination of the former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and the Muttur killings in which 17 Sri Lankan workers of a French NGO, Action Against Hunger (ACF), were shot dead. “If they (Commission) go on at this rate, I don’t think it can be completed in another 12 months. But, we have been impressing on them that they must spend more time on the actual enquiry and try to finish it as early as possible, because our (IIGEP) own life is very limited and if it doesn’t happen within the lifetime of the IIGEP, there is no possibility of the enquiry being completed,” he said. Insisting that the Sri Lankan Attorney General’s department should desist from involving in the Commission of Enquiry, he said the IIGEP members raised the issue with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on August 20 after its third quarterly plenary session in Colombo. “We impressed on him that the Attorney General’s department should not be drawn in this enquiry because this is only an investigation followed by an enquiry by a Commission of Enquiry. This is not a prosecution… That is what we impressed upon the President but I am afraid it has not had much effect… He did not agree with that.” Mr. Justice Bhagwati said the Sri Lankan President told the IIGEP members that a national legislation on protection of witnesses was on the anvil. “He said he will see to it that the Bill was passed within a month or so.” Asked whether he was disturbed by the hard-hitting rebuttal made by the Attorney General to the two public statements released by IIGEP, in June this year, highlighting the shortcomings of the Commission of Enquiry, Mr. Justice Bhagwati said: “It did not disturb me personally. But it did, I mean we felt that it was most improper on the part of the Attorney General to make such allegations against IIGEP and particularly against its Chairman who is a retired Chief Justice of India and a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.” He said the IIGEP would continue to express its views fearlessly. “We don’t care. We have got to do our duty and our function of monitoring the working of the Commission of Enquiry and that we are doing fearlessly and boldly irrespective of what the Government of Sri Lanka thinks.” (The Hindu 12/9/07)

NHRC sends notices to senior officials (1)
New Delhi, Sept. 13: The National Human Rights Commission sent notices to the IG-cum-chief security commissioner of Central Railways, Mumbai, the DGP of Bihar and chief secretary of Jharkhand for alleged human rights violations in various incidents across the country. NHRC issued notice to chief security commissioner of Central Railways based on a news report which said a naked woman in an unconscious state was found in a Mumbai local train. The report which appeared in a national English daily, on September 10, said that the woman was found in the first class compartment of CST-Titwala local train on September 8, 2007. The report said that the woman had travelled about 65 km in the same condition and no one came forward either to help her, cover her or alert the Railway authorities or the police. The report also said that there had been no police personnel posted in the compartment. The woman was reportedly bleeding. However, one of the commuters was said to have informed a police constable who vanished from the scenes. The complainant Krishnakant then informed the inspector general police, Railways who reportedly instructed officers at Kalyan Railway Station to check the compartment, but by then, the train had left. The commission after going through the distressing news directed that a copy of the news report be forwarded to the concerned authority for a factual report within four weeks. The commission also took notice of a report in another newspaper which said that the eyes of three motorbike snatchers were gouged out in Bihar. The press report which appeared on September 11 said that the three were overpowered after a chase and beaten up mercilessly by a crowd in Sirdala near Nawada. Further, the report stated that the crowd gouged out their eyes with a pointed tool. The commission after going through the news report, directed that, same be forwarded to the DGP, Bihar and SP, Nawada for a factual report within four weeks. The commission also sent notice to chief secretary, Jharkhand on press reports which said that inhuman conditions had compelled inmates from an orphanage in Dumka to flee. According to the press reports, an eight-year-old inmate of the orphanage died in the Sadar Dumka hospital in August. Some of the inmates of the orphanage alleged that the boy Narain who complained of abdominal pain was not given timely treatment and shifted to the hospital very late resulting in his death. (Asian Age 14/9/07)

NHRC wants an explanation from UP (1)
New Delhi, Sept. 17: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for an explanation from the UP authorities on non-compliance with the commission's guidelines in a case related to a police encounter and has also sent notices to the UP authorities on two other incidents of human rights violation. The NHRC has taken suo moto cognisance of the three incidents of human rights violation concerning the state of UP. The first incident was brought to the notice of the Commission through a press report, which appeared on September 12, 2007 in a daily newspaper. The report referred to the killing of three Gujjar youths, Praveen, Anit and Yadvendra of Nangli village of Saharanpur district. According to police sources, the three youths reportedly barged into a liquor shop on Meerut-Hapur Road and shot dead a salesman, who resisted their attempt to loot the shop. The police version also said that the three were cornered inside a field by the villagers and the police and asked to surrender. They allegedly opened fire and fell prey to the bullets fired by the police in retaliation. The press report also said that the villagers, who came to know about the killings through local media, charged the police for killing innocent youths in fake encounter. As per the crime records, no case was registered against Praveen, whereas, Anit and Yadvendra had been booked in cases under mild charges. The Commission after going through both the versions published in the media, said that the incident raises a serious issue of violation of human rights. The commission has directed that the press report be forwarded to the DGP, UP and SSP, Meerut to take appropriate action with regard to the investigation of the case, as per the guidelines laid down by the NHRC. The commission also directed these authorities to send a copy of the inquiry report, post-mortem report along with the report of an independent investigation into the matter. The authorities have also been asked to give an explanation as to why the intimation about the killing of three youths had not been sent to the commission. (Asian Age 18/9/07)

Probe Saharanpur encounter: NHRC to UP (1)
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to conduct a magisterial inquiry into the death of three Dalits in an encounter in Saharanpur district.The NHRC asked the District Magistrate of Meerut to initiate a probe into the incident and submit a report to it within eight weeks. The police had claimed that the three youth had barged into a liquor shop on September 12 and shot dead a salesman who resisted their attempts to loot the shop. They were later cornered in a field by the police and when they refused to surrender, police opened fire at them in which the trio was killed. But villagers had alleged that the three -- Praveen, Anit and Yadavendra - were innocent and were killed in a fake encounter. Taking cognisance of media reports, the NHRC also asked the authorities to send a copy of reports of inquiry and post-mortem. It also sought an explanation from the State Government as to why these killings were not reported to the Commission as per the guidelines issued by it earlier. In another case relating to the alleged thrashing of a Dalit youth by policemen in Agra on September 12, it asked the district administration to submit a factual report within four weeks. A media report had claimed that the youth was forced to drink urine and subsequently challaned, it said. The NHRC also sought a report from the Director General of Police and Senior Superintendent of Police (Jhansi) on another news report which said that a driver was allegedly thrown out by a policeman from his vehicle. The driver had applied sudden brake, resulting in collision with a police vehicle which infuriated the policeman, it said. (Pioneer 18/9/07)

Amnesty protests activist’s arrest (1)
RAIPUR:: Amnesty International on Monday protested against the detention of activist Binayak Sen, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh People’s Union of Civil Liberties. Sen was arrested by the Chhattisgarh police on May 14 under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. He was suspected of having links with a Maoist functionary, Narayan Sanyal. A team led by Mukul Sharma, Director, Amnesty International, visited Dhamtari district to investigate any signs that led to his arrest.(Indian Express 18/9/07)

Maharashtra Govt succumbs to rights groups (1)
Mumbai : Succumbing to pressure from human rights groups, the Maharashtra Government on Wednesday agreed to ask the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to re-investigate the Hari Masjid firing case, which is one of the 34 prominent 1992-93 Mumbai communal riots cases that are being re-opened. Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil, who holds the Home portfolio, came up with an assurance to this effect, while talking to human rights activists' delegation led by Teesta Setalvad. He told the activists, that the State Government would file an affidavit in the Bombay High Court next week about its decision to hand over the re-investigations of the firing incident to the apex investigating agency. Patil's assurance came just a day after the State Government gave a clean chit to Assistant Police Inspector Nikil Kapse in the Hari Masjid firing incident, even in the face of a finding by the Srikrishna Commission-which probed the 1992-93 Mumbai riots-that Kapse was "guilty of unjustified firing" and "inhuman and brutal behaviour". The State Government's clean chit to Kapse was part of an affidavit filed by it before the Bombay High Court, which is currently hearing a petition relating to the Hari Masjid firing incident. An eyewitness, Farooq Mhapkar, who was injured in the firing, has filed the petition. Mhapkar has demanded action against the indicted police officials. During Tuesday's hearing, the Government-appointed Special Task Force told the HC that no action could be taken against the group of police officials indicted by the Srikrishna Commission for 'unjustified firing'. The HC adjourned the hearing to September 27. "We find that despite the good faith imposed by us in postponing the agitation, the State of Maharashtra continues in its callous way, further persecuting witnesses and witnesses of the brutal violence of 1992-1993," Setalvad stated in her letter to Patil. She said that the Deputy Chief Minister had given her a categorical assurance that the State Govt would hand over the Hari Masjid re-investigations to the CBI. (Pioneer 20/9/07)

“Make rights panel work credible” (1)
COLOMBO: The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), an 11-member body headed by Justice P.N. Bhagwati to oversee the functioning of the Sri Lanka Presidential Commission on human rights violations, has called upon the Government to initiate urgent measures to make the functioning of the Commission more effective and credible. In its third public statement released here on Wednesday the IIGEP said, “Taking into account the areas of concern identified in this public statement, the IIGEP concludes that the investigation and inquiry process to date fails to comply effectively with international norms and standards. The IIGEP calls upon the Commission of Inquiry and the Government of Sri Lanka, in order to achieve the objectives of the Commission’s mandate, to take urgent steps to remedy these concerns”. The IIGEP was constituted in February with the mandate to oversee the functioning of the Commission of Enquiry set up by the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government in November last to investigate serious cases of violations. In the first two public statements in June, the IIGEP had expressed concern over independent and impartial investigations. The statement reiterated concerns of the IIGEP with regards to the independence of the Commission, the role of the Attorney-General Department in assisting the Commission and lack of protective legislative mechanism to protect witnesses. On the decision of the Commission to conduct all the investigations in closed sessions, the IIGEP said it might undermine the transparency of the Commission’s work. (The Hindu 20/9/07)

