Monday, 24 November 2008

Statement of BHRPC on the Death of Mr. Jagjit Saikia

Statement of BHRPC on the Death of Mr. Jagjit Saikia

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human rights organisation based in Silchar, Assam expresses agony and grave concern at yet another cruel and untimely death of a young journalist caused by unidentified gunmen. Mr. Jagjit Saikia, a Kokrajhar (Assam) based reporter, who worked with “Amar Asom”, a local daily in the Assamese language, was reportedly shot at by miscreants on November 22 afternoon in Kokrajhar town which caused his death. BHRPC categorically condemns this cowardly act and sends condolences to the family members of the deceased journalist and extends solidarity with the media fraternity.

BHRPC sees it not only as another blow to the media, which is regarded as a pillar of democracy, but also as the naked manifestation of the brutality to which the continuous assault on the right to freedom of thought and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India has reached. The State and Union Governments are under obligations in International Human Rights Law as well as duty bound under the Law of the Land to ensure the exercise of this inalienable human right by its citizens. It is evident from this and other such incidence of attack on the media and the people’s right to freedom of expression including the incidence of death of Konsam Rishikanta, a trainee sub-editor of The Imphal Free Press, an English daily of Manipur on 17 November, at the hands of unidentified shooters that the Indian State is miserably failed to protect basic human rights of the citizens.

BHRPC urges the Union and State Governments: 1. To conduct prompt, objective and transparent investigations into both of the incidents. 2. To bring the perpetrators of these ghastly acts to book and punish them as per law. 3. To pay adequate compensation to the dependants relatives of the deceased. 4. To ensure security of the life of journalist. 5. To protect the right to freedom of expression and thought of the people by going hard on those elements who pose threat to it.BHRPC also wrote Urgent Appeal to the Prime Minister of India sending copies to the Home Minster of the Union Government of India, Chief Minister of Assam and others conveying these demands.

Issued by
Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Liaison Officer,

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur Par-IV (Near Uco Bank), Silchar-9

Cachar, Assam, India


Cell: +919401134314

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Statement of BHRPC on the Attack in Delhi University by ABVP Members

Statement of BHRPC on the Attack in Delhi University by ABVP Members

8th November 2008

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human rights organization working in Assam) strongly condemns the latest incident of vandalism by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP, student wing of the Bharatia Janata Party) in Delhi University, in which members of the press community were also made victims.

The University Community, an independent group of students and teachers of Delhi University, had organised a meeting on "Communalism, Fascism and Democracy: Rhetoric and Reality" on 6th November 2008 at Room No. 22 Arts Faculty. It did not come as a surprise that right-wing forces would be opposed to any meaningful discussion on these issues.

As soon as SAR Geelani, lecturer at Zakir Husain College of University of Delhi, entered the hall and took his seat on the stage, one of the ABVP activists sitting inside came up and spat on his face twice.

The ABVP activists attacked the women students and participants, broke the microphone and hurled chairs. They also manhandled media persons who were covering the meeting. Two journalists from Tehelka and Mail Today, who were speakers at the meeting, were threatened by ABVP.

This is ominous because during a meeting on communalism and fascism the chair, speakers and other participants have been attacked in a country which is known to be democratic, secular and respectful to the human rights and the rule of law. This act of vandalism is nothing but the manifestation of threat posed by communal and fascist forces to the secular and democratic fabric of our country.

This is a failure on the part of police and administration to perform their legal duty to provide security and ensure the exercise of the right to freedom of thought and expression by the citizens of the country.

BHRPC calls upon the human rights and civil society organisations to protest against this assault on academic freedom and democratic rights. BHRPC also urges the authorities:

1. To initiate a prompt, impartial and time-bound investigation into this act of vandalism.

2. To lodge an FIR against ABVP members, who were responsible for this vandalism.

3. To pay adequate compensation to those who have been victimized.

4. To take adequate measures to prevent repetition of such vandalism and violations of human rights.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Urgent Appeal Regarding Serial Blasts in Assam on 30 October


 The President of India, 

 Rastrapati Bhavan, New Delhi

Subject: Urgent Appeal Regarding Serial Blasts in Assam on 30 October, 2008.