Probe against police for rights violation (1)
BANGALORE: The State Human Rights Commission has found inspector of Nandini Layout Police Station H.T. Jayaramaiah and his staff prima facie guilty of illegal detention of three women and a child. The commission will initiate an inquiry immediately. Speaking to presspersons here on Friday, commission Chairman S.R. Nayak said the rights violation pertained to two cases. The first case involved detention of Santosh Devi Baid, wife of Prakash Baid, and their daughter Mamata Baid, residents of Mahalakshmi Layout, and the second involved Malathi, wife of C.P. Narayana Swamy and their six-year-old son, Mohak, residents of Vijayanagar. Mr. Baid approached the commission on Thursday complaining that his wife and daughter had been detained in the police station since September 13 in a cheating case registered by one Subbalakshmi, whose son, Harish, is said to be a Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha office-bearer. He told the commission that the Inspector had been demanding Rs. 50,000 to regularise the detention. Mr. Nayak, along with commission members B. Parthasarathy and R.H. Raddi, went to the police station, where they found Ms. Santosh hidden in the toilet and Ms. Mamata in the bathroom. The women said that since their detention on September 13, they were allowed to go home on three nights but were brought back to the station the subsequent mornings. During the search, the commission also found another woman (Malathi) with her child. She said that Mr. Jayaramaiah took her into custody along with her husband and child from their residence on Thursday afternoon. They were not told the reasons for the detention. Mr. Jayaramaiah told the commission that Mr. Narayana Swamy was taken in for interrogation, and his wife and child “voluntarily” accompanied him. However, the keys of Mr. Narayana Swamy’s residence were found in Mr. Jayaramaiah’s possession. Mr. Nayak said: “I am concerned with the gross violation of human rights by the police who are supposed to protect the fundamental rights of citizens.” (The Hindu 22/9/07)

Medical body will follow NHRC steps (1)
New Delhi, Sept. 24: Taking heed to the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Medical Council of India (MCI), the Indian Nursing Council and the ministry of health and family welfare have said that they have taken steps to implement the major recommendations made by NHRC. NHRC stressed that health and education are two basic human rights and both are part of the fundamental rights. Keeping this in view, the Commission has been impressing upon the state functionaries to do their best to realise these rights. In this direction, the Commission organised a review on the recommendations of the core group on health and public hearing on March 4, 2006. A number of recommendations in this meeting were sent to the MCI. NHRC’s recommendation was that the MCI should design a three-year-course for training doctors on basic preventive and curative health services so that the paucity or non-availability of manpower was taken care of. Another alternative was to have a one-year bridge course for doctors of Indian System of Medicine and post them at the community health centres and primary health centres. The Commission was informed that the ministry had initiated steps to address the lack of manpower in the health sector. The ministry informed that hospitals/health centres can take the services of doctors on contract-basis now and the number of staff nurses had been increased to three at the primary health centres. (Asian Age 25/9/07)

UN rights council to hold emergency session on Myanmar (1)
GENEVA: The UN Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session to examine the Myanmar government attempt to crush demonstrations in which at least 10 people have been killed, the body's president said on Friday. The crackdown on opposition marches led by Buddhist monks has drawn condemnation from Myanmar's neighbors and Western powers, and UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon has dispatched a special envoy to the Southeast Asian nation to seek a solution to the crisis. The Geneva-based council was criticized earlier this week by an independent UN rights expert for failing to take Myanmar to task over its abuses. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who was appointed as the UN's independent expert on human rights in Myanmar seven years ago, said on Wednesday that world leaders “need to act or there will be a disaster, and the international community will be responsible for what happens in Myanmar.” The council's president, Doru Costea of Romania, said the session was requested for Tuesday by 17 countries, thus gaining the necessary support of a third of the body's 47 members. Diplomats said the petition was led by Western countries. Since replacing the discredited Human Rights Commission last year the council has held three special meetings to examine alleged Israeli human rights violations and one to look at the violence in Sudan's Darfur region. US President George W. Bush called earlier this week for reform of the council, citing America's disappointment with its failure to scrutinize the world's worst human rights violators while focusing its criticism ``exclusively'' on Israel. (Times of India 28/9/07)

SHRC to probe bus burning (1)
BANGALORE: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) will probe the recent bus burning incident on Hosur Road in which two persons were charred to death and the suicide of a PhD student from IISc. It has registered cases by taking suo motu cognizance of both incidents. In the first case, the SHRC will examine whether police negligence led to the burning of the bus and with focus on whether the police had prior information about the crime. The SHRC has asked the additional chief secretary and principal secretary (home) to submit a report on the police's action within two weeks. In the IISc suicide case, the SHRC will examine whether harassment by teachers or students led to the suicide of PhD student Ajay Srichandra. The student's father and a Dalit organisation have alleged that harassment was the cause of Ajay's suicide. The SHRC has directed the home secretary to submit a report in a month and wants the investigation to be led by an officer whose rank is not less than an IGP. A notice has also been sent to Ajay's father for his version. The IISc has constituted a committee to probe the incident and its report is expected by this week-end. (Times of India 28/9/07)

Bihar lynching a ‘cold-blooded murder’: PUCL (1)
Patna: Terming the lynching of 10 persons in Bihar’s Vaishali district as ‘cold-blooded murder’, a rights group has called for a stringent punishment for those involved in the incident in order to restrain people from taking law into their hands. A six-member fact-finding team of People’s Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL), which recently visited Dhelpurwa village in Vaishali district, felt that there was no immediate provocation for the mob taking the law into its hands ‘and it is nothing but cold-blooded murder’. PUCL vice-president Prabhakar Sinha said recurrence of such incident would be prevented only through stringent punishment. Referring to the state government’s proposed move to slap collective penalty on the villages where lynching incident recur in future, PUCL advised that “logically and justifiably a carefully demarcated section of the villagers should bear the responsibility”. “Imposition of fine might also lead to some persons coming forward to provide information and evidence,” PUCL vice-president said. He felt that the State needs immediate police reforms as per Supreme Court directives as “Bihar police neither distinguishes itself for professionalism, nor has sympathy for the poor”. -- PTI (The Hindu 29/9/07

NHRC notices to cop, chief secretary (1)
New Delhi, Oct. 3: The National Human Rights Commission has sent notices to the Delhi police chief and chief secretary on the issue of security of doctors, particularly women doctors in the hospital. The commission said it went through a "distressing" report dated September 26, 2007 on the incident of alleged rape of lady doctors within the hospital premises. As per the press report, a 24-year-old lady doctor of the paediatric ward of the Employees State Insurance Cooperation, Moti Nagar in west Delhi, was found unconscious in the hostel room of the hospital. The report said that the medical examination confirmed injury marks on her private parts and strangulation marks on her neck, suggesting that it was a case of rape and attempted murder. (Asian Age 4/10/07)

Civil society role in resolving internal conflicts (1)
CHENNAI: If a government is unable or unwilling to resolve internal conflict, civil society has a key role to play, stressed BG Verghese, Centre for Policy Research and Seema Mustafa, Political Editor, Asian Age, at the opening session of a two-day seminar on civil society in conflict situations organised by the Centre for Security Analysis. Speakers pointed to important instances where civil society’s intervention in India’s 60-year experience of conflict, whether war, terror, insurgency, communalism or crime, had established facts, facilitated communication and addressed relief and rehabilitation. These including the work of the Committee of Concerned Citizens in facilitating talks between the Government of Andhra Pradesh and Naxalite groups, the role of women’s groups in Manipur, the role of the church and tribal leaders of Jamatia in Nagaland, and the role of the media in pushing for justice for victims of the Gujarat riots. Ms. Mustafa also went on to highlight how the lack of a civil society response in Kashmir had resulted in a lack of political will at the Centre in resolving the cross-border dispute with Pakistan. The significant role of the media, as the link between society at large and decision-makers in politics, in presenting basic facts sensitively and not sensationally was highlighted by speakers and participants. Concerns about the trivialisation of news in the broadcast media, the interest groups created through new media, editorialisation of news content in print media, and the privatisation of sections of the media were raised. Ms. Mustafa stressed that civil society, in particular the media, has a key role to play in national integration as part of a well-structured national security policy. But civil society, she said, does not get the kind of response it needs from government. The seminar included sessions on the Northeastern region, Jammu and Kashmir and Nepal. (The Hindu 6/10/07)

Notices to Himachal, TN chief secretaries (1)
New Delhi, Oct. 8: The National Human Rights Commission has sent notices to the chief secretaries of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh for incidences of alleged human rights violation and has asked them to submit a factual report on the same. The NHRC has sent notice to the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu based on a news report, which said that due to lack of hygiene, a student of Stanley Medical College Hospital, Chennai, had died. The report, which appeared on September 29, 2007, said that 18 students who were staying at the campus of the hospital had fallen ill and were hospitalised with fever and headache. Two of them tested positive for Dengue while one, a girl was confirmed as a case of leptospirosis. The girl was later declared brain dead and rushed to a private hospital where she died on September 27. The report also said that an endemic had broken out due to suspected viral encephalitis. The news report highlighted that piling of garbage, lack of proper sanitation, unhygienic conditions and dilapidated building of the hostel were possible reasons for the endemic. The commission has also sent notice to the district collector, Hamirpur and chief secretary, Himachal Pradesh, on a news report, which said that cheap ration eludes Antodaya families in the district. The report said that these families had been deprived of cheap ration.(Asian Age 9/10/07)

NHRC issues notice to TN on death of medical student (1)
New Delhi/CHENNAI, October 9: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary on the death of a student of the Chennai-based Stanley Medical College allegedly due to the unhygienic conditions on the campus. The commission took note of a ‘Newsletter’ carried by The Indian Express on September 29, reporting that 17 students of the medical college had to be hospitalised with fever and headache. One of them, a girl student from Rajasthan said to be suffering from encephalitis (an air-borne infection), died on September 27. Health Secretary V K Subburaj said he was yet to receive a copy of the NHRC notice but insisted that the sudden break-out of fever among hostel students at the prestigious Stanley Medical College had nothing to do with “unhygienic” conditions. “It is normal for students to suffer from fever. We usually treat them as outpatients. It is unfortunate that one of the students died,” he said. After the students took ill, the state swung into action closing down the four hostels. On Monday, the college dean, Mythili Bhaskaran, said there was “nothing alarming” and that the students had suffered from upper respiratory tract infection and viral fever. “Except one house surgeon, who was infected with encephalitis, there have been no other serious cases,” she said. “This is a campus consisting of 4,000 persons, including doctors, house surgeons and students, and there is nothing alarming if two persons fall ill.” (Indian Express 10/10/07)

Govt imports low quality wheat, BJP complains to NHRC(1)
New Delhi: A section of BJP leaders have petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) against the import of sub-standard quality of wheat by the UPA Government and its subsequent distribution in various parts of Maharashtra. The petitioners have alleged the imported wheat that is being distributed at present was imported in 2006 and the quality of the food grain distributed through PDS to the Scheduled Tribe in Mumbai, Thane Rural, Nandurbar, Prabhani and Dule was "horrible". "Out of 265 samples taken by authorities from various ration shop of Mumbai and Thane and subsequently tested by the Public Health Laboratory of the Maharastra Government, 229 samples have been found unfit for human consumption," the petitioner comprising Dr Kirit Somaiya (former MP), Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Suresh Waghmare and Sishupal Natthu Patle have (all MPs) informed the NHRC. The BJP leaders, who accused that people from downtrodden and Scheduled Tribe were forced to purchase infected wheat, also told the NHRC that at many places consumers were provided with kerosene for purchasing the inferior quality of wheat. The petitioners alleged that despite the matter was brought to the notice of concerned authorities, the State Government stopped sale of the infected wheat only in very limited schemes while the sale and distribution of such inferior quality of food grain to poor people continued under other social welfare schemes. (Pioneer 10/10/07)

Gujarat ignores most notices, says NHRC chief (1)
New Delhi, Oct. 11: Gujarat is the most difficult state when it comes to responding to notices issued, National Human Rights Commission chairman Justice Rajendra Babu (retd) said here on Thursday. Justice Babu, interview with this correspondent on the eve of the foundation day of NHRC, said that it had come to its knowledge that the Gujarat government had not done enough to rehabilitate and resettle victims of the 2002 riots victim. Though several teams have been sent to Gujarat by the NHRC, the chairman is planning to pay a personal visit to see the situation first hand after elections are concluded in the state to avoid politicising it. He said, "We have received several complaints also from Saurashtra region of Gujarat where farmers have committed suicide." Justice Babu said though the government has stated doling out some relief to victims, that was not complete rehabilitation. Justice Babu also pointed out that two other states which are notorious for not responding to the notices sent by the NHRC are West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, while Bihar does not do anything to tackle the human rights situation in the state though it does respond to the notices of NHRC. About rehabilitating those displaced due to violence or even development or calamity, Justice Babu said proper rehabilitation can be only done after people are given land for land lost. Speaking about the NHRC’s stand to even take into account human rights violations of foreign nationals as in the case of 60 Pakistanis who sought political asylum or even the Pakistani national who died in police custody in Gujarat, Justice Babu said that every human being has a right to live with dignity whatever nationality he might belong to. He said that the government can initiate any action which is appropriate in case of illegal immigration but still all human beings should be treated with dignity and that was the endeavour of NHRC. He said, "Though the commission does not have the power to enforce their directive, it is not necessary as there are so many agencies to do that. But strictures passed by NHRC are in itself a deterrent so we are effective." When asked about all states sending in their reports about 100 per cent compliance to the Supreme Court directive based on the Vishakha case, Justice Babu said that all states and Central government departments had not complied with the directives to set up sexual harassment redressal cells in their offices in total. But he said that after the government brings in the law, the compliance will increase. His own personal vision of what he would like to accomplish while in office, Justice Babu said that he would ensure that all rural children get good education which is their right, have access to primary health and that the midday meal scheme is implemented properly in all schools. He also said he would like to ensure that primary healthcare is available to rural women and that facilities for this are improved in rural areas as this is their basic right. (Asian Age 12/10/07)

NHRC wants committees to ensure right to food (1)
New Delhi, Oct. 16: Doing its bit to forward the theme "right to food", which is the theme of the World Food Day this year, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on Tuesday outlined the need for constituting committees at various levels to act as watch committees so as to ensure Right to Food. The Commission, which has a core group on Right to Food, has come out with guidelines for constitution of such committees. NHRC has said that right to food is not only a constitutional guarantee but also a basic human right. The Commission, which monitored the starvation deaths in KBK (Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput) districts of Orissa, on remittance from the Supreme Court, has time-and-again expressed its concern on instances of starvation, large-scale malnutrition and lack of access to agencies and schemes providing food security. The Commission has observed that despite government schemes and Public Distribution System (PDS), being in place, starvation deaths continue to haunt the Indian population. In order to ensure quality execution of right to food, the Commission has recommended constitution of committees, which will monitor the access and availability of foodgrains to the eligible and most vulnerable sections of the society. The very job of these committees will be to see that the schemes are properly implemented and foodgrains are available and distributed properly. It was decided that the committee will consist three members, one each from panchayats, preferably women/SC/STs, a representative of the local NGO or other socio-cultural institutions and a government representative like Patwari or Lekhpal. The committees will perform the functions such as monitoring the availability of food, distribution of foodgrains, see that the schemes are properly implemented and not misused and reporting to the concerned authorities in the state or to the NHRC. They will also monitor the availability of foodgrains at the PDS, will see to it that it is not sold at higher prices than the government prescribed prices and collect data on the number of families living below poverty line in that particular area. (Asian Age 17/10/07)

Rahman case: State women’s panel flayed (1)
NEW DELHI: Critical of the West Bengal Women’s Commission stand in the Rizwanur Rahman case, social activists and civil rights organisations on Wednesday said it had lost its right to continue in office. In a statement, they alleged that the Commission was being “used to give legitimacy” to the government, the police and businessman Ashok Todi, whose daughter Priyanka was married to Rahman. The statement is critical of the Commission’s visit to Mr. Todi’s residence and subsequent statements that his daughter returned to her father’s house on her own and the police had not been harsh on her. “Should one be surprised that the Commission did not think it fit to visit Rizwanur’s family and instead went to Todi’s house which, as has rightly been said, cannot be a neutral site? “We are pained and shocked to see that despite eminent people like Jashodhara Bagchi heading the State Commission, it has failed to maintain an autonomous position in the case; succumbing to toe the official line of the police and the State government and that too on its own initiative without any visible pressure from outside,” the statement said. The signatories include Ram Puniyani, Uma Chakravarti, Dilip Simeon, Teesta Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi, Apoorvanand, Aditya Nigam and Nivedita Menon. Among the civil society organisations which have supported the activists’ stand are the Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum, the Tamil Nadu Dalit Women’s Movement, the Forum Against Oppression of Women (Mumbai), Nirantar, the Shramajibee Mahila Samity, Asmita Collective (Secunderabad) and the Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective. (The Hindu 18/10/07)

NGOs: Probe Punjab vanishings (1)
New Delhi, Oct. 18: A report titled "Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab" has documented the Centre’s counterinsurgency operations in Punjab from 1984 to 1995, stating that during the operations, the Indian security forces committed serious human rights abuses against tens of thousands of Sikhs. NGOs, Human Rights Watch and Ensaaf have demanded that the Centre institute a commission of inquiry to hold accountable members of its security forces who killed, "disappeared," and tortured thousands of Sikhs. The 125-page report released on Thursday describes the impunity enjoyed by officials allegedly responsible for violations and the near total failure of India’s judicial and state institutions, from the National Human Rights Commission to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to provide justice for victims’ families. The report also examines the challenges faced by victims and their relatives, in the aftermath of government’s counterinsurgency campaign, in pursuing legal avenues for accountability for the human rights abuses. The report discusses the case of Jaswant Singh Khalra, a leading human rights defender in Punjab who was abducted and then murdered in October 1995 allegedly by government officials after being held in illegal detention for almost two months. The report says that despite credible eyewitness testimony that police chief K.P.S. Gill was directly involved in interrogating Khalra in illegal detention just days prior to Khalra’s murder, the CBI has thus far refused to investigate or prosecute Mr Gill. "Delivering justice in Punjab could set precedents throughout India for the redress of mass state crimes and superior responsibility," said Jaskaran Kaur, co-director of Ensaaf. Another key case discussed in detail in the report is the decade-old Punjab "mass cremations case," in which the security services are implicated in thousands of killings and secret cremations throughout Punjab to hide the evidence of wrongdoing. The case is currently before the NHRC. "The NHRC has inexplicably failed in its duties to investigate and establish exactly what happened in Punjab," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "We still hold out hope that it will change course and bring justice to victims and their families." Mohinder Singh, whose son Jugraj Singh was killed in an alleged faked armed encounter between security forces and separatists in January 1995, describes his interactions with the CBI in the report — "On one occasion when [the officer] from the CBI came to my house, he told me that I wasn’t going to get anything out of this. Not justice and not even compensation. He further said that: ‘I see you running around pursuing your case. But you shouldn’t get into a confrontation with the police. You have to live here and they can pick you up at any time.’ He was indirectly threatening me." (Asian Age 19/10/07)