Madam President,

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human rights organization working in Assam, categorically condemns the horrendous massacre caused by serial blasts in Assam on 30 October, which took lives of about 80 people, injured nearly 400 and burnt to ashes hundreds of shops, cars and other properties. This act is a blow to the humanity and a challenge to the Indian state to uphold and adhere to the tenets of democracy and human rights. Such acts of terror are committed with intent to establish anarchy by terrorizing the whole society and defeating the rule of law. 

BHRPC has been witnessing with apprehension that a tendency of communalizing the counter-terror effort has developed of late which is ominous for the country. Stereotyping a particular community will divide the people of the country which is exactly what the terrorists want.
The blasts in Assam on 30 October, are another in the series of tragic blasts in which scores of people have been killed. BHRPC demands that the guilty be punished. The guilt should be determined in due process of law which is universally recognised as necessary to protect human rights of the suspects/accused. Human rights of the suspects can not be done away with. In countering terrorism the state often succumbs to the design of the terrorists by failing to respect the human rights of the people including the accused. When this happens the terrorism triumphs, because the state itself does the act of terror. More over, failure to respect human rights creates breeding ground of terrorism. At the same time it seems that our investigating agencies are ignoring some other things very crucial in the matters of investigating the acts of terror.
The acts of terror have been occurring throughout the country and Home Ministry is watching helplessly. While earlier the investigation was focused around SIMI, many an alleged culprits were put behind the bars and later some unknown entity named ‘Indian Mujahideen’ was projected as being responsible for some recent terror strikes such as Bangalore, Ahmadabad and Delhi blasts. Now it seems that another unknown entity dubbing it ‘ISF-IM’ (Islamic Security Force of Indian Mujahideen) is being projected. At the same time another stark truth is being deliberately sidelined and undermined. And that relates to the blasts done by Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagran Samiti and other such ‘Hindutva’ outfit. We fail to understand as to why the investigation authorities are turning a blind eye to some of the well established facts.
We recall here some of such facts:
  1. In a serious case of blasts in Nanded in April 2006 two Bajarang Dal workers died when making bombs. Similar incidents of bomb blasts were witnessed in many places around that time, Parabhani, Jalna and Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Most of these were in front of the mosques. The Nanded investigation ‘leads’ were not followed. On the contrary the investigation in that direction was not pursued at all.
 The attitude of police in this investigation has been totally lax. Social activists made the complaint about this to Human Rights commission. The commission summoned the Superintendent of police, Nanded, in its hearing held on 17th June.
 The SP failed to turn up for hearing! There seems to be a deliberate cover up of this important finding of Maharashtra Anti terrorist Squad. ATS did investigate the links of the dead with Bajrang Dal, an RSS affiliate. At the same time the injured were visited in the hospital by the top brass of local BJP and associates. Local BJP MP told the police not to harass those related to the culprits in the wake of the Bajrang Dal involvement in the bomb making. In Nanded, ATS also found fake moustache and pajama kurta, the idea being that the culprits will dress like a Muslim while doing these black deeds.
 2. A bomb blast took place at the RSS office at Tenkasi, in the Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu on January 24. After a thorough investigation,the Tamilnadu Police had arrested 7 persons belonging to Sangh Parivar outfits. They had confessed that they indulged in this terror act to instigate the local Hindu population against the Muslims.
 On further investigation, the Tamilnadu Police arrested Siva Alias Sivanandam, who is the General Secretary of Hindu Munnani at Kadayanallur, a neighbouring town of Tenkasi. Formed in 1980, Hindu Munnani is a frontal organisation of Sangh Parivar operating in Tamilnadu.
 Siva, who has earlier worked in quarries in the neighbouring state of Kerala had supplied the ammonium nitrate and other raw materials for preparing the bombs.