NHRC worried for tribal workers (1)
New Delhi, Oct. 23: The National Human Rights Commission has expressed deep concern at the death of tribals from Madhya Pradesh who worked as labourers in the quartz crushing factories in Godhra due to silicosis. The commission, taking cognisance of reports that about 200 tribals have died in the quartz factories of Godhra and Balasinor in Gujarat due to silicosis, has sent notices to the state governments of both Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, according to a release from the NHRC here on Tuesday. As per the news report, the tribals were exposed to silica dust and no protection was given to them at their work place. The report said about 200 tribals have died in the last four years and the labourers who returned to their villages in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh and died of silicotuberculosis there were not getting any compensation. After going through the report, the commission directed that the same be forwarded to the chief secretaries of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and also to the district collectors of Panchamahal and Jhabua for a factual report within four weeks. (Asian Age 26/10/07)

“Terrorism against innocent civilians” (1)
NEW DELHI: The Asian Centre for Human Rights on Saturday said the Communist Party of India (Maoist) must be held responsible for Friday’s killing of 18 persons, including the former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi’s son, at Chikhadia in Giridih district. In a statement here, ACHR director Suhas Chakma said the CPI (Maoist) was an organisation with a recognised command structure and its leadership must be held responsible for the attack on a local tribal festival. “The killing of innocent civilians violates all laws of war, constitutes crimes against humanity as defined under the international humanitarian laws and the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court.” (The Hindu 28/10/07)

Land march from Gwalior to Delhi via NGOs, Socialists in Belgium and France (1)
NEW DELHI OCTOBER 27: On sunday, when 25,000 people enter Delhi demanding land rights for the displaced and the landless, among them are 250 foreigners from 29 countries who have walked with them from Gwalior to Delhi. All, searching for a cause, have found it in the rally organised by P V Rajagopal, the founder of Ekta Parishad. For him, this is the culmination of three years of networking with NGOs not just in rural Madhya Pradesh where he is based but in Paris, Berlin and London, too. Of course, helped by the power of the Net — emails, websites that spell out the key demands: a national land authority, fast-track courts and a single-window system to deal with land and livelihood disputes. Ragagopal met European members of parliament, including European Parliament Vice-President Gérard Onesta, during the December 2006 parliamentary session in Strasbourg. The Euro-MPs confirmed their support to Ekta Parishad and sent a petition to the Prime Minister too. Various French Socialist politicians François Hollande, Henriette Martinez , Marie-Christine Blandin joined in to express support to the rally. The fund-raising was done systematically too. Ekta Parishad’s calculations showed that roughly 60 Euros a day is required to fund a single padyatri. It would require roughly Rs 3-4 crore to feed, shelter and march the 25,000 people for 30 days. The biggest donations have come from Oxfam, Christian Aid and Concern Worldwide — contributing to nearly a third of the entire budget. A large chunk came from Ekta-Europe, a group of organisations and individuals who have been supporting Ekta Parishad’s smaller efforts in various states. Some of them have been around since 2000 when Rajagopal worked with the state government to secure land rights for 3.80 lakh people in Madhya Pradesh. There are five large NGOs from France that are supporting this march, including the big Solidari’te. “I got to know about the march through leaflets being distributed by these large NGOs in France,” said Francois Verlet who is paying 10 Euros a day to march and make a video film over two weeks. Some smaller European organisations have been Ekta Prishad associates for 15 years now. Action Village India is a mid-size charity in the UK. “We think that India’s rural population has no other form of social security, no skills. Land is what can ensure a better future for them and the next generation,” said Ivan Nutbrown, head of Action Village India from the UK. There are those who have come for the first time: MST from Brazil, Kenya Land Alliance and Uganda Land Alliance. Via Campasena is also there, one of the largest groups in Europe that claims to work on farmers’ rights along with Fugea, an NGO in Belgium. “We decided to support this as we can understand the situation here,” says Fugea member Delwarte Xavier who is a sheep farmer from Binche, a village outside Brussels. (Indian Express 28/10/07)

Plea for considering expose in SC (1)
NEW DELHI:: Citizens for Justice and Peace on Saturday moved the Supreme Court seeking early hearing of petitions relating to post-Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2002-03 by taking into consideration the recent sting operation carried out by Tehelka. The NGO, through its secretary Teesta Setalvad, has sought summoning of original CDs, transcripts and all other material available with the weekly relating to the report on the carnage. (Indian Express 28/10/07)

Allocated pension does not help elderly: NHRC study (1)
New Delhi: The elderly account for 80 million population in the country, for whom there is a pension allocation of Rs 676 crore against an estimated Rs 1,482 crore, causing great disparities in the allocation and identification of beneficiaries. Stung by this statistics, a study commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has suggested framing a law to hold the Centre and States committed to their duty towards the betterment of the elderly population. Proposing changes to the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), an existing Central scheme meant to benefit elderly persons living below poverty line (BPL), the study conducted by former adviser to Planning Commission KB Saxena has asked the NHRC, as an immediate step, to support a pending litigation in the Supreme Court seeking to enhance the budget allocation under the NOAPS. In its detailed report, Saxena suggested, "It is necessary that the social security arrangement for the poor elderly by way of pension and such other benefits are firmly embedded in law so as to create statutory basis for an assured entitlement to prevent State and Central Governments from backing out of their commitments in this regard." Under the NOAPS, the Centre has promised a sum of Rs 200 per month for every poor elderly person subject, however to the availability of funds. In addition, some States provide schemes for the elderly thus supplementing the Central share. The report, however, notes a lack of uniformity with regard to the contribution by the States in this regard. For instance, States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep, do not contribute any amount from their own resources. While several States like Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya, provide varying amounts of upto Rs 100 only. It is interesting to note that out of the over 80 million senior citizens in the country, about 51 million are in the BPL category. The causes responsible for the State's disinterest in providing for their needs could be understood from the simple fact that the "poor elderly have no strong and organised interlocutors to compete for a share in State's resources against other powerful interest groups," states the report. In addition, the report even recommends a uniform age criteria of 60 years for both men and women across States for entitlement under the scheme. At present, States have fixed varying age limits ranging between 60 and 64 for identification of elderly. The report recommends removal of 'destitution' criteria which was an added requirement under the BPL beneficiaries. (Pioneer 29/10/07)

NHRC gets copies of TV sting tapes (1)
New Delhi, Oct. 30: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has obtained the copies of the tapes which were broadcast on Aaj Tak channel on the Tehelka expose about the Gujarat riots on Tuesday. Taking suo moto cognisance of the sting operation, NHRC asked the channel to send the tapes which were received by the commission on Tuesday afternoon. The full bench of the commission will view the two tapes on Wednesday and only then comment on the expose. Aaj Tak had telecast some excerpts of the sting operation, which in total has 45 hours of material shot, but NHRC has not asked for all that material, said sources. The sting operation caught various persons who are accused in various cases which occurred during the Gujarat carnage in 2002 and telecast that on the channel. It was also printed in the magazine and put on its website. NHRC has even asked the government to explain the lack of rehabilitation and resettlement of riot victims, many of whom are still living in relief camps and many of whom have not been given any relief by the state government. NHRC chairperson Justice Rajendra Babu (Retd) has told this newspaper that he would visit the state after the state elections to review first hand the situation in the state as far as rehabilitation and resettlement are concerned. So far, the state government has maintained a silence on the issue and has instead counter-attacked the Congress party for their alleged role in the expose. (Asian Age 31/10/07)

NHRC sends teams to act on silicosis deaths (1)
Godhra, October 31: A National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) team raided a quartz-crushing factory in Godhra on Tuesday, while another team is at work in Balasinor, following reports of silicosis-related deaths amongst the tribal labourers. Camping in Gujarat since October 24, the NHRC team has been carrying out an on the spot assessment of safety norms in the region. The teams will also record the testimony of several labourers. NHRC senior officials A V Issac and Ravi Singh are leading the two teams. On Tuesday, officials inspected the quartz-crushing factory, Gloss India Limited, located in Godhra. “We will submit a report to the NHRC chairman who, in turn, will make recommendations to the state government,” said a senior NHRC official on grounds of anonymity. Another team is inspecting similar crushing units in Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh. The NHRC team is also working with the Gujarat Pollution Control board (GPCB) and a team of factory inspectors. Sources said they were trying to ascertain whether the units were following prescribed safety norms. The NHRC team received a complaint from labourers who have suffered from silicosis in the recent past. They also received a few reports of the hazardous conditions they work under from an NGO based in Jhabua. Activists have been fighting a legal battle for the silicosis-related deaths and also seeking compensation, medical intervention and imposition of proper working conditions in the quartz crushing units. The tribal workers, mostly from Vadodara’s tribal area and border area of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh have been working in the quartz crushing unit without safety masks and other precautions. Many of them have dies a slow and painful death as their desease have been diagnosed as tuberculosis and not silicosis. Express Newsline in Ahmedabad had reported on September 17 how more than 200 tribals from Alirajpur tehsil in Jhabua district have died of silicosis in the last four years after working in the quartz units in Godhra and Balsionor. Many others too in Jhabua are fighting a losing battle against silicosis without any help or compensation coming from any quarter. Taking cognisance of this report, the NHRC has also issued a notice to the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh governments asking them to submit a factual report within a month’s time. (Indian Express 1/11/07)

NHRC views Tehelka tapes (1)
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday viewed the Tehelka exposé on Gujarat riots, aired on a private news channel recently, and is likely to take a decision on the future course of action on Thursday. Taking suo motu cognisance of the sting operation, the NHRC had asked the Aaj Tak news channel to submit the two tapes. An official said it might ask for the original tapes if the need arose. The Tehelka magazine claimed that it had “irrefutable” evidence that the killings of Muslims post-Godhra train carnage were “not a spontaneous swell of anger but a genocide” planned and executed by top functionaries of the Sangh Parivar and state authorities “with the sanction” of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. — PTI (The Hindu 1/11/07)

Workshops on giving more teeth to Equal Opportunities Commission (1)
New Delhi : A group of Civil Society activists have come together to explore possibilities of giving more teeth to the Equal Opportunities Commission set up by the Government following the recommendations of the Sachar Committee. Led by the Muslims for Secular Democracy, the group of Muslim intellectuals is holding workshops and discussions in five major cities of the country, including Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi."The Sachar Committee while recommending the setting up of the panel, had suggested Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission as a model to be followed," Javed Anand of the organisation said. Taking up this advice, we have invited the Commissioner of the UK Rights Commission, Kay Hamilton, to attend a series of workshops on the difference between Rights Commissions in India and foreign countries and find ways to make them more effective, he said. The workshops have already been held in Mumbai and Delhi, and would be held in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. (Pioneer 3/11/07)

NHRC wants CBI inquiry (1)
New Delhi, Nov. 5: Just a month before Assembly elections in Gujarat, chief minister Narendra Modi-led government got a jolt when the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) decided to recommend a CBI probe into accusations made in the Tehelka sting operation on the post-Godhra riots. "The commission has decided to direct an inquiry by the CBI into the episode in the light of accusations made in ‘Operation Kalank’ on communal violence in Gujarat," a statement from the NHRC said here. The commission’s observations come after it viewed the sting tapes and found the contents a "fit" case for probe by an independent agency. "The allegations had far-reaching implications and raised vital constitutional issues which need to be promptly addressed in the interest of all," it said. The rights panel has also directed the state government to communicate its consent for a CBI probe into the authenticity of the tapes and the Centre within two weeks. "The authenticity of the tapes must be examined and the allegations must be investigated. The investigation must be effective and independent," the commission said, adding, "If the investigation does not substantiate the allegations, it will help clear the air." The commission has expressed confidence that the Gujarat government will readily give its consent for a CBI probe. As per the TV sting, "Operation Kalank", many state functionaries of Gujarat were accused of abetting and facilitating atrocities on the minority in the wake of the Godhra carnage in 2002. Communal violence broke out in Gujarat on February 27, 2002. The commission took suo moto cognisance of the tragic incidents. (Asian Age 6/11/07)

Rights forum condemns Emergency (1)
LONDON: The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), in a statement on Monday, condemned the proclamation of Emergency in Pakistan by President Pervez Musharraf. The imposition of a totally unwarranted state of Emergency, interference with the judiciary, dismissal, intimidation and detention of members of the Supreme Court and High Courts, mass arrests and targeting of human rights defenders, including the chairperson of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ms Asma Jahangir, are aimed at stifling democracy and peaceful dissent. Political workers and lawyers across the country have also been arrested to prevent any organised opposition to the Emergency. The freedom of the media has also been attacked as private news channels have been banned and laws are being amended to further control the press. These actions run entirely contrary to the fundamental democratic principles of the Commonwealth. As a member, Pakistan is bound to comply with such principles, the statement said. The CHRI called on the Commonwealth to suspend Pakistan from the Councils of the Commonwealth. The Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy also expressed its concern and distress over the declaration of Emergency. In a statement issued in New Delhi it said, “From TV and other sources we hear that this is virtually a declaration of martial law — since the Constitution itself has been put into abeyance — and the announcement of Emergency has been done by General Musharraf in his capacity as the Chief of Pakistan Army. We call on all governmentsto condemn this brutal usurpation of the basic human rights of the people of Pakistan. We urge that the ‘military’ regime in Pakistan be suspended from every international form, including the U.N. and the Commonwealth.” “We urge the military authorities in Pakistan to desist from putting pressure on the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts and forcing them to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order”. (The Hindu 6/11/07)

NHRC playing partisan role: BJP (1)
NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday alleged that the National Human Rights Commission was playing a “partisan role” under the United Progressive Alliance government. Criticising the NHRC decision to ask for a CBI investigation into some major incidents of assault and murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots, based on the recent Tehelka investigation, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said here, “Tehelka was not an independent investigative agency. It works for the interest of the Congress party.” The first Tehelka sting operation was designed to bring a bad name to the BJP and the Vajpayee government, he said. “Why is it that their sting operations have not targeted top Congress leaders?” Although he would not allege bias on the part of the NHRC, the “partisan role of some of its members was well known,” Mr. Prasad said. He, however, refused to name them. While admitting that the Supreme Court had in some instances ordered retrial of some riot cases and even passed strictures on the the Narendra Modi government, Mr. Prasad said the continuing investigation by the Gujarat police was adequate. Some of the cases were already being monitored by the Supreme Court, so why should the NHRC step in, five years after the incidents? (The Hindu 7/11/07)

“Breach of human rights standards” (1)
NEW DELHI: The Amnesty International on Tuesday said the state of Emergency in Pakistan was a blatant breach of international law and human rights standards enshrined in the country’s constitution. Amnesty International’s secretary-general Irene Khan called for immediate return to constitutional rule and release of those detained. “Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s actions constitute a direct assault on Pakistan’s judiciary, its vibrant human rights community, independent media and peaceful political dissent,” said Ms. Khan. The Amnesty feared that the assault on key institutions of accountability, combined with sweeping emergency powers, would exacerbate the existing patterns of human rights abuse. (The Hindu 7/11/07)

NHRC seeks report on Sachin Pilot's detention (1)
NEW DELHI: National Human Rights Commission has asked Rajasthan government to reply to charges of illegal detention and victimisation by Congress MP Sachin Pilot, who was arrested during Gujjar community's jail bharo agitation on October 2. NHRC has asked the state chief secretary to give a report within six weeks, failing which it could step in directly. Pilot had petitioned the human rights watchdog, complaining high-handedness by Rajasthan administration in detaining him for three days and clubbing him with hardened criminals and convicts, and meting him out a tough treatment habitual offender. He alleged that it was done at the behest of top political leadership, in what is an indirect accusation at chief minister. In violation of laws, Pilot charged that state neither produced him before a magistrate within 24 hours of detention nor gave him access to a lawyer, nor informed him family. He said his movement inside the jail was restricted behind the bars and was treated like a habitual offender. Pilot has also petitioned the Lok Sabha speaker for breach of privileges. With the NHRC stepping in, the politically sensitive issue may be open again. Given that the Chopra commission examining the Gujjar's demand for ST status may give its report in the coming month, it could coincide with a final view on Pilot's complaint. If proven, the charge of victimisation of a Gujjar leader by BJP dispensation,perceived as hostile, could add grist to community's complaints. The Gujjar agitation erupted violently in June which led to police firing and death of seven persons. The matter came to head with the numerically and socially stronger Meena community coming out against the Gujjars' demand. (Times of India 11/11/07)

NHRC gives notice to Bengal top official (1)
New Delhi, Nov. 12: The National Human Rights Commission has sent notice to West Bengal chief secretary, directing him to submit a factual report within 10 days on the conditions prevailing in Nandigram and around. A team of the investigation division of the NHRC will visit the disturbed areas in Nandigram to study the situation and suggest remedial measures. The NHRC has further requested Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta to take all the necessary steps to restore peace in the area, protect human life, dignity and property and submit an action taken report within two weeks. The NHRC move came on a petition filed by advocate Sanjay Parikh, who had said that the disturbed and volatile conditions in and around Nandigram were likely to result in grave violation of human rights. He also forwarded to the NHRC a message received from social activist Medha Patkar, requesting urgent intervention. According to the message, a war-like situation was prevailing due to presence of thousands of CPM cadres surrounding Nandigram from at least three sides. Senior police officers were present in the area and seemed to support their programme to attack Nandigram. (Asian Age 12/11/07)