 3. The bombs which exploded in Gadkari Rangayatan on 4th June 2008 injured seven people. Again Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad succeeded in nabbing the culprits. The culprits were part of Hindu Janjagaran Samiti (HJS), an outfit of Sanatana Ashram in Panvel. These culprits were also involved in other blasts, in Vashi, Panvel and Ratnagiri. We have not heard anything about the further tracing of this very important lead.
 4. On 24th August, in Kanpur two Bajrang Dal workers died while making bombs. Rajiv alias Piyush Mishra and Bhupinder Singh were killed while making crude bombs on Sunday afternoon.
 On 25th August, Monday, police recovered some crude hand grenades, lead oxide, red lead, potassium nitrate, bomb pins, timers and batteries from the spot, inside a hostel in Kalyanpur area of Kanpur, about 80 km from Lucknow. No further investigation, why?
 5. On 25 October, police arrested a former firebrand ABVP leader and so-called ‘sadhvi’, Pragya Singh Thakur, for her role in the Malegaon and Modasa blasts. Even more ominously, two ex-Army officers are implicated in the blasts, and it has come to light that an institution called the ‘Bhonsala Military Academy’ in Nagpur has been imparting arms training to the Bajrang Dal.
Every time there is a bomb blast immediately the agencies and the media declare that it is done by some Muslim organization without any proof. Hundreds of innocent young boys are picked up, what follows are illegal detentions, torture, arrests, harassment of families, forcing the families and victims to sign blank papers. For years these helpless victims are tortured in jails, denied legal aid, even lawyers who try and fight their cases are attacked openly in courts. Their images tarnished for life time. If they are lucky they get let off after years as neither the agencies or the police have any proof against them. The cacophony of stricter laws rises so that a police can extract a confession by third degree torture and present that as evidence.
BHRPC has noticed the Jamia Nagar encounter which raised so many questions and the police is unable to answer them.
In case of Assam the issue of ‘illegal migration’ aggravates the situation more. All Muslims and particularly Bengali speaking Muslims are projected as being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, though history of Bengali speaking Muslims living in some part of Assam (Barak Valley) is traced to 15th century AD and most of the present day Muslims are descendents of converted indigenous people. Now the whole community is termed as ‘Bangladeshi Jehadi Terrorists’.
Through this systematic vilification campaign the process of demonization of minorities continued unabated.
If one looks at the timing of the terror attacks it is very clear that one and only one political outfit is gaining from it and that is Sangh. With their eyes on the central government their agenda of polarizing the electorate is going ahead successfully.
On the other hand there are constant attacks on Muslims and other minorities on one pretext or another.
In the Udalguri, Darrang and Chirang districts of Bodo Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) of Assam thousands of Muslims have been attacked, killed, rendered homeless, their homes ransacked and looted and burnt down.
In Orissa similar things have happened to the Christian community.
In view of these facts, BHRPC thinks that investigation into these horrendous acts can not go one way if it is to be objective and impartial. To be very clear, possibilities of involvement of all types of terrorist groups of should be probed.
BHRPC hopes you will intervene and question why are such clear cases of involvement of RSS affiliates in terror attacks being ignored. It seems the investigating authorities deliberately want to cover up the role of RSS affiliates in these acts of terror. Can the real truth behind the dastardly acts come out without properly investigating these incidents, where the culprits’ involvement is very clear? BHRPC urges upon you to instruct the investigating authorities to pursue the investigation in an unbiased, honest and professional manner. The life of innocent citizens is at stake and such irresponsible cover will definitely prevent the real truth from coming out. For the sake of fairness, honesty and the values of our constitution, we need to pursue these cases in their logical direction.
Can we look forward to you, Respected President, to make your Government to rise above partisan attitude and unravel the truth behind the blasts which are rocking the country in a painful way?
With regards
Yours Sincere
Manidra Shankar Gupta
1. The Prime Minister of India, New Delhi
2. The Home Minister of India, New Delhi
3. Smti Sonia Gandhi, The Chairperson of the UPA New Delhi
4. Justice S. Rajendra Babu, The Chairperson, NHRC,New Delhi
5. The Media