“Musharraf waging war against civil society” (1)
NEW DELHI: Civil society activists say President Pervez Musharraf has chosen to wage a war against liberal elements in Pakistan’s society instead of combating fundamentalist militants. They have pointed out that suspension of fundamental rights, muzzling the press and violence against lawyers, human rights activists, journalists, trade unionists and other civil society members could hardly be termed part of the process to take on religious fundamentalism. “[Gen.] Musharraf claims to be saving Pakistan from ‘suicide’, primarily through ‘religious militancy’. Yet, armed militias are being allowed to overrun Swat. The Shariah has been imposed, Pakistani flags on government buildings [have been] replaced by religious ones, and the Frontier Constabulary in Daroshkhela town [has been] disarmed and disbanded by the militants. These are grim portents with roots in the U.S. backed military-mullah alliance of the 1980s. “We express our support and solidarity with Pakistani civil society in its twin struggle against [Gen.] Musharraf’s tyrannical rule and religious fundamentalism. We demand the immediate lifting of the Emergency and hope the international community will support the people of Pakistan in their hour of need and help its transition to genuine democracy,” said an open letter by civil society activists Kamla Bhasin, Praful Bidwai, Amrita Chhachhi, Sonia Jabbar and Ritu Menon. (The Hindu 13/11/07)

NHRC team to visit Nandigram tomorrow to study situation (1)
NEW DELHI: A six-member team of the National Human Rights Commission will visit he trouble-torn Nandigram tomorrow to "study" the situation and suggest remedial measures. "A six members team headed by Senior Superintendent of Police S P Singh has been constituted to take stock of the situation prevailing in the violence hit areas of West Bengal," an NHRC spokesperson said in New Delhi. The team which includes two IPS officers would submit its report to the Commission for further action. The NHRC has already issued notice to West Bengal chief secretary to submit a report within ten days on the condition prevailing in Nandigram. The Home Ministry has also been asked to file the report within two weeks on the steps taken to ensure peace in the trouble parts of the state. (Times of India 14/11/07)

PUCL to governor: Call a roundtable (1)
New Delhi, Nov. 15: The People's Union of Civil Liberties have in a letter to the governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi called for a roundtable on Nandigram. In a letter to the governor, the PUCL has said, "What is going on in Nandigram or what has been going on in Gujarat is in total violation of the Constitution." They said that the attitude of the Marxist party is "reprehensible, constitutionally speaking". Rule of Law and Part III and part IV of the Costitution have been totally suspended. This is done by the state government which has no such rights. PUCL has said that in Nandigram the citizens have no right to speech, to assembly, to association. All these rights have been denied to the citizens residing in Nandigram, said PUCL. Nandigram people have opposed globalisation process and they have a right to do so. It is possible that Maoist entry has exacerbated the situation but people are not at fault, they said. All responsibility for allowing Maoist to enter assuming that they are the answer for Marxists' misgoverance. We are not for escalating the violence nor are we interested in vacating Marxist government in the state, they said.(Asian Age 16/11/07)

Anand Mohan ill-treated in jail, wife tells NHRC (1)
New Delhi, November 16: Former JD(U) MP from Bihar Anand Mohan, who has been awarded death sentence in a murder case, was being treated badly in a jail and might be “killed”, his wife has said in a petition to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Lovely Anand, also a former MP who herself, has been awarded life sentence in the same murder case and was on bail, sought NHRC’s intervention and said in her petition that her husband was being “deliberately” harassed by the jail administration at the “instance” of his “political rival” and CM Nitish Kumar. The former JD(U) MP has been lodged in Bihar’s Bhagalpur jail after being sentenced to death by a Patna court for inciting a mob that killed Gopalganj District Magistrate 13 years ago. “He (Mohan) is being forced to consume dirty water and food, and live in the inhuman conditions in the jail. He is also being exposed to hardened criminals and Naxalites,” Lovely said in her petition. She claimed her husband was on hunger strike to protest the Government’s decision to shift him to Bhagalpur Camp jail from Beur jail, which, she alleged. was done without intimating the family members. (Indian Express 17/11/07)

Letter to NHRC tells tale of 'rapes, mayhem, lies' in Nandigram (1)
New Delhi: A letter from Paschim Banga Khet Majdoor Samity (PBKMS) to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) detailing torture by CPI(M) cadre in Nandigram has accused senior CPI(M) leaders of provoking party activists. "With death tolls mounting and scores missing, kidnapped and displaced, and increasing murderous violence by CPI(M) cadre, we request the NHRC to immediately take action to relieve the sufferings of the people in Nandigram, East Mednipore district, West Bengal," the letter said. To underscore the involvement of top CPI(M) leaders, the letter said: "In midst (ongoing tension and occasional skirmishes), fuel was added to the fire when on November 04, 2007 the CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat prescribed: Dum Dum Dawai (severe bashing -- a slogan of the 60s advocating public thrashing for the corrupt) as a solution and blamed the leaders of Opposition parties for the continuing trouble in Nandigram in a rally speech in AIDWA at Dum Dum in the northern fringe of the city in the presence of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The violence and attacks started intensifying and on November 05, 2007 hundreds of CPI(M) gunmen rained bombs and fired shots in Nandigram from Khejuri side." The letter not only spoke of killings, planned massacres, but also rapes of women by party cadre. It also exploded the myth that first casualty in CPI(M) camp happened when five cadre of the party died on October 28 night while they were making crude bombs. Fresh violence broke out on November 02, 2007 where CPI(M) cadres from Khejuri started firing while policemen deployed in the area turned a blind eye. All entry points to Nandigram were sealed off by CPI(M) cadre and there were attempts to take control over villages which BUPC was holding sway over, the letter said. Incidentally, the body has been working for the welfare of West Bengal farmers for the last 20 years. Meanwhile, All India Progressive Women's Association general secretary Kumudini Pati and president Srilata Swaminathan, in a statement, said CPI(M) PB member and former leader of AIDWA Brinda Karat acted in the most callous and irresponsible way by making a shameful public appeal to her 'comrades' to administer the Dum Dum Dawai to those fighting against corporate land grab in Nandigram. They said her inciting cadre to perpetrate violence on innocent people reminded us of the likes of Uma Bharati inciting Sangh Pariwar activists to demolish disputed structure in Ayodhya. AIPWA has demanded that the cases of molestation, rape and abduction of women and girls -- now in hundreds -- must be seriously investigated by the CBI and their medical examinations should be done and statements recorded, including that of gangrape victim Sabina Begum of Sadengabari and two teenage girls of Maheshpur. (Pioneer 19/11/07)

Bengal under NHRC fire over violence (1)
New Delhi, Nov. 19: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has criticised the West Bengal government severely for human rights violations in Nandigram recently. NHRC chairperson Justice Rajendra Babu (retd) called it one of the "worst scars" on the face of the nation. Terming the situation in the Bengal block as "grave", he said, "Nandigram and Godhra were severe assaults on the face of democracy. They were the worst scars on the face of nations. It is shameless to see that human rights were violated in such a way." He said that the NHRC was committed to protecting the rights of people who were victims of "opportunist" politics in both the states. "The human rights commission in West Bengal is actively involved in taking up the case to its due course, which it had done at the time of Gujarat riots," he said on the sidelines of the fourth annual meeting of the NHRC with state human rights commissions. "The Calcutta high court has already condemned the attack on farmers and provided a tight slap on the face of the government," he said. Justice Babu said that he will talk to the Bengal chief secretary to assess the situation in Nandigram. Asked about the failure of the state governments in handling the situations, he refused to comment, but said that it is up to the governments to decide what is best in the interest of the people and the state. "I can’t comment on the government action or inaction. What they have done or going to do is not for me to comment. I will only say that it is tragic to see such kind of things happening in our democratically governed country." "On the NHRC’s part, we are equally sorry for the state of affairs as most other people in the country. We condemn such attacks," he added. In his inaugural address, Justice Babu said that the country has been facing tough challenges such as terrorism, trafficking, disappearances and displacements. (Asian Age 20/11/07)

Nandigram and Godhra worst scars: NHRC chief (1)
New Delhi:: The West Bengal government came in for severe criticism from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson Justice S Rajendra Babu, who said Nandigram and Godhra were the “worst scars” on the face of the nation. Calling the situation in Bengal “grave”, Babu said, “Nandigram and Godhra are assaults on the face of democracy. They are the worst scars on the face of the nation. It is shameless to see that human rights were violated in such a way.” He said NHRC was committed to protect the rights of people who were victims of “opportunist” politics in Bengal and Gujarat. “The State Human Rights Commission in West Bengal is actively involved in taking up these cases, as it had done at the time of Gujarat riots,” he said on the sidelines of Fourth Annual Meeting of the NHRC with State Human Rights Commissions in New Delhi on Monday. “The Calcutta High Court has already condemned the attack on farmers and provided a tight slap on the face of the government,” he said, adding that he would talk to the W Bengal chief secretary to assess the situation in Nandigram. Asked about the failure of the state government in handling the situation, he refused to comment, but said it was up to the government to decide what is best in the interest of the people. “I can’t comment on the government action or inaction. What they have done or are going to do is not for me to comment. I would only say it is tragic to see such kind of things happen in our democratically governed country,” he said. “On NHRC’s part, we are equally sorry for the state of the affairs, as most other people in the country. We condemn such attacks.” Earlier, in his inaugural address, the NHRC chief said the country was facing tough challenges such as terrorism, trafficking in women and children, displacements of persons due to disasters, child labour, illiteracy and so forth. (Indian Express 20/11/07)

Nandigram: CPI, CPM MPs want NHRC chief to ‘reconsider’ remark (1)
New Delhi, November 20: Continuing its firefight on Nandigram, despite criticisms from different quarters, the CPI and CPI(M) MPs on Tuesday registered a “strong protest” against the reported remarks made by National Human Rights Commission Chairman Rajendra Babu on the matter. Babu reportedly said that “Nandigram and Godhra were severe assaults on the face of democracy” and “they were the worst scars on the face of the nation. It is shameful to see that human rights were violated in such a way”. The MPs, in a memorandum, have asked Babu to “reconsider” his statement. The memorandum says the statement “was made even before speaking to the West Bengal Chief Secretary, without waiting for the report of the State HRC or the report of the NHRC team which is at present in Nandigram”. It adds that “any citizen of the country has the right to express his or her opinion on any issue, but as the head of an institution like the NHRC it is expected that all facts should be verified” before a state government is indicted. The MPs said unlike Gujarat, where there was a state “sponsored pogrom against Muslims, scores of women were raped, the whole state was witness to loot, plunder, burning of houses”, Nandigram developments are “a result of a clear political conspiracy to capture territory by an alliance of parties who have been rejected in the elections by the people”. “In the case of Nandigram, we expect the NHRC to go into the entire series of events, which started from January 2007, and fix responsibility for all instances of human rights violations. We hope that you would reconsider the statements made on Nandigram and take a more balanced and impartial view of the matter,” says the memorandum. Meanwhile, Medha Patkar on Tuesday said the events in Nandigram were “a show of political intolerance and political vengeance” by the ruling party in West Bengal. She said the situation is that of “state waging war against its own citizens”. Patkar also said that if the non-CPI(M) Left front partners had intervened in the matter instead of just “issuing statement”, the situation would have been different (Indian Expres 21/11/07)

No rights panel in 10 states (1)
New Delhi, Nov. 20: Coming as a wake-up call for the government on International Child Rights Day, minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal informed Parliament that as many as 10 states in the country, including six in the Northeast, are yet to set up a human rights commission. The minister said the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura in Northeast and Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand and Uttrakhand had not set up the human rights commission. The Centre has issued advisories from time to time to all these states, he said, adding that the states had generally cited paucity of funds, lesser number of complaints of human rights that does not justify setting up a full-fledged commission. Bihar has notified setting up of a human rights commission but has neither been able to appoint a chairperson nor members yet, he said. Meanwhile, senior leaders and stakeholders came together at a National Convention on Child Rights organised on the occasion by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Union women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury said that the government has finalised the integrated child protection scheme and very soon it will be launched in selected blocks across the country. Raising concern over incidents of child labour, trafficking and violence against children, Ms Chowdhury said, "Children shouldn’t be working. We should be working so that they can enjoy life." Meanwhile, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said that all possible opportunity should be given to a child to enable him or her to grow to their full potential. She said that there is "no greater gift bestowed upon us than our children".(Asian Age 21/11/07)

NHRC notices to Delhi Govt on Tihar custodial deaths (1)
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to Delhi Government on three custodial deaths in the Asia's largest prison, Tihar. The Delhi Chief Secretary Narayana Swamy has been asked to submit a report in the matter within two weeks. The decision came following an investigation by a five-member NHRC team which had visited the jail recently to inquire into the spectre of deaths reported there in the month of May and June. The unusual series of deaths had also prompted the Delhi Government to probe the matter. The NHRC team led by Senior Superintendent of Police Mamta Singh after conducting detailed study of the autopsy report of every individual case found that in the three cases death was unnatural and the administration had failed in its duty to protect the victims and instead was cause for their death. The rights panel has also sought explanation from the supervisor of the jails for the deaths. It pointed that the post-mortem report of 25-year-old Vinod of Patel Nagar, who was lodged in jail, revealed that he had multiple external injuries and prima facie it was a case of death due to torture in judicial custody. The rights panel also held the jail doctors guilty of incorrect diagnosis and treatment, aggravating the illness of diseased. In the case of Amit, who had died allegedy due to beating in jail no 7 after he was brought from Narela police station, the NHRC team had sought probe from an independent or CBI agency. Similar was the case with Vinod in the same jail. Besides seeking reply, the Commission has also asked the State Government to provide interim relief to the kith and kin of the deceased.(Pioneer 21/11/07)

Amnesty, HRW to visit Bengal (1)
New Delhi, Nov. 26: Amnesty International India and Human Rights Watch, two leading human rights organisations, will send their teams to Nandigram to assess the situation in the area which was rocked by violence. The teams comprising former judges and rights activists would visit the strife-torn area between November 28 and 30 and would include Justice S.N. Bhargava, former Chief Justice, Sikkim high court and former chairperson Assam and Manipur State Human Rights Commission. "The teams will visit the region, meet victims as well as government authorities," a statement from AII said. "They will also enquire about the events leading to the escalated violence in October and November and the social and economic impact of the violence. It will look into the violations of national and international human rights standards and the UN Conventions to which India is a party," the statement said. National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women have already sent teams to Nandigram. A fact-finding team of the National Commission for Minorities will also visit Nandigram on Tuesday. The two-member team held two separate meetings with the top administrative officers and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the Writers’ Buildings on Monday.(Asian Age 27/11/07)

Rights panel defers hearing till Dec. 18 (1)
Kolkata, Nov. 26: Keeping the Calcutta high court’s order of the CBI investigation into Rizwanur Rehman’s mysterious death in view, the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) has deferred the hearing of its suo moto case till December 18. On Monday, the two IPS officers — former DC (headquarters) Gyanwant Singh and former DC (detective department) Ajay Kumar — accused of interfering in the marital life of Rizwan and Priyanka appeared before the commission’s full bench, headed by its chairperson Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen. Also present with them were ex-sub-inspector Krishnendu Das and ex-assistant commissioner of police Sukanti Chakraborty from the anti-rowdy squad of the detective department and their legal advisors. "Their advocates submitted that the case is sub-judice in the Calcutta high court, which directed the CBI for investigation. As the probe is underway, the commission has decided to wait for the CBI report till December 18 to start its inquiry. The four police officers will have to be present at the hearing on that day," WBHRC secretary B. Mahapatra said. "We have prayed for the deferment of the commission’s inquiry in view of the CBI probe. Our prayer has been granted," defence counsel of the four accused police officers, Debanjan Mandal said. On October 16, the high court directed the CBI to investigate into Rizwan’s unnatural death on September 21 asking it to submit its report within two months. Asked if the commission incurred a loss of face on its inquiry’s deferment’s decision, Mr Mahapatra said, "There is no question of loss in face. The officers earlier submitted petitions before the commission regarding the high court’s order." Mr Mahapatra, however, maintained that the commission will appeal to the high court to let it know what the CBI submitted in its report. "If required the commission can summon former police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee too," he said, adding that the CID is expected to submit its final report on December 1 to the commission.(Asian Age 27/11/07)

HRW demands probe against Modi (1)
NEW YORK: A US-based human rights watchdog has asked the Indian government to investigate the role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in fake encounters in the context of his reported statement "endorsing the extra-judicial execution of a terrorism suspect" by police. "Modi's remarks send a green light to the police that executing terrorism suspects is fine with his administration," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The government in Delhi should immediately investigate this seeming incitement to violence." The Gujarat Chief Minister was referring to the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in 2005 by police which at the time claimed that he was a terrorist and killed in an encounter. But since then it has become clear that there was no evidence to pin him as a terrorist and that he was killed in a fake encounter. Recalling the incident, the Human Rights Watch said that his wife is still missing. Rejecting Modi's explanation that he was responding to the allegation by Congress president Sonia Gandhi branding his government as "merchant of death," Adam said Modi cannot hide behind accusation of provocation to justify remarks "endorsing a murder". "He used similar excuses after the police participated in a killing spree of Muslims in 2002, but his pretexts were as hollow then as they are today," he added. "Modi's defenders say that his speech is being misrepresented, and that politicians make exaggerated remarks during election campaigns," said Adams. "But endorsing a police killing sends the wrong message at all times, and especially during an election." Human Rights Watch noted that in response to Modi's comments, India's Election Commission has served notice to Modi saying that the speech "amounts to indulging in activity which may aggravate existing differences, creating mutual hatred and causing tension between different communities." It said that it had found that the attacks on Muslims in 2002 were planned and organised with extensive police participation and in close cooperation with supporters of Modi's ruling BJP and the state government. Modi had justified those attacks at the time, saying that, "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction," referring to the Godhra incident which had sparked the riots, the watchdog recalled. (Times of India 8/12/07)

Yasin Malik begins two-day hunger strike to focus on rights (1)
SRINAGAR: On the eve of World Human Rights Day, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik on Sunday began a two-day hunger strike to protest against the increasing violation of human rights in Kashmir. A torchlight procession was also taken out by the JKLF to highlight the issue. Mr. Malik began his fast at the JKLF headquarters in Maisuma here along with his supporters. He was later joined by members of the Kashmir Bar association, the Employees Unions, the Trade Unions, and members of the intelligentsia, including Gyanpeeth Award winner Rehman Rahi, Zarif Ahmad Zarif, Sheikh Mohammad Iqbal and others. The speakers extended solidarity with Mr. Malik and stressed upon unity to fight the “human rights violations at the hands of security forces.” Hailing the JKLF leader’s initiative, the speakers said “people are suffering but no one is coming to their rescue.” Stating that “Kashmir is the most oppressed place,” Mr. Malik told The Hindu that in tune with the universal declaration of human rights by the United Nations, “we are demanding that violations of human rights should be taken note of. This declaration is applicable in war and conflict zones also.” (The Hindu 10/12/07)

Sri Lanka rejects call by U.N. human rights chief (1)
Colombo: In a letter to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, Sri Lankan Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe has rejected her call for a fullfledged OHCHR presence and reiterated the alternative proposal of the Government. “I have reiterated the consolidated position of the government in relation to the establishment of an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on several occasions commencing with my statement communications thereafter. May I restate that the Government of Sri Lanka does not perceive the necessity for a ‘fully-fledged presence of OHCHR in the country’ at present and we hope that our consistently expressed position will be respected.” The letter contended that the government did not believe that OHCHER representative’s independence would be adversely affected through close cooperation and collaboration with national mechanisms. He said he was pleased that both share “common ground on the need for independent, credible and reliable reporting on human rights in Sri Lanka. The Minister argued that Sri Lanka had voluntarily submitted itself to multiple monitoring and reporting mechanisms which among others include treaty bodies of al1 core human rights conventions, special procedures and mechanisms of the former commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council, Secretary-General of the U.N., and visits by high-level U.N. officials involved in Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. Meanwhile, the military on Sunday claimed that at least 18 LTTE cadres were killed along the northern Forward Defence Lines (FDLs) in the last 24 hours. (The Hindu 10/12/07)

451 human rights violation cases documented so far this year (1)
Bangalore: The South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), which has been studying cases of custodial torture over the last two years in six districts of the State, has documented 451 cases between January and November 2007 alone. It believes that, in addition, there have been several encounter and custodial death cases. What Philip Mathew of SICHREM finds alarming is not only the number of cases, but also the absence of a debate around them. The awareness on human rights issues is a notch lower in Karnataka compared with other southern States, he believes. SICHREM, he says, often has a hard time finding lawyers to represent their cases. As the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, human rights groups in Karnataka are divided on how to prioritise the violations. But they all unanimously agree that there is a need for greater awareness on the rights of individuals at multiple levels and the involvement of more people in the fight against violations. Hassan Mansoor of People’s Union of Civil Liberties says the biggest threat staring at Karnataka is the increasing religious intolerance. “Religious hatred has the ability to sweep aside all other kinds of social activism. It is the worst thing that can happen to human rights,” he says. Unfortunately, there are not enough voices to counter this, regrets Prof. Mansoor. According to G.K. Ramaswamy of the People’s Democratic Forum, there is a “pervasive insensitivity” in the political system to rights issues. “Politicians want power even if it divides people on the lines of caste, religion or region,” he argues. The lack of awareness, says Prof. Ramaswamy, extends to even the fundamental rights of citizens to natural resources such as clean water and air. A city such as Bangalore is a prime example of how such rights are increasingly being denied to the poor with no “credible mechanism” to counter the violations, he says. This view is endorsed by Byatha N. Jagadeesh from the Alternative Law Forum, who fights cases for people too poor to afford paid legal assistance. “I have fought cases in which a thief is accused of stealing something like Rs. 20. It is a socio-economic and human rights issue. The challenge is of finding ways of questioning a system that is ever so powerful,” says Mr. Jagadeesh. “For example, how does a poor garment worker fight a case against a multinational garment giant?” (The Hindu 10/12/07)

Civil societies want steel complex in Keonjhar (1)
Keonjhar : Civil society bodies have appealed to investors of modern steel complexes to consider the highly mineral-rich and tribal-dominated Keonjhar district for the establishments of their units in the district. The societies also want that investors should utilise non-renewable resources found in the district for the benefits of tribals. Secretary-cum-Zilla Parishad member Amarabar Khatua and Himansu Kuanr of the Keonjhar Citizens' Forum said at a gathering that the State has received only a small amount against an export of Rs 23,000 from the district during the past few years. They also reminded that the district has already lost one mega steel complex after Rourkela Steel Plant on the report of DasturCo in 1976. President of the Progressive Citizen's Forum (PCF) Dhirendra K Rout and MP Anant Naik asked the up-coming investors to have humanitarian approach towards the tribals during their land acquisition. MP Naik said that the district had received three out of the 46 MoUs signed by the State in the steel sector. Deputy Chief Whip in the State Assembly Mohan Charan Majhi, advocates Chaturbhuja Hota and Bhagirathi Mohanta and several other leading citizens, during the daylong deliberation held at Nagar Bhawan, Keojhar Garh, reminded common people not to bear further as civic lives could be disrupted due to the exports and ultra modern technology that would be adopted in the projects. Dasturco had selected Nayagad in Keonjhar district, out of the total assigned 28 places in the entire India for a second mega steel complex, appointed by both the Governments. But, ultimately the complex was established at Vishakhapatnam in spite of economic blockade in Keonjhar followed by pandemonium in the Parliament. Members of the KCF, PCF, Kendujhar Surakhya Manch and several other citizens attended the deliberation of the R&R Policy, 2006 which was inaugurated by leading citizen and former Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Karunkar Behera. (Pioneer 11/12/07)

‘Enforce law to protect women’ (1)
New Delhi, Dec. 10: President Pratibha Patil said "improved law enforcement" was needed to check atrocities against women here on Monday. Speaking at a function organised by the Human Rights Commission to mark Human Rights Day, Ms Patil described the need for sustained efforts to empower women. She called for "protection of their human rights calls for improved law enforcement and enforcing accountability for those who commit violence against women." She said a sustained effort to empower women is essential to deliver "our commitment to ensure equality with respect to political, economic and social rights".She said that the Indian criminal justice system has been made victim-centric. "The Human Rights Commission with its emphasis on custodial justice and issues like sexual harassment and trafficking in women and children has strengthened the human rights jurisprudence in the country. The agenda has shifted from ‘welfare’ to ‘rights’ in the development debate," she said. Identifying poverty as the biggest violator of human rights, the President said, "Persistence of poverty renders realisation of human rights rather illusory." Speaking at the same function, NHRC Chairperson Rajendra Babu suggested that policy-making and delivery mechanism should have a human rights aspect to it to ensure health, compulsory education and gave instances of starvation deaths and high percentage of malnutrition and anaemia in the country. "The continued problem is more a case of poor implementation. The NHRC has suggested micro-level monitoring mechanism of the same." The NHRC chairman also spoke about the need to eradicate child labour and protect children’s rights, particularly missing children. On the occasion, United Nations representative Shalini Dewan read out the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, which stated that the "fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are yet to become a reality due to lack of political will of the governments." Many functions were organised by civil society groups in the capital and elsewhere in the country to mark the International Human Rights Day. Among them was Food for the Hungry Foundation, Delhi, a non-profit relief and charitable organisation which formally launched its campaign "Ek Mutthi Anaaj" here. The "Ek Mutthi Anaaj" campaign is running successfully across Delhi and it is gaining tremendous response from Delhi. The foundation is also spearheading a national campaign for zero hunger legislation in India to ensure livelihood and food security for the underprivileged. In another initiative, activists from 30 organisations came together for "Celebrating and Defending Human Rights in South Asia." Spearheading this lofty effort, Ms Kamla Bhasin from Sangat, a network of South Asian feminist activists, said the need of the hour is to strengthen regional co-operation in the true sense of the word. "Unless people and communities leading diverse social movements in different parts of the region come together and extend support to each other, we will not be able to realise social justice and sustain peace in this region," said the activist who has been associated with the activities of this region since 1970. The event, hosted jointly by these leading organisations and the India International Centre, brought together diverse voices representing different concerns and experiences. These include social activists and community leaders involved in struggles waged by socially marginalized communities such as dalits, minorities, sex workers, people living with and affected by disability and victims of illegal land grabbing. (Asian Age 11/12/07)

SC denies bail to PUCL activist (1)
NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 10: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant bail to Dr Binayak Sen, general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Chhattisgarh, who is also the national vice-president of PUCL. He was arrested for allegedly abetting Naxal activities in Chhattisgarh. The court refused to buy the argument of Sen’s counsel Rajeev Dhavan that at this stage he was only an activist of PUCL and no longer and in no way connected with the CPI-ML. Disagreeing with his submission, the court shot back: “You are emphasising too much on PUCL. This does not mean that you are immune” and added, “This does not mean your are not associated with banned activities.” Sen, a healthcare activist, has been in judicial custody since 14 May 2007. Seeking to be enlarged on bail, Sen has contended that he was arrested on fabricated charges of having sympathies with the Naxalites. The PUCL activist was arrested for allegedly acting as a courier for the Naxalites. He has been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. (Indian Express 11/12/07)

Protests for human rights (1)
SRINAGAR: Large-scale protests and seminars on Monday marked the World Human Rights Day in Kashmir as political organisations and NGOs called for ending the “increasing human rights violations” and sought fulfilment of the Prime Minister’s assurance on zero tolerance. Leading a silent march from the Hurriyat Conference’s Rajbagh headquarters, party chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “The law of the jungle prevails. “They [security forces] kill with impunity.” He called for a complete withdrawal of troops and said that “as long as troops are stationed in such abundance in Kashmir, the situation on human rights front cannot improve.” “Excessive powers enjoyed by the troops result in serious violations of human rights,” the Mirwaiz said. “It has become a pattern with the forces,” Mian Abdul Qayoom former president of the Kashmir Bar Association said. He blamed New Delhi for “giving licence to forces to kill the people.” Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who broke his fast, told The Hindu that he was overwhelmed to see the response of the people. “It speaks volumes about the magnitude of the problem in Kashmir.” The government should take note of it, he said. (The Hindu 11/12/07